Alta Via 2, Day 1: An Auspicious Start

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For the past several nights, we have gotten way off of our trail schedule, staying up late and sleeping in past 7, which has been a nice change pace but is not super helpful when it’s time to get going again. We have a few errands to run this morning, including mailing our suitcase ahead to Feltre and picking up a few supplies for lunches for the next several days at the grocery store in town.

After stuffing ourselves at the nice breakfast buffet at the Hotel Jarolim, we head to the post office first. There is no line, and we are able to mail off our 17 kg bag for just under 20 Euros, which is a steal of a deal in our books. We would definitely be willing to pay a lot more not to have to carry all that stuff up and down thousands of meters over the next 12 days!

We pick up a few cheeses and some bread and crackers to make some lunches for the next few days. We will not be hitting our next town until Stage 6 of the trail, so we are hoping that the Italian AV2 rifugios offer pack lunches like the ones did on the TMB and Haute Route. We head toward the cute, little fruit stand in the pedestrian zone to buy some fruit for lunch today only to discover that there is a market happening in town this morning.

In addition to the cheese and vegetable stands that are pretty standard at these types of affairs, there is also a krapfen booth where a whole group of people is working assembly-line style on making a gigantic ravioli type pastry filled with your choice of spinach, sauerkraut or marmalade and then deep-fried. There are different people doing each part of the process, from kneading the dough to rolling it out, from running it through the pasta maker to filling them and crimping the edges. We can’t resist the chance to try them and get a spinach one to share.

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There are some tables set up where locals are sitting and chatting, eating their krapfen and drinking wine (even though it is only 10 in the morning!). Workers dressed in traditional costumes of lederhosen and the like are busy clearing the tables and keeping things moving. It’s a fun, little slice of Bressanone life, and we are happy to have this random opportunity to experience it.

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By the time we get our fruit and get back to the hotel to finish packing, we are dangerously close to the 11 o’clock check-out time, but we manage to pay up just in time and hit the trail, so to speak. The first few kilometers takes us from the train station, over the Isarco River and through the outskirts of Bressanone where we finally pick up our first Club Alpino Italianio (CAI) trail signs directing us to San Andrea.

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Here we get off the main road and head up a country lane past an enormous old manor house, quaint fruit orchards and impressive churches before ducking into the forest for a short spell. It’s almost noon, and the steeper the trail becomes, the hotter it seems to get. We are both dripping with sweat as we zig zag up the hillside on a dry, rocky trail. So much for the clean laundry!

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We emerge from the forest and pass a few more farmsteads before coming to San Andreas, where we pick up the lift up to the Plose. The guidebook describes the choice of walking or riding here as a difficult decision, but it’s a no-brainer for us at this point in the summer, and we are grateful to skip the 1000-meter climb underneath the gondola and take a break where we can. The hotel gave us a free pass to ride it, making this decision all the easier.

We hop into one of the individual cars and enjoy the long ride up, taking note that we don’t see any hikers on the trail zig-zagging just below us. We emerge at the Plose, an outdoor adventure center for hikers and bikers where there is an inviting restaurant and a really cool, interactive wooden sign announcing our locale by spelling out the letters PLOSE in giant wooden forms that are large enough to sit and climb on.

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The middle O looks somewhat like a huge hamster wheel with a bicycle contraption inside it. While we are there, a young boy pays to ride it and gets strapped in before using his leg power to go round and round the wheel. It’s a wonder he doesn’t throw up during the process, but its pretty cool to watch someone else do it.

We grab a quick cappuccino (when in Rome…) and use the bathroom before following the #7 trail up to the Plosehütte. We stop on a grassy ski piste for our picnic lunch and watch the sky warily as it grows darker and darker in the direction that we are heading. The clouds are thick everywhere and don’t give us much opportunity to get a good first glimpse of the Dolomites, but we are hopeful that things may clear up before evening. We pack up and head up the hillside to the refuge.

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The trail is steep in places but easy to manage and before we know it, we are on the deck of the rifugio. We check in and are shown to our dorm room, which we have all to ourselves at the moment. We take advantage of the opportunity to pick the bunk of our choice and grab a few of the cubbies for our things.

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We take a hot shower to clean up, do a little much-needed maintenance like cleaning our camera lenses and our water bladders properly and rinse out our t-shirts in the bathroom sink. Then it’s down to the bar/restaurant to hang out and catch up on some blogging and photo processing before having a delicious dinner.

Breakfast is included at this rifugio, but the dinner is a la carte like a restaurant. We order a chanterelle mushroom pasta and a plate of three delicious cheese dumplings with melted butter and parmesan (Südtiroler Kasnocken/canederli di formaggio). In our many prior travels to Italy, we have never had these giant gnocchi-like dumplings before, and, let me tell you, we have been missing out. We are hoping that this is a standard dish in this area and that we will be able to get them again soon!

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We had planned to go on a short sunset walk to a viewpoint after dinner, but the fog has rolled in.  It is as thick as pea soup, so we sit tight and decide that tonight we will get back to the hiker schedule of early to bed and early to rise. Hopefully, the fog will lift before the morning so we can see some amazing views tomorrow. Buona notte!

4 thoughts on “Alta Via 2, Day 1: An Auspicious Start

  1. This is all too beautiful for words — and you are making your fans hungry with all that gorgeous food. Never in 50 years in Italy have I seen pasta being made outdoors in a stall. Only you two could find something that esoteric. And yummy.

  2. You slept in until 7am! Wine at 10 am! Glorious food! What a fantastic day! I wish one of you would have tried the hamster wheel!

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