Monday, October 05, 2020

Rifugio Galassi hike, Dolomites, Italy

October 5, 2020

"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.''
~ Wallace D. Wattles

Sometimes I don't blog because it seems like nothing's happening. But lately the problem is that I'm seeing too many beautiful things, and I take so many photos that I really want to present them well with an accompanying story, but my foundational laziness is still laying in the path, blocking my way. It's been raining recently, so I've lost my excuse for not posting. If I didn't grow up in California I'd probably be walking anyway. But I did grow up in California! I've been making jokes about this for years. At a music festival in France some English people were standing in the rain talking like it wasn't even raining, the crazy buggers! I said, in California when the first drops of rain come, we sprint for cover, like we're witches in danger of melting. Anyway, I'm a bit of a sissy boy when it comes to weather. Then when the weather is good I go for a long walk everyday and I'm too tired at the end of the day to post about my hikes. Which brings us to today: It's raining, so I'm posting. Tomorrow, it's not raining, so I'm hiking.

This hike was from a couple weeks ago, before it got cold and started snowing. The path starts down this gravel road through the glacial valley, meaning it was originally formed by glaciers. So much rock and debris has collapsed from the mountains into the valley that the rounded shape is not as apparent as it otherwise might be. It looks different from up higher, as you'll see.

It was only about an hour and a half walk on this relatively flat road, but paths like this are a little boring compared to, say, a meandering hike through a forest or working your way up into the mountains. I had a mini flashback to 1992, when I went to Tibet on my own towards the end of a two year trip, a one-time-only adventure, never to be repeated, I was sure. An adventurous Dutch guy and I decided to make our way to Everest Base camp on the Chinese side. We took a public bus to mile number 138 or something, got off the bus and started walking up this pass that reached an elevation of 5,200 meters, 17,000 feet, spending a night in a little village, where the kids were picking lice out of each other's hair and squashing them between their fingernails. And for the next three days we walked down a long, relatively boring valley until we got to Rongbuk Monastery, supposedly the highest monastery in the world at 5,000 meters, 16,500 feet. Three days is a lot longer than one and a half hours, but it reminded me just the same. (Am I just name-dropping or was that actually relevant?! You can decide.)

A rifugio! How much do I love these places. I had a cappuccino and a nice apple strudel. It's a ridiculous luxury, one which I'd like to become accustomed to.

Now the hike starts to get a little more serious, climbing steadily and steeply up, with sheer rock walls on either side of the narrowing valley.

This is Refugio Galassi, a former military fort that was converted to a rifugio in 1931 or something. During the summer and winter seasons, you can spend the night there and eat delicious Italian food. Hello!!

I'd love to see a collage of every collection of signposts like this one in the Dolomites. They really are just everywhere, because the trails are everywhere. I've tried using a paper map to navigate but I'm seriously hopeless, embarrassingly so. (Bring a paper map as a backup, says everyone. That sounds a good idea - one day I'll try it.) So I use an app on my phone that has an accurate hiking map along with a GPS and a route to follow. One of these days, Alice, I'm going to drop my phone, lose my hiking app and my way, and wander in circles until I can wander no more. Forgive me in advance, as I like to say.

Oh, I like this photo. This was about the highest and farthest point that I went on this walk, but you can see another trail on the lower right. If you squint you might be able to tell that it goes horizontally across that scree.

This is from more or less the same place, just looking uphill at the towering mountains.

The rocks are so incredibly rugged and picturesque here.

Here's a wider view of that same valley.

This is a 360 photo. Click this link to see it in 360 mode:

Turning around and coming back over the pass, you can see Refugio Galassi in the lower right. The hike had started at the bottom of the valley in the distance and around the corner a bit.

This cross is just near the rifugio, overlooking the valley. There are two live webcams on that structure, one pointing over the valley and one pointing back to the rifugio.

Another 360 photo. Click this link:

Coming back, maybe halfway down the mountain.

Back to the "Tibetan Road" - that'll be our little secret. (What's he yammering about?) I just barely missed getting clobbered by a rainstorm, coming the same direction I was walking.

Almost back when I saw this wooden cross. I didn't know it at the time, but after a meal at a rifugio, and I wasn't sure it was a good idea, (as usual,) but I drove about a kilometer up a steep and rocky road and spent the night parked right next to this cross. I have some nice photos from the next day's walk too!

(The End)