|A flowering meadow bursting with color provides a beautiful foreground leading you into a glacial valley in the majestic Dolomites of northern Italy. All photography in this post is property of Gina Stark. Please do not use without permission.|
This week, I am honored to introduce my guest adventurer Gary Scott of RightPathAdventures. You may know him as @RPathAdventures on Twitter but if you don't, he's a world-class mountaineer and guide, published author and mentor who just happened to set the world record for a speed solo ascent of Alaska's Denali (Mt. McKinley)—25 years ago! Today, Gary leads trekkers on adventures that bring them in personal contact with cultures and places that most of us only ever read or dream about. From Australia to England to Pakistan, Italy and Nepal, not to mention 10 cities across the U.S., Gary has personally led over 100 international expeditions to many of the world's greatest wonders and now, concentrates his efforts on the majestic Dolomites mountains in northern Italy. I hope you enjoy this virtual expedition through the Italian Dolomites with Gary and if you want to find out more about him or his tours around the world, visit his site above and send him an email (address at end of article) too!
|The craggy spires of Dolomites contrast against the deep-blue skies beyond. Striking vantage points are yours for the taking as you hike along the Dolomites.|
Many people imagine visiting the classic cities and sites of Italy, from the ruins of the Roman Colosseum to the iconic Leaning Tower in Pisa, cruising the canals of Venice or strolling the paths of the Cinque Terre. But the Italians themselves, and some savvy foreign travelers, have long known the breathtaking beauty of the Dolomites mountains north of Venice should not be missed!
|Around every peak and mountaintop lie magnificent vistas waiting your discovery when hiking along in the Dolomites. Photo is property of Gina Stark. Please do not use without permission.|
I discovered the Dolomites a few years back and after a lifetime of mountaineering and guiding, I decided I needed to share this region with like-minded outdoors lovers. Here are some high points, pun intended, from my 2011 tours.
We covered a lot of ground this past summer season of touring the Italian Dolomites. Some of the highlights included the expected – and always granted – stunning mountain vistas and verdant lower hillsides.
|How would you like to stop for a respite at a mountaintop refuge to sample these delectable pastries? Photo property of Gina Stark. Please do not use without permission.|
We enjoyed leisurely strolls, half-day hikes and offered intensive trail running for those so inclined–always with a midday stop at a refugio for minestrone, cappuccino, speck (the local ham specialty) and strudel.
The music of the mountains offers a backdrop of trickling streams, breezes through pine needles, bird song and the ever-present sheep and cowbell choirs.
|In addition to cows and sheep we met along the way, we encountered other friends in the Dolomites as well. Photo property of Gina Stark. Please do not use without permission.|
Some guests opted for mountain biking, paragliding or shopping on some days, and the nights were always filled with delicious food, wine, laughter, evening walks for gelato, and at times dancing.
|The colossal peaks of the Dolomites provide a dramatic backdrop to the alpine village of Castelrotto in northern Italy. Photo: Property of Gary P. Scott. Please do not use without permission.|
Throughout the expeditions, we enjoyed an abundance of sunny days, a few misty mornings, pink lightning storms at night, and even light snow flurries amidst the sunshine. Not only did we visit churches, castles and World War I trenches along the way, we were graced with extraordinary wildlife sightings which helped us stay the course of taking our time to stop and smell the roses.
I really do feel the Dolomites are the best-kept secret in Europe for an all-around invigorating and inspiring vacation. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you’re interested in delving in. We’re already booking 2012! I wish you happy travels.
|Gary, left, and a member of his hiking tour stop for a short respite at one of the mountaintop refugios or refuges. Photo property of Gina Stark. Please do not use without permission.|