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.