Day 1 (July 28) Hotel Lago di Braies to Rif Biella
What a good start to the walk! A short day but enough for a first day. We arrived at our rifugio (hostel) just past noon, a few minutes before the thunderstorm.
It felt slightly unreal to begin the walk after so much planning. But the early morning was cool and inviting with a level walk beside the lake. We walked briskly, enjoying the start.
Then the walk went up, relentlessly up, and as we left the forest, the morning became warm. Our packs felt very heavy, but mostly we are out of practice. After an hour the packs were still heavy, but not uncomfortable and climbing felt more familiar. The Dolomites are steep and rocky with good views and sharp craggy peaks. The trail is well maintained and although our progress was slow, we felt immediately at home. The elevation gain was about 900m with good views. The trail had a bit of everything including a short distance with chains to help the steep climb.
We lazed about in the afternoon as the rain came and went. Tomorrow will probably have rain again. It is heavy at times, but then it clears. The clouds add to the views.
The refugio is friendly and sits 600m below a peak of huge rock slabs. Dinner with a couple from Barcelona and a German family with two children. English was the common language. Good food and a happy atmosphere. Everyone is friendly.
Day 2 (July 29) Rif Biella to Rif Lavarella
Thunderstorms over night, but some sun with the cloud in the morning and no rain. The first part of the walk was downhill, steeply at times to rifugio Pederü at 1500m. We lost all the elevation we gained in the previous day. After a rocky path through open area full of marmots, the route was on 4wd roads originally built during the wars. Lots of forest and some pasture land with cows and tinkling bells. Spectacular mountains all around. Rifugio Pederü has good road access so the next part of the walk had lots of day hikers and mountain bikers. A 500m climb mostly on good trail to our destination rifugio Lavarella. The mountains are wonderful here. Huge slabs of rock with sharp peaks and and enormous bolder fields and scree slopes at lower levels. Just as yesterday, thundershowers in the afternoon. The rumbles of distant thunder started almost exactly at noon and this time we walked through some light rain before reaching the very comfortable and very German rifugio. It rained hard at times while we enjoyed a good lunch and hot showers, then cleared later in the afternoon.