When we start our hike, the peaks of the Dolomites are shrouded in a thick layer of fog. We climb higher and higher over a narrow path. The trees become more sporadic, the air slowly becomes more clear. An icy wind blows past our ears. The Parco Naturale Puez-Odle or the Naturpark Puez-Geisler where we are hiking is part of The Dolomites. One of the most beautiful mountain formations in the world, it is said. So far there is no word of a lie. Mist patches roam around the mountain peaks, most of them hidden from sight. And yet every step reveals a new and impressive view. Hiking in The Dolomites!
Hiking in Unesco World Heritage the Dolomites
We follow the wooden signs and climb up a narrow path. Dense forests turn into low bushes, the last flowers make way for quiet rocks. Every now and then a few raindrops fall down on us. With every step we take, the fog around us dissolves further and further, until only a few loose fragments roam around the mountaintops.
We enjoy the mountain air, crisp and fresh. We climb up the last meters and suddenly the sun breaks through the clouds. Golden rays of sunshine are reflected on the gray peaks of the Dolomites. It’s like the Swiss architect Le Corbusier said, the pale mountains of the Dolomites are the most beautiful building in the world.
The Dolomites show their full beauty and are awe-inspiring at the same time. During the hike over the flanks of the mountain ranges we see the rock formations and layers of the Dolomites, which have arisen in millions of years. We walk the last meters to the snow line and are rewarded with an unforgettable view.
Adolf Munkel Trail at Le Odles / Geislerspitzen
Slowly we descend again. At a new crossroads of trails, we follow the Adolf Munkelpad. Along the impressive mountain peaks Le Odles / Geislerspitzen, where alpinist Reinhold Messner learned to climb, leads one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Dolomites. Still in silence, the peace now and then only disturbed by the Grüß Gott or Servus from another walker, we hike along the tree line. The plants along the banks of the Ciacenon / Tschantschenonbeek alternate with heather bushes, a few mountain flowers and tall trees in the shady Foresta Nera / Schwarzwald.
We arrive at the Gschnagenhardtalm at 1996 meters. A thin layer of ice has formed on the windows, but inside at the stove it is wonderfully warm. While we enjoy typical South Tyrolean dishes, sauerkraut and dumplings, a men plays the accordion. We can only leave after a glass of schnapps from the house and listening to a quotation from Reinhold Messner: “Zu meinen schönsten Kindheitserinnerungen gehören die Sommermonate, die ich zusammen mit meiner Familie über viele Jahre hindurch auf der Gschnagenhardt-Alm verbrachte … Hier war meine Welt, meine Berge. Bis heute ist dieses Fleckchen Erde mein Lieblingsplatz in den Dolomiten geblieben.”
When we step outside, the sky breaks open and we have an unforgettable view of the mountain pasture with the massive Dolomites behind it. Over the Malga Dussler / Dussleralm we descend to Zannes, back to our mountain hut.
Spend the night in an alpine hut in South Tyrol
The Val di Funes, Villnöss, is a paradise for nature lovers. Over here nature is unspoilt, the alpine meadows are overlooked by the impressive Geislerspitzen and you can take a different hike every day. In the various huts and alms you can taste specialties from the region; knödel, speck, wine.
Spending the night in an alpine hut in South Tyrol is a priceless experience. Your phone and tablet remain unused in your backpack, without a mobile network and Wi-Fi. The sun that shines through the windows in the morning is your alarm clock. The sound of the bells from mountain goats and cows the signal that it is time to get up. You have breakfast with freshly baked bread that always has a hint of anise and you eat the dish of the day in the evening. Knödel, deer or hearty soups. Everything is simple and your working life literally and metaphorically seems hundreds of miles away.
The wooden mountain huts that are scattered over the mountain slopes are not only a great place to rest during your hike, to drink beer or schnapps. You can also spend the night there. Some Alms can be reached by car, others only by hiking. So you can easily make a multi-day trek where you always have lunch and stay overnight in a different area. Most mountain huts close at the end of October, before the snowfall, and open again in the spring.
Especially in the few valleys in South Tyrol where there are no cable cars, you will not find loads of tourists, simply because you have to hike to get to the mountain huts. We stayed a couple of days at the Zanser Alm. From the hut you have a beautiful view of the Dolomites and here at 1680 meters the Adolf-Munkelpad starts, one of the most beautiful trails in the Dolomites. If you make a multi day hike, I advise you to spend the night at the Gampen Alm at 2062 meters altitude or the Schlüter Hütte at a height of 2306 meters.