Scenes from the Dolomites
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Have you ever hiked over a ridge or reached a summit and just couldn't stop saying "WOW!"? In the Dolomites it is almost nonstop "WOW" for me.
My first hiking/camping experience was with the family of a friend from elementary and high school. She had four brothers and four sisters. I cannot remember exactly how many piled into the family station wagon, but the group included me. We set off on an adventure I still recall 50 years later. In the car that day was my friend's older brother, Jack, on whom I had a huge crush; he was a senior in high school when I was a freshman and was a BMOC, track athlete, and had a smile that Tom Cruise would envy.
We drove down narrow dirt roads in the Sierra Nevada Mountains hugging the mountainside as far into the backcountry as we could get before hiking the rest of the way to the campsite. We slept under the stars, and I remember freezing in my sleeping bag. Jack, being the concerned high school senior boy/older brother that he was, with a gleam in his eye, a smile on his face, and mischief in his voice, offered to keep me warm in his sleeping bag. I should have called his bluff, but I was 13 so I declined the offer; that memory still makes me smile, I will never forget Jack.
My parents were not the type to rough it. Once every winter, just for the day, we headed north on the annual pilgrimage to the snow to ride sleds down the hill at Fish Camp outside Yosemite National Park, and then once every summer we traveled south to Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks to picnic and walk the 1-mile loop around the General Grant Giant Sequoia, but that was about it. I always tried to sneak away on a longer adventure.
I started hiking as an adult in Yosemite National Park when I was in college; I could not believe my eyes the first time I saw Tunnel View.......and I was still in the car. I was hooked on hiking before I took my first step on a trail. Since that time every family adventure has included a variety of activities, but always hiking. My children are grown now, and two are married, but I still invite any one of them or all of them to hike with me every summer no matter where I go. The standing joke is they need to rest when they return from one of my vacations.
Hiking in the Dolomites and Alps brings me peace of mind, fills my need for solitude, and provides opportunities to experience new adventures like Via Ferrata. I get to explore new places, make new friends, and most importantly, hiking has given me the opportunity to start my own business where I can share my love for Italy, Germany, the unique cuisine of Sud Tirol, hiking, and the mountains with others as they discover the incredible beauty of the Dolomites and Alps.