Day 9: Monday
Today we stayed closer to our home base in Mals, doing a distance skate ski along the valley floor in the morning, followed by a shorter hike/run in the afternoon.
Our ski route started further east in the valley so we did a lot of gradual climbing before ending right outside our door at the dorm. We passed through apple orchards, crossed rivers and spent some time (probably more than most of us would have liked) navigating dirt stretches where the bike path has yet to be paved. The weather was overcast again but that meant temperatures were comfortable for a distance workout.
Our afternoon workout took us just east of Mals and up into a side valley where the tiny town of Matsch clings to the hillside. From Matsch we followed walking/hiking/mountain biking trails back down to Mals. Our route took us through some woods, pastures, under some running irrigation, and finally down a paved road before dropping us out at the top of town on the cobblestone streets.
Day 10: Tuesday
Today we went to school and visiting with two of the English language classes at our host school here in Mals. We spent almost an hour with them, discussing doping in sport, reading some articles on recent doping news, and sharing our thoughts on the issues as they affect sports in our respective countries.
Afterwards we headed to Prad for 3+ hours of uphill classic rollerskiing up the Stelvio pass. The road is pretty incredible and sees hundreds of visitors every day. We were joined by lots of cars (some of them fancy), motorcyclists, cyclists (on both road and mountain bikes), and buses. When we reached the top everyone enjoyed brats and warm clothes before heading back to Mals.
Day 11: Wednesday
Today split into two groups: one for mountain biking from Stilfs back to Mals on forest roads and mountain bike trails with Peter and Colin, and the other for hiking with Sam and Kat from Glieshof (above Matsch in the side valley that we started up on Monday afternoon).
The biking group met with some frustrations early on as the bikes weren’t in great shape but their adventures took them along gorgeous hillsides with a stop for lunch at an Almhütte where they enjoyed the Süd Tirolean specialty called Kaiserschmarren (think fluffy crepes chopped up and served with powdered sugar and jam). So tasty! The ride took longer than anticipated but the crew made it home together and without injuries so we’ll call it a success!
The hiking group also had a long route planned but abandoned the loop option for a shorter out-and-back hike. The route started up a gravel road until we came to a summer Alm that had already been shut down for the season. From there the trail was smaller as we hiked through the cow pastures that belonged to the Alm on our way up to a high mountain lake. Beyond the lake the trail was even less obvious (more a choose-your-own adventure). Most of the crew ventured up onto the first of the peaks we had planned to summit where they enjoyed lunch before returning to meet Kat and Walker at the lake on their way back to the vans.
Day 12: Thursday
Today we made our second trek up to the Stelvio Glacier to ski on snow! We were greeted by perfect weather again but this time we also found a nice dusting of fresh snow!
After skiing for 2+ hours around the 3k loop we had lunch at Tibet before venturing out on the opposite ridge to learn about some of the WWI history that occurred on the Stelvio Pass.
Day 13: Friday (our last day)
Today we ventured up above Mals to Watles for a ski walking workout. We climbed up an access road that becomes a natural luge course in the winter (think sledding with walled switchbacks corners and cliffs lining the straight portions). When we got the top we were greeted by amazing views in multiple directions before riding Watles carts (three-wheeled, motorless go-carts) back down. There’s a fun video on our facebook page if you’d like a better idea!
In the afternoon some of us took a second trip on the Watles carts before heading up to the Reschensee to kayak. Despite a strong headwind we made it out to the church tower that is all that remains of the town that was submerged when the reservoir dam was built. It was the perfect way to end an amazing two weeks in Italy!
Many thanks to our hosts at the Mals Sport Oberschule….we can’t wait to have you here on the GMVS campus in spring!