Dolomites Diary Day 5
19,225 steps

This walk was only a few minutes' drive from our apartment in Teodone on the outskirts of Brunico. We were all feeling fairly sleepy after our rest day, which wasn't helped by the fact that we started with an hour and a quarter of incredibly steep climb from the very beginning!

We parked the car and started heading up through pastures. The hills were hazy with heat around us but luckily we soon entered a forest which shielded us from the already voracious sun. Put simply, it was a really hard slog up to the top. I could feel the tendons and muscles in my calves and heels straining with the effort. Every time I thought we must surely be near the top on account of the thinning trees, we seemed to reach another point where the woods parted and taunted us with a view of a further incline. But eventually we reached a short plateau in a clearing with one final uphill push ahead of us, up to a ridge which offered a sudden widescreen panorama of blue mountains.

Beneath us, valleys were scooped from the land like bowls whilst all around us, a frill of distant peaks receded in the distance. We gently climbed up to our lunch spot across undulating planes before stopping at a bench on top of the world, and indulged in a picnic of bread ad cheese and tomatoes and carrots and breadsticks and Nutella.

Then our party split - there seemed to be two available paths, one taking the high road across the jagged peaks just above us and another dipping down into shallow valleys before slowly climbing up again. Haico and Ogio took the high road over the rocky crags whilst the rest of us took the gentler low road that coasted beneath the harsher climbs. We watched them ascend until they became tiny little stick men in the distance.

As our route began to climb upwards to join their ridge-top path, a small family of grouse scattered from behind the rocks. We reached the backbone of the mountains and turned to see the adventurous pair clambering over sharp stone peaks, made ant-like by the distance. Leaving them behind, we progressed onwards across grassy ridges and over rocky clambers, towards our next resting point which was marked by a wooden cross. At one point, a chain drilled into the rock helped us to hoist ourselves up over an otherwise rather hairy peak, the mountain sloping dramatically down beneath us.

We waited beneath the cross, signing the mountain logbook which told us of the importance of signing the books regularly to help with mountain rescue efforts, whilst the intrepid explorers caught up. Once they had, we were unexpectedly joined by a pair of bees who decided to make a little home out of Haico and Lizzie's hats!

And then it was all downhill from there!

We bumped into a German couple whom Michele had befriended earlier in the walk. They had taken the route in the opposite direction to us and stopped for refreshments at a cluster of huts further down the hill. The thought of an ice cold beer or radler was more than enough to quicken our pace! As we approached the buildings from behind, they looked incredibly unpromising but we were overjoyed to find that the little hut was indeed open upon entering the courtyard. There, people sat enjoying hearty meals of homecooked food and refreshing quantities of beer and schnapps. We took a table and a radler each before trundling on down the hillside.

Back at the carpark, we made plans for a BBQ in the gardens of our apartment building that evening. And despite the fact that we had our longest hike the following day, the one we had been training for and building up to, we spent a long evening in the garden and filled it with glittering prosecco, a golden haze of light, various disputes on how to light a BBQ and copious quantities of food; thick slabs of oozing cheese done quickly on the grill, soft slices of seeded bread, a huge bucket of salad, a light and fluffy potato salad and mountains of grilled vegetables.

We stayed up long after the moon had replaced the sun amongst the clouds. In the end, I crawled tipsily to bed ahead of everyone else at around midnight, with the others snaking in about an hour or so later. So much for preparing ourselves for the big hike of the week the following day...