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Going Solo

10 Aug

Going Solo

After I split with the group, I headed back on my own. I stomped my way through the thick snow cover to this lovely glacial pond and managed to capture the clouds’ reflection in the pool.

Back once more across the scree slides.

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A helicopter rescue.

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Rifugio Lavaredo.

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Mountain landscapes don’t get more dramatic than this.

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I’m glad I wasn’t there when that piece of mountain fell down.

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Follow the Scree

8 Aug

Follow the Scree

Though this walk was more or less flat most of the way, it was still very long. I was always lagging behind the others, because I was the one with the camera. Around each bend or behind each boulder I found a new perspective on this fantastic landscape. The plan was for the three of us to walk the length of the Tre Cime past the rifugio. At the halfway point we would split. Marion and Vladimir would hike around the far side and I would return the way we came. The reason for that was that I have a fear of heights in exposed areas, and the far side had a number of exposed areas. I was happy with this plan, because I could take my time and make detours to take the photos I wanted. I could even take the time to change to a zoom lens. Behold the giants of the earth.

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This was a beautiful green plateau with two monuments and in the morning it was a beautiful contrast to the blue hue of the mountains in the distance.

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Tre Cime was also a battleground during World War I, and here are some gravestones of soldiers who never came home.

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I’m feeling on top of the world.

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In this rocky landscape tiny flowers still found purchase and provided a dash of color among the rocks.

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We would climb up there next.

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We approached Rifugio Lavaredo.

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This was our view as we sat outside to have something to drink.

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There had been heavy snows that season, and you can see the high wall of snow along the path.

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Upward, and we left the rifugio behind.

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Another beautiful Alpine wildflower in the rocks.  My only regret was that I never saw an Edelweiss in the wild. They cultivate them and in stores you can see them growing in pots, but it’s not the same thing.

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One view of Tre Cime.

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One Very Last Hike

8 Aug

One Very Last Hike Day 6! The last day in the Dolomites and the last time to hike with my orange daypack and purple hiking poles. Our destination…Tre Cime di Lavaredo (oder Drei Zinnen, auf Deutsch). English translation from the Italian is the very innocuous sounding “three peaks”, while the translation from the German is “three battlements”. The latter is definitely the more descriptive term, and considering the landscape I traversed and viewed that day, the more appropriate one. We began early in the day because Tre Cime is a VERY popular hiking area, and we wanted to beat the crowds and get a parking place. We found one near Rifugio Auronzo. DSC_0497

There was another parking area below and the first of the tour buses. DSC_0499

We got a good view of Croda Rossa, named for the bright reddish color of the rock. DSC_0500

From here we could look down on beautiful Lago Misurina where we would lunch later in the day. DSC_0501

The parking lot was filling up fast in the early morning. On this mountain the erosion lines were very pronounced.

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Then I saw my hike for today. The trail sliced through that slide of scree coming off of the towering monoliths known as Tre Cime. If you can see the tiny white rectangle near the right hand margin, that

is Rifugio Lavaredo. We would walk a little beyond that to the far side of the Tre Cime.

 

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Looking down the scree slide from the trail.

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Pralongià: It’s All Downhill from Here (5)

31 Jul

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Marion told us over lunch that we would be walking all the way back down into Corvara rather than taking the cable car. This was probably the longest hike I had ever made…between 10 and 12 miles.

The way down was marked by fields of wildflowers, most notably these voluptuous yellow globe flowers.

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Sassongher in the foreground, Puez in the background.

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Now we could begin to see some of the houses of Corvara.

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When we hit pavement, we knew we were almost back.

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We peered into a nicely kept Churchyard.

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And a lovely kitchen garden.

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That night we went to dinner in the town of Ojes (pronounced Oh, yes). The group included Marion Posch and her boyfriend Vincenzo, the Russian Vladimir, and me.

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Pralongià: The Most Beautiful Hike (1)

29 Jul

Pralongià: The Most Beautiful Hike

How could I pick this Day 4 hike as the most beautiful when each day’s hike produced scenery that was breathtaking? I chose this one because it had the elements which drew me here to begin with. I am referring to the green rolling hillsides and valleys with the towering stark peaks above covered with snow. To top it off the weather was absolutely perfect…sunny with some clouds and fresh cool mountain air. Blue sky, white snow and clouds, green meadows. These are the three colors of the Ladin flag. This lead photograph shows Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites, draped with glacial ice, the only glacier in the area. As we walked we could see mountains in all directions. There were so many beautiful views that I am breaking up this post into several segments.

We began early in the morning taking the gondola to Col Alt. Far below was the town of Corvara at the bottom of the valley. The Sella towered above. (The Sella can be considered the center of the Dolomite region).

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At the top we got our first stunning view of Marmolada blinding in the morning sun.

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In another direction we saw La Varella, the mountain where they have recently uncovered a prehistoric bear foot. We were standing on the undulating green hills of the Col Alt.

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In yet another direction we could look out on the peaks of the Austrian Alps in the North.

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Standing above the valley and covered in clouds was the tall sentinel of Sassongher.

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At first our path headed downhill, but not for long.

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Looking back on the Sella.

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Here were the rolling green hills we would climb to the Pralongià Plateau.

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We climbed through forested areas as well.

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I would have gladly rested here on this bench to catch my breath and contemplate the beauty all around me. However, this was a hiking trip, and we kept hiking. You can see the path that we were on curving up the hill ahead.

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I asked Marion to take some photos of me climbing the steep path so that I could show everyone back home the difficulty level of the hiking. Here you can see me with my orange backpack negotiating this particularly difficult stretch. Then in the following photo, if you look closely, you can see my arms in victory after I reach the top.

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Higher up now we saw Sella from a different vantage point.

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In the distance we saw Lagazuoi, our destination for tomorrow.

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I got out my camera for a people picture, and all of a sudden a voice drawled “Can I take a photo with all of you?” It was strange because the man’s voice sounded like John Wayne. I thought I was the only American in these parts. I asked him,” Where are you from?” Can you guess his answer? “California.” Whoa, that’s heavy man, being this far from the USA. So here we were, the hikers three, Vladimir, Marion, and me.

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A mountain hut with La Crusz behind (that is Santa Croce where we had hiked the previous day). To the right, La Varella.

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Once more Sassongher dramatically lit by the sun filtered through the clouds.

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La Crusz and La Varella.

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The path from whence we had come.

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Approaching one of the rifugios, this one called Bioch.

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From here there was a magnificent direct view of Marmolada.

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There was a large playground and sunning area here. Those big log chairs looked so inviting. I wanted to chase those kids off and lay down. This was not yet our stopping place.

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Blackbird, Blackbird

23 Jul

Blackbird, Blackbird

I had seen a lot of these velvety blackbirds flying around the heights and finally I got to meet one. It was surprisingly tame and didn’t mind me getting close to take a photo. This was the only fauna that we met on our hike. Flora was another story. Everywhere we walked there were colorful wildflowers to enjoy. We had seen a lot on Seiser Alm, but even more were apparent on our walk to Santa Croce. Enjoy these photos keeping in mind that I do not have a macro lens.

Not certain of the names of the flowers.  This might be salvia.

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The forest floor with pine cones.

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Alpine roses.

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Unfortunately I cannot name most of these flowers. If you know their names, kindly fill me in.

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Our Pilgrimage to Santa Croce

22 Jul

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The dubious weather conditions made Day 3 in the Dolomites a bit if-y as far as hiking conditions went. Our plan was to hike up to the pilgrimage church of Santa Croce, underneath the peak of the same name. Donatella was our guide for the day. Here you see her and Vladimir approaching the church from below. You will also see that it was very cloudy, although I thought the cloud cover actually created more atmosphere and depth for photo taking. Following is a photo essay of the journey. We began with a chair lift from Badia. There are actually two consecutive chair lifts to Santa Croce, but we only used the first one, then hiked up the rest of the way.

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The chair lift allowed us to have a real bird’s eye view onto the farms on the hillside.

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Here is what it looked like to be sitting on the chair lift, camera securely around my neck, feet dangling over fields of wildflowers.

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We arrived at the mountain station where we begin our walk. Actually, the guide called it a walk. It felt like a trek or a climb to me. I am still trying to figure out what the teepee is doing on the mountainside in Italy.

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As I mentioned, Santa Croce is a pilgrimage church. The Stations of the Cross lead you up the trail to the church. Here is Station #3 where Jesus falls for the first time.

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Here is our guide Donatella coming up the path. You can tell judging from the teepee the steep grade of the trail, like climbing stairs, a lot of stairs. In the background is the Sella group, which forms the center of the Dolomite region.

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Here was a very unusual crucifix. Notice the absence of a body, but there is a heart, two hands, and two feet. The path at this point ran through forest.

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Two more photos looking down the trail to see how far we’ve come. It was a constant steep grade, to me at least, and this was the first day out after being sick in bed with a fever.

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This is the consistency of the rock and gravel we walked upon. It was loose, so there was always a danger of slipping, particularly on the way back down, but I never fell.

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Here is the top station of the second chair lift that we didn’t take. Here is a good view of our mountain track and the elevation grade.

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Looking back down the valley. The rain  clouds were still present, although we had not had a downpour yet.

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I was smiling with the church in view. Forested slopes, green meadows. the stark beauty of the Dolomite rock with its pink cast, and the humble church and rifugio at journey’s end.

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At the church looking back.

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Interior of Santa Croce.

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A stairway leads up to the three crosses.

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The rifugio was so welcoming with lovely potted flowers flanking the doorway.

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And inside a warm and cozy atmosphere and hearty food for travellers. Vladimir and Donatella.

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And me. While we were inside eating, it rained.

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But it stopped, when we were finished. We had time to explore the area and take more photos.

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The dolomite rock was seabed eons ago. It is made up coral, shells, and the remains of sea creatures. All over the Dolomites you can see erosion at work with the slides of scree falling away from the mountainside. In millions of years will the Dolomites be reduced to giant piles of rubble as the wind and rain and snow do their work? Donatella told me that she and her friends loved to run down the scree slides digging in their heels as they ran.

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More photos of this hike still coming.

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Konstanz Finale

27 Jun

Konstanz Finale

Just being silly…a crazy American! I am standing on a bench at Konstanz’ downtown lakeside park. In the background is the famous Peter Lenk sculpture of “Imperia”, courtesan to the Pope who she holds in one hand, and the Kaiser who she holds in the other. I am playing her double and it looks like I am conducting…My last day in Konstanz was a full one, thanks to my wonderful hosts Hannes and Dorothee. We began our day at the garden island of Mainau. It is a botanical heaven. Surrounded by lake it has a wonderful climate for growing all sorts of plants. They have even grown some California redwoods. Here are some photos taken on Mainau.

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The roses were doing very well.

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A famous landmark–a stairway of water.

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And again from the top.

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A beautiful shaded stairway.

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More roses.

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The palace and chapel at the top of the hill. This island is owned by a member of the Swedish royalty.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, we visited the butterfly house. Here are a couple of closeups.

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But this was just the first part of the day. In the late afternoon we did a LONG walk along the lake and through the center of the oldest part of the city. Here is a grand old hotel. The woman sitting on the wall is a statue.

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Part of an old monastery, which is now a luxury hotel…the Island Hotel.

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Here again is the harbor of Konstanz (without me). An old lighthouse and a Konstanz steamer flank the notorious courtesan Imperia. Imperia turns around on a turntable.

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I love the avenue of sycamore tress along the lake. They prune them and keep them short in order to make a wide canopy over the promenade.

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Imperia. You can probably see why there was a firestorm surrounding her when she first went up.

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One of the old gates to the city, the Schnetztor.

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And here I am standing outside the Schnetztor, where I posed for a photo once before in 1972.

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A tearful goodbye to dear family and friends on the train to Luzern, Switzerland.

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MOBOT Camera Hike

2 Jun

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MOBOT stands for Missouri Botanical Garden, which is located in my hometown St. Louis. It is one of the city’s finest assets, and as a resident I get in for half price ($4). My hike today was partially a hike workout, but more of a finger workout as I went a little crazy snapping photos and exercising my “camera eye”.

The Rose Garden was a bit shabby after the terrible storms which came through Friday evening. A tornado in the area. The sirens went off four times that night. The fence around the rose garden is a work of art in itself since Dale Chihuly came and planted some of his unique glass-blown art.

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There are many paths and themes in this spacious city garden. One of my favorites is the English woodland garden.

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The diamond among all the jewels in the garden is the Japanese Garden. It circles a small lake which is stocked with koi, which visitors love to feed from the bridge. In any season the Japanese Garden is a delight for the eye. No matter where you stand, you are treated to a beautiful view. Here are a few I captured today.

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That turtle practically posed for the camera. My daughter called me and I sat by the lake for a long time talking with her and enjoying the peaceful setting on a calm and overcast day. A single orange koi was leaping from the water, frolicking in his own unique fish-y way.

 

Enjoy a few more scenes from other sections of the garden including the Chinese Garden.

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There are fountains and streams throughout the Missouri Botanical Garden. Here are a couple of fountains to refresh the spirit.

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Don’t worry about Burnie. I took him for a 50-minute hike this morning on the trail.

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Sunday Hike: Two Hours

21 Apr

Sunday Hike:  Two Hours

I am a voice teacher. My days are spent seated most of the time at the piano. As I set out today to keep my legs in condition for this summer’s weeklong hike in the mountains, I decided I would not take the trail today. When I am on the hiking trail, somehow walking seems more like work. I become obsessed with the distance, my rate of speed, and the time. Today though I began on a segment of Grant’s Trail, I branched off into the neighboring community of Kirkwood, a city of beautiful homes and a “Tree City”. I brought my dog and my camera along. I don’t know how much mileage we covered, but we were out for two hours. On the return I found parts of Crestwood that I didn’t know existed, even a foot path along a stream. We are an auto oriented society, and I realize when I am on foot how much my awareness increases of the things around me. I miss so much when I am focused on the road and getting to my destination fast.
Here are some photos I took along the way today. The lead photo is in my backyard where the azaleas are ready to pop.

CIMG2120 The bridge over I-44.CIMG2121 We passed several railway lines.CIMG2122 Dandelion yard.CIMG2124 Redbuds in full bloom.CIMG2126 One of Kirkwood’s wide avenues.CIMG2127 A huge house, on the left an indoor pool.CIMG2129 Tulips.CIMG2132 A duck crossing.CIMG2133 A lake home for ducks.CIMG2136 Flowering plum.CIMG2138 The stream behind my subdivision.CIMG2140The secret pathway by the creek.

We had to sneak through someone’s backyard to get back onto the street.

Back home with the violets in the backyard and the neighbor dogs looking on.

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