This page is a collection of tips and recommendations for inexperienced hikers. If you are new to mountains, you should read it before going for a hike, such as the ones you can find in our article on the best hikes to do in Cortina d'Ampezzo, that you can read below:
By reading this article you'll be prepared for your first hike and you'll be able to enjoy a pleasant day outdoors, avoiding most of the unforeseeable events.
... we'll start with some general advice...
In the initial part of the article there will be some general advice, in the second part we'll list the things that you should always have in your backpack.
This article is dedicated to those who want to spend a few hours walking in nature, on paths that are not too technical. It's not intended for those who want to face the mountain in a more competitive way.
... always contact a professional...
If you want to tackle the mountain intensely, making your first climbs or via ferratas, remember to always contact a professional. In Cortina, the reference point for those who want to practice these sports is the office of the Alpine Guides.
Respect the mountain
First of all, let's start from the assumption that the mountain has to be treated with respect, you have to be careful not to damage the environment and you must always bring home your own garbage. It would be amazing if you would contribute to cleaning the forest, collecting any garbage left by less respectful guests.
It would also be better to avoid making noise, as much as possible, so as not to disturb other hikers. Another reason why it would be better to stay as quiet as possible is to have a chance to see wild animals, such as squirrels or deer, who would otherwise run away, frightened by your chaos. If you would like more information about animals living in Cortina, please read the specific page.
Use common sense
You should always remember that the mountain could potentially be dangerous. Some passages can be difficult, if you fall you could get very hurt. The phone does not always work, so you have to be much more careful than you normally would be, especially if you are alone. In this regard, remember to always tell someone where you are going and the route you will take.
Before leaving you should always check the weather forecast, because it's extremely important to avoid difficult hikes in case of rain or bad weather. Always carry a rain jacket in your backpack, even if the forecast is good, but above all don't go on dangerous excursions or via ferrata if a storm seems to be approaching, even if the weather forecast did not foresee rain, it's too dangerous.
... Cortina's hikes are almost always well marked...
The trails in Cortina are almost always well marked. Usually, on the most touristic trails, the road signs are well placed, but if you find yourself in front of an unmarked intersection, it's often better to choose the most trampled path. If you're not sure which way is right, look for the red-white signs on trees or rocks. They are the safest way not to get lost. You can see a couple of them, painted on the trees, in the photos above. Needless to say that it is best to know which one to follow before setting out. If you don't want to take the busiest roads, or if you want to go on long excursions, buy a paper map and carry it with you at all times.
You should avoid all the places where you don't feel safe. All the hikes proposed on our website are generally easy so you should not worry even if you have vertigo, but remember: everyone must be responsible for his body and his ability to handle fatigue or fear of height. If you are tired and you think you cannot continue, stop, eat something sweet, drink some water and, after a few minutes, decide whether to continue or to turn back.
Clothing should be appropriate for hiking, with sturdy shoes and comfortable clothing, preferably technical. Never choose appearance over functionality. Try to dress in "onion" style, meaning stratified, so that you can add or remove a layer if you feel cold or heat. A typical dress is: light and waterproof jacket, a fleece sweater and a technical t-shirt. For the pants a good idea are those convertible from long to short with a zipper. In midseason it is also advisable to take a cap and gloves. Remember that the temperatures in the mountains can change quickly, especially in the fall and spring, where it is easy to find colder or warmer than expected.
In the mountains there are ticks. We are not going to bore you with all the problems, potentially very serious, that a tick bite could bring. Remember that we are not at the beach: below 2000 meters of altitude no one should dare to walk in the meadows in shorts and flat shoes, maybe without socks. You should always protect your legs with long pants or thick socks, using appropriate shoes. Alternatively, there are specific products, but nothing works better than good prevention.
Even if you are going on a very short trip, we always recommend bringing with you a backpack with the necessary. The basic equipment consists of: A bottle of water, something sweet to eat, a rain jacket and a clean T-shirt, so you don't have to stay sweaty when you'll stop to relax. When you get to the top, whether it is to eat a sandwich or to eat something in a mountain lodge, it would be very unpleasant to keep a wet and sticky T-shirt soaked with sweat. Having a dry t-shirt will make a big difference, believe me. If you would like more information about eating in a mountain hut, please read the page devoted to the topic.
When planning a long hike, it's generally best to stay as light as possible, but that doesn't mean you should move on without the bare minimum. Below you will find a complete list for a day hike, I recommend printing it out or taking a screenshot. Obviously this is a generic list, which should be expanded according to your needs.
- Plenty of Water
- Energy bars or dried fruit
- Sandwiches and fruit for lunch
- Clean T-shirt
- Clean pair of socks
- Waterproof jacket
- Sunscreen lotion
- Paper tissues
- Paper map of the paths
- Multipurpose knife
- Head flashlight with batteries
- Patches and medicines, if any
- Trekking poles, if necessary
As mentioned earlier, always try to plan your hikes in the early morning hours. As all mountaineers can confirm, walking with the midday sun on your neck is never a good idea. Another thing to consider is that, by leaving early in the morning, it will be much easier to find parking and a place to eat at a mountain lodge. You'll also greatly reduce the risk of getting caught up in heat storms, brief thunderstorms that occur in the early afternoon hours of the hottest days.
Before we say goodbye, we want to give you a few more useful tips that might make your hike more enjoyable. Forgive us if some will seem obvious, but it's best to point out some concepts, even if they seem trivial.
... Hiking should be a relaxing activity, not a masochistic experience...
- Even if you're putting in a lot of effort, don't forget to stop sometimes, look at the view and enjoy nature. During the hike try to keep a steady pace, dictated by the slowest of the group, especially on the uphills. You should always try to relax, rather than expect to set a time record, or to force other family members or friends to keep up with your pace. The hike should be an enjoyable activity, not a masochistic "family ruiner" experience.
- If you have children or teens with you, consider that it is much harder for them to hike in the mountains. When walking on steep trails, consider that the obstacles are proportionate to their height, and therefore much more difficult to overcome. Be patient and choose a route suitable for your children. It's even better if it's a path already "tested", to avoid surprises.
- Try to stay hydrated all the time, but don't drink too much. If you start to feel too tired, stop and eat something sweet (energy bars or fruit), have a sip of water and wait a little before starting again, if you feel up to it.
- If you see something crawling in the woods, most likely it will be an "orbettino", a legless lizard that is completely harmless to humans. In any case avoid approaching it, because in Cortina there are also two varieties of vipers that are rather poisonous, recognizable by their triangular head and by the hissing sound they emit when they feel in danger. No need to tell you to move away, your instincts will be enough. Personally, I've only seen one viper blow towards me and I assure you that I wouldn't have gone near it for anything in the world. These kinds of encounters are very rare anyway, because snakes are scared of our noises and the vibrations coming from our steps.
- When you find cattle gates, it means that there may be cows grazing in that area. First of all, it is a good idea to leave the gates closed, to prevent cattle from escaping; secondly, it is best not to get too close to the animals. Although they are creatures accustomed to living with people, they may react if disturbed.
- If during your walks, between the end of September and the beginning of November, you would hear a powerful sound, dark and very disturbing in the woods, it could be the call of the deer in heat. In this case, don't worry, just ignore it and move on. If you are curious to hear what kind of noise it is here you can see a video on Youtube.
- When walking, try to stay on the edge of the path, both to allow faster hikers to overtake you and to avoid accidents with cyclists, who often forget that they are not the only users of the mountain paths.
- If you go to the mountains, don't forget to tell someone your destination and the route you plan to take. The phone doesn't always receive a signal, so it's always a good idea to tell someone where you are, in case of a problem.
- If you have bought new equipment (especially shoes) use it a bit on short tracks before using them for long rides, as foot ache is always lurking. If you feel discomfort, use a band-aid (you should have some in the backpack) and protect the irritated part.
- If you find berries or mushrooms that you are not sure you have identified correctly, avoid eating them. Although there are very few poisonous plants in the woods of the Dolomites, you may find yourself eating ranunculus or some form of amanita, that could cause a bad stomach ache and, in the worst case scenario, intoxication.
- If, during your hikes, you are approached by wild animals that are not particularly intimidated, try to prevent them from getting too close. Although rabies is quite rare in Europe, you may be dealing with animals that carry the disease. This is especially true for animals that appear nervous and with excessive and foamy salivation.
- Along the paths you may find some anthills, a few may be pretty big. Don't worry, the wood ants are a very tame insect, which does not sting humans. Please avoid stepping on them and leave them intact, they are very delicate structures and they are also protected by law.
We hope you liked our tips for novice hikers. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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