“Anyone who has ever seen the Dolomites always wants to come back!” enthuses private landlord Peter Schatzer about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sabine decides to share this longing and sets out with him for a hike around the peaks of the Geisler range!
A longing for the Dolomites
The thermometer in the Puez-Geisler Nature Park shows 8.5°C – rather a difference from the 35°C that I am currently experiencing in Bozen! And while this morning I had been thinking of packing a hat together with my long-sleeved shirt and windstopper, Peter, my guide for the day and owner of the Schatzer Apartments, greets me unconcerned in T-shirt and shorts. “Wonderful hiking weather!”, he beams and his friendly welcome warms at least my heart! :)
Together we will today be doing a hiking tour around the peaks of the Geisler range, a trip that lasts eight to nine hours and one that Peter regularly does with his guests. He calls this tour “Longing for the Dolomites” and describes it in detail on his website. “Here you are, right in the midst of a World Heritage Site! Anyone who has ever seen it always wants to come back; they’ll be struck by longing for this wonderful place.”
Peter, so he tells me, grew up on a farm as the youngest of thirteen children and has spent his entire life in the Villnöss Valley. Called “Kater”, cat, by his friends, he knows every path and track, even the more obscure ones. And so today we choose a lesser known route for the ascent.
Mother Nature wishes us “Good Morning”
We start early: I had set my alarm for 5:30 am, a normal time for Peter but admittedly not for me. :) So at 7.00 in the morning we head for the Zanser Alm car park in the Puez-Geisler Nature Park: the ticket booth is still unoccupied and we just drive in.
We immediately begin by following the “Tschantschenonbach”, the local name for the St. Zenon stream. We climb quickly: no one else is around. My gaze – which should really be on the path as a lot of loose stones have accumulated and I should really be looking where to put my feet – is constantly drawn to the rocky massifs glittering in the sun ahead of us.
Nature has always got a surprise in store up here in the mountains: as we turn a corner we are suddenly confronted by a deer, who looks at us in bewilderment then disappears behind the trees. Shortly afterwards our ascent is interrupted by a number of shrill whistles, an alarm signal from the nearby marmots. I’m enjoying these close encounters – certainly not an everyday experience!
Crossing the boundary
We climb higher and higher and I have long since forgotten my tiredness! We leave the trees behind us and follow the sharp bends upwards, still in the shadow of the mountains. Finally we reach the ridge and in front of us we can admire the spectacle of this World Natural Heritage Site in all its glory! I have to stop for a moment to take in this wonderful sight. These are the moments why I so often go hiking in the South Tyrolean mountains – to admire my beautiful homeland once more! :)
We leave the Villnöss Valley and cross over into the Val Badia – although the names of the valleys lose all significance up here. We take the Dolomites High Level Path no. 2 and follow it around the back of the Geisler peaks and, finally, we are in the sunshine! :) The view is truly breathtaking – or perhaps that was the climb? – and again and again I see new rock formations with the interplay of light and shadow, enjoying the seemingly infinite view down into the valley.
Other hikers are now up and about, and we meet numerous others who have spent the night at the Schlüter Hut and are now on the trail.
Back to Villnöss
We take a right and climb up to the watershed, where we find a small crater to eat the food we have brought along and allow ourselves a quick chat. ;) Having crossed the mighty formation once more, we pass the Fermeda Towers again and return to our starting point via the Adolf Munkel Way.
Other hikers can now be seen everywhere. My guide “Kater” knows many of them and willingly stops to chat: will the weather hold, which route have they taken, what else is on the agenda for the day... Because Peter is a son of the mountains and also regularly goes hiking alone in “his” Dolomites. I like walking with Peter: he can tell a good story, he knows all the flowers along the way, the names of the peaks and the landmarks. He has captured many of his impressions in photos, some of which can also be seen in his apartments.
A day of longing
I have really enjoyed the day and I am sad that it’s now all over. Anyone visiting the area should definitely go and see the peaks! And one thing is for sure: I will definitely be coming back for my next tour with Peter – through and in the Dolomites. Because I too have been struck by longing! :)
You can also find the tour description here! And if you want to have Peter Schatzer at your side – as landlord or guide – simply click here! :)
With heartfelt greetings, Sabine!