To start the season off, snow-shoers from Haus Valentin and Verena chalet headed off to explore the Prolongia Plateau; a stunning open meadow which stands at 2,100m at its highest point and offers views across to the Marmolada, the Sella Massif and the Austrian Alps.
After successfully meeting up on the bus halfway to our start point, we waved off other guests for their day of cross-country skiing as we headed up on the gondola to the plateau. It has to be said, the conditions for early bird week today were perfect for snowshoeing, with beautifully pisted snow and a completely clear blue sky – it was only after 5 minutes of walking that almost everyone decided to take a layer off!
We had to tread with care as we crossed a couple of ski pistes at the beginning, but it made for a good excuse to stop and admire the view. Soon enough the guests from each chalet mingled and conversations were flowing as we approached the first Rifugio – is it ever too soon to stop for a leisurely coffee? We didn’t think so. This also gave one of our guests the opportunity to take in the view and create a small drawing in preparation for water colour, whilst others spent time wandering off to take photographs.
The next section we had the mountain to ourselves as we strolled across the undulating hills and towards Rifugio Prolongia. We met three guests from Verena along the way who had decided to see where the day would take them and they all agreed they did not expect to be walking around in a t-shirt! Some of the guests had gone ahead to feast on a well-deserved slice of strudel, an Italian delight I always struggle to say no to. Although buzzing with people, it was a great spot for a Rifugio lunch and a natter. The short ascent to the Rifugio left one of our guests feeling thirsty but what was thought to have been a Tizer soft drink ended up to be a Spritz, a refreshing alcoholic drink found commonly in the area. The descent down was a wobbly one for poor Sue!
Satisfyingly full, our organiser for the day Jack gathered the group and offered two options for the afternoon. Some of our guests decided to head back the way they came whilst the rest continued down the other side and through the woods to Armenterola. The temperature soon dropped away from the sunlight but the woodland walk offered a completely different feel for the day – clumps of snow had collected on the branches of the trees, a particularly beautiful sight. The colour of the limestone began to change to a deep yellow as we approached the road and would you believe it, a bus came along within 3 minutes – we couldn’t have timed it better if we had tried. A sense of déjà vu became apparent as we climbed aboard, only to find the cross-country skiers and the guests that split off earlier sat comfortably after another great day on the mountains!