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Friday, July 27
Truckin' to Tuckett
Aware that it can be difficult to secure lodging at rifugios during weekend nights, we called around in advance to see what rifugios had openings for us, and we would then figure out our activities in the Brenta based on that.
Heading west
The best I could manage was four free spots in one rifugio, and four in another. They did not have individual rooms for us, though, so we'd have to dorm-room it for both nights. We ideally would have liked to base ourselves in one rifugio for two nights, but that turned out not to be possible.
Passo Pordoi
We now had to get ourselves from where we were to the trailhead in the Brenta, then hike up to the first Rifugio before dinner was served. Although it was only perhaps 200 or so kilometres from where we were near Cortina D'Ampezzo to the Brenta group, it took us quite a long time. The twisty mountain roads and slow traffic, along with the many little towns along the way, ended up taking us four hours. We arrived at the little resort town of Madonna di Campiglio, just west of the Brenta, shortly after 4pm. Time was getting mighty tight!
Because the parking lot at the Vallesinella trailhead was full, we were forced to take a shuttle bus from a lower parking lot, which again added to our time pressures. By the time we got to the trailhead, it was exactly 5pm. We had a maximum of one and a half hours to hike to the Rifugio Tuckett. I called ahead and told the rifugio that we were just starting off from the trailhead, and that we would try our darndest to get up in time for registration and dinner.

The hiking route from the Vallesinella trailhead to the rifugio Tuckett is just over 4.5 kilometres - a distance one could definitely do at a brisk pace in an hour and a half - except that an elevation gain of 2,500 feet (750m) was also involved. Making it a different matter entirely.

There was no point in thinking about the effort involved; it was better to just do it. I briefed everyone on the route to the rifugio, and we agreed that we would all go at our maximum pace, and whoever got there first would sign us all in.
Glimpses of the Brenta
I started off at a very brisk pace, climbing along the wide, forested trail towards the rifugio Tuckett. It was only minutes before I was completely drenched in eye-stinging sweat. I had a good rhythm going, though, and I was able to motor up the 1,000 feet (300m) in elevation to the rifugio Casinei in 25 minutes. I was even pulling ahead of Pu, whom I waited for for about 5 minutes upon reaching the rifugio. Daryl and Jenn had opted for a slower pace, and had not yet arrived (The Rifugio Casinei is another rifugio partway along the route to Rifugio Tuckett).

Pu didn't want me to wait up for him, so I continued on ahead, and was pleased to find that I still had the energy to maintain my initial pace. Soon the trail started to emerge above treeline, and I was treated to a wonderful ever-expanding view of the blocky towers of the Brenta.
courtesy PChen
Tuckett food-lift
A scenic locale
Rifugio Tuckett
The Rifugio Tuckett is actually two separate buildings - the main rifugio, called Tuckett, and a satellite building, called the Rifugio Sella. Together, they're both referred to as simply the Rifugio Tuckett. The buildings are of a rustic-looking stone construction, and as I approached them in the late-day light, they looked postcard-perfect against the backdrop of the Brenta Dolomites.

With every stitch of clothing on me completely soaked in sweat, I arrived at the front desk of the rifugio at 6:21 pm - nine minutes before dinnertime. I breathily apologized for cutting it close and for not having my companions with me, but they seemed ok with it all. Maybe this talk of giving your room away and missing dinner is overblown?
courtesy DBoyd
Rifugio Tuckett
After registering us in, I made my way over to our dorm room for the night. I was feeling so wet and clammy that I stripped off every piece of wet clothing I had on and wore just my jacket and goretex rain-pants - just about the only remaining dry things I had, and left everything else to dry.
Pu's bushed
Pu was the next to arrive at the rifugio (about ten minutes after I did), looking pretty pooped, but happy (and just when is Pu not happy, eh?). He was impressed with my hiking speed, and admitted that he just didn't have the energy for a hard push today. Jenn and Daryl arrived only two minutes later, having managed a pretty respectable time of their own.
The final arrivals
The Rifugio was quite busy that evening, with a packed dining room. It was even to the point where different groups of people had to share the same table - something that I'd not yet seen happen. Dinner, as usual, was excellent. We stayed away from anything remotely looking like Polenta.
Dinner at Tuckett
Signs on the wall
On the deck at Tuckett
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