Approfittare! Enjoying the Dolomites

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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.  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 (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 can get stressful.  The irony is not lost on me that while I have this dream job, when I come to the Alps and things are happening, I’m busy, I’m stressed, and I sometimes forget to enjoy it.  I think we’ve all been there at certain times, but it’s not where I would like to be.

Right now I’m in the Dolomites again, with a pretty short amount of time and quite a few things I want to accomplish.  I’ve decided we need to offer the Alta Via 1 route, a very beautiful and dramatic route that we have offered yet.  Plus, on our Dolomites Traverse tour, we’re looking to veer into the Val di Funes, a wonderfully idyllic valley that I love and 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. 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.  More frustration.  Talk about first world problems!  It’s easy to get caught up in things that ultimately aren’t that important.

Val di Funes

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 it was not you suffering in the trenches).  Beautiful mountains, but the trails are also very rocky, and kind of ski-lifty, which isn’t ideal, and I’m finding my head still wasn’t in the right place.

Croda da Lago Hut

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 and took in the view.  “Approfittare, Troy… look at where you’re at.  This is very nice.”  It was finally 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 to appreciate where you’re at, 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.

vista Dolomites Italy

The view back down to Croda da Lago hut.

There’s more hiking to be done tomorrow, 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 if you do it the normal way), 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 this moment.  I’m in a nice family-run hotel, in Corvara, looking forward to a great dinner.  Those emails in my inbox can wait.  I have a couple groups of Alpinehikers clients here to visit with who seem very excited about their trips, will have a couple glasses of wine, and some good conversation.  I think I’m going to enjoy this.

Passo Giau, Dolomites, Italy

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