There is something that clicks within us when, towards the end of spring, the air in the city begins to change, to transform, and to transport familiar sensations and memories. It is not something easily describable, rather an imperceptible but at the same time an unconsciously recognised change. The temperature rises a few degrees, the scent of an awakened nature, a particular scent transmitted by the warm wind on our skin in the early morning.
That warm wind and scent of summer that are the same as when we head for the entrance of a path during one of our hikes and prepare to set off.
Simply closing our eyes, we are transported to a mountain path while remaining in the city, from which the view extends to the peaks of the Dolomites of the Catinaccio group. Their blanket of white snow, which day after day retreats in anticipation of summer, revealing scree and rocky paths, invites us towards scenic and exciting views.
This is how we find ourselves in the car, on a Saturday morning of the last weekend in May, an apparently anonymous date, which nonetheless marks the awakening of our summer hikes. The lodge season has only just begun, and thus invites us to walk the first trails that are still not as crowded as in the heart of summer.
We get out of the car and experience this feeling of summer freshness mixed with excitement, the same feeling that reaches the towns down in the Adige basin on these late May mornings.
Our starting point is the Costalunga Pass, which, coming up from Bolzano, connects the Val d’Ega with the Val di Fassa. We put on our boots and prepare our trekking poles: a warm sun and crisp air welcome us and generate a spontaneous smile on our faces.
The path accompanies our steps into the woods, winding in a gradual but steady ascent. The view of the Latemar keeps us company throughout this first stretch, continuing until we come out beyond the tree line. From here, the rock of the slopes of the Catinaccio group takes centre stage, with its vertical walls and scree, at the foot of which a gradually narrower, but at the same time more exciting path, winds its way.
The clear dolomite wall of the Roda di Vael looms above the Paolina Lodge, the first stage of this loop path. From here, the trail continues its gentle ascent on the connecting route to the Roda di Vael Lodge, in the most rocky and scenic section of the entire trail, where on one side the Marmolada and the Pale di San Martino peaks appear, while on the other the pinnacles and sharp peaks of the Catinaccio Dolomite landscape loom over us.
The Roda di Vael Lodge is thus reached in the centre of its rocky amphitheatre, between the Cima Sforcella and the Pale Rabbiose of the Catinaccio, with a panoramic view of many other Dolomite groups.
From here onwards, the snow still blocks the most daring paths and the highest forks, but the stretch covered today has already given us an exciting foretaste of the summer Dolomite atmosphere, the lure of which is becoming ever more irresistible.