Hamster hikes - Summer 2018 edition
Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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We've recently been away for a couple of weeks of hiking in the alps of South Tyrol, and some good friends asked that these memories were included in a new "Hamster do stuff" GL. I couldn't say no: not only for the love of those who asked, but also because these journals are actually the most precious tool I have to keep these memories alive despite the passing of time. And because maybe someone else will read this, and embark themselves on an adventure.

So, here we go. A bucket of adventures that will include what I've done in the last month, and all what will come (hiking related) until the end of the season (somewhere in September / October, depending on when the first snow arrives).

Please be patient (and subscribe) because this will be a bit different from previous GL, i.e., I'll upload content slowly over the summer, and not on a daily basis like I did for Austria back in February.

If you're interested in following my travels in general, or wanna check some of my past adventures, you can check (or subscribe to) this GL here: Hamsters travel around the world




EDIT: James crafted a marvellous MB to celebrate this series of geeklists:

Microbadge: Traveling the world with the Hamsters

Thanks to anyone who might consider getting it
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1. Board Game: The Rose King [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1234]
Board Game: The Rose King
Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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Microbadge: Geek RegularMicrobadge: The Great Brain Robbery fanMicrobadge: Green Bay Packers fanMicrobadge: Black Lives MatterMicrobadge: Bisexual
The first week of holidays felt flat. Rain every day, and when it didn't rain, we had storms. So, some days were spent just reading books and playing games, with occasional strolls around the valley, and a few shy attempts at something bigger. In one specific case, we made 30 km of one of the most marvellous hikes of all times, but it was completely in the clouds / in the rain, so, alas, pictures will come when we do it again next year (hopefully).

But then, finally, some sun. So, we leave our flat early in the morning, and we decide to make a first hike (the valley is new to the both of us mostly: Andrea was there for work a few years ago, but never had a chance to hike, while everything was just new for me) along a lost miners trail. The path unwinds lateral to a magnificent waterfall, where we stop for a few minutes, enjoying the brutal magnificent of the waters

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


The trail goes up, across a not-so-smallish snowfield and then the forest opens up, leaving space for just a few trees and a host of rhododendron flowers

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


The scenary is certainly stunning, but the plusvalore is guaranteed by the opportunity to visit the abandoned mining colony, which included lost tunnels to explore, barracks to visit, and a wide net of paths leading to different entrances of the mining complex. Amongst them, abandoned wells open, and stone staircases chiseled by giants wind up along impossible angles

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


We keep following the steep trail under a scorching sun, and after a while we arrive in a gorgeous gorge, where flowers hide the threats of the cliffs, and the murmuring of water is the only voice fending the air.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Moving along the gorge, we know we reached a "roof": a wide plateau from which the civilized world is no longer visible, and if we look backwards, as novel disciples of Orpheus, nothing but an enchanted piece of land, almost untouched by man, appears:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


In front of us, the plateau opens in an endless sea of grass, where grey rivers of crystal water run from snowy peaks, and the wind sings its timeless songs, whisperings of the ancient nights the earth lived

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


We hike through the valley, with marmots as only companions, trying to reach an unreachable hut. There's too much snow for us to go further, considering the weather is worsening at an insane speed. Just the time to stop where meadow and ice meet and have some fruit and chocolate looking at the landscape.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


And then we rush down to valley, laughing like kids who stole something beautiful in the garden of the Gods. Halfway down our way the storm lands on our head, but lightning is far away from us and we reach base camp, drenched and aching, but happy.




Where: Ahrntal / Valle Aurina, South Tyrol
Duration: 6 hours for the hike + time to explore the mines
Difficulty: not technically difficult, but the first part of the hike is *really* steep (need to be fit, or it'll be very tough)
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2. Board Game: Carcassonne: Amazonas [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:1438]
Board Game: Carcassonne: Amazonas
Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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Microbadge: Geek RegularMicrobadge: The Great Brain Robbery fanMicrobadge: Green Bay Packers fanMicrobadge: Black Lives MatterMicrobadge: Bisexual
The storm of the first day became constant rain over the second, but when we woke up at dawn of the third, we were greeted by a perfect day of cobalt blue skies framing a horizon of immaculated peaks. A chilly wind was blowing outside, making the air rich of the smell of fresh snow and swollen earth. We pack some of the winter gear we always have with, and we continue our journeys.

We quickly get rid of the initial slope, leaving a thick forest of pines behind us, to emerge on a plateau where blooming rhododendron spots in rich color the grass.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Some clouds still remain here and there, dotting the sky in white, chasing each other in laughter. Feels like a good day to go up, one of these days when you think there's no return to base camp forseen, just an endless wandering through realms of beauty in which you can easily get lost. The blood beats on our eardrums, in perfect harmony with the frequences of the earth, and in a very short time, we're hiking through a high-altitude moor, enjoying the many lakes mirroring the mountains around us, the argentine purity of their waters, and the tortuous recoiling of the rivers

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


The slope finally becomes calmer, and we start hiking atop of the world, in a quite scenic yet incredibly cold landscape, immediately below the snowline

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


until we finally reach the lake that was our original destination.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Clouds are very low on the water, the outside temperature is close to 0°C, and the restless wind is almost painful on the few parts of our body that are exposed to the air, and yet, all of this just makes us feel more alive and part of everything.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


But when the sky finally clears up a bit, the sun paint the world in a completely different light.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


We return following another trail, deep back in the forest at first, and then, back across many streams, to the plateau from which our journey started. Instead of returning back, we decide to go a bit more along that grassy altitude, only to get lost in a host of golden flowers. Thinking of Wordsworth is inevitable, while our heart dances on the way back in harmony with the flowers woven by the wind

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
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3. Board Game: The Lord of the Ice Garden [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:1276]
Board Game: The Lord of the Ice Garden
Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow? (J. Saramago)
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Microbadge: Geek RegularMicrobadge: The Great Brain Robbery fanMicrobadge: Green Bay Packers fanMicrobadge: Black Lives MatterMicrobadge: Bisexual
The more we stay in this valley, the more we feel our real home being just a shadow belonging to a different past. The spell of the waters, of the steepest slopes, of the fresh-fallen snow enthrales, and makes easily forget all the earthly troubles. We leave again very early in the morning, with a dream in our head: reaching an unreachable pass, look at what's behind the corner, and try a different way to go down. But there's just too much snow, so, we really don't know. We only know that at 7 am, it's time to close the door and answer the call.

The weather looks solid, and we start at a good pace, despite slopes here being more impervious than expected. Colors are already bright, despite the early hour:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


After the initial fatigue (muscles are still a bit aching), the Valley of the Wind opens up in a first plateau invaded by the remnants of a gigantic avalanche fallen probably a month ago, with the first heat of spring. We cross the snowfield listening to the sound of the river, carving the snow from beneath, and then we proceed to cover a new step of rock, after which we see the first waterfalls

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


After that, the trail gets lost in the snow. For 20 minutes or so, we keep going following the direction shown on the map without finding much evidence of the trail:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Reached a new plateau, we know the trail bends on the right, but that part is simply impassable: too steep, and too thick the snow cover. We spot a passage by going along the hillslope for a while, and we attempt going that way, with the help of some protruding rocks. That's when some big chunks of snow (the size of a football?) almost hit Andrea. We look up, and there's a group of guys working on the trail, opening a path in the snow. Not so happy, we run under the falling snow, and we take a shortish break to wait for the rest of the trail to be a bit more cleared, so we look at these guys working. Quite an amazing sight: one of them had a chainsaw (no kidding) cutting the snow on the vertical, and the other two with pike and shovel had the blocks landsliding. We took this as a good sign, and once they are done, and a solid yet icy track is open in the snowfields, we go up until we pass the "problematic" area. Only to find that the rest of the trail is entirely covered by a huge snowfield (with no trace opened in it, of course). Above us, the surrepticious pass we so much wanted to reach. So close, yet so distant. But the snow is good, and it's still early in the day, so, inevitably, we go.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


(the tiny figure in the bottom-center of the rightmost picture is our friend Saverio, to be used as scale for distances; the steepness of the snowslope could also be seen here, at Saverio's passing from the snow back to the trail)

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Finally reaching the pass felt like touching the sky for real:

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Exhausted, we lay on the grass that covers the other side of the pass, and we spend some time watching the clouds and the gleaming surrounding peaks. There, Andrea takes this shot, potraying the idea that

"whenever you're sent head to tail by the difficulties of life, remember there's always beauty around you"

Spoiler (click to reveal)
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


We start descending, following a new trail on the other side of the pass, spending some time to contemplate the beauty of the unexpected

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


And then back again, down those golden pastures of dreams, where rivers and land marry in harmony and beauty. There's time to dive into crystal clear (and cold) waters for a swim under the waterfall (for reasons of international security, hamster not included in the picture, sorry)

From gallery of Scarlet Witch


and from here, down, back to earth, even if the heart was still journeying in the highlands.

From gallery of Scarlet Witch
From gallery of Scarlet Witch


Once home, in the evening, Andrea makes me listen to a song written by a Finnish band named Tenhi. I think it's perfect to dilate time, and relive memories, so, I'm leaving it there, to share it as part of the journey.






Where: Ahrntal / Valle Aurina, South Tyrol
Duration: 8.5 hours for the hike + pauses
Difficulty: not technically difficult, but in June or September be ready to do a lot of snow
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