I never thought of the summer heat as something pleasant in my life. I am more of a Eskimo person so to say, who rather enjoys himself in snow and doesn’t mind, if instead of wearing a swimsuit, rather wears a classic down jacket. This summer was especially hot, with its waves of heat coming every other week, so I had no choice but to escape in the mountains. This time the work-free day known as the Assumption of Mary, was really like a God-sent gift and it would have been a waste not to use the prolonged weekend to live it out in style. So we went with some friends with, with which we discussed on this year’s Kmečke igre, that we would go cool ourselves down in the canyons of the Dolomites.
At Friday I packed my Swedish brick with every piece of canyoning equipment I could find and could be useful in the next days to come. And 2 of my other female friends also joined me, hoping to myself that one of them would at least keep me warm in the cold and long nights ahead. And yes, I was very cold, like I was sleeping on ice and my roommate insisted that we are “just friends”. Ah Humar, you everlasting optimist, next time you should rather pack the warmer sleeping bag you got!
In the late evening hours we finally arrived to the remote village close to Belluno. There was no phone signal anywhere, so we spent the remaining evening gazing up into the stars and living up memories of long forgotten adventures. It was so peaceful, like you were separated from the rest of the world and all of the daily stress, which we mostly cause to ourselves. In the next few days our mobile phones were only meant to play some music in the car and SOS calls, if they would be necessary. My Instagram profile was lonely, my Facebook friends were waiting for my replies, and my Tinder account didn’t interest me anyway. And my head was really getting colder by the hour.
But you also had to cool-down your other parts of the body. The first day we visited 2 different canyons. Val Maor and Rio Neva. Maor is a beautiful, but more-than-less a very horizontal canyon with 2 descends down the rope. It is known for its grand layers of rocks, which were carried around and settled for thousands of years, and the water carved them down while searching for a path to flow through. We spend roughly 2 hours in Val Maor, so we decided to also visit Rio Neva the same day.
The entrance to Rio Neva is really quite clumsy, because just a rock throw away from its entrance is a flourishing fauna, one which indicated a lot of fecal matter inside, which was flowing into the canyon. I am used to see such disappointments all too often. But after a few drops down some falls, the water clears up and the canyon becomes a real feast for the eyes. Rio Neva flows into an accumulated lake. In ideal conditions this means another 1 hour of swimming in the water all across the lake, and you cannot go around it because of the steep walls that surround its surface. But because the lake was empty, we had to leave the canyon before the last waterfall. But the view from up above was breathtaking.
The next day we visited Val Corpassa, which lies under Civetta, a very-well known skiing destination. But the fear of somebody driving into it is really unnecessary, because it lies on the other side of the mountain. The water turned out to be beautifully imbedded in the massive dolomites and also made it possible for us canoyneers to have a beautiful view most of the descend down the valley of the beautiful surrounding mountain tops. In the canyon were a few waterfalls, which were more than 40 meters high, but sadly you could not jump almost any of them, since the water at the bottom was too shallow most of the time.
If you are somewhere around Belluno, it’s a given must that you visit Val de Mus. This canyon doesn’t hold back when it comes to its clear water or waterfalls jumps. And to make it even more interesting, you also get a 65 meter high waterfall, which is flowing under a naturally formed bridge. You can really feel some heavy adrenaline while conquering that beauty. But all of the effort of carrying a 75 meter long rope was worth it. I soon found out that the more fit you are, the more you fall behind your friends. Maybe it is because of the fact that I always carry the heaviest “sow”, as we call our backpacks in our Slovene lingo. Soon, I will start to calculate money for a Sherpa in the future, one who will carry all of my heavy equipment along so I won’t have to.
The last day we visited the canyon Torrente Lumiei, which lays beneath the lake Lago di Sauris. This is a man-made lake, which was built in 1948 for electricity purposes. The dam of the hydro energetic power plant is a whopping 132 meters high and the view down is quite scary. In any way I would not feel comfortable while climbing down the rope and I would check my anchoring points at least 5 times, if not more. About 1 km downwards lays Lumiei, one of the steepest canyons that I have visited in the last years. But is pays off with its natural beauty. The canyon itself is deeply carved into the walls and creates an almost mystical feeling to it. And to make it better, it even has a few side waterfalls in the second part of the valley, which hides its shy brown rock under watery curtains. The beauty really stunned me to the degree that I forgot about the slippery “soap” that gathers and I fell on my behind. But a person gets used to these kinds of falls quite soon.
Four days lie behind me like they were gone in an instant. The visit of these Dolomite canyons was a great experience, which will surely follow in a second part to come. Each of the canyons has its own special trait and has its own unique quirks. Closed, dark, vertical or closed – you can find a canyon for each individual liking. And as I was driving back home I started to plan out my next adventure – the visit of the Azores on the Flores Island in the middle of the Atlantic in September. You can read about that story soon, at the end of October.