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Easy hiking

16 Jul
16 July 2016. We unabashedly take hikes rated as “easy” these days. Having injured both knees over the past two years, hikes labeled “moderately strenuous” are now usually just plain strenuous for us. Altitude gain doesn’t bother us too much once we are acclimated, but tough footing, disappearing trail signs, and steep descents give us cause to pause and think about how much we value our lives.
Marinzen is a lovely rifugio. Many people just ride up to hang out and not even hike.

Marinzen is a lovely rifugio. Many people just ride up to hang out and not even hike.

According to the book “Walking Guide Around the Alpe di Siusi,” the hike we chose for Friday, #10 for the record, was to be an easy hike. It was depicted as a round trip that was to take 2.5 hours with 214 meters of altitude gain and loss. We are slow hikers, so we figured even if it took 3 hours, we’d be fine, and there were two rifugi where we could get lunch. Piece of proverbial cake. Ha!
The Marinzen chairlift. Scenic, but such a cold wind this day! It goes up, up, up into the trees ahead.

The Marinzen chairlift. Scenic, but such a cold wind this day! It goes up, up, up into the trees ahead.

The lift to our starting point at Marinzen leaves from Castelrotto at the base of the Alpe di Siusi. Marinzen is an older chairlift. Nothing wrong with it, but it is less comfy than some others in the area. It is a long ride, about 20 minutes, and this day, in JULY no less, it was cold, about 9 degrees Celsius (48 Fahrenheit) with a biting northerly wind. Brrrrr. Once we hit the trees we were shielded from the wind and the sun came out. At the top, we found a delightful refugio with baby goats only a couple of weeks old. They (the rifugio, not the goats) served great strudel, one of the best we’ve had, and a perfect cappuccino. God, I love hiking in Italy! We could have stayed awhile, but there was a hike to do.
Goats being fed parsley stems at Marinzen.

Goats being fed parsley stems at Marinzen.

The hike starts on a gravel road then veers off across a meadow with a faint track leading to a shrine. Past the shrine is a trail sign. We knew to follow #12. The path steepened so we took out the hiking sticks. It was a steady climb, but not bad, with occasional rocky sections, nothing horrible. We are, after two weeks here, acclimated to the elevation and the level of activity. Still, as we trudged on I felt it better to go forward because I really did not want to go back down that steep trail. My knees and my nerves dislike steep descents. A couple of places it was hard to discern the exact trail but we were able to look up and spot the CAI red and white sign and determine the proper path.
Looking back toward Marinzen as we set off on Trail #12. Such a promising start!

Looking back toward Marinzen as we set off on Trail #12. Such a promising start!

Younger people were passing us by, but we persevered. Then we came to a place where the trail might have gone straight or might have taken a left steeply uphill to a set of log steps with a railing. I was tempted to go straight, but a man was coming down from the left so it seemed a good bet that was the trail. No sign, of course. The next part was navigable, although basically a deer path with a steep drop off to the right. So glad we had our hiking sticks! Up and up we went, the drop to our right so steep that a misstep would mean waving goodbye and planning a funeral. Then we encountered an avalanche of boulders blocking the trail. It looked like a landslide from a long time ago. I wanted to turn back, but knowing how challenging the ascent had been, it made me weak in the knees to even think about it. Was there a trail that continued after the boulder field? Ric bravely scrambled up to see. Yes, he thought we could make it, so grabbing handholds on the boulders and carefully placing our feet so as to not twist an ankle or take a header over the cliff, we managed to clamber over the 40 feet of boulders blocking our way. It was not something one would expect on an “easy” hike.
Rest stop view. By this point most of the harrowing parts were over. Looking down on the valley where Castelrotto sits.

Rest stop view. By this point most of the harrowing parts were over. Looking down on the valley where Castelrotto sits.

Continuing on, now aided occasionally by some log railings to prevent a disastrous fall, at last we came to a lovely overlook with a picnic table, perfect for a rest. This was just over an hour into our supposedly 2.5-hour round trip, but we still had a long way to go. We could see the Cabinovia Alpe di Siusi and it was still a long way off. We knew our objective was past the line of the lift as it ascended. Our 1:25,000 scale hiking map showed we were past the rocky areas, but we hit one last bit of scree to navigate in an area of some water run-off then, luckily, the trail veered into the forest and the deer-path-with-a-drop-off disappeared in favor of a woody path with some rocks and roots. Relief! Eventually we joined a road and walked easily to Hotel Frommer. Walking time was about 2 hours. We are not fast, but we were moving as best we could. I think the trail is severely mislabeled at 1 hour. 
We were so concentrating on hiking that we did not take trail pictures. Oh I wish I had a picture of the boulder field and Ric crossing it! Here, the deer path is bordered by a fence to prevent falling. Not the case everywhere along this trail

We were so concentrating on hiking that we did not take trail pictures. Oh, I wish I had a picture of the boulder field and Ric crossing it! Here, the deer path is bordered by a fence to prevent falling. Not the case everywhere along this trail

In fact, in post-hike wonderment, I went seeking more information on this trail, which was very hard to find. A source I found in Italian put this section alone at 2 hours with 400 meters of elevation change given the ups-and-downs. This is, to our point-of-view, more accurate. Ric used his altimeter app to check the altitude at several points and determined the authors just checked the altitude at Marinzen and the altitude at Frommer and did the math, not accounting for higher points along the way. Losers. Oh, and the second source rated the trail intermedio, not easy.
Can you see the little blue ovals? That is the cabinovia that whisks people up-and-down from the Alpe di Siusi. We are nearing the end of the hike, having passed under it.

Can you see the little blue ovals? That is the cabinovia that whisks people up-and-down from the Alpe di Siusi. We are nearing the end of the hike, having passed under it.

Starving by now, our strudel long forgotten, we decided to have lunch at Hotel Frommer. But there was no one in sight. Seemed closed. Time to break out the emergency trail mix and, unbelievably, wait for a bus to rescue us. Since we are in a land where travelers and hikers are catered to with public transportation, we found while sitting at our little picnic rest area that there is a bus that stops at Hotel Frommer. Score! The next portion of the hike was to be on a different trail, and the signs indicated perhaps an hour, but based on the experience to this point, we had our doubts. We did not want to chance it. In 20 minutes a bus came along and for €8.50 per person we rode down in comfort, all the way to Castelrotto, instead of finishing the hike.
Note the sign at teh bottom, 1 hour to Marinzen. We were 2+ at this point on the "easy" hike.

Note the sign at the bottom, 1 hour to Marinzen. We were 2+ at this point on the “easy” hike.

In a bit of a snit since we have now done three hikes from this book and two of them severely under-estimated the duration, I wrote a very thorough email to the author, who had invited feedback. Wouldn’t you know, the email bounced. I’ve tracked down the publisher in Castelrotto and forwarded our thoughts to an “info@” email address. No reply as yet.
Thank goodness we are experienced enough to weather a hike like this. Thank God we didn’t have small children along! Or a dog! Our old collie would’ve been impossible to get over the boulder field. The book has warnings about hikes not suitable for kids, but this particular trek carried no such warning. Surely things change in trail maintenance over the years, and this book is 6-years-old now, but I guarantee that boulder field has probably been there since before local hero Luis Trenker was in utero. It was not an “easy” hike.
Baby goats!

Baby goats!

 
It's all about the view and I love this one of the Sciliar and Punta Santner.

It’s all about the view and I love this one of the Sciliar and Punta Santner.

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27 Responses to “Easy hiking”

  1. Willow November 18, 2016 at 02:46 #

    I so enjoyed this! I’m a newbie to hiking–actually a little fresher than that, haha, and 63 to boot. It’s been on my bucket list for decades and now I figure I’d better get moving while I barely can! I’m so glad you point out that you can still hike when you get older when things get worn out–just take it a little slower! Wonderful photos and it looks like a wonderful time!

    Like

    • GoodDayRome November 18, 2016 at 15:06 #

      Welcome to hiking as a senior! The key is to just get going and keep going, putting one foot in front of the other. And cappuccino, of course!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Willow November 18, 2016 at 17:29 #

        Thank you! Of course, what’s always on my mind is. Where’s the bathroom! 😂

        Like

        • GoodDayRome November 18, 2016 at 22:08 #

          In Italy and Switzerland that’s not much of a problem!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathleen September 29, 2016 at 19:26 #

    Just want to send you a big “THANK YOU” for the information and inspiration to hike in the Dolomites. We came back from Ortisei a few weeks ago and I cannot tell you how helpful your blogs were in making our trip successful . It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

    Like

    • GoodDayRome September 29, 2016 at 19:37 #

      Kathleen, That is wonderful to hear! Please tell me, what was your favorite hike?

      Like

      • Kathleen October 1, 2016 at 21:35 #

        I would have to say it would be the last hike of our trip which was from the Resciesa Lift and although the day was a little hazy it was breathtaking. We took the western #35 trail to Santa Croce and the cross. By this time we were able to identify some of the mountains and had a better perspective of what we were seeing. The Odles, Val di Funes, Alpe di Suisi, Sallolungo and Sassopiatto all from one trail. Beauty beyond belief. It didn’t hurt that there was an incredible hut ,Rifugio Rasciesa, and we followed your lead stopping for strudel whenever possible. Thanks gain!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Barb Shogren July 26, 2016 at 03:53 #

    I’m exhausted just reading about it!

    Like

    • gooddayrome July 26, 2016 at 05:15 #

      Hi Cousin! At least it was not hot out! And that bus at the end was so welcome.

      Like

  4. Marcia July 17, 2016 at 23:30 #

    You had me at baby goats and strudel. We climbed Kilimanjaro three years which as difficult but now….I need spinal surgery for damaged nerve endings and like you, hate descents and scree! Up is fine. Down is evil. Would have hugged tha bus driver no matter the price. You’re both amazing.

    Like

    • gooddayrome July 18, 2016 at 17:56 #

      Down IS evil! I used to dread the ups..now it’s the downs that kill me. Ah, aging….

      Like

  5. paintdigi July 17, 2016 at 17:44 #

    Good articles, beautiful images, and beautiful website..Bravo

    Like

  6. Maarja July 17, 2016 at 05:12 #

    Oh my! The views are gorgeous but I got nervous reading until I remembered that you wrote this AFTER the hike!!! You two are brave !

    Like

    • gooddayrome July 17, 2016 at 19:47 #

      It is a fine line between brave and stupid. Actually we had no choice once in-for-a-penny! Having been hiking daily for two weeks at least gave us the wherewithal to persevere!

      Like

  7. ckleonard July 17, 2016 at 00:31 #

    Beautiful scenery! If I had been with you, I would have stayed to play with the baby goats until you returned. Then I would have been a wreck when you didn’t return in the time frame you said you would!

    Like

    • gooddayrome July 17, 2016 at 19:48 #

      Those goats were a draw! Luckily there is cell phone coverage EVERYWHERE up there so we could have called you!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Deb July 17, 2016 at 00:30 #

    They need a “WTA” there. . Paul is out now repairing trails, and it’s a great website for up to date with reports on trail conditions. We do have great vistas, but maybe not as spectacular as there and much harder to find strudel! Enjoy!

    Like

    • gooddayrome July 17, 2016 at 19:51 #

      I know! We could not believe the poor signage. Usually they are very good. Even sadder is that a map company could put out a book with such poor guidance and inaccuracies. We took another of their hikes today: 3H45M instead of the 2H30M predicted and they calculated altitude gain/loss by doing the difference between beginning and end, which was 170 M loss. But we had 45 minutes of uphill hiking between the two point. Go figure!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. graciamc July 16, 2016 at 23:02 #

    Glad you survived! I think I’ll stick to hiking through towns with cafes!

    Like

  10. Bill Walls July 16, 2016 at 22:07 #

    Thanks for sharing your informative experiences on the trails of the Dolomites.

    Like

    • gooddayrome July 17, 2016 at 19:52 #

      Our pleasure! I think I need to write a book: “Hiking for old people who live at sealevel.”

      Like

      • ckleonard July 17, 2016 at 23:43 #

        I am not a hiker but reading about descending, I see a possibility for another hiking tool. A flat sled (like you use on snow) that you just sit down on and control your speed with your hiking poles! Of course I would suggest one has plenty of padding in place!!! :o)

        Like

        • gooddayrome July 18, 2016 at 17:55 #

          Hahahahaha! I carry padding. 🙂

          Like

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