Greetings from Italy, where the weather continues to be beautiful, the food has been awesome, the training has been both fun and challenging (at times) and the kids are starting to get tired!

Our third day in the South Tyrol started with a long skate rollerski up the Martell Valley. The road climbs pretty consistently as it winds upward into the mountains and away from Val Venosta (the name of the valley that Mals also lies in). There are three sections of pretty tight switchbacks, the more notable at the very top of the valley before the road turns to dirt and ends.

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Part way up the valley is a rollerski track and biathlon range (where we watched Lisa on our first day here), used for training in the snowless months and host to International Biathlon Union races in winter. Everyone got to ski on the loop and came to a unanimous conclusion that it’s a really challenging course. The hills are steep and the recovery portions are short!

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Elliot, Peter (GMVS alum who is helping us during the duration of our camp), Greg and Nick on the roller loop.

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Rena, Olivia and Carl taking a break after the second set of switchbacks. This lake is glacier-fed and it is every bit as cold as it looks! Some of the boys went for a dip on our way home!

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A tiny church that sits right next to the road….we had to stop. Olivia and Rena got some great shots of the windows and door for their photography projects as well!

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This abandoned hotel sits at the very top of the valley. After the road ends and turns to dirt you can walk across a bridge and walk up to it. Rumor has it that Mussolini and Hitler met here just before the end of WWII but we haven’t been able to confirm that as of yet.

In the afternoon we ventured west up into Reschen Pass in search of more relics from WWII. We had heard and read about tank barriers up on the mountainside that can be reached on foot. With some basic instructions from one of our hosts at our dining hotel we set out. Finding the parking spot and trail head was no problem….there was a giant sign with photos of exactly what we were in search of, so we headed up the mountain.

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An hour+ later about half the group was questioning our directions and not psyched to hike further when the plan had been for a short and easy hike. The other half (Rena, Olivia, Carl, Alex, Kat and Sam) headed onward after hearing from two mountain bikers that the bunkers were ahead, but they weren’t sure how long it would take us to get there. They said up to an hour.

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It took us about 10-15 minutes to reach an open area higher up on the mountainside and find the first bunker!

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The bunker was really neat but so was the view! Happy girls!

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From the first bunker we could see more structures so we had to venture further…

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And we found the tank barrier (panzer spikes). This line went on for quite a while and was pretty impressive. The concrete that holds the spikes was poured around tree trunks. One had cracked open and you could see the tree inside it.

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The view looking west into Switzerland.

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Inside the second bunker we found. This one was larger with two gun ports for lookouts facing west/northwest, a long hallway connecting two doors and a room in the middle.

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The view looking east toward the Reschen See and Mals. There were cows just below us too!

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Our hike was a little longer than anticipated so we were a little late to dinner, but after such a great hike no one seemed to mind one bit! This last photo was taking out the van window on our way back to Mals. This tower is all that’s left of the town that was flooded when Reschen See (actually a reservoir) was created. We’re going to kayak to it on Sunday afternoon!

Stay tuned for an update tomorrow on today’s adventure: we went to the Stelvio to ski and had perfect weather and a great time!

 

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