Wet, cold and absolutely breathtaking – camping in the Dolomites

I was sure that the times, when I could be so amazed by the mountains that I would just run around with open mouth and take picture after picture, were long gone since I spent a couple months in Swiss Alps or since some of my trips to Norway. You know how it is with mountains – they are always beautiful, I always feel good there, but I got used to the fact that I don’t feel any wow effect anymore. That me and the mountains are like a good, old marriage – we are good together but the fireworks are just not there anymore.

And then I went to the Dolomites.

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The idea came out of nowhere. I had 10 days between my Italian Workaway and meeting my parents in Slovenia. Going the shortest way from point A to point B would take about 5 days. I had to fill the other 5 days with something. I was looking at the map considering different options when I suddenly remembered a picture I saw somewhere: camping under Tre Cime di Lavaredo. I checked it and I found  out that there is a beautiful tarmac road leading up to 2300 m.a.s.l. where I can put up my tent and enjoy the night surrounded by the rocky giants. This vision clearly won against the other option: „I go to the coast and chill out”.

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Excited about the upcoming challenge I left Cogolo di Peio and headed towards South Tirol: the land of apples, grapes and straggly, almost tropical vegetation.

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Passing by numerous apple orchards I arrived to Merano, when I was supposed to be hosted by a couchsurfer – Antonia.

– I will not be back home yet when you come, I will just leave you the key,  make yourself at home – texted Antonia a day before my arrival. How many people do you know who would leave the key to a complete stranger, tell them to help themselves to any food they want and offer them to stay two nights instead of one? Moreover, Antonia wasn’t doing that because she didn’t have anything else to do or because she needed company. She was quite busy during my stay, but she just wanted to share her big house and her guest room. She’s an angel!

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Saturday evening in a beach bar without a beach, in the excellent company of Antonia and her friend.

On the cloudy Sunday morning I left Merano and started to cycle to Bruneck, enjoying 30 kilometers of flat and nice bike route along Adige river and then an easy, not very steep uphill. I spent the next two days on a campsite, waiting for the predicted rain to pass.

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On Tuesday I counted on the wind to blow away the clouds and I started to cycle again. I passed by an amazingly turquoise lake, Toblacher See, and after a few kilometers of this ordinary ride, this day like every other day started to turn into an incredible experience.

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I felt as if I’ve entered a monumental temple and I wasn’t sure, if maybe by going there I was committing some kind of sacrilege. Vertical walls to the left and to the right, dark clouds above me and the feeling of being surrounded just by silence.

I was contemplating the beauty of the Dolomites, more than ever appreciating the fact that I was cycling alone and nobody was interrupting me in this contemplation, when suddenly curtains of rain fell from the dark clouds and before I managed to hide somewhere I already felt as if I had just taken a shower. With all my clothes on. IMG_0162IMG_0168IMG_0170b

After less than an hour it stopped to pour and even some sunshine started to come through the clouds and I started my battle with the hardest part of today’s route, from Misurina to mountain hut Rifugio Auronzo. Seven kilometers, which look like this on paper:

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I cycled the first four kilometers. During the last three I was fighting for survival. Not only because with the bags this uphill is hell (I probably wouldn’t do it in one go even without the baggage). The weather decided to help my agony while I was pushing White Arrow and served me a heavy rain once again. The rain was getting colder with every vertical meter and at 2000 m.a.s.l. it turned into dense fog.

–The views are going to be splendid, indeed! – I thought and started to regret that I didn’t decide to rest on the coast.

I arrived completely wet at the mountain hut and with my cold  hands I started to put up my tent on a meadow close to the parking full of vans.

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– Do you need help?– I heard.

I turned around and saw a smiling guy with dark hair.

– Thanks, I’m good – I answered.

– So maybe you would like to come over for dinner  in a while? – he pointed to a van and a girl with a dog standing next to it. – You would probably like to eat something warm.

I couldn’t refuse an offer like that and after some minutes and after changing into dry clothes I was sitting under a hood together with a nice Italian-German couple and eating spaghetti. The clouds were slowly going away and when the sun started to go down I had no longer doubts that it was worth all the effort.

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It was worth freezing in a tent at night and wake up for the sunrise too.

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A walk around the famous peaks of Tre Cime di Lavaredo wasn’t as mystical as the ride the day before, because of the crowds of tourists, but it was definitely full of incredible views. There are undoubtedly worse places to camp and walk!

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The trail around Tre Cime is quite popular among dogs.

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An impressive elderly couple cycling to Rifugio Auronzo on a tandem.

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