Exploring the Dolomites of Italy
Thursday, Jan 05, 2017 06:00 am
Local hiking guide Andrea Petzold had been to Europe on skiing trips before, but knew she wanted to incorporate the culture, scenery and backcountry lodges found in the mountain range located in the Dolomites of northeastern Italy region into a hiking trip.
Petzold made the trip come true for herself, along with 14 travelling participants, and is sharing her journey with a presentation at the Canmore Public Library.
She’d been in the area a year earlier on with her husband with the sole purpose of doing a reconnaissance and exploring the area to see if it would be viable for a hiking trip.
“All the logistics were important to me, so those were some of the things I sorted out. I also wanted to find a local certified guide that spoke the language,” Petzold said.
In summer, she works as a hiking guide and she started telling people about the plan over the course of a year while making arrangements. She went last September with 14 people joining her on the journey.
“I’m an avid ski tourer and I had been over to Europe on separate occasions, in Switzerland and Austria. When I did that, I was really impressed with the social component and culture that exists at these backcountry lodges – sitting at a table with three languages being spoken and involving a lot of different ages – and there’s nothing quite like that in Canada,” Pitzold said.
She wanted to incorporate that into hiking, and also wanted to go back to Europe. The trip included a day in town and involved a backcountry lodge with several trips, including a tram ride almost a thousand metres up from the valley floor, allowing travellers to not worry about trudging out of the alpine and tree line.
The adventures for the group of hikers from Southern Alberta included trekking from Corvara to the site of the Olympic Village in Cortina (host of the 1956 Winter Olympics).
“It’s kind of like the Banff of northern Italy, very much a tourist town, and we hiked from one town to the other. The trip was seven days and we were blessed with temperatures every day of about 20 C, making it feel like one of our days in July,” Petzold said.
“From the feedback I received I think they really enjoyed it. I’m really glad I was able to go beforehand to figure out all the little bumps ahead of time.”
She collected all her photos, and photos from two other participants, and has now put together a presentation providing a chronological breakdown of the trip, which also includes video of the group hiking the area. The presentation doesn’t just focus on hiking, but also the culture found in the area, pictures of the lodges and accommodation and townsites the group was able to experience.
“It’s literally inspiring when you’re with people of all ages and miles from nowhere and sit down at a table with a cold beer and realize everyone sitting there also just walked in,” Petzold said. “It inspires me to stay active and keep exploring as long as I can.”
Petzold’s next hiking trip is scheduled for Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado in September, including food and accommodation. Visit www.hiketherockies.ca to contact Petzold and for further information towards her upcoming hiking trips for 2017.
For her Friends of the Library Presentation, join Petzold on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. in the program room at the Public Library. Admission by donation.