Blazes Are Overrated: Why I’m Hiking in Italy This Summer

I feel like a horrible human. My cousin is getting married in Italy this July and I all I could think is why in the heck he couldn’t have picked any other time of the year. The looming date was seriously cramping my summer plans, particularly paired with a summer thesis class I have to take the first week of June. Then a crazy idea struck me: why not just thru-hike in Italy and take a short break for the wedding?

Trails Are an Illusion

If I learned nothing else from hiking the Great Divide Trail this summer, it’s that I don’t need a blazed trail to have an adventure of a lifetime. In fact, the lack of trail almost makes the experience more rewarding. Almost. This past summer taught me that I am tough, both mentally and physically. In short, any easy to follow trail is forever after likely to be a cakewalk.

Cross country hiking in the San Juans.

This summer, I plan to create my own route through as much of the Alps (particularly the Dolomites) as I can cover. I am still undecided on how much of the trail I will map/plan before I leave and how much I will just wing it after arrival. So much of thru-hiking is only planning one week at a time. I vividly remember being made fun of by Canadians on the GDT because Quill and I had no idea where we were going other than “north.”

The good news: I’m not afraid to roadwalk, bushwhack, or hike cross country. My goal is to create a route that is rugged and wild, but I know that I may to have utilize some of the more civilized walking paths as well.

Itinerary

As stated above, I don’t have any definite plans just yet. On June 9 I will say addio to Colorado as I head off to Rome. Who knows if I will come back; I haven’t bought the ticket yet. Being that the whole reason for this trip is my cousin’s wedding, I will have to take a hiatus around July 11 for an obligatory family vacation.

Fears

I would like to think that not much scares me, but this trip is really going to push me in a new way: language barriers. Hiking the GDT in Canada was the first time I have been out of the country since I was 5. I have not been in situations when I was the lone English speaker, so this is something that makes me nervous. While many Europeans speak English, it is not something I will expect or demand of those I meet. Besides, I may be in remote towns where no one knows any English. This means I am going to need to put some time into learning at least a little Italian.

Gear

I don’t foresee much of my gear changing, primarily because I am really poor *gasp.* Some changes that could happen are going stoveless this time around and buying trekking poles once in Italy since it’s cheaper than checking a bag. A new water filter is also on the docket since mine bit the dust. I may also see if I can convince my family to help me with a PLB.

More to follow as I continue my research.

Conclusion

I still have a ton of research to do. I know when I’m getting there, and kind of where I’m headed, but that’s about it. Regardless, the Dolomites are out of this world and this should be an incredible summer. Stay tuned to see how things turn out.

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Comments 4

  • Tessy : Dec 3rd

    Hi,

    The Dolomiti are great! I spend quite a lot of summers hiking near Cortina d’Ampezzo, Toblach/Dobiaco etc. as a child & teenager. Normally you won’t need any camping gear, as refugios (huts: dorm sleeping and restaurant included) are available everywhere! Language is a complicated issue in that part of the world: South Tyrol is partially German speaking and partially Italian speaking. I remember that my dad tried to improve his Italian, as we would not get very far with German in the Italian speaking part…. at that time (the last time I was there was 15 years ago) nobody spoke English. But times have changed. And don’t forget some basic gears for Via Ferratas! This is high alpine territory ;-). You’ll enjoy it!

    Reply
    • PsuedoSloth : Dec 4th

      Thanks for the betta! While it definitely makes sense that German would be prominent, I don’t know if I would have thought of that on my own. Do you know if it is easy to camp if you don’t want to sleep in a refugio? I personally prefer my tent or cowboy camping over huts most of the time. Thanks!

      Reply
  • Kimberly "Ronin" Huber : Dec 4th

    Hiking in the Dolomites is fantastic and breathtakingly beautiful! English is widely spoken, the trails are well marked and extensive and food, water and lodging are readily available. Be sure to fly in and out of Venice as it is a city not to be missed!
    Enjoy!!

    Reply
    • PsuedoSloth : Dec 4th

      Thanks for the tip!!! It was cheaper for me to fly into Rome, but I will be sure to either make a pit stop in Venice or try to get my return flight in Venice.

      Reply

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