MINIMUM IMPACT HIKING IN THE DOLOMITES

Hiking is one of the most pleasant and healthiest outdoor pursuits, but it also requires increasing awareness of the negative impact that it can have on nature and on the landscape. High in the mountains the mantle of humus is often very thin and the vegetation is extremely vulnerable to the damage caused by people walking over it: 3000 crossings of a stretch of alpine field in a year are enough to turn a grassy area into a barren terrain.

Hikers on the High Altitude Trail must do their best to avoid shortcuts to limit the effects of washing away of the waters and prevent unsettling the ground; they must also try not to go off the paths so as not to disturb wildlife, and to reduce noise pollution, particularly when crossing protected areas or biotopes of particular scientific importance. They should not leave rubbish behind, gather mushrooms, berries, flowers or fossils. If you have to light a fire, do so with extreme caution and only in appropriate areas.

leave no trace hiking

REMEMBER THE LEAVE NO TRACE SKILLS

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimize Use and Impact from Fires
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors
  • Other Leave No Trace Considerations

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basic equipment needed for hicking in italy

Lago Misurina Hiking the Mountains of Italy

It is necessary, indeed vital, for the hiker to have good mountain equipment. These days the market offers a huge range and variety of all sorts of products and technical specialities for use in all seasons. A trained, professional sales assistant can help you to choose the best product for your needs, but we feel obliged to offer some advice of our own.

he choice of underwear is extremely important. The traditional cotton and wool garments have been replaced by products in polypropylene and other materials, often combined with polyester or newly-designed materials (the textile industry evolves continually, and by the time this guide is published, even more innovative products will probably be available), which have the advantage of expelling sweat and thus keeping the body dry.

The famous “grandma” style thick woolly socks are now almost a distant memory, and today hikers use products created with synthetic fibres of various types, which are warm and allow the skin to breathe. To protect their legs, many hillwalkers use very light nylon knee-length socks (women’s pop-socks), which give excellent protection to the skin and a fine natural wrap for the muscles.

Hiking boots must be chosen with particular care. In the southern part of the route, light trekking shoes are sufficient, but on the snow- covered mountains of the northern sector it is vital to have a more technical, robust type of footwear, specifically designed for that kind of terrain, and to which crampons can be applied if need be.
Sunglasses are indispensable at least when crossing areas covered in snow.

Knickerbocker type trousers, comfortable as they are, are rarely worn in Italy, although they are still popular in other countries. The kind of trousers normally worn these days are long, very technical (i.e. light, elasticised, with numerous pockets, brightly coloured to aid visibility, water-resistant, etc.); there is a vast range of choice, depending on individual taste and budget.

The old-style heavy woolen shirts have also been replaced by synthetic fabrics (fleece), but you can also find excellent models in breathable cotton or other fibres that the market offers hikers, who want to keep up with the times (and with fashion).

Fleece is an exceptional fabric, which has been used for years now and is continually evolving, allowing the hiker to wear a splendid sweater which is lightweight, breathable, warm, waterproof and comfortable.

The same material is also common these days for gloves and hats.

It is not difficult to choose a good wind-cheater jacket. Polyamide jackets are the lightest, the most waterproof and also breathable. Unfortunately the high price puts many people off buying this extremely useful type of technical jacket, but if you take advantage of the sales, and ignore fashion trends, you can save a lot.

Telescopic walking sticks, adaptable and extremely lightweight, are very useful in ascent because they save you about 30% of the effort; they are practically indispensable for anyone with any kind of knee problems because they lighten the burden of the rucksack, transferring some of its weight onto the arms, which should therefore be kept in good shape. Even this extremely useful piece of equipment has its limits, however: it should not be used when crossing on ledges or on steep paths half way up the mountainside, for example, because they can cause you to lose your balance and trip; it should not be used anywhere you need to use one or both of your hands on the rock; it is not recommended in steep descent; if they get stuck between the shoulder straps of you rucksack and your back, they can collide with the rock and cause you to lose your balance.

It is unadvisable to carry too big a rucksack, because it gets in the way on difficult stretches; an average size rucksack is sufficient, with a few useful pockets to carry recommended items: personal documents, cellphone (very useful; it has saved many lives, although it cannot be used everywhere), membership card of mountaineering associations, to get discounts in the refuges, topographical maps and guides, a pen and perhaps a diary, Swiss knife, water flask, compass and altimeter, camera, first aid items (especially common ones such as painkillers, vitamin C, saline integrators, plasters, gauzes, bandages, thermometer, and anything else the individual hiker might need) and all those little accessories that personal experience and requirements demand.

Never forget a change of underwear, socks, handkerchiefs, sheets in synthetic fibre (on sale in many refuges), sleeping bag-lightweight bivouac for emergencies (you can buy them at a reasonable price, and they weigh about 200g), something to shelter you from the rain (the old-fashioned cap is not often used these days, with hikers preferring a small umbrella, which must, however, be able to stay up in strong wind), lightweight climbing shoes or other footwear for use inside the refuges, a waterproof cotton hat (the “desert” type is best, as it protects you from UV rays and also covers the neck and ears). A length (about 20 meters) of lightweight rope is useful, as well as some snap-links.

On the vie ferrate it is compulsory to use a helmet, snap-links and a ferrata harness , so these should also be carried in your rucksack. Crampons are also necessary (on the market you can find an extremely lightweight model for hillwalking, which is quite sufficient.

To tackle the Europa High-Altitude Trail 6 it is not indispensable to have a rope, but it is certainly useful for some rocky stretches, ice-cove- red rock plates or other cases in which help might be required. In the case of groups walking together, members could take turns carrying the rope.

Those who want to experience the old-style climbing environment can experience the beauty and majesty of the mountains by spending the night in a tent, curled up in a warm sleeping bag, sometimes lulled to sleep by rain falling softly on the roof. The only price to be paid for such an unforgettable experience is a few extra kilos to carry!

Extremely important: NEVER forget to bring adequate water supplies and, of course, a little food for daily use, which you can buy in the various refuges, without weighing down your rucksack at the outset with all manner of urban delicacies

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Italiaoutdoors Travel Guide

Outdoors Skills | Hike and Walk Tips

Tips for Hiking and Walking In Italy

If you’re planning on going hiking in Italy or anywhere, it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these hiking safety tips. Plan Ahead. Know your hike and your terrain. Plan for the journey by researching the area on the web. Chances are good that the park's site will offer loads of online information about their best season, activities, trails, and even numbers for contacting the local rescue services. Some of these sites will even offer printable trail maps. Be sure to talk to a local Ranger prior to the hike, and ask for information regarding safety and environmental issues. Italy Trail Markings and Difficulty Levels The Mountain Huts or Rifugio in the Italian Mountains Know your environment. Whether you are hiking the Italian Dolomites or the city of Venice, you must know your environment. Anytime humans interact with nature, there is a chance of injury. It's best to know which plants and animals in the area should be avoided. It's also important to be very aware of weather. Research the weather patterns in your park before the hike. This way you can avoid the camping nightmare of waking up in a flooded tent. Although swimming may be on the adventure agenda, most hikers find they prefer to do it during the day and with prior planning. Weather and Climate of the Italian Dolomite's Always start small The first hike of the season should be a short excursion. Those who are just learning about surviving a night in the wilderness should not be very far from their base camp (home, car, campsite). Until a hiker completes their first aid training, they should never venture very far from proper medical attention. It's also good precaution to camp close enough to home for a quick sprint away from a rummaging raccoon or a spooky snake, or even a midnight trip to the restroom. Know your water. We all have visions of drinking from the crystal clear mountain brook babbling over the rocks after a hot hike, but beware of the water! Although it appears safe and clean to drink, most natural water sources have huge amounts of bacteria that can make brave adventurers very sick. Be sure to bring your own water or water filter for drinking. Although it may be fine to wash in the stream, a smart hiker will only drink purified water. Be smart with food. A backpack dinner of a smashed ham sandwich, chip crumbs, and a half of a granola bar can be compared to fine gourmet cooking when exploring the wilderness. After a hard day's hike, many adventurers thank their lucky stars for a feast from plastic, so good planning should surround the brave backpacker's dinner. Whether hiking in an area known to have bears or sloshing through streams, it's a good idea to keep all food in tightly sealed containers. If animals can smell your rations, they may want to explore further, and a hiker is generally very disappointed to find a fat, happy squirrel in their pack, rather than a salami sandwich. Have a fire source. In ancient civilisations of hunters and gatherers, one person was appointed the title of fire-bearer, and charged with the extremely important task of creating heat. The fire was central to the camp, keeping everyone warm and cooking a meal, so the fire-bearer's job was an important responsibility assigned only to the most intelligent, cautious, and mature members of the group. We recommend choosing your fire-bearer carefully and wisely to avoid forest fires and injury. Whatever the weather, a hardened hiker will be able to spark a fire. This is a job for either the guide, the guardian, or Mom and Dad. The fire-bearer should be well-versed in fire safety regulations, should know where they can build fires in the park, and should never leave the fire unattended. To get more information ask your local park ranger for fire-building advice. They will know whether it's the legal season for building fires, they will be able to direct your crew to a campsite with an existing fire ring, and they will probably even be able to tell you which wood you should burn for a cozy campfire. Learn First Aid and carry a kit. The best medicine for adventurers is that of prevention. By avoiding injury in the wild, everyone has fun and no one ends up in the hospital instead of swimming in the lake. But hikers can't plan for every instance, and sometimes there are accidents. Know what to do in case of an emergency. By using first aid, a quick-thinking kid can save a friend's life. First aid training teaches ways to overcome stress in an emergency and react with courage. It also gives the knowledge of how to deal with specific types of injuries. Carry field guides. When you step into the alien world of a wilderness environment, you are likely to see plants, insects, and animals you never noticed before. Instead of trying to remember what the creatures looked liked until you get home, take a field guide for nature and look up the information on the spot. Find out if a plant is poisonous, match an animal to its name, or identify a species you've never seen. Field guides offer the opportunity for great outdoor study, and exceptional advice for mingling with nature. You can find field guide eBooks and apps, but the old fashioned books never run out of batteries. Be careful what you pack! The most important rule of hiking—be smart about what you pack. A beginning hiker generally becomes exhausted carrying a sack full of trail munchies, games, a phone, three sweaters, and a high-end camera. Remember that you have to carry everything you pack for several miles there and back, so keep it light. Some essentials include a first aid kit, waterproof matches, an extra layer of clothing, a rain poncho, food, and water. If you want to take pictures, consider a lightweight digital to save the batteries on your phone. How to Pack and Organize Your Backpack What to Carry When Hiking in Italy Think before you step. Complete common sense is sometimes lost in the excitement of the adventure. A mesmerised hiker may be staring at local wildlife, and trip over a tree root causing serious injury. This doesn't mean adventure walkers should stare only at the trail while hiking, but rather that they should be constantly aware of their surroundings.Keep an eye on the trail well in front of where you are walking, and always consider the path before bounding forward, or you may find yourself lost in the briar patch with Br'er Rabbit. Stop moving long enough to take pictures of wildlife or research in a field guide. This allows all members of the group to grab a breath and enjoy the scenery before hitting the trail again. Always carry out what you carry in. The first rule with interacting with the environment is: Leave it as you found it. This rule applies to the trees, the earth, the animals, the campsite, and even the flowers. The caretakers of the wilderness areas and parks have dedicated their lives to preserving what one careless hand could destroy in a second. Show respect to Mother Nature. Carry out all of the garbage you carry in, don't feed the animals, and leave only footprints when you go. If everyone works together to preserve parks, wilderness, and other hiking areas, we will all be able to enjoy breathtaking hiking adventures in the future as well. Know where you can get medical care. Always be aware how far you may be from proper medical attention. Ask your Ranger for this information. They will be able to direct you to the nearest hospital or clinic prior to an accident. Knowing this information in advance could save someone's life. Never hike alone. NEVER- under any circumstances venture into the woods by yourself. Outdoor adventures are fun for the family, but hiking is only a group sport. The chances of becoming lost, sustaining injury, or losing supplies is much higher when alone, making the sport extremely dangerous. Always go with a group, tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return, and check in at the ranger station so they are aware of your location. Don't don and doff layers continually. Though it is good to dress in layers, choose which layers, and stick with them for a time. Otherwise, you will exhaust yourself and try the patience of the group you are with. It's generally better to be a little cool than too hot, but don't change unless you are really getting uncomfortable. How To Dress of Mountain Hiking and Climbs Basic Equipment Needed for Hiking In Italy Put the slowest hiker in front and pace the group to that person. This works great in a group of differing ages! With the fast hikers in the front, they have a tendency to spread out too much. Then someone small at the back gets exhausted running to keep up. If you do divide into faster and slower groups, the one ahead should never get too far ahead and should stop and let the others catch up on a regular basis. Take regular breaks. Make sure that kids are drinking water. In very hot areas dehydration is especially dangerous. Avoid sunburn. Wear a head and arm coverings in sunny or high altitude areas, and use sunblock. Pace Yourself! Encourage kids not to exhaust themselves early in a hike. Sometimes little ones run at the beginning, run out of energy and have to be carried. Remember: it is not the destination that teaches, but the journey itself! Although we may never reach the tallest mountains via granola bars and hiking boots, the time spent traversing nature is a special time. We talk, explore, learn, and exercise as a group. There are interesting people and animals along the way. We even learn to help a friend who is hurt through first aid training. We all work together to achieve the end of the trail as brave and seasoned outdoor adventurers .

Hike and Walking Tips

  Minimum Impact Hiking In the Dolomites Basic Equipment Needed for Hiking In Italy Weather and Climate of the Italian Dolomite's The Mountain Huts or Rifugio in the Italian Mountains How to Pack and Organize Your Backpack Italy Trail Markings and Difficulty Levels How To Dress of Mountain Hiking and Climbs  

Mountain Rescue

International Mountain Rescue Signals Basic Guidelines On How To Behave In The Event Of An Accident International Rules for Mountain Safety Safety While Hiking In The Italain Mountains

Read more: Hiking and Walking in Italy

TRAIL MARKING AND DIFFICULTY RATING TO KNOW WHEN HIKING IN ITALY

Hike Italy, Trail Marking and Signs

TRAIL SIGNS USED IN ITALY

Along the mountain hiking trails in Italy, the hiker can find three types of signs at all the main points.

  1. Painted triangle with the High Altitude Trail number inside; this type of sign is a little less common than the following;
  2. Path sign consisting of two horizontal red stripes with a white stripe in the middle on which you can find the path number in black. Along paths that require more frequent signs, in between those above you can find simple red or red and white signs.
  3. Wooden chart signs on fixed poles (old types in metal).

The coordination of signposts on the network of alpine paths in most Regions of Italy is constantly monitored, sector by sector. Where the triangles, path signs and charts are found to be in poor condition and thus difficult or impossible to see, the hiker should pay careful attention to the indications from guides, local maps, and have a good knowledge of land navigation skills.

RATING THE TRAIL DIFFICULTY OF HIKES IN ITALY

A scale of difficulty for different mountain routes has also been introduced for hiking.  All hiikers, should learn the rating scale and take seriously so that they are able to avoid unpleasant surprises.  The Trail Difficulty Scale involves four distinct grades of difficulty:

T: Tourist path. Easy path or forest road, not very long, very evident not posing problems with bearing.

E: Hiking, Path without technical difficulties on variable ground, even rough and bumpy and at time steep; can sometimes include prepared crossings which do not require special equipment; most of the paths in the Dolomites belong to this category.

EE: for Expert Hikers. Marked path, over more treacherous ground, at altitudes even elevated, with open stretches which call for sure footing and no dizziness. Prepared stretches call for the correct equipment (karabiners, metal friction plates, harness and ropes).

EEA: for Equipped Expert Hikers. These are routes and prepared paths with frequent open stretches , difficult also because they are long and high up; they call for the know how of safety measures (helmet, metal friction plates, ropes and karabiners). Using these aids must not make you forget that you are moving in a high mountain environment.

With all these rating and understanding it is still necessary to remember that if you feel unsure you should undertake the route with an Alpine guide.

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WEATHER AND CLIMATE IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

cinque torri, hiking in the Dolomites

The Dolomite Mountains offer some of the best weather in all of the Alps and are perfect for year-round active adventures. As a mountain range, the Dolomite's receive less precipitation on an annual basis than do the majority of the Alps. The southern Dolomite's (the Brenta Group and Lake Garda area) tend to be struck with cold spells created by storms that have pushed up from the south, and more fog created when the cold air mixes with the warmer air from nearby Venice. The Northern Dolomite's (Sudtirol / Alto Adige) have the least amount of precipitation, as the southern Dolomite groups break up the big storms from the south, leaving the north with more desirable conditions.

The summer months (mid-July through September) have warm temperatures and plenty of sun – perfect for hiking, climbing, via ferrata, and cycling trips!  While the average maximum temperature may reach some 80 °F / 25°C on the valley floors, the gentle wind of the Dolomite's guarantees refreshing moments in the shade of rich green woods.

In fall the temperature drops, but weather conditions remain stable and pleasant, making the Dolomites a perfect place to plan a “late summer” adventure!

Winter snow usually begins to accumulate in December, lasting through March, and sometimes April. While temperatures fall below freezing, and snowfall is ample, the sun shines an unparalleled 8 days out of 10 in the Dolomite's – more than any other range in the Alps! The sunny winter paradise of the Dolomite Mountains make skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing adventures here unbeatable!

Spring returns in with warmer weather and longer days, but also with rain. But this too is welcomed, as it clears the air for spectacular vistas and brings beautiful green valleys and pastures overflowing with wildflowers!

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