Hiking the Italian Dolomites | Tre Cime/Drei Zinnen

Not sure of the weather in the upcoming days, we took advantage of a “sunny, with clouds” forecast and headed to Tre Cimi/Drei Zinnen, one of the more dramatic of our planned hikes in the Dolomites. 20160906_103735_resizedThe “Three Peaks” are the most recognizable groups of mountain peaks in the entire Dolomites. The three immense towering mountains of limestone once formed the border between Italy and Austria and, due to their important strategic location, later became one the the most fiercely fought over areas in WWI.

To reach the trailhead for this day’s hike, we took a bus from the Dobbacio Train Station, just around the corner from our hotel. Forty-five minutes later, after a slow climb up the mountain, we started our hike just behind the Rifugio on a trail that was the size of a two-lane dirt road. We didn’t have to wait to reach the top before seeing some of the most outstanding views in every direction.

We had two options for the day . . . a relatively shorter option with minimum effort (afterwards, I questioned the term “minimum”), and the longer option with a little more effort and more time required. We all agreed on the shorter option, which would allow us the most flexibility in getting a seat on a mid-afternoon bus back into town. Even though the peak tourist season is over, there were lots of people hiking the trails, some with their dogs, babies, and older relatives in tow. All I had to do to keep my energy up and one foot in front of the other was to look up and see an 80 year-old woman moving down the path with little effort and a smile on here face!

 

We had a much-deserved break and a hot lunch inside the Drei Zinnen Hutte. Outside on the deck, we were rewarded with a magnificent panorama of the Tre Cimi. In total, we hiked a little over 11 miles this day, the last few miles of which were marched aggressively towards the end of the trail, since we were determined to be on the 3:00 bus back to town.

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There were already 20 or more people “in line” where we reached the bus stop, but we soon found out that in Italy it doesn’t matter who gets in line first . . . when the bus arrives the crowd pushes forward without regard to personal safety or priortiy! Fortunately, we were standing in the right location to be pushed forward towards the door (and sometimes backwards) before we were able to enter the bus.  Only 46 passengers were permitted on the bus, and in the end, about 8 people had to wait for the next bus. The last bus left the mountain at 4:30, and as we passed three or four bus stops down the line, the bus driver gave those waiting a “sorry” shrugged shoulder and sped on by.

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