Monday, October 11, 2010

Dolomites Day 2: around the Langkofel

Today starts completely cloudless; the views from the flat are amazing. :-)

We drive to the Sella Joch and park in the empty parking lot at the hotel before setting off along the path towards the Rifugio E. Comici. We've got great views across to the Sella massif, towards the Langental and Puezspitz (from day one), and, of course, up to the Langkofel massif over our heads. We follow the path in the sun along the foot of the massif, sometimes through woods, sometimes in the open around to the bergstation at Rif. E. Comici. Along the way we see a few deer and, later, what looks like a couple chamoix together with a sheep, though that seems unlikely.
From the bergstation we head down a bit through scrub forest before turning off to the left and following the path across the scree and into the shadow of the Langkofel. The path is wide and easy and the views are panoramic and wonderful. At the end of the scree slope we ascend a bit to a ridge and follow the path towards the next bergstation to get a good 270 degree view out over the Grödnertal, Langental, etc. This would be a great spot for a break, but not without sun: the temperature is around 6 degrees in the shade and there's still frost on the ground. Back on the path we follow the scree again for a while and descend a bit before taking a path that leads us up into the massif, to the Langkofelhütte. The hut is closed and we're still in the shadows, so we do a quick food break before the call of the sunny areas we can see below gets too strong and pulls us onwards. Down we go to pick up the path around the massif again, passing a few people along the way, finally getting into the sun again (ah... sun!). Down a bit more and then back up to another ridge and the Piz da Uridl, where we enjoy a food break in the sun with fantastic views.
Now we follow the gently rising path in the sun, with nice views, above the Murmeltierhütte, until the path joins the dirt road coming up from a parking lot at a bergstation. There are plenty of people around now. Upon arriving at the Plattkofelhütte we consider doing the 1.5 hour trip to the peak, but since the hut is still open we reject the peak in favor of liquid refreshment and enjoyment of the views of the Marmolata while sitting. ;-)

From here it's an easy walk without much in the way of height change around the massif. Just before reaching the bergstation over the Sella Joch parking lot we enjoy our last sandwich while watching masses of paragliders. During the last bit down we have an excellent panoramic view to distract us from the ski-slope-in-summer ugliness all around us. The parking lot itself is now mostly full, it's hard to imagine what this place must be like in high season.

Back at the car we maneuver our way past the tour busses and then head back down to Wolkenstein. The plan to pick up some groceries for dinner is thwarted by a festival in some other nearby town which has seemingly attracted all the residents of Wolkenstein: everything is closed. Doh! Ah well, we had a great day of hiking and improvising something for dinner won't be that hard.

From the track: 17.1 km, 905m height change.

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