That day we did one of our most favourite day hikes in Dolomites starting from Passo Gardena, getting through Refugio Puez to the village Selva di Val Gardena. This is the perfect 16km hike to do if you have little time to spend in Dolomites but want to see all their beauty. And we would recommend it to everybody because of the variety of landscapes and so many wonderful and magnificent nature scenes.
We woke up in the campsite Marmolada in the town Canazei quite early, had our breakfast and leaving our tent and camping equipment there were ready to go for a new hike. We wanted to explore the Val Gardena region and decided to do a one-day hike making a loop starting from Passo Gardena and finishing in the village Selva di Val Gardena.
So we hoped on the bus, travelled through the most breathtaking high mountain road and after around 40 minutes we were at the place. The bus came quite a bit late and so we did not have much time to waste as we had our bus back to Canazei at 5pm, which was only in 6 hours.
We were starting from the mountain plain Passo Gardena, which had a cable car station, several refuge houses and a restaurant. We had to search for the right path a bit because there were so many different trails spreading in different directions. Then we finally found the right trail number 2 that we were going to follow all the way until the downhill starts.
So we began to conquer a 600m uphill which was moderately steep and difficult because the snaky route helped to make it less vertical.
While hiking up we saw several cable cars working on the surrounding mountain summits and thought that it would be nice to explore the high mountain paths without actually doing a challenging uphill. We learnt that there are many cable cars available in the region and you can buy a pass that allows you to enter them all for the limited amount of time. That is really nice but just can be a bit pricey.
In the meantime, we were admiring the wonderful views down the valley and on the high mountain rocks opposite to us and in the distance. They looked so cool and scary at the same time especially the dark rocks. Their massiveness was astonishing.
On the way, we saw several groups of people climbing the rocks and even though we did not know how to climb, we were very tempted to try it for the first time there. Because this terrain was perfect for rock climbing with so many possibilities to choose from. We are sure that for the climber lovers it is an absolute paradise.
The rocks were everywhere and we were hypnotized by the variety of their forms and shapes. We passed through the rocky gorge which was one of the most unique places we have ever been to because of the amount of massive rocks that were very close and it felt like we were in the place where they formed. And this feeling of how tiny we are in comparison to these giants we will remember for a long time. We could spend a lot more time there just admiring the views but unfortunately had to leave because it was just the start of the hike and we did not have much time to spare.
Although the dominating feature of the landscape were the small and big rocks we could spot several very beautiful plants and flowers growing right from the rocky ground. They looked beautiful but were quite sturdy and low to survive the harsh wind and difficult weather patterns on the altitude.
Then we came to one of the first viewpoints from where was seen the rocky reddish canyon and it reminded us a bit of a mini version of a Grand Canyon. We have never been at this place but it looked a bit similar to us in color and form.
Then after doing a small downhill, we faced quite a lot of steps going uphill again to the other beautiful viewpoint.
The weather was very nice that day, partly cloudy, partly sunny which was a perfect combination for hiking. We just hoped it to be the same all day long.
Then the trail started to go quite flat with just small gentle hills. It was the easiest part of the trail. Rocky landscapes continued and we felt like we are wandering in the rocky kingdom with rocky buildings, castles and inhabitants. Sometimes we could not believe our eyes looking at some of the formations because they seemed out of this planet brought here from the other worlds. So deserted they looked.
We were in awe most of the time and if we had not to hurry, we could probably stay here for hours staring at the views and admiring every angle of view. So all day long, we felt sorry we did not have more time to do this trail slower. So the advice would be to start early in the morning and give yourself a lot of time for this trail then you will get the most out of it.
In addition, the thing we have noticed about the trails marking in the region is that they are all in the same red and white colors and only the numbers differentiate them. So it’s important to pay attention to the numbers in order to stay on the right track.
So we came to the middle point of our trail to the place where we were doing a loop turning back to the valley. Our legs were grateful for a flatter route we had until now as from this point it was starting to go slightly down.
We have noticed that most of the people on the trails in this area carry either small or lightweight backpacks so most of them are doing just the day hikes. But we also spotted several people with really big backpacks and we wondering whether they are doing any long distance multiple day hiking and are carrying all the camping equipment with them. As we knew that the wild camping is strictly prohibited in the South Tyrol area and also we ourselves did find it quite a difficult terrain to pitch up a tent. If we were to wild camp one day, we wanted to know whether it was possible and experience of these people would be really helpful.
On the mountains lawns we started to see lots of white and black sheep pasturing all around the slopes. The sheep were of a very particular kind with long hair and curvy horns and some of them even reminded us of lamas from Peru, Latin America. They looked very cute and sweet and behaved very quiet. We wondered whether people use their hair to knit the sweaters or some kind of souvenirs or they breed them for some other reason.
Talking about animals in these several days of hiking in South Tyrol, we still have not spotted any marmots or mountain goats and it was a bit unusual for the mountains. Therefore, we were thinking maybe it’s because of the very rocky terrain or high altitudes the variety of wildlife wasn’t that big. However, we wanted to learn more about it and possibly find some wild animals in the next days.
Also we found that there weren’t many water sources or drinking water on the trails that we’ve done so far. We met just a one or two and it is a bit weird for the mountains where we are used to have more water around. But here even the rivers were the rare case. So it is just something to keep in mind especially when planning to do a long distance hike.
Then after enjoying this easy stretch of flat path we faced the downhill and started to follow the trail number 16 that was going down into the valley to Selva di Val Gardena. So we had an 800m downhill in front of us.
This downhill appeared to be much longer and harder than we expected. It was quite steep with lots of steps at first and then just getting down through the rocky paths. It was very hard on knees. Until we hit the flat ground at least two hours have passed and at this moment, our legs were super shaky and tired. We ourselves did not have any rest in between and did not have any snack so we were quite exhausted and hungry then.
So following this crazy fast pace we were back on a flat ground again and had only 5 kms left till the village and an hour and a half to our bus. So we still had to move forward without any break. The weather got cloudy and it started to rain, we were grateful that it happened only at the end of the day. It has been the same weather pattern with an evening rain for five days now. We passed through the cows pastures down in the valley, got through the village dirt roads and were out in the town Selva di Val Gardena where we took our bus back to Canazei.
It was an amazing day of hiking for us. The scenery we got to enjoy was very diverse and beautiful. We think it was the first classic Dolomite style hiking trail for us. The places we went through were the absolute paradise for any creative person with a camera, we could make lots of great shots there. And if we could spend more time there with the different light and different angles we would have had even more beautiful work. We hoped that the next trail wouldn’t be less impressive as we were about to hike to the famous Seceda mountain and we were excited to see what it brings to us…