Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, I have never been familiar with or a fan of strenuous outdoor activities. I love any body of water, am a certified SCUBA diver, and have my boating license, but before traveling abroad I’d never stepped foot on a mountain or spent any considerable amount of time exercising outside. I don’t even like exercising inside, let alone in the woods – give me sand, but keep the grass.
Here in Italy, however, “trekking” is huge. What exactly is trekking, though? I have always naively assumed it to be “hiking,” or walking briskly up a clearly defined, easily navigable trail to a viewpoint. Trekking attire, I’d imagined, consists of leggings, UnderArmour, and colorful sneakers. I often see Italians using sticks (?! canes maybe?! who knows), but figured perhaps those trekkers had equilibrium imbalances to begin with. I’m 26; I can trek without the stick.
This past week, I learned the hard way what this trekking actually entails. After reading the few articles I could find about getting to Lake Sorapiss in the Dolomites, I excitedly told my friend Chrissy to pack sneakers for an easy walk to a beautiful hidden gem. Specifically, I referred to this excerpt on Dolomiti.it:
“From Passo Tre Croci, 1,45 hours; sign n. 215: from the Passo go downhill, towards Misurina. Enter the comfortable road on the right that after few ups and downs will lead to the Rifugio Vandelli, and from here to the lake.”
Perfetto, facciamo così! It said it’d take an hour and 45 minutes, but we’re two young, relatively in-shape girls – we’d for sure make it in just over an hour. Should I even put my hair up? It sounds like I won’t even sweat…?
At Passo Tre Croci, we parked our Fiat500 and prepped for our adventure: I tied my neon pink Nike Shox and threw my coat in the back seat (it was sunny!), while Chrissy zipped her leather jacket and put some euros in her Chanel. We didn’t drink, we didn’t stretch, and we certainly did not pack supplies or carry sticks. We were ready! 😀
Long story short, the trek was an f’ing nightmare. We scaled the Dolomite mountains, climbed iron ladders, clutched steel ropes, and kissed death on the lips. None of that compares to the most terrifying part of our journey, though: WE CROSSED AN F’ING GLACIER. A glacier. Un ghiacciaio. A large body of ice moving slowly down a slope or valley or spreading outward on a land surface, according to Merriam Webster.
At first, we had no idea what it was. How beautiful! We’ve stumbled across some large white structure.. Maybe stone? Granite? We’re in the Dolomites, isn’t there lots of granite? Once we approached this gorgeous mass and I was able to touch it, though, I realized it was a snowy, icy, slippery, freezing-cold glacier. How fun, we get to cross a glacier!!!
For those unfamiliar with glacier crossing techniques and equipment, this website serves as an incredibly helpful resource. Apparently, those sticks are useful, and my Shox are a joke when it comes to this kind of terrain. Glacier walks are extremely dangerous and require not only advanced equipment, but a certain degree of experience or, at minimum, an accompanying guide. Nevermind the initial peck on the lips – death’s tongue was down our throats.
Three hours and two panic attacks later, we arrived at Lake Sorapiss, one of the most stunning natural phenomena I have ever seen IRL. We were able to have a quick coffee at Rifugio Vandelli before hurriedly beginning our trek back to Passo Tre Croci to beat the sunset. I will refrain from describing our return trip over il ghiacciaio, as I’m truthfully not ready to revisit it. Let’s just say that if it’s soon announced that either of us is knocked up, we know who the father is: Mr. Grim Reaper himself.
All of that being said, Sorapiss is totally worth it.. as long as you are not a member of my family or a friend who’d like me to join you. In any other case, go for it! Just please, for the love of God our Savior, bring a stick.
7 thoughts on “Making Out With Mr. Reaper”
Hey, that looks like fun!!
you need to make a separate scrapbook for this one alone!!
[…] and self-care, I’m learning, are a lot like trekking sticks: no matter what we’ve got to offer or how in shape we think we are, we all need […]
My daughter is studying for a month abroad in Milan so we decided to make a family trip of it including a visit to the Dolomites. When she insisted on a hike to Lago Sorapis, your hilarious blog became required reading. It caused half of us to say “Oh yeah!” and the other half to say “No way!”. We voted to go for it.
We started out as you did at the Passeo Tre Croci and took trail 215 to the lake and back. (A more challenging hike would take 215 there and 216 back ) It took us 4 hrs in total including a solid half hour at the lake. What a payoff – the lake was spectacular and the views on the trails completely amazing. The experienced hikers in the group rated this hike among their favorite for thrill factor and views.
A little bit about us. We range in age from 28 – 60 years. There are marathoners and 50 ml/day cyclists among us as well as those who eke out an optimistic 5 hours of exercise/week post a long day’s work confined to a dark room (that would be me!). That being said, there were children on the hike, a lady that was at least 4 months pregnant, and people walking their dogs on this hike ( more about this in a moment). So my advance is to go for it, unless you have a terrible fear of heights, not just a normal healthy respect for it, and you will be glad you did.
The trail is approximately 7.5 miles in length and climbs approximately 2,300 ft to an elevation of 6,500 ft. It is well marked. The sections with metal stairs and metal bridges were relatively wide and easy to pass. There are at least three sections of the trail with exposure to sheer drops but those had steel rope holds and the paths were at least 2 ft wide in these sections. I am not gonna lie, these parts of the trail were a rush. Totally cool and scary and inspiring all at once.The 30 ft unaided path through the glacier had me worried the most. It is a slippery and rapid downward slope from there if you misstep. We had it way better than you guys though because in late June this path is slushy and not icy. Whew!
The scariest moment during the hike was when two guys walking their dogs attempted to pass us. One of the dogs slipped over the edge. The dog was suspended over the edge by his leash for a second and then slipped out of his leash. Yikes! His owner went over the edge desperate to get him. This was not in an area with a sheer drop but there was at minimum 45 degree incline here. The owner and his friend managed to get the dog and themselves back on the trail. Just a reality check here. It is dangerous for sure if luck is against you and if you don’t take the right precautions.
Thanks to you Neurlogypsy, we had our hiking boots on and our hiking poles at the ready!!
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WOW! Thank you so much for sharing!! Your post made my day and I am cracking up at the thought of your group debating on whether or not to try this hike. If I had known it was as challenging and scary as at times it was, I probably would have chickened out, so i’m glad my review made you laugh and didn’t deter you. 😉 I almost couldn’t read the entire dog paragraph — how HORRIFYING. I’m so glad they were able to rescue him! I hope your trip was great and that your daughter is having an amazing time. I may be biased, but I believe there’s no better place to study abroad than Italy. 🙂 Thanks again!
Hello. Which month did you go? I will go in March 2020 and I read that maybe it is impossible know the sorapiss because de snow. But I saw that had a lot of snow in your pictures. Sorry about the english, I am a brazilian girl.
Hi! It was September. I don’t think it will be feasible in March 😦