May 3, 2017 Our first evening in Rome! We left Canada at 12 noon, May…
We were up and at ‘em at 7am — not a common occurrence these days — and were scarfing down a hearty, hiker’s breakfast, by 7:15. The weather forecast for the day boasted a beautiful, sunny morning, and threatened afternoon thundershowers, hence our early start. Michael made a pot of coffee, and brought it to our French neighbours in the van next door, they had come over last night to ask if we had any weed, and even when we told them no, we ended up chatting for about an hour, Gavin and Tiffany, and their dog, Nina. They too, were up at 7 today to do the hike up to Lago di Sorapis. Last night, we parked in a big meadow under a bridge, next to a waterfall. Sounds idyllic, but the real dream of this spot was that we were a two minute drive from the trailhead!
We pulled up to the start of the hike, where only a handful of other cars were parked, and with a quick check to make sure we didn’t forget anything important, like the gummy bears, we began! The beginning of the trail was nice and easy. It was a bit of a climb, but the shade from the beautiful pine tree forest around us, made it very manageable. We came to a clearing in the trees and for the first time today, caught a view of the valley. Just totally spectacular. The Dolomites are a crazy mountain range. The mountains emerge from the ground as little mounds, and then, huge, flat walls, rocket up to become craggy peaks. The mountains we were looking at were no different, and the valley was wonderfully wide, giving us such a view. It’s views like this that make me want to climb higher and higher — if it’s this good now, imagine what it will be like 800m up!
The path emerged from the forest and we left the shady cover of the trees. Our peaceful, pleasant walk through a forest, became a rocky, sun-drenched, trail with a hefty drop on the one side. We held on to the cables bolted into the rock beside us, to give us some peace of mind about the cliffside, and took it nice and slow. We were directly in the sun at this point, and the sweat really started to roll. Nina’s tongue was dangling out of her mouth, and she was panting away.
We finally reached a fork in the road, with a signpost informing us the lake was only a few metres away. We took a few more steps up the trail, and as we crested the hill, we could see Lago di Sorapis. Oh. My. God. The water in this lake is ‘out of this world’ blue. If you had told me it was radioactive, I would have believed you. The icy, almost opaque turquoise lake was surrounded on three sides by huge, rugged peaks, and with no wind, they were reflected almost perfectly in the water. We stood for a moment, just staring at the view, experiencing what I like to call ‘summit brain’ (the phenomena in which the hiker, after experiencing intense muscle fatigue, great physical exhaustion, and, often, mild dehydration, forgets all of the aforementioned ailments upon reaching the summit of the mountain, or the ‘summit’ of the hike).
We walked a little ways around the lake, in search of the perfect lunch spot. I believed I found it, a big, flat rock protruding out into the water, but when I arrived, I discovered it wasn’t protruding at all, that it was actually surrounded by water. That didn’t stop Gavin! He stepped out to the rock closest to our lunch rock, and without hesitation jumped up, and heaved himself up onto the platform. One by one, we followed suit. Michael first, and then me. I jumped and somehow managed to pull myself up onto the rock. Woohoo! Now we really deserve lunch! I ate my wrap and dipped my feet in to the water below. It’s freezing!
After we enjoyed our lunch (and gummy bears), we continued to walk around the lake. We came to a crystal clear creek and filled our water bottles. Nearby was some leftover snow, the sun hadn’t melted yet. I’m not sure who started it, but someone discovered it was the perfect snow for snowballs. So, like the children that we are, we threw snowballs at each other. We giggled like idiots, as we tossed the snow around.
Then, it was time to go. We stood for a few moments, soaking in the views. Sure, we have photos of this place, but they don’t hold a candle to actually being here. We walked back to the fork in the road, and followed the signpost directing us to the loop. We began the walk down, a terribly steep path. The steps were uncomfortably big, and the sun was still beating down on us. We walked and talked, trying to take our minds off this ridiculous trail we chose, until a few hours later, we reached the bottom of the valley. Michael consulted his phone and the hiking app we use. We were close to the end in time, but not in kilometres. The super steep way down took ages, but we didn’t cover much ground. We walked and walked and walked. Then, when we were only about 5km from the end, we began walking uphill again. What?! Uphill both ways?! I looked at Nina, she looked at me as if to say, “why the F aren’t we home yet?” We stood in the path for a moment, all desperately trying to summon the last morsels of energy from deep down within. I gasped! I ripped open my bag, and fished out the near empty bag of gummy bears at the bottom of my bag. There were four left. We each took one and allowed the sugarto coarse through our veins. Let’s go!Up we went, sweat pouring down our faces. And then, just to top it all off, the skies opened up, and the rain began to fall. I was too exhausted to get out my raincoat, we all were, so we continued in t-shirts as the warm drops fell. I didn’t complain, it was actually quite a welcome relief from the sun.
We arrived at the road, and over the top of just one more hill, I could see the van! Van, sweet van. We drove back to the parking spot under the bridge to share one more meal with Gavin and Tiffany, before we separated ways. What an epic adventure to share with two strangers! The sun, the lake, the views, the company, all of it was spectacular. Yet again, the Dolomites didn’t disappoint.