This past weekend was wicked (tiring)! We left for Molveno, Italy on Friday afternoon enjoying the breathtaking landscape. We parked and loaded up the backpacks… around 20 kilos later, we started hiking. We made it about an hour and a half to two, before it got dark. We found a hut which looked closed so we thought it would be no problem to pitch our tent on a level section of field. After cooking the first round of noodles and scoffing them down, I started the second pot of water and promptly fell asleep… we woke up to the sound of someone “fake” coughing… it seemed the hut was actually open. Oh well! We had breakfast lazily, enjoying the fresh yet warm breeze and fantastic view. Around 10 we started off and about 15 minutes down the trail we stopped at a little river cascading down the rocks to brush our teeth, wash up and do the dishes. It was already a relief to put the pack down. After a few hours of hiking and only a relatively short distance behind us, we started doubting that we would be able to finish this tour, let alone making it back to Germany on time for work Monday! We didn’t discuss it straight out, we just kept deciding to check out the next step to see if it got better. It was a little demoralizing using so much energy on such a short distance. There were some metal ladders set up to overcome big boulders. The bulky packs made it challenging to squeeze into position between the ladder and rocks. There was also a few passages of normal climbing, also tricky with so much weight and a different center of gravity! We got up that part and kept pushing on…now getting pretty determined not to have to turn around; neither of us wanted to try those passages down-climbing! We reached a somewhat flat part, hoping to finally be nearing the segment of the tour we dubbed”autostrada” (highway). According to the map, we just finished the rock passage and a “real” trail should take us around the bowl without too much change in altitude. We figured we would make good time there. Then it got foggy… I mean really foggy… visibility was not more than about 3-4meters. We followed along the path which we could just barely recognize, until we hit the first snow field… no more visible markings or footprints. We checked the map and the altitude and planned a course to hopefully put us onto the still elusive autostrada. We started off along the steep snow field, angling diagonally upwards thinking we couldnt miss it that way. We were in a blind pea soup…we could hear rock avalanches around us every now and then. The echo was quite loud but dampened and distorted by the fog. We couldnt tell how far anything was from us… walls, cliffs, valleys, nothing. All we could see was the steep slope of the ice field around us. After a few hours, we found a huge boulder to sit on and have some pizza. I actually fell asleep for a few seconds sitting there! Felt narcoleptic! We were eating some cookies and magically, the fog lifted! It revealed where we were and where we had been, more importantly, where we needed to be! It was like waking from a dream! We were giddy with excitement and started off to what looked like (FINALLY!) our autostrada! The fog sank back into the bowl but continued revealing a peak here and a cliff there around us… inevitably every time we hit a snow field, we were left guessing our trajectory. We were finally making good progress though. Around 6pm, we were not even at the half way point of our planned tour. We decided to cut out the summit Cima Brenta to save time. As it was, we didn’t actually think we would be making it back to Germany in time to shower before work. We had taken nearly 1 1/2 days for less than half way. We reached the highest point of the trail and started descending, hiking a little faster, until I rolled my ankle on a rock around 2500 meters up. I was certain that it was only sprained. I hobbled to a rock and bandaged my ankle before tying my boot really tight. I guess the internal pain killers kicked in cuz it got easier to walk after a little bit. We continued hiking down for another 4 hours until we found a great place for a tent after our 10 hour hike. We quickly set the tent up and lit the stove to cook dinner. We were proud to have pushed through and managed 2/3 of the tour after all. The next morning we took it easy. We ate breakfast according to the weight of the food… heaviest stuff first and lots and lots of water/tea. Tom built a little dam in the brook running by so we could wash up and do the dishes again… we took advantage of the beautiful spot and camp feeling. I ended up asleep planning to roll up the sleeping bags in the tent. I guess Tom crashed at some point too because the nap was cut short by rain. When I woke up, I realized we had been sleeping half in and half out of the tent. 🙂 Fog had descended upon us again while we scurried to finish packing everything, drop the tent and start downhill. We started around 11 or 12 and made it to the car by 4:55pm. We were euphoric putting the packs down and jumped into the little lake to wash up. I made it into my knees in and sort of splashed around… Tom jumped fully in just to not wimp out. It was such a great trip on so many levels… physical and navigationally speaking 😉 Spending time in nature has such a profound effect on me: it’s the only way to look back at a weekend and think: that felt like a week’s adventure.