Not a bad day...

Being in Venice, almost had forgotten about these colors. Unreal.

On what I figured would be my last day in the Dolomites I woke up around 7 am to eat breakfast with Sara and Emilio, wondering what today would have in store. Another delicious breakfast. Yes, with cold milk and cereal. Again. Seriously can’t underestimate how much of a blessing this is to the American traveling through Italy! Today’s goal was to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo and ironically the night before, Sara’s dad, who also lives in Pieve di Cadore, stopped by and mentioned he was going north to Austria with his wife the following morning and could drop me off close to my destination on the way to Austria. Took it as a sign that it was more than meant to be.

How perfect though as there wouldn’t be any buses running very close to Tre Cime today and if I had taken the bus system it easily would have increased my traveling time by 2 hours and decreased the amount of time I had to spend on the trails significantly… so this was probably way better than cold milk.

I walked down to the main little center in Pieve and met up with him and his wife around 8:15 after stocking up on some fresh bananas and water from the local supermarket. Sara’s parents were great! What else could I expect at this point? They spoke a little bit of English and fluent Italian so it was very easy to communicate as we drove through the stunning scenery enroute to Lake Misurina, which was very close to the Tre Cime entrance.

Sara’s dad and I especially hit it off right away because he too loved hiking, traveling, and meeting new people. He told me traveling stories like when he was 25 he flew to New York City and rented a camper to travel all the way to San Francisco. He made many stops along the way in his month long journey and took extra note of Nebraska, New Mexico, and California.
Humorously, he told me the story of when he arrived to Oakland, California and was approached by a man his age who asked him if he wanted an $8 ticket to the Bruce Springsteen concert taking place that night. Being new to American culture, he had absolutely no idea who this Bruce Springsteen was, but figured it was a good deal for tickets to a concert so he accepted the offer and a most memorable night. Still laughing about it to this day.

I calculated, for me, that a ride to Tre Cime was worth way more than a Bruce Springsteen concert ticket 🙂

What a beaut - Lake Misurina

What a beaut – Lake Misurina

We stopped at a shop right next to Lake Misurina along the way and they very kindly bought me pastries and cold milk! Lot of cold milk out here. We continued to discuss the area and all the beautiful places to hike around it, which made me realize I would need to come back here many more times in my life to get a full appreciation for this magical place. Lake Misurina itself was a gem.

After we finished up eating, they drove me as far as they could along the road to Tre Cime right before you had to pay to enter. It was 22 EUROS to pay for entrance with a car!

That was crazy, I thought. Worth 3 Bruce Springsteen tickets! Sara’s parents confirmed as they reminded me this is usually a very touristy place, but since it was late October it was basically the best time to visit. Not as many cars as usual would be passing through the gates and I didn’t plan to hit it during the still autumn and pretty off-season, but this worked out perfectly! Nevertheless, neither of us were paying 22 euro.

We said a few final words as they helped me get my stuff together and pointed me in the direction to go. Sara’s dad also gave me his phone number in case I got stranded or needed any help. Extremely thoughtful. What a family. We said our goodbyes and as soon as they left I missed them. Very nice, down to earth, friendly, and open people. It was a breath of fresh air as always and then I went on to venture up the windy road for 2 hours to get to the top of heaven. There is something oddly thrilling about walking all the way up a road made for cars. I considered putting the thumb out, but there were not many cars passing and the views were enough.

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Fellow trekkers!

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That’s a workout.

It literally was the perfect day for late October. Not a cloud in the sky, sunny, 55 degrees, and a nice breeze. The forecast the previous day was a little unsure, potentially rainy and gloomy, so once again I lucked out! Thank you Dolomite gods.

Though it was a pretty long and decently steep hike to get to the top with a 25 pound backpack, man was it beautiful. Fall trees and leaves combined with the dramatic and sharp mountains is a sight I wish I could see daily and one that I won’t forget anytime soon. Few cars passed me on the way up, and at this point I could only feel bad for them as they were flying up the hill. I really believed they were missing out by going so fast up the hill. There was so much to see, absorb, and appreciate that I was glad I was walking up the whole way witnessing the scenery at a slower pace despite the extra exertion.

Eventually I got near to the top and then decided to try and take a short cut where there wasn’t a trail. After wandering through plenty of grass, rock, and big animal poop, I got to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been (accidentally as with all views on this trip). The three peaks were on my left, and a valley consisting of larger than cloud mountains were in front of me. I think by this point I was around 6-7,000 feet up and yes was it worth every foot. Simply stunning and transcending views. I sat and absorbed them for more or less the rest of the day and ran around seeing the other views – climbing on the sides of the mountain as happy as a little kid trick or treating on Halloween. Probably happier. Literally jumping around (carefully) full of this Dolomite and wanderingly free spirit.

For those 4-5 hours, I was in pure bliss. Just loving the moment, no worries, happiness, and freedom…. exactly as cliche as it sounds, but in the best way. A feeling I will try to emulate as well as possible for years to come. Joy.

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Destination reached.

Destination reached.

After riding in 3 different cars with people (some locals, and a 95 year old German who told me about the wars in the mountains and the pepole he killed) who were friendly enough to drive me to my destinations despite some minor difficulties (some locals helped me make a cardboard with the train station destination on it which I held until they felt so bad they themselves gave me a ride). I eventually arrived back to the train station around 5 pm and caught a train to Padova, on my way to Venice.

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When I arrived in Venice, I woke up, and felt inspired by every detail of the dream which had lasted for 60 ish hours. Every hour full of fresh air, friendly spirits, and feelings of being free. – Dolomite Dreaming

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