Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sesto Dolomiti e Venezia

Contemporaneous recaps are clearly not my thing. Lets just be ok with that and move on, shall we?

So this hike. TL;DR version is that it was amazing. Amazing! An experience that I'll remember forever.

After we took off from Sydney we had a shocking layover in Abu Dhabi with a further delayed flight (six hours). It was time to check into an airport lounge for some food, showers...

...and silly shorts.

We arrived in Venice after 30 hours of travel. All looking and feeling a lot like this:

We were staying the first night in a beautiful mountain village called Cortina. 

After checking in (the Aussies were the last to arrive) we were pounced on by a bunch of our American and Euro colleagues, and *forced* to go out for beers and dinner. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we didnt last long, and made our escape for bed at a civilised, if not somewhat geriatric, time of 9 pm. 

We did not escape flack for this. 

My redaction skills are off the chain. 

The next morning we arose veeerrry early and got on buses to head to the starting point of the hike.

I was completely disoriented throughout the entire journey. I think I showed you the map and elevation chart on my last post and thats about all you're gunna get in the way of navigational specifics. Stop complaining. 

Lets just say the hike started up. And kept going upwards for quite an extended period.

The first part of up.

 It wasnt long before the superfit 10ish people of the group had taken off, a "reasonably fit" 20 of us set off at a good pace, and the remaining 130 usually desk-bound lawyers spread out to bring up the rear. We were quite a sight to behold. 

Still liking up, but below the cloud line, so a lot more upping to go yet.

Beautiful, but upping is becoming marginally less appealing at this juncture.

A few hours of hiking and about 1 gazillion switchbacks brought us to our first "summit". It was quite a good place to put our bags down, eat and take some photos... and pretend we werent totally gagging for a break already. 

The next part of the hike involved a lot of loose rock, scree and some near vertical scrambling up hills, that had us sending rock avalanches into each others' faces. 

It was also here that we started mixing up the group a bit and adding people who would hike with us the rest of the way. Its possible we also lost a few people in some of those rock avalanche situations. Thank goodness our firm made us sign some concrete-ass waivers. 

Death-defying over for a brief moment, we were a motley but jovial crew!

This is one of the "happier" scree climbs.

Throughout the hike, we would come upon various huts that served as rest stops. Some were even mini cafes. Nothing like being offered an enormous beer and bowl of spaghetti at 8000 feet.

The rest of the hike was honestly a bit of a blur. It was just stunning sight after stunning sight, that will be wholly inadequately captured by photo.  

For those crazies out there, who might want to do this one day, we followed the 107 trail most of the way... making all the hardest (and stupidly most dangerous) detours possible, and taking the "easier" 104 trail only when it was the sole way forward. Its hard to figure out whether our firm wanted to make us stronger, or genuinely kill us in a really bizarrely drawn out and expensive manner.

I did the remaining quarter of the hike with a new friend from our Paris office, and a colleague I have been working with for 15 months from our DC office... and hadnt yet met! I had heard his voice around the corner of a bunch of rocks, and recognised it immediately from all the late night and early morning conference calls we've had. He, of course, had the pleasure of meeting my sweaty self in person, half limping from a foot injury (more on that later) but somewhat high on endorphins and annoyingly coaxing everyone to keep moving and clambering up them hills. As you might imagine, he was super happy to be subjected to my bossing. 

(While he had a map, preventing us from getting completely lost out there, I maintain that my "encouragement" got us to the finish line and on the first bus back to Venice.)

In any event we were a triumphant trio finishing together. 

So thats it. 150 lawyers, 25km, about 7ish hours of hiking, 8000 feet. And then two gorgeous days in Venice (for another post. A girl can only be on top of her recaps one month at a time).


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