Last year around this time I was in the Dolomites with Doug Mayer from Run the Alps, and we joined a trail running tour with a local group called Holimites. Not my favorite company name, but good people. It was a short but fun trip with an extremely interesting and memorable group of characters, and turned into one of those nights where your cheeks hurt from laughing so much. During the trip, I needed to find out the Italian equivalent of the French term Profitez, roughly, to enjoy the moment. It turns out, conveniently enough, to be approfittare. Enjoy the moment, take advantage of where you’re at, seize the day… however you want to say it.
I like this term. I own a hiking tour company, and as everybody knows, it’s the best job in the world. But here’s the catch. It isn’t always that much fun. It just isn’t (sorry). I mean, the hiking is great, the dinners also, meeting people in a relaxed and fun environment… that’s all fantastic. The constant barrage of details, on the other hand, and the pressure to make sure everything’s working smoothly all the time… it’s definitely less fantastic. The irony is not lost on me that I have this dream job, but yet when I come to the Alps, and things are happening, I’m busy, I’m stressed, and I just forget to enjoy it. This happens a lot. I think we’ve all been there at certain times, but it’s not good.
Right now I’m in the Dolomites again, with a pretty short amount of time and quite a few things I want to accomplish. We need to offer the Alta Via 1 route, I’ve decided (I don’t know why I decided this, I just have). Plus, on our Dolomites Traverse tour, we’ve started veering into the Val di Funes, a wonderfully idyllic valley that I love, and really want to introduce people to, but we need some better routes for getting back out of the valley. I wrote about the Val di Funes two years ago in Finding the Perfect Spot on an earlier attempt at blogging (which only lasted one entry). Plus there’s the usual steady stream of tour details to attend to.
So a couple days ago I hiked into the Val di Funes via one potential route (too steep and rocky, and with tricky cabled bits), and out another route (too slippery, not that interesting, and ends in an awkward place), and just wasn’t finding what I need. It’s frustrating. Plus – completely unrelated – a couple of huts are letting me down with things that shouldn’t be happening. I’m not super psyched.
Then yesterday, I decided to do some hiking in the Cinque Torri area, part of the Alta Via 1. This is a rough, rugged landscape that was right in the heart of the WWI trench warfare, and there are a lot of trenches and shelters still around, and interesting placards and information describing different aspects of trench warfare (the lesson, as always, be very very glad that was not you in the trenches). Beautiful mountains. But the trails are also very rocky, and kind of ski-lifty, which isn’t ideal. My head still wasn’t in the right place.
Finally I head off on a variant of the Alta Via, based on a tip from one of our guides (Thanks, Karin), to a little lakeside hut that she says she likes very much. And you know what? The trail is beautiful, the hut is very friendly and nice, and the dumplings were good too. And it has an unbelievable view of the mountains surrounding Cortina. As I was leaving the hut, I looked back and thought “Approfittare, Troy… look at where you’re at. This is not so bad.” I needed that little twist of thought, the one that let’s you get out of your head and into your surroundings. It’s good to stop and remember, and it was great for me in that moment. I ended up really enjoying the continuing loop trail from there, and have quite a few ideas that I’ll kick around over the next few days.
There’s more hiking to be done tomorrow (and the next day), and I’m not yet quite sure what we’ll do about the Alta Via 1. It is, after all, a fairly strenuous hut hike (It’s literally, like, 8 huts in a row), and most of my clients seem pretty happy with some nice hotels and luggage transfers sprinkled in with their huts, so we’ll probably end up straying from the traditional itinerary a bit. But there’s time to work that out. For now, I need to approfittare and appreciate where I’m at for a bit. In a nice family-run hotel, in the Dolomites, looking forward to a great dinner. Those emails in my inbox will have to wait. I have a couple groups of Alpinehikers clients here to visit with (and they seem very excited about their trips), will have a couple glasses of wine, some good conversation. What’s not to like?