Alta Via 1 Trail

Sunday July 14th – 10 of us left Rochester.

Monday the 15th – we arrived in Venice.
Delayed 1.5 hours and 3 buses to catch.

We arrived to Pragser Wildsee by foot – walking the last 2 miles to Lago de Braies. And would find this to be our trips only encounter with rain.
DAY 1: 12.12 miles
6 hours 22 minutes
Elevation 4,970ft

Lago de Braies at Pragser Wildsee

Casual start – since we did not have a very long day. But the trail from Pragser did not ease us into climbing.

The switch backs here are steep. And rocky. But we’re greeted by large rocks, open fields, and wild flowers. And lots of cows.

Greg and I at the start.

Rochester Running Co asked me to help with this trip back in January (along with the Grand Canyon). And of course I would say yes. I had no vacation time. But I would make it happen.

My favorite views often had these grassy rock fields.

Day 1 ends at Rifugio Lavarella. The Rifugio with the most cows of the trip. We would find it hard to fall asleep. Maybe because of the cow bells. Maybe because of the time change. We were living 6 hours in the future.

DAY 2: 13.33 Miles——————————–
8 Hours
Elevation: 4,770ft

This was our groups favorite day. The trail was a little more forgiving to start. We were exposed. To paths, rocks, climbs, and no escape from the sun. We would start running any parts that we could. We started bombing downhills. The best technical running I’ve ever seen.

Our favorite descent.

A few of us went on a little detour to Refugio Lagazuoi. Involved some extra climb, a lot of switch backs, and World War II tunnels. We thought we’d get some water while up there – but it was not potable, or filterable. But mostly just detoured to say we were on the highest point of the trail.

Greg and Michelle on the way up.
Highest point of the trail! 8500 ft.

Greg and I would run down the switch backs from here. Our first of many fun descents.

We would end the day at Rifugio Averau. My favorite so far. High in the mountains. Good food. And cheap glasses of wine. We had a bit of fun – the next day would be our easiest and shortest day.
—————————————————————————————————————-DAY 3: 13.45 Miles
5 Hours 20 Minutes
Elevation: 2,526ft

As expected – no one felt great starting this trek. Thankful for the downhill start, and easy hiking. We eventually started running – and to everyone’s surprise – it felt OK.

Enjoying a day of gradual climbs and awesome trails.

We would end the day at Rifugio Passo Staulanza. And arrived early enough to sit down for lunch. Hit the Spa (for real). And have our nightly family dinner.

View from our bunk room.

DAY 4: 18.4 Miles—————————————————————————————-
8 Hours 42 Minutes
Elevation: 5,000ft

The next 2 days would be our longest, and most difficult. But we were ready after our easy day and night of recovery.

Day 4 was almost my favorite. The trails never disapointed. I was where I wanted to be. I could stay here. Only wishing my insides would feel normal.

For a few months before this – I’d been having weird stomach issues. Pretty intense pain sometimes. Lots of tests and no answers. I guess If nothings wrong, I can push on. But frustrating to have to hold back at times.

It bothered me here. But it’s been worse at home.

I questioned my ability to lead. But I felt strong. I felt a little unprepared – as I didn’t know much details about the trail. But I was here – and I’d do my best. If only as support, a friend, and an extra body that’s capable and can carry a GPS device.

But I melted. 3/4 of the way done. I waited for Drew who took a pit stop. But inside – something was wrong. We were climbing through a steamy forest. Drew arrived and passed me, and I trekked on. Soon after found myself unable to catch the group.

JohnAlex saw me and told me to drink water – told me I was a faucet. I was drenched. I drank some water – soon to find, that was the last of it.

I kept moving in the back. I hit a dark spot. I needed calories. But had no water. Depleted in every way. The tears rolled in.

What kind of leader am I?
If anything… I guess I can demonstrate death and redemption.

Greg waited up for me and donated his water. And we finished up together.

Everyone sat outside at the Rifugio, and ordered lunch. And confused the waitress. A lot of soups, cheese sandwiches, and french fries. I was still depleted, and sat in food depression. I would wait till dinner.
——————————————————————————————————————DAY 5: 19 Miles
10 Hours 50 Minutes
Elevation: 4,724ft

Our earliest start. No breakfast. We were up and moving by 4:30 AM. A little worried I would hit a wall again. But I wouldn’t let that happen. This is redemption day.

Every day there are parts of the hike I would never forget. Everyday is something I hadn’t seen yet. This day had us climbing steep and rocky. And on the edge of the world.

Just because you tire one day, doesn’t mean it’ll happen everyday. Just because you struggle at one thing, doesn’t mean you’ll struggle forever. You can hit a wall, and keep moving. And sometimes just moving is enough motivation for others to keep going as well.

Kathryn told me I was a power house. But also showed how to be human.

I remember Elissa saying it was motivating seeing me slow down. Everyone at some point – needs to catch a breath.

We were on our longest day – and also our last. I wasn’t ready to stop living in these mountains. I would miss these trails. Running with these people. Family time at the Rifugios. Top bunk every night. These mountains filled with rock fields, wild flowers, and roaming cows.

We live everyday only seeing people for limited time. We just spent 8 days and every hour together. This group could have done many more. I would never tire of their company. I would miss it.
Total Miles: 75+ish
Total Time: 5 days / 39 hours and 14 minutes
Total Elevation: 21,990ft
Thankful for Rochester Running Co trusting me to co – lead. Thankful for Greg who planned such an awesome trip. And amazing job coordinating transportation, with bus schedules, train schedules, and flights.

This was a trip of a lifetime. But the people made it that way.

I wrote in my little journal once. After day 1. I questioned why I was there. Feeling undeserving. And un-leaderly. But then again – why am I anywhere?

I go where I want to go. I take opportunities. And every time – it’s what I’m meant for. Mountains, multi-day treks, technical trails, sleep deprivation, and being human.

The end.

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