Saturday, September 21, 2013

Alta Via 2 - Day 1 - Bressanone to Refugio Plose

August 27, 2013

The bus leaves Bressanone at 9:33 a.m. from a stop near the town's university, line 321 towards St. Andrä. Fare is free if you have Brixen Card which one can obtain at any hotel in Brixen. 

At Plose we have to make our first decision - to hike the 4000 ft up or to take the gondola and significantly shorten our hiking time. The weather is not good and is supposed to get progressively worse during the day. If we are to get any views, we need to get up fast. Dave and I opt for the gondola while Darren decides to do the hike.

The gondola ride, also free if you own a Brixon Card, takes about 15 minutes. It must be a scenic ride but the clouds obscure most of the views today. 

A leaflet taped to the gondola's window suggests that there is a guided tour offered today (and every Tuesday) at 10:00 a.m.  The hike from the top of the gondola directly to Rifugio Plose is estimated to be approximately 1.5 hours. The tour takes 5 hours of hiking time along route #14, also called Via Panoramatica Dolomiti. It seems there will not be any panoramic views wowing us today but we have plenty of time and decide to take the tour. 

It takes us to Gableralm, a sort of a farmhouse which offers cheese platter with a slice of bacon and variety of warm beverages.  As expected we do not see far but the sheep, cows, and horses roaming the slopes around us provide opportunity for some interesting photographs, and we find ourselves admiring tiny blue bells and pink, heather-like plants, and even find enjoyment in interesting cloud formations. Gableralm is where we leave the group as they proceed back down to the chair lift while our journey ends at Rifugio Plose today. We retrace our steps on route 14, crossing intersection with route 7, a ridge run that must be fun on a sunny day. We spend few moments contemplating the route but with heavy clouds above us threatening with immediate rain, we choose to continue heading out on route 14 until the intersection with routes 4 and 6, the official Alta Via 2 route. It climbs gently all the way to Plose, located approximately 30 minutes from the last intersection. 

The sun peaks out for a brief moment, it feels good but the rain comes shortly afterwards. It's a short but intense shower followed by another brief moment of sunshine. At this point we are looking down a valley close by the Rifugio, route #3 snakes towards a structure at its bottom, a rainbow connects its forested hillsides. It's a very nice view. 

Our room is not ready when we arrive at 13:53 so we warm up with a cup of hot chocolate (cioccolata calda) and rush outside for a quick photo shoot when the views open for another brief moment.

The Refugio is surprisingly quiet. It's us three, a family of noisy germans, and later a group of three more trekkers arrive. Just when we think this is it, couple from Colorado adds to the count. They join us for a dinner which is included in the cost (we are offered a choice from special mountaineering menu, 3 items for first course and 3 items for second course) and we spend the evening with them discussing various adventures around the world.

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