Holimites’ travel diary on the Dolomites Alta Via 1

Lake Braies

Hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts have recently returned to the Dolomites. Those that were hiking with Holimites found that they were able to enjoy the nature and trails of the Alta Via 1 almost entirely by themselves.

Our Dolomites Alta Via 1

For Holimites, the summer season is on! Some days ago, our first guided tour of the summer 2020 started. Guide and guests are excited and super happy to go back in the beloved mountains. The best way to truly enjoy the beauty of nature is to do a hiking tour from hut to hut.
Of course, due to the Coronavirus restrictions (COVID-19), this year our groups are smaller than in the previous years… but this doesn’t stop us!

Our group on the Dolomites Alta Via 1

July 10th, 08.00 am – 1st stage

The Holimites van takes us to the famous and often photographed Lake Braies, trailhead of the Dolomites Alta Via #1. It’s a sunny morning and we can’t wait to start our adventure. After the ritual photos, we start to hike uphill towards Forcella Sora Forno. And here we are, on the Sennes plateau! In the distance, some chamois are playing hide-and-seek, while the cows graze peacefully in the alpine meadows.

July 11th – 2nd stage

After a quiet night in the hut, we wake up in the morning and alas! … it’s raining! This, of course, doesn’t get in our way. Today’s stage is not too challenging, and we reached the Fanes Natural Park for lunch. The marmots welcomed us in their “parliament”. The Fanes kingdom is known because of it’s legends and myths: https://www.holimites.com/en/discover-the-dolomites/history-and-culture-005

July 12 – 3rd stage

The third stage leads us across the Fanes alp, where we can admire the particular formations and structures of the rock. For safety reasons, the path to Forcella del Lago was closed around 2 weeks ago. Therefore the Alta Via 1 slightly detours. The advantage? We pass by Rifugio Scotoni, known for it’s delicious cuisine. We stop here for lunch. In the afternoon, we hike up to Lagazuoi (2.835 m). Before going to bed we experience an amazing sunset. An explosion of colors and emotions. The combination between the soft and warm tones of a sunset and the enormous Dolomites peaks offer a magic atmosphere. The mountains are on fire. We call this phenomenon enrosadira, which happens when the Dolomite peaks take on a reddish color, which gradually turns to purple, especially at dawn and dusk. Wikipedia.

July 13 – 4th stage

We can feel the frizzy air, this morning the sun is struggling to come out, but in the end it wins the duel against the clouds. We leave Lagazuoi behind us and hike between forts and trenches to the 5 Torri area. These areas are remnants of the First World War. We are right on the frontline, which was the border between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We stop for a moment … the ruins and testimonies that we see around us, make us reflect and try to imagine the incredibly cruel moments that the soldiers must have spent in the cold winters of the war years.

July 14 – 5th stage

Today’s stage is quite challenging, but no problem! Indeed, the longer the path, the more things to discover through the Dolomites! From Rifugio Averau we ascend to Passo Giau. Hiking at the foot of the vertical walls of “Lastoi di Formin” and “Becco di Mezzodì, we reach Passo Staulanza, surrounded by the Monte Pelmo on one side, and by the Monte Civetta on the other side. In other words, we are surrounded by the huge Dolomite peaks. At the hut, the deserved reward: we could enjoy the small wellness area with saunas, kneipp and relax area. Now we are regenerated and ready for the last 4 stages of our trekking tour.

Coldai Lake

July 15 – 6th stage

From Passo Staulanza we hike uphill to the charming Coldai Lake, where we refresh our tired feet in the clear water of the glacial lake (2.172 m). We continue towards Col Rean and reach the hut. Oh, who’s waiting here for us? The shepherd with his herd of over 1000 sheep. Each year he hikes hundreds of miles across the pasture around Cadore. The shepherd told us: “It’s a hard work, but the passion and love for the animals makes it easier”.

Sheep at the pasture

July 16 – 7th stage

The view that we have this morning is breathtaking. The impressive wall of Monte Civetta seems to touch the sky, while on the other side, the 1.300 m vertical cliff face down to the Alleghe Lake. We cross the Zoldo Dolomiti, and reach Passo Duran, at the bottom of the Moiazza massif.

July 17 – 8th stage

We continue our way southwards and we realize that the landscape becomes more wild and savage. Our hearts fill with joy when we see the variety of flowers on the trail – a special gift from nature! We reach Pian de Fontana, a rustic and cozy hut. The luxury of simplicity is what we feel in this welcoming place.

July 18 – 9th stage

Last stage of our Alta Via 1 of the Dolomites: 1.640 m elevation loss. We start early in the morning, in order to avoid the warmest hours of the day.
Tired, but satisfied we arrive at La Pissa. In a little canyon we have some time to cool down before the Holimites van picks us up and takes us back to Alta Badia.

Hiker on the Dolomites Alta Via 1

Well, what should we say… another fantastic trekking week in our beautiful Dolomites comes to an end. A hut-to-hut tour means not just hiking in the mountains, but also allows you to experience nature, meet other cultures and make new friends. Nature gives you the possibility to come down, relax and take a break from everyday life 😊 It’s a re-birth for body and soul. As Nietzsche said:

“We like to be out in nature so much because it has no opinion about us.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Despite the restrictions caused by the CoronaVirus, we now have the certainty that we can continue with the work we love. This makes us very happy and proud as we have never stopped and always believed in what we do 💙

Trekking in the Dolomites: 5 must-have

If you are looking for one of the common packing lists for a hiking trip, this is not the right place. We wanted to create a list of the 5 non-material things you have to take with you during a trekking in the Dolomites. Maybe you might think they are less important, but in our opinion, these are the main attitudes to “take with you” during a trek 🙂

Common sense

“Common sense is the best thing in the world. Each one thinks he is so well provided for that even those who are never content with all the other things are used to not wanting more of it than they have.” (Renato Cartesio)

Common sense must already be applied in the preparation of any kind of trip. Once you set your route, first ask yourself whether the program is suitable for your physical condition.
Don’t be afraid to ask locals for help: it’s likely they will know whether a certain path is passable, if the route is technical, or they may have valuable information about the weather in the area.

No app will be able to tell you exactly how the weather will change from morning to afternoon, but the farmer, mowing the grass during your walk will know.

Anche Bart Simpson deve ricordare ad Homer che bisogna avere Buon senso
Common sense

Flexibility / adaptability

One of the best guidelines for trekking in the Dolomites is flexibility. We spend countless hours considering options. We do this not only for logistics on our end, but above all, for your safety. While on the trek, you may encounter a change of plans that was not listed on the itinerary, for example: due to a change in weather, you may be forced to walk down the valley, and skip a night in a rifugio that has been booked for weeks or months in advance.

Be adaptable. You most likely won’t get a private room in the huts to yourself. Set the expectation that you’ll be sharing spaces with other people in dormitories, sleeping in bunk beds. (Which is also why we recommend wearing earplugs, and a sleeping mask for those who like sleeping in total darkness 😉). Those who follow specific diets will not always be able to find the food they are used to eating, and will need to be flexible with what is available. The food supply in huts often doesn’t arrive by wheeled vehicles – in the best case, a hut will have their own cableway or supplies, but in some areas the refueling is done by helicopter.

Talking about lie in the huts: don’t be surprised if there isn’t 5G/LTE on your hike from hut to hut, and you most likely won’t have an internet speed off one trillion megabytes per second In the few riufugi that do offer WiFi service. Expect to be “out of pocket” while in the mountains.

From a true story:

The client comes to the hut and orders a sandwich. Once at the table he takes the first bite and asks the hut owner:
“Don’t you have today’s bread?”
The hut owner responds:
“If you want today’s bread, you have to come back tomorrow!”

La povera Marge Simpson non riesce a dormire a causa del russare di Homer
We’ve already had some sleepless nights

Respect

Respect could be part of the paragraph dedicated to common sense, but we think it is better to dedicate a space to it. Respect begins with greeting the other people you meet along the paths. A nice “GOOD MORNING” when you meet someone or a “THANK YOU” when someone gives you way, is always welcome. Also because on a trekking in the Dolomites, many times you will meet the same people in the huts, where beautiful friendships can be born.

Once you have arrived in the hut, do not pretend to be in a hotel with all the luxury and flexibility. In the huts there are timetables to be respected. If the hut indicates that dinner is served at 7.00 pm, it is better to be on time and respect it.

Guests often may not realize the behind-the-scenes logistical challenges of operating a hut high in the mountains: as already discussed, there are many creative solutions for getting food and supplies for tired mountain travelers. However, buying food just to try, and then sending back half a plate of uneaten food is a NO-GO. We want our guests to understand, and respect the hard work that makes a system like this work.

From food we move on to respect for nature. Leaving tissue to cover “your needs” is NOT a sense of respect. Of course, we know that when you have to run… run! In this case, some foresight. The ideal act is certainly what every good dog owner does with his friend; he collects and then throws it in the most suitable place.

Here we could start a long discussion about using plastic bags but, since it is all nature, we propose to bring some sheets of toilet paper with you. We do not use paper towels, which are thicker and not as biodegradable.

  • do “your need” in a well sheltered place
  • wipe yourself
  • cover with toilet paper and put a rock on it so that the wind doesn’t blow it away, still better if you find nice leaves instead of toilet paper
Respect - Dictionary | BrothersOfTheBook.com
Respect

Awareness

During the trekking in the Dolomites, you should be aware of what you’re doing. You should be aware of the decisions you are making, but also of the natural beauty you see around you. And, while we’re at it – the framing of that beautiful flower or landscape you are photographing for your Instagram post!

Forget the numbers, the mileage of the stages, the difference in altitude for a moment. Look around and ask yourself “What am I doing? What am I looking at?” and live the moment consciously immersing yourself in the mountains as the wise Goethe said:

“The mountains are quiet masters and silent disciples.”

What Am I Doing? on acast
What am I doing?

Good mood

Where are you going if you don’t have a good mood? During a hut-to-hut trek of several days, it can certainly happen to have a few bad days: the ones where you have blisters on your feet that hurt, or after a few days of incessant rain. Also in these situations, try to find a positive vibe. This is even easier when you travel with a group of people, and maybe a guide who knows how to bring out the best in every situation.

Homer Simpson felice
Good mood

A Bonus for those, who join a trekking in the Dolomites with Holimites

🎶 Possess a good (but not necessary) voice:
our guides are not looking for X-Factor singers, but simply those who are daring to sing a few notes of “Edelweiss” or other alpine songs.

You can be a great hiker or a great singer. The two rarely match 😂

Dolomites, everything we love!

Trail Runner into the Dolomites
💚 #everythingwelove

Dolomites: the Covid-19 emergency brings a lot of uncertainties in our life. Here in South Tyrol, Phase 2 started some days ago. What exactly this means is also a big question.

We are getting our freedom back step by step. Enterprises and shops are now permitted to open their doors, and social life move slowly and finds its way back to normality. Hairdressers and beauty salons need to be patient for another couple of weeks. And what about mountain huts and hotels? There is no answer for them yet, but they are working on that.

We of Holimites want to take this new beginning as an opportunity, and to make the best out of it. If plan A isn’t manageable, we try it with plan B. If plan B fails, no worry, there are still 24 more letters in the alphabet.

One thing is sure: life after Covid-19 will no longer be the same. This can sound scary to us, as we are used to having things “under control,” but we can use this time to examine the things that are really important to us.

Quality over quantity – the Dolomites offer a lot of space

Amazing panorama on the Dolomites
The Dolomites offer a lot of space

We and our guests don’t need anything else! Crowded streets and shops are missing in the Dolomites, which makes it for us easier to keep the required distances. Nonetheless, we are conscious that this will be an extraordinary summer season. Extraordinary doesn’t need to be worse, it will just be different.

Every single guest should be valued. This has been the guiding line for long time in our small, family-owned businesses. It shouldn’t just be: “the guest of room 111”, but “Mrs. Jones or Family Smith,” and at the end of their vacation maybe: “Harry, Jessica and Emily.”

Time to treasure the small things!

Let us not take away the serenity and the joy of making vacation in the Dolomites. It’s ALL ABOUT THE SMALL THINGS and about giving things a different appreciation.

We keep the focus on three simple things

On the adventurous and spontaneous part of us. All of us know that the best things in life happen without any plan. Let us just enjoy day by day. Stop planning everything in advance and start to take the day as it comes.

Girl fills her water bottle straight from the source
The best water is straight from the source

On sustainability: let’s improve our quality of life. Let us consciously pay attention to the quality of things. Let us treat our valuable resources with care and respect. Let’s try to do more for ourselves and more for nature itself. For example, let’s try to avoid water in plastic bottles, the best (and most sustainable) water in the Dolomites comes directly from the tap.

Sunrise in the Dolomites
Being instead of appearance


On authenticity and the desire to go more towards “being” instead of appearance. Let’s just put all the cards on the table. The Dolomites are unique and beautiful. It is only up to us humans to love them as they really are. Let’s not try to change them, try make them adapt to our needs making a amusement park out of them.

What could be more authentic than participating in a tour from hut to hut (like the motto: “back to the roots”) with us? While getting to learn our local knowledge, culture and traditions?

Magical power of the Dolomite herbs

Spruce Syrup: The healing power of the Dolomite herbs

Dolomite herbs: Spruce (Picea abies) syrup is a traditional, natural remedy. It helps again colds, bronchitis, phlegm and sore throat. The spruce tips contain lots of essential oils, resins, tannins and vitamin C. This syrup, thanks to its expectorant property, helps to free the respiratory tract from the accumulation of mucus.

Spruce tips are harvested in spring, as soon as the ends are light-colored. Therefore it is recommended to pick the tips when the moon is waxing, as a result, the strength of the plant is concentrated in the branches and needles.

Dolomite herbs: light-colored ends of the spruce are ready to be picked up
Spruce tip: light-colored ends are ready to be picked

Recipe

  • 200g spruce tips
  • 400g cane sugar
  • jar

Wash the spruce tips and let them drain. Arrange a first layer of tips inside the preserving jar and cover the layer with cane sugar. The tip layer should be thicker as the sugar layer. Proceed in this way until the tips are finished, ending with a generous layer of sugar.
Close the jar and leave it in a sunny place. As soon as the spruce tips turn brown and the syrup has settled, it is ready (generally takes 3-4 weeks).
Filter the syrup and pour it into a jar. Store the finished syrup in a cool, dark place. The valuable essential oils and vitamins are well preserved in the spruce syrup and can thus be administered in autumn / winter.

Preversing glas with layers of sugar and spruce tips
One layer of sugar, one layer of spruce tips

Recommended dosage: 1 tbsp 3 to 4 times a day

Alternative:
Honey can also be used instead of sugar.
You can also add primroses or thyme to the spruce syrup. The flowers are said to help the spruce heal the lungs from a cold.

During the trekking “The Dolomites foodway” you will discover the aromatic herbs and flavors of the Dolomites. So take a look if you are interested to learn more about it.

The new work look at Holimites

38th day of lockdown #istayhome in Italy
33rd day of what is called “smart working”. Where smart is just talent you must have of organizing your working hours, the household and the homeschooling of your children.

We are living in such a strange situation. It seems to be in a parallel, surreal world. Our eyes are facing most of the day a screen, refrigerator and pantry are just some steps away. There is a prohibition of physical activity in the outdoors (as we are used to). It feels to be like passengers of the Axiom spaceship of the Wall-E movie (see here)

Passenger of Axiom in the movie Wall-E
Passengers of Axiom

As soon as the lockdown is over we will feel like cows after a long winter season. Have you ever seen them? They are happy and pawing like never before on the first day they can leave the stable:

Before we can jump outdoors again, we are trying to do our best to make our work from home as comfortable as possible, yes right we are still working from home. So we are happy to announce the new BSW bed-sofa-work style. A pajama that can be used within your home. Comfortable for any situation and useful even for a few minutes of Yoga.

At this moment we have only a few mockups, but we are (seriously) looking for a company that could produce these pajamas for us. We are certain that this piece has potential!

Igor