Marie Couderc & Nil Hoppenot
HOW WE ARRIVED IN THE DOLOMITES AFTER ALREADY 4,500 KM HIKING
Crossing Southern Europe on foot from West to East is a huge challenge. We could have done it through many different ways but crossing the Alps was a life dream for us. So here we were, planning this crazy adventure making sure we would arrive in the Alps during a viable window weather wise...
In this trip, hiking is a mean to access places and people that we couldn’t have met otherwise. Since we started, 9 months ago in Portugal, we hiked something like 4,500 km across 5 countries. We crossed mountains, deserts, coasts, fields, marshes, burnt lands, lakes… We faced wind, rain, hail, snow, storms, freezing nights and criminal heat. We met entire families, lonely people, children and elderly. All of these made our experience what it is.
Crossing the Alps, the main ordeal of the adventure
After 6 months of this diet, we thought we were ready for what happened to be the biggest trial of this trip. But none of those could have prepared us for what was waiting for us in the Alps. The hardness of the trail, the tremendous positive elevation and the huge distance we hiked in the Alps in France, Switzerland and Italy exhausted us but they were actually nothing compared to the grace of its landscapes and the diversity of its wildlife.
Enjoying the Dolomites off season
Parisian people like us did not know much about the Dolomites before preparing this thru-hike. Mostly we had in mind pictures of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Before preparing our itinerary, we had no idea how wide and divers Dolomites were. Before coming here, we had no idea we would fall in love with this place. Those steep and gigantic limestone reefs, sometimes absolutely vertical, left us speechless. A unique show that took place everyday, making us feel undoubtedly smaller and smaller kilometers after kilometers.
Those places we will remember a lifetime
From the Passo Sella we saw the whole Sella mountain range and got attracted as magnets. Climbing up there was not our initial plan and the weather was not that good. Anyway, we could not resist and we headed to the Piz Boè. All the huts were already closed mid-October and we did not meet anyone. This desertic, rocky and foggy land felt like another planet.
We probably like learning as much as hiking. This is likely what made us visiting the Lagazuoi tunnels. We actually had no idea of what happened in this part of Italy during WW1.
We thought the Lago di Braies was a must see in the region, so this is where we arranged to meet our two next guests. Yes, since the beginning of this adventure, already 12 people from all over Europe have joined us for a section of the trail. The Lago di Braies surrounded by high mountains, the white limestone around and the colors of autumn match perfectly.
On our way to the Tre Cime, we met very few people. At this time, only the Rifugio Auronzo was still open and it was obviously Our plan was to sleep at the winter bivacco of the Rifugio Locatelli. The approach was impressive but the Three Peaks left the four of us speechless. These giants emerging from the earth, surrounded by intimidating trees are pure beauty.
Respect what is offered to us
Visit such a mythical place as the Dolomites off-season seemed like a privilege to us. Meeting almost nobody, experiencing a perfect weather and enjoying the welcoming bivacci around… Being able to spend the night in a safe and dry place is priceless! And it made us regret even more finding some of them with abandoned trash inside. We felt that cleaning those bivacci would be a nice way to keep the 1KG FOR THE PLANET challenge and to return the favour to those places that have welcomed us for a night.
The end of the Dolomites, on our way to Slovenia
Now we have left the Dolomites and we are heading to the Slovenian border. We picked the Sella Prevala to enter this 6th country. Since the storm of the past days, there is quite a lot of snow up there. Crossing the last two passes will not be easy but hopefully the weather is now dry and there are several bivacci that give us several sleeping options in case we cannot make it as fast as we think.
A page is turning on our crossing of the Alps. The Dolomites raised themselves on the podium of the most incredible places we have discovered so far and we will come back for sure!