Today was the first day of trekking the Alta Via 2 route. This was Stage 1, Brixen to Plosehütte.
We were staying in the youth hostel at Brixen, right in the centre of town. There aren’t a whole lot of options available if you’re looking for cheap accommodation, but this place was clean and comfortable, and did the job. Breakfast was a simple buffet starting at 7.30am, which we took surrounded by other trekkers.
We were off and on our way by 8.30am, walking through town before we found the path that would lead us up the brutal ascent that would cover nearly 2,000m in elevation. We passed farmland in Brixen before moving into woodland terrain. The weather was horrendous, starting with a light drizzle in the morning, before moving into heavy rain by about 11am.
It was a difficult slog, and we were moving slowly due to the steepness of the trail, the cold weather and the uneven terrain. The lack of clear trail markers meant we kept going off-course, getting lost and walking along the mountain biking path (that’s pretty dangerous when you’ve got bikers coming down the mountain at speed!). We passed some grazers on the way up, along with snow, which the sheep definitely seemed better equipped to handle.
I’ll be honest, the trek up to this point hadn’t been pleasant. The path we were following didn’t take us through particularly beautiful scenery (to be expected since we were still fairly close to “civilisation”) and we kept criss-crossing the cable car lines as this was a ski area. By the way, for those who want to save time and energy, there’s the option of skipping the first part of the ascent by taking the cable car up. In hindsight, we probably should’ve done that with the poor weather and lack of visibility, but hey ho, it was an experience!
After trekking for about 5 hours, we finally reached a ski stop area and decided to take a rest at the nearby restaurant to dry a little and get our body temperatures back up. We opted for some traditional Tyrolean fare – hearty and hot – just what we needed!
Not wanting to get too comfortable, we were soon off on our way again, with the sun starting to make its first appearance of the day through the clouds. Saying that, it was still fairly cloudy, and visibility was poor at some points as we walked through the clouds.
The final hour of our trek was pretty darn brutal…so brutal that I didn’t have the energy or motivation to take any photos. The ground was covered in snow as we inched our way closer to the top of the steep mountain, where our rifugio was located. Progress was slow as we tried not to slip with approximately 10kg backpacks on our backs. The thin air also didn’t help, as our bodies were still acclimatising to the higher elevation. It was a pretty painful welcome to the mountains!
We finally arrived in Rifugio Plose at 3.45pm, so all in all, it was about 7 hours of trekking (including 1 hour of cumulative breaks along the way). Almost all of those 7 hours was uphill. We were both super happy to finally arrive, take a hot shower and settle into our warm room. Bliss.
So the one thing that’s great about trekking at this time of the year (off-season) is that the rifugios tend to be fairly empty. We were therefore given our own rooms, despite there being two extra bunk beds. Hot water was also free at this hut, where you would normally have had to pay during peak times (about €2 for 5 minutes).
Dinner was simple but good – spaghetti with oil, garlic and chilli. All in, the cost for this rifugio was about €50 per person per night. Not cheap but not bad.
And so we had finally reached the entry point into the Dolomites, not that we could see the distinctive peaks due to the clouds. All was to be revealed the next day…