There was a light rain, misting the alpine trees while fog snuck around the lengthy, attenuated, coffee-colored trunks. The air was fresh and crisp and smelled of petrichor, the damp earthy odor following a storm. The mountains were covered by a blanket of clouds, and every now and then they peaked out, standing massive behind Lago di Carezza. Even on a cloudy day, the lake reflected the colors of the rainbow, the reason why it’s affectionately know as the Lec de Ergobando (Rainbow Lake) by the Ladin people of the upper Val d’Ega region. This emerald green mountain lake captured Mt. Catinaccio and the Latemar Group of Western Dolomite mountains casting their image onto the watery canvas below.
Resting at 1,520 meters in the South Tyrol region of Northern Italy, Carezza lake is the perfect base to begin hiking this territory. There are numerous paths sprouting off the lake as the starting point and ascend the nearby mountains. I hiked the loop around the lake with little physical demand taking about 45 minutes with stops then joined another larger loop walking along almost flat forest trails and through a substantial field at the base of the mountains. Although this hike was enjoyable, what was most memorable about that day was returning to the albergo and scarfing down a typical South Tyrol dinner of Canederli, bread dumplings specific to the Alto Adige region of Italy.
Distance: ~ 3.7km in total
Walking time: ~ 1 hour
Altitude difference: ~100m
Altitude level: between 1,550m and 1,650m
Difficulty level: Easy
The following day I decided on an exceptional hike beginning only 6 miles from the lake in Oberholtz which started from Epircher Laner Alm at 1,800m. The route is called Forcella dei Camosci (Fork of the Deer) and the path is makerded by the #18 (CAI red and white) trail markers. During the summer months, the ski lifts are in operation to take hikers from one area to another. However, in the off season, there are no such options, only good ol’ fashion hiking. Lace up those shoes because the beginning of this route was quite steep, but after about 300m climb, the path leveled out to a wonderful panoramic viewing point at 2,100m.
The rest of the 500m was much more nicely paced, however due to snow, I was not able to reach the top and instead, turned around to have lunch on an outcropping I saw on the way up. This ridge resembled a grassy knoll, peacefully resting high up in the mountains at 2,400m. Even with the high altitude and snow just above me, it was scorching as the sun shown down on me with extreme intensity. As I began to eat, a group of the most curious black birds came to hang out with me, hopping round and rummaging for food, every now and then trying to steal mine. Following a peaceful nap in the grass, I began my way back down, realizing halfway that those same group of birds were following me, circling above me all the way down.
On the second half of the way down, I followed a path called latemar.meteo trail which was longer but more flat so it was much easier on my knees when down-hiking. Since this trail was by far much less demanding than the first one, children are able to join quite comfortably. This trail features interactive stations using a marmot mascot named Marmottix, aimed at engaging the young dedicated to meteorology and geodynamics as well as pointing out local flora, fauna, and alpine nature. This path took me through forests and over small knolls, all the while via very well groomed trails and periodic wooden sculptures decorated the way.
I finally arrived back at my rented little, red-hot Fiat 500 and drove back to the albergo where I wrapped up my day on my balcony, hot tea in hand, my feet retesting up on the railing, and watching the sunset over the mountains.
Distance: ~ 7.7km in total
Walking time: ~ 6 hours
Altitude difference: ~700m
Altitude level: between 1,800m and 2,500m
Difficulty level: Medium