July 11, 2016 - July 13, 2016
Driving into the Dolomites region was just insane. There's really no other way to describe it. Small mountain towns at the bases of incredibly massive mountains. Small chalet style buildings set amongst grassy hills with huge monoliths rising into the clouds.
As the road meandered thru the various passes on route to Campitello di Fassa, a small town we chose randomly based on a campground app, we stopped to soak in the views several times. We stopped enough times where we realized we needed to make it to the campground before reception closed. We were greeted by a friendlier host than the night before and some great facilities. With the town being a ski town in the winter, there were small shops and restaurants all along the main street. As we set up camp and relaxed we realized the weather forecast was calling for thunderstorms for the next two days. "Awesome", we thought...two days of rain in the mountains, just what we needed.
The next morning we set out to go on a hike to beat the rain, but of course, the rain started just as we started to make our way to reception for some recommendations.
The host pretty much confirmed what we already knew...100% rain for two days, better not to hike. He told us it would be a waste of money to take the cable car since it was cloudy and rainy at the top. He did recommend a short walk through the valley to a "refugio" a few miles away. We quickly learned that "refugios", were small family owned restaurants/bars. If we wanted we could continue as long as we wanted and a refuge was never too far away in case there was a downpour.
Our first few miles were in drizzling rain but the trees helped protect us. When we arrived at the first refugio, we definitely were wet and in need of a snack. We stopped for a beer and a couple of rounds of Hearts until it stopped raining. To our luck, it did and we decided to continue to take advantage of what looked like a clearing sky.
After cresting a small hill we were greeted with an awesome view of a valley with a small crown of rocks at the top of a pass in the distance. Little did we know, we would be hiking to that pass in the distance. After passing other refugios in the foreground of the photo below, we continued to enjoy the blue skies and beautiful views.
About 8.5 miles in, we reached the pass where a very nice little hotel and restaurant awaited us. As we had a hot meal, clouds whipped up thru the pass and rain came and went. As we looked at the time we decided we had better get moving to make it back. We had just hiked 8.5 miles and still needed to hike that distance to get home.
Just after beginning down the steep hill, it grew dark and a torrential rain storm started right on top of us. At first we took out our umbrellas thinking that we could wait for it to pass, but we were wrong. It rained, rained harder, got windy, then it hailed. There was nothing to shelter us from this crazy weather, so all we really could do was keep on walking. At one point, it all just kinda stopped and it had passed. If we had only waited 15 more minutes before leaving lunch, we would have totally missed it!
Stupidly, we had left Jason's semi new awning out during the day and when we returned it looked like it had been mangled by some wind and rain. We propped it up again for our second night and decided to deal with it later.
We treated ourselves to a nice warm shower and a hot meal at a place in town called Heidi's.
The next morning we awoke to a downed awning due to that night's storms. Unfortunately, the joint of the awning was unrepairable and due to its age likely never easily repairable so the boys had some fun dismantling it and ditching it at the campground on our way out. At least there was a nice view while they were working?
The thunderstorms had parted again and we took advantage of the clear skies and headed up the cable car. The views, again, were simply insane. We hiked to the restaurant at the very top and enjoyed a meal and relaxed under the sun. As we wrapped up and began to head back to the cable car the clouds began to darken and move in.
Next stop, Italia!