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Tuesday, July 24
Carabinieri & Cows
Jenn and I were up early, and headed into Agordo. The first order of business was to recheck the bank machine. Nope, definitely nothing there. Then to the grocery store. Nope, no one had seen any sight of Jenn's baggy. Then over to the local tourist bureau - nope, the lady hadn't heard anything about it. Then a thought dawned on me that for some reason I hadn't thought of the night before. If some decent soul had come across Jenn's belongings, what might they do with it?... well, they might bring it to the authorities, of course. We asked the lady where the local 'carabinieri' headquarters was located.

A few minutes later, we pulled up in front of the black metal-fenced offices of the Carabinieri in Agordo (the Carabinieri are kind of like the 'state police', as opposed to a municipal police force). We walked up to the door, pressed the intercom buzzer, and spoke into the speaker of our plight. Before I had finished explaining about being Canadian, the door locked buzzed, letting us in. "come in, come in, Jenn-ee-fer Inn-es, correct?".

Knowing Jenn's name in advance could have been an amazing bit of prescience; much more likely, of course, was that someone had in fact turned in Jenn's baggy to the police. Excellent!

The coat of arms of the Carabinieri
A very trim and proper officer in an impeccably clean and ironed well- fitting midnight-blue suit let us in, greeted us warmly, and quickly ushered us into his office. They had Jenn's baggy, and all we had to do was provide some proof of identity and it was hers.

After showing the officer Jenn's passport, and him filling out some requisite paperwork, we had the baggy back. Everything was untouched - even the cash. It had been turned into the police very shortly after Jenn had lost it, in fact. Had we come by the night before, we could have retrieved it even sooner. Chalk that one up to a brain not fully functioning.

With our newly-raised opinion of the citizens of Agordo and local carabinieri, we headed back up to Alleghe, where we rendez-voused with Pu and Daryl, who had finished packing up and checking out of the campground. Things were back on track - ready to hit the road north!

The weather had cleared somewhat on the 24th of July - Tuesday of our last week of vacation. The first part of our day was dedicated to 'moving'. Moving us, that is, from Alleghe to points further north. I felt we were now ready for our first 'grade 5' ferrata - the hardest level, and everyone in our group was reasonably ok with that. There are several 5C routes (again, the grade level is based on a custom rating system developed by Graham Fletcher and John Smith) scattered about the central dolomites, but I wanted one with good protection and with a not-so-long approach and return. A route in the Tofana mountain range, just west of Cortina, had caught my eye several times in the past, and when I re-read the route description, it seemed to fit the bill: We could approach almost to the base of the climb by chairlift, and we could take a big cablecar down from practically at the summit. Daryl appreciated the no- descent portion of this itinerary. The protection was supposed to be good, too.
courtesy DBoyd
Ra Gusela
We weren't yet quite sure how we were going to work out the accommodations during our stay in the northern dolomites. We hadn't yet called in to reserve spots at any rifugios, mostly because we hadn't yet firmed up our plans. Now that that was happening, we needed to get on the horn and call for availability. Spots in these huts at the height of summer can be hard to get.
Passo Giau
The first order of business was to get ourselves to the Cortina area. I charted a course northwards that snaked through dark forests, then wound and switchbacked superbly up several thousand feet into the alpine to Passo Giau - a high pass between Nuvolau and Monte Cernera. I had deliberately suggested that we skip a breakfast at the camp, and instead break out the food somewhere scenic - like this pass, for instance!
We pulled over just beyond the height of land at Passo Giau and spread out our food at the edge of a cow pasture: A few panini, some little spicy sausage things, a bit of sharp cheese, and a cool bottle of Orange Fanta (my fav!).

The early morning sky was part cloud, part clear, and at this moment a wonderful beam of sunlight illuminated the steep prow of Ra Gusela on Nuvolao. A fitting backdrop for a tasty breakfast!
courtesy PChen
Sport Biking at Passo Giau
Breakfast at the pass
Breakfast at the pass
We noticed that some of the cattle were curious, and a few them lumbered up close to where we were sitting on the edge of the grass. We weren't too concerned about it, but one big black-and-white fella kept edging closer. "Not to worry", Daryl said, "cows are totally docile". As our black-and-white friend edged a little closer, Pu leaned way over to have a quick look, and complained that he 'simply could not locate' the udder.
courtesy DBoyd
Bovine Curiosity
Pu's masculine visitor
Now he does!
After having safely esconced ourselves away from the bull and back into the cars, we continued to eat the remainder of our breakfast without incident. We then continued down into the Cortina Valley, passing scores and scores of bicyclists along the way (In general, the dolomites seem to be full of very capable cyclists).
courtesy PChen
Camping Olimpia
Again we were in a bit of a quandry about what to do - hike up to and stay in a rifugio somewhere, or stay down low in town and hike up somewhere the next day. Not ready to commit to any one path just yet, we drove north through the busy traffic-filled streets of Cortina D'Ampezzo, the dolomite's largest town, to a campground that we've stayed at several times before: Camping Olimpia, a large campground nestled under the slopes of Col Rosa. The campground had a new motif this year - white plaster- of-paris forms of a hooded person in various poses - they were hung from poles, next to bathroom entrances, and between campsites. Think of a cross between a madonna statue and a ghost. Kinda spooky-lookin'.
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