June 29, 2017

Puez-Odle Altopiano

This is an incredible hike, just continuous non-stop jaw-dropping scenery from start to end.  It was my absolute favorite day of an amazing trip.  This loop hike is located in Naturpark Puez-Geisler, which is part of the Dolomites World Heritage Site.  It starts and ends in the ski town of Selva di Val Gardena.  We parked in a pay lot along the main street, then walked uphill along Streda Dantercepies for about half a mile before reaching the base station for the Dantercepies cable car.  There was no queue, so once we secured our one-way tickets, we stepped into a small cable car for the speedy ride up.  There is an elbow in the line, but we stayed in the cable car through the mittelstation, all the way to the end of the line. 

June 28, 2017

Monte Lagazuoi, Dolomites

We drove through stunning scenery between Innsbruck and Santa Fosca, the tiny village where we stayed in the Dolomites.  The most impressive section stretched between Valparola Pass and Falzarego Pass; both are included in the List of Highest Paved Roads in Europe.  It took forever to drive through here, and not just because the roads were twisty and choked with bicyclers.  We kept having to stop to gawk and take pictures. This area is relatively close to Santa Fosca, and we knew we wanted to return for a hike.  There is a cable car that whisks passengers from the elevation of 6,900 feet at Falzarego Pass ass up to an elevation of 9,000 feet near the summit of Monte Lagazuoi.  Many visitors ride the cable car both up and down, taking the short stroll to the rifugio to enjoy the views accompanied by strudel and espresso.  Hiking both up and down is also obviously an option, and we definitely wanted hike.  However, we also didn't want to burn Frankie's legs out too much the day before hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano, so we elected to ride up, and hike back down.

June 22, 2017

Leutascher Geisterklamm: the Spirit Gorge

When researching this trip back home, I had read about a number of gorge hikes in the area: Partnachklamm and H√∂llentalklamm in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area, and Leutascher Geisterklamm in Mittenwald.  Apparently the bedrock in the region is karst, which is easily eroded by the snow melt that courses down from the lofty spires of the Bavarian Alps.  The rushing waters carve out deep chasms as the flow into the broad valleys, and suspended limestone sediments make the rivers a gorgeous icy blue.  Erwin is particularly drawn to hikes along water features, so we planned to include one of these gorge hikes.  Since today was to be our last full day in Mittenwald, we decided to spend it locally, choosing Leutascher Geisterklamm.  As with Karwendel, we could walk to this destination directly from our apartment. 

June 21, 2017

Wank Circuit, Bavarian Alps

For this hike, we drove 25 minutes from our apartment in Mittenwald to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, most famous for hosting the 1936 Olympics.  The village is nestled at the base of the Zugspitze, Germany's tallest mountain.  Of course we considered going up the Zugspritze instead, since we were right there.  However, we wouldn't have been able to do much hiking there: even without a 6-year old, the ascent typically takes two days, and we weren't about to leave Frankie behind.  There is a gondola that we could have ridden almost to the summit, but scaling a ladder is required to reach the actual summit.  We weren't sure if this would be safe or accessible for Frankie, so we decided to pass on Zugspritze, and hiked Wank Mountain instead.  Wank is on the other side of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen valley, and the grassy pastures at the summit offer panoramic views of the Zugspritze and the Wetterstein range. We could ride a cable car up, and hike back down.  Perfect for little legs! 

June 18, 2017

Hoher Kranzberg - Ferchensee Loop

Kranzberg is a small mountain located in the Bavarian Alps, rising from the western edge of the charming village of Mittenwald.  There is a chairlift that carries riders part of the way up the mountain, with a hut located not far above the top of the lift.  We planned a loop hike that started with a ride up the the Kranzberg Sesselift, followed by a hike up to the panoramic viewing area at the top of Hoher Kranzberg, then a meandering descent that would take us by two alpine lakes, Ferchensee and Lautersee.  The maps illustrate five restaurants along the route: St. Anton, Kranzberghaus, Ferchensee, and two along Lautersee, so we brought snacks, but nothing substantial.  We planned on eating lunch at Kranzberghaus, the hut closest to the summit.

June 11, 2017

Bald Mountain (Rondaxe)

Frankie first climbed Bald Mountain back in 2014, when he was three.  It was his first fire tower hike, and the first mountain he climbed all the way both up and down on his own power.  When he decided he wanted to complete the Fulton Chain Trifecta, I made sure he understood we'd have to climb Bald Mountain again.  The rules are pretty unequivocal:  You can complete the challenge in one day or take up to a year to reach all three summits.  This didn't bother him at all.  I honestly don't think he remembers the specifics of his first hike there too well, but knowing he completed it when he was three made him confident that he could handle it with ease now.  And rightly so.

Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain is part of the Fulton Chain Trifecta, a new hiking challenge consisting of three peaks in the Old Forge area that must be climbed within a calendar year.  When I told Frankie about the challenge and showed him a picture of the patch, he wanted to leave immediately and get started right away.  However, since that was a random weekday afternoon, and it is a two-hour drive for us to get up there, we had to plan a little better.  We decided we could accomplish the challenge with two day trips.  Today was a perfect day for hiking, so we set the alarms and headed up to get started with Rocky and Bald.  Frankie was excited about the prospect of hiking two mountains in one day.   

June 10, 2017

Turtle Hike at Three Rivers

Since most of our recent hikes at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area have been from Potter Road, Erin and I decided to meet at the parking area on Sixty Road and do the "turtle hike," which is what we have called this route since we saw all those hatchling turtles there back in 2014.  We knew it would be too late to see the baby turtles this year, but we selected it mainly for variety.  This hike is an out-and-back along a two-track service road, totaling about 1.8 miles.  There are a few tiny little hills, but it's mostly pretty flat.  It was the first time Frankie and I had hiked there with Alden since he's been hiking independently. He is such a good little hiker!  I don't think Frankie was covering that kind of distance when he was 2 years old.

June 7, 2017

FLT/NCT: Baker School House State Forest

Another solo school day hike means more exploration on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  Hurray!  This section, in Baker School House State Forest, follows the white-blazed Finger Lakes Trail (FLT).  I parked on Baker School House Road and hiked north, intending to turn around at Route 41 and retrace my steps back.  The last 0.8 miles is on private property with a fall hunting closure, so I thought this would be a good section to check out now, in the spring.