Sunday, July 23, 2017

South Tyrol, day 2: the prequel

This is the main abode at Gschliererhof:

Breakfast was on the ground floor, to the right; we stayed in the left-side upstairs apartment. The glass doors looking out on the balcony provided lovely and ever-changing views:


The breakfasts were beautiful, especially the one our host prepared on summer Solstice.

The usual spread: yogurt, muesli, cheese, cukes, tomatoes, bread--and the exceptional cake.
16 strawberries, plus one to grow on.
A family rite of passage: when the child turns 16, s/he receives his/her very own slide rule. S gave E S's dad's slide rule, a 1965 Faber Castell 67/87 Rietz.
Hello, chicken.
The farm has a chapel. The hilltop behind it looks just a short walk away, but it's on the opposite side of the valley (click on the photo to see the houses on it).

Piz da Peres (South Tyrol day 2)

To begin: a bucolic soundscape video (to compare/contrast with Day 1's).

I wrote in the previous post that my camera was not good at capturing the depth and steepness of the views in the Gadertal/Val Badia. This continued to prove true for every hike we took: from walls of stone towering above us to boulder-strewn ravines dropping below us--everything looks like an easy hop, skip, and jump away in the photos. In contrast, the video offers a slightly better view of relative sizes and elevations. The peaks at 0:17-0:23 were our goal for Day 2: Piz da Peres.

The acrophobe would like to reiterate that even though it doesn't look like it in the photos, the trail we took was really steep. Even the easiest sections through the woods and wildflowers near the bottom of the peak were steep. But scrabbling up the rocky trail toward the top, the acrophobe reached her limit and refused to go any farther, recognizing that what goes up must come down. She thanks the non-acrophobes who were with her for taking photographs from the other side of the pass, and for not laughing too hard as she slid back down the steepest scrabbliest parts of the trail on her butt.

Before we head up the mountain, here's a look at some of the many wildflowers we saw on the hike. 


Yellow alpine poppy with something purple

Now, the hike. Guide books and online descriptions describe it as an easy hike, but not great for small children. It's worth noting that "easy" in the Alps/Dolomites means "no ropes, cleats, axes, or other climbing gear needed." In contrast, demanding hikes in the Schwarzwald come with signs advising hikers to "wear sturdy shoes" (meaning "avoid flip flops and high heels"). For Piz da Peres, we had three pairs of hiking boots and one pair of walking poles between us.

That peak up there is our goal. It's not very far away, just up.
Trying to convey steepness by putting a human in the photo. I'm just a little ahead of him on the trail.

E (R) and S (L), a little ahead of and above me on the trail. I think I gave up around here.
View of glacier-covered Marmolada in the distance. I didn't climb high enough to see it...
...but E and S did.
Proof I was there. Doesn't look steep, but my feet are in a ditch.
S patiently waiting for me as I narrate my way down. E is way ahead of us.
OK, here we go. Either S is half as tall as E, or the trail is steep. Why does it look flat in the photo?
Does having plants in the foreground help it look steep?
Back in the green woods

Saturday, July 22, 2017

South Tyrol: days 0-1

In mid-June, we flew to MUC. We picked up a rental car, then drove to Steinebach for a quick lunch with H & co. at Paradieswinkel, a.k.a. Woerl. Located on the Woerthsee, it's S's favorite spot for dining al fresco.

Woerl (view from the dock)
The water was amazingly clear, making it possible to photograph fish from 15 feet away.
E and I walked from H's to Woerl and back--about 50 minutes each way through fields and along the lake.
After lunch, we said farewell and drove south to South Tyrol. South Tyrol is the northernmost province in Italy, with an affinity for Austria; the primary spoken language is German. (The other languages are Italian and Ladin.) S did all of the driving; E and I slept most of the way, waking up occasionally to munch on Johannisbeeren and radishes. We stopped in St. Lorenzen for dinner, where traffic was being redirected to accommodate a helicopter evacuation following a motorcycle-car crash. (We saw lots of motorcyclists the week that we were in South Tyrol, and heard a proportionally disconcerting number of helicopters.) After dinner, we drove the last few km to our Ferienwohnung, Gschliererhof, located on a working farm nestled on the side of the hill between St. Lorenzen and St. Vigilio.

S drove a little further up the road so we could see this preview of hikes to come.
The next day, we hiked up the hill above Gschliererhof, to see what we could see. Our 5-hour loop route took us along trails and roads to Enneberg and back.

An abandoned farm house en route. My camera did not do a great job of capturing the tree growing through the stairs.
View looking toward Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park
I said "look cool," and he did.
Holunder--a.k.a. Elderberry
The town in the valley is St. Vigilio; the church on the hill is in Corte.
Enneberg has a pretty little baroque church (altar dates from 1636).

Obligatory organ photo
After leaving the church, we tracked down some popsicles--hard to do at 3pm in a rural town of ~2,900. Even with a year's worth of freezer burn, they were the most refreshing popsicles ever.
Another view of Corte, because the view was so magnificent.

Falling hexagons, next 3km
My camera isn't great at capturing steepness/depth, but notice the nearly vertical drop left of the road.
We bought a big chunk of Bergkaese at the bio-cheesery, thinking it would last us a few days. Silly us.
Gschliererhof. This photo, like all the others, does not do justice to the steepness of the hill.

Monday, July 10, 2017


In some ways, not much has changed since last summer...

...although we saw many things change during this year's trip.

June 19 (note the green field, top right...
...which was incredibly radiantly green)
By July 4, the green rye had caught up with the neighboring golden field.
Probably the most significant change--the change that contributed to this being one of the most pleasant visits to Germany ever--was that there were almost no mosquitoes on Helen's hill. I know it sounds trivial, but for those of us with tasty blood and robust histamine responses, this was a big deal. I attribute the palpable change largely to an event a few years ago, when to everyone's great relief except Helen's alas, the most productive mosquito hatchery in all of Steinebach the large rustic wooden tub in which Helen hoarded standing water collected rainwater sprang a leak --Flying Spaghetti Monster be praised!-- and had to be removed. That magnificent stoke of luck loss continues to bear fruit at least had a silver lining. (For a reminder of what it used to be like, see the first ever post on this blog and subsequent mentions. And no, I did not drill any holes; the leak was entirely natural.)