Early in July 2007* I hiked in the Dolomite mountain range of Northern Italy (South Tyrol) – in the Rosengarten group, particulary. The area has a large network of trails, and high alpine hostels and huts that are each only about a half day-hike apart from each other – which means one can hike very light, without hauling a tent and large amount of supplies. Clothes, a pillow case, a sleeping bag and enough water and snacks for a day-hike are enough.
This comfortable way of hiking and the stunning scenery make the area very popular during the very short summer season (depending on the weather usually from mid June through the end of September) when all huts and hostels are open. It is advisable to make reservations to secure a good sleeping place – the hostels won’t send anyone away, but one might end up sleeping in a large dormitory filled with mattresses, and you know the rule: those who snore fall asleep first. :)
I secured a tiny (see photo below) one bedroom chamber at Rifugio Vajolet, a hostel operated by the Italian alpine club CAI-SAT for July 5th through July 7th. In the morning of July 5th I drove from Burghausen in Germany to Karerpass (Passo di Costalunga) at an elevation of 1745m. I parked the car, grabbed my hiking gear, and off I was, on the trail.
My first stop for the day was the Rotwandhütte (Rifugio Roda di Vael) and the neighboring Baita Marino Pederiva located on the Ciampaz saddle at an elevation of 2283m. There, I had some great pasta for lunch, before continuing the ascent to Passo Cigolade (2553m, highest point on that day) before descending into the Vajolet valley to the aforementioned Rifugio Vajolet.
The weather was a mixed bag, clouds were moving in in the afternoon, it even snowed briefly up at the pass. The high alpine regions of the alps are always good for a surprise but I was well prepared, put on my hat, scarf, gloves, and braved the cold. :)
I arrived at Rifugio Vajolet (which shares that particular spot with the privately owned Rifugio Preusser) around 5pm, checked in and was assigned my chamber (it is very common that one has to simply deposit the passport as a security, and Rifugio Vajolet was no exception – you get it back as soon as you check out. I’m mentioning this because there will be a little story about that on Day 2).
After dropping off my stuff and making the bed I went to the common bathroom and washing area (one story below my bedroom) to freshen up, and then joined the countless other hikers for dinner. There’s no real “menu” at these hostels – one has a choice of maybe 2-3 different meals. One is called the “hiker dinner” and is a real bargain (it is the mission of alpine clubs to enable people to hike and guarantee basic provisions at a very low price).
Those dinners are great because you get to meet people from all over the world and it’s a lot of fun to chat and exchange stories. With the long drive in the morning though and the first day of hiking at a high elevation, I felt rather tired and soon went to bed. The little wooden chamber with its simple wooden walls did not exactly provide a lot of noise dampening and I could hear the guy next door snoring pretty soon – earplugs are an essential part of hiking equipment too… :)
*) this is an archive blog post published in 2015; it has been dated back to the actual date of the event and photos.Thanks for reading! You can stay up to date with my blogposts and subscribe via email (the subscription form opens in a new browser window/tab). It's easy as pie! :-)
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