A walk in the woods

Great news! Nico the ski service man has fixed Gra’s skis! Actually, Gra was quite impressed. Nico had put “structure” on the bottoms. OK so I have no idea what he’s talking about but apparently a good Wintersteiger base grinding machine will put a subtle diamond patterning on the base which helps the ski run better. All I know is that I have a happier boy on my hands today. Bravo Nico!

Nico is a miracle worker
Nico is a miracle worker

It’s very busy today. At 9:15am even the second tier carpark at the cable car was almost full. It’s half term holidays for the UK and I think Netherlands. Good thing we’re not planning a day on the slopes. Instead we’re heading for a little walk in the woods to see what we can find. There are an amazing network of hiking trails throughout the Dolomiti. Well graded and sign-posted with all streams bridged and rifugios and cafe’s all along the way. You can understand why Europeans get a big surprise when they venture off into the NZ backcountry and discover how uncivilised and rough “tramping” in NZ can be.

G & I love skinning through big forests. It’s something that you can’t do in NZ as you’re almost always above the tree-line. You can experience it in Australia but rarely is the snow low enough to be down amongst the really big mountain ash.  Generally you’re up with the smaller snowgums or above the tree line completely.

Today we have a 1:25,000 map and our GPS what could possibly go wrong?

We love using our GPS in Europe.  In NZ we lay the GPS out on a rock, put the billy on in the hut to boil, come back outside and check to see if we’ve got the first satellite fix, go inside & pour the cup of tea, go back out to check that we have two satellites fixes, and finally about 5 minutes later, while sipping our cooling tea, we finally get three satellites and a position fix.   There’s nothing interesting enough going on down in the South Island of NZ for there to be any concentration of satellite power!  But in Europe, there are so many satellites buzzing overhead, I got an almost instantaneous position fix inside our apartment when I first changed our GPS to the Euro mapping scheme.  Scary!  Graeme didn’t believe me and had to see it for himself.

It’s a glorious sunny day today, but our route takes us up in the shade through the steep sided north facing forest from Arabba where the snow is holding up best.  We are following a narrow summer walking track and the views are glorious.  We’re intending to make the climb all the way up to our usual coffee venue on the piste – about 800m vertical climb.

All was going well until we found that the trail changed from zig-zagging up the face of the slope to cresting a steep narrow ridgeline.  It was so steep and narrow that we had to boot-pack.  There was deep snow and it was seriously hard going.  Finally at 1:45pm – 15 minutes after our turn around time we called it quits!  We still had 150m vertical of boot packing and then an uncertain descent down the other side of the upper cliff band. Sometimes, you know that discretion is the better part of valour!   We did get a few nice turns in a high alpine meadow before the mission of a descent back down our skin track began!  Here’s the clip.  And the photos!

After our big day, we treated ourselves to an evening dinner in the village.  This will be only the 3rd time we’ve eaten out in Arabba at night.  We have such delicious lunches on the slopes each day, we keep our evening meals simple.   Tonight however, we’re taking ourselves off to Mikeys Grill, reputedly the best restaurant in Arabba.

While Italians are obviously the experts at pasta dishes, all around this mountain area, they also take pride in grilling the perfect hunk of meat.  Mikey’s Grill is one such specialist restaurant.  The centre piece of the restaurant is a huge coal fired grill where two chefs are working in furnace like conditions to produce a huge array of grilled meat dishes.  Beef, pork, chicken, venison….   The portions coming from the kitchen were enormous. We have also learnt that here, if you are ordering a steak and want it “medium rare” you ask for “medium” and it comes out perfectly.  Adding the word “rare” will see your meat arrive still twitching and haemorrhaging on your plate.

We each had a small fillet of beef and salad.  The meat was deliciously tender and flavoursome and we spent the rest of the evening watching the BBQ maestro’s at work.

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Tomorrow we are meeting an old friend of mine, Jane Scheer.   Jane and I went to university together and she is in the Dolomiti to compete in a number of Nordic races and in particular a 42km Loppet event to be held this coming weekend.   Even though Graeme curses Facebook at every possible opportunity – FB was how we both learned that we were both in such close proximity to each other.    It’s been 10 years since I last met up with her and her partner Geoff in Jindabyne where they live in the Australian snowy mountains. She now has a little boy, Flynn who is now 8 years old!!    I’m super excited to see her again and to catch up on all her news.

 

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