Written by Kat Howe, Nordic Coach
Today was our first full day in Italy after almost 24 full hours of traveling on Friday and Saturday. Luckily travel went smoothly this time from start to finish and we arrived in Mals with time to unpack before stretching our legs with an afternoon run/hike. Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been nice yet so we haven’t gotten any amazing photos to share but I have a few to wet your appetite.
Yesterday we went partway up the mountain that’s just north of Mals, climbing both on trails and bushwhacking through cow pastures. We found some cows and some of us were patient enough to pet them. Hiking in the mountains here is pretty magical when you’re surrounded by the sound of ringing cowbells!
Hiking up with Mals and the Venosta Valley in the background. Doesn’t take much vertical to get views around here!
Matt making friends with the ladies at the high point of our hike. This cow was particularly docile and followed us when we started to leave!
Ursula and Rena trying to get close enough to say hi…this gal was really shy!
We spent one night in the school dormitory (Sportoberschule Mals is our host) before moving to the Gauer Bear Hotel today. We will be eating our lunches and dinners in the dining hall where residential students with the Sportoberschule eat, while breakfasts will be right downstairs in our hotel. The square right outside our hotel is absolutely picturesque, with a narrow cobblestone street and beautiful geranium window boxes on most of the buildings. We are really close to the hillside to the north, with hiking trails heading up the hill from about a block away.
Our rooms at the Grauer Bear are cozy and comfortable. We’re in a mix of double and triples, which are tighter by our American standards, but small hotel rooms are the norm in Europe.
Movies between training sessions are better viewed with friends in very close quarters…..team bonding at it’s best!
Emily, Ursula and Grace standing in the street right next to our hotel (the hotel is just to the right of Grace, out of the photo).
This morning we woke to the same rainy skies that greeted us yesterday and braved the wet weather for an uphill rollerski to the eastern end of the Reschen See (Russian Lake). The Venosta Valley has a paved bike path that runs all the way down to Bolzano and doubles as a fantastic rollerski track. There are new obstacles that aren’t so common in the States, like cow pies, cattle grates, cobblestones, and drainage tubes. Luckily the weather didn’t get worse during our ski, however we did find stronger winds toward the end of our ski that had several of us quite happy to have brought wind breakers or raincoats.
This afternoon we drove just northwest of Mals to Planai, where we hopped onto forest roads for a run back to our hotel. The route started out mostly downhill but when we turned east it headed up significantly. We took a logging road that petered out completely and became more goat path than trail and had us scrambling through scrub brush for a bit. After finding some stinging nettles and bushwhacking we found a really nice trail that was built on an old irrigation canal that dates back to the 1300s, and took us almost all the way back to Mals. It was a mix of very manicured dirt surface and elevated wooden foot bridges. Very cool! We finished out the afternoon with some group stretching before getting cleaned up for dinner.
Heading up through the narrow streets of Planai to find our road back to Mals.
Heading down the road as we started back toward Mals. Planai is the little cluster of buildings that you can see in this photo. The town is perched on the hillside and only has one (very curvy and narrow) road that goes to it.
Heading down the irrigation channel trail….sorry the photo is blurry. It was taken while I was running!
Following TK down the walkways…unfortunately some of us found out the hard way that these boards are quite slippery when wet. There were a couple of unexpected spills before we got through the whole trail.
Tomorrow’s plan is to rollerski in the morning, this time starting further east and finishing at our hotel. In the afternoon we’re going to take advantage of the sunny weather that’s forecasted and go hiking!
Met this guy walking to breakfast this morning. Italian slugs are the real deal!
Stay tuned for more photos, both here and on our Instagram and Facebook feeds! The internet in our hotel isn’t awesome so I can’t promise that blog posts will be daily, but I will be sure to get some photos on FB and insta every day, maybe more than once a day, because that seems to load a lot faster!