Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Heading up Fanes (South Tyrol day 3)

Time for an overnight mountain trek! Despite the need to wear actual hiking boots (we are, after all, in South Tyrol, not the Schwarzwald), the way cultured out-doorsy Europeans enable this is by building comfortable accommodations--refuggio, with restaurants of course--on mountain tops. Thus we drove to the end of the Rautal/Valle di Rudo, parked at the Refuggio Pederü/Pederoa, and headed up into the hills.

Here's a video summary of the beginning of our hike, starting from the refuggio (already below us) and doing a complete 360o. Our destination was over the pass with the rock slide into the next valley, then over another pass up to Fanes. (Hear the bells? The fields below were full of cows.)

Looking back down to Pederü. The twisty road is mainly for vehicles to bring supplies up to the refuggios (built for military use during WWI, it continues all the way over the mountains, but is closed to through traffic)...

...and is also used by bicyclists, like S. Can you see him? For a brief hour or so, going up at the beginning of the trail, hiking was faster than biking.

Ah, here we see a lovely wide trail on a shallow mountainside. Compared to the hike we did the day before, this was easy peasy for the acrophobe.

The road and the trail intersected; E and I paused to watch S slog his way uphill. After he caught up with us, we continued to the right on the trail while he went left on the road, figuratively leaving us in the dust.

E and I went over the pass and into a cirque. We kept expecting Fanes to appear around the next corner, before figuring out it was the next cirque up.

Taking an apple break... There were several opportunities to skip over to the road, which would have been wider and flatter, but we stuck with the trail.

The last obvious place for a break before reaching Fanes. We're almost at the top.

We continued on our way and were greeted by S, who had already made it to Fanes, checked into our room, and biked back down to find us. We paused by a creek...

...before arriving at a pair of delightfully...quaint...signs, pointing the ways to the two refuggios. Up in the mountains, surrounded by nothing but immense beauty, two refuggios in the distance, and, wow, these signs. The Fanes sign depicts a blonde woman in blue and white with a star on her bosom--a princess?--and--wait, what?--some gnomes holding a shield. Googling reveals that the princess is a heroic warrior queen, Dolasila, from the Ladin epic saga of the reign of Fanes, and those are gnomes of legend, handing her a shield. (Eagles and marmots are also key players.) The saga dates back possibly as far as 800 C.E. In the sign, the 20th-c. Fanes Hütte is depicted to the right of Dolasila (which would be to Dolasila's left--which I mention only because right/left verbology became a topic of stimulating debate later on during our trip).

Amazingly, the Fanes Hütte in real life looks like the Fanes Hütte predicted by the sign of legend; how'd that happen?

This area was heavily fought over during World War I, since it marked the border between Italy and Austria, and belonged to Austria until Italy annexed it in 1918. (South Tryoleans continues to feel more Austrian than Italian to this day.) As evidence of the battles, the refuggio has a pair of WWI mortar shells from Monte Castello (one of the mountains in the Fanes range) in front. (When we returned to Gschliererhof the next evening, S watched the 1931 film Berge in Flammen--available on Youtube--which does a good job of capturing both period mountaineering daredevilry and the strangeness of the mountains as a battleground.)

Kitsch art abounded too, demonstrating that gnomes can hide in anything. Apologies for failing to photograph the kitschy mannequin in the lobby.

In the evening, S and I took a stroll up the trails above the Fanes Hütte.

Pederü is over the pass, through the cirque, and down down down to the left.
A wooden astronaut had claimed the mountains for Ladin. (We didn't know, until we happened across a newspaper in a museum two days later, that this was part of a temporary Ladinische art installation--SMACH 2017--a "constellation of art, culture, and history in the Dolomites." This particular installation is "Space Days," by Fabiano de Martin Topranin.)

Click to enlarge. It's worth it.
Fanes Hütte viewed from above
A hut near the neighboring refuggio

As the sun went down, clouds rolled in.

Click to enlarge. It's worth it.

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