How the Alps kicked my butt

written by Tiana Kai
hiking the Italian Alps

Hiking is definitely not new to me, so hiking the Alps shouldn’t be any harder, right? WRONG.

I can hike, I swear

I’ve hiked my whole life. My Mom loves hiking, so we’ve been on great hikes all over Hawai’i, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho… Not much hiking goes on in Florida. I went on weekly hikes in Boulder where I lived for over a year. So, this means I can hike, I can climb things, I have endurance. Humph!

I even hiked my butt off during a Colorado Outward Bound trek where I lived among nature for 27 days with my badass hiking boots (that disintegrated 10 years later thanks to Miami’s salty air and humidity levels) and a 60+ pound backpack (I was the bearer of the pooper scooper for the 25 person clan the last 5 days, a real highlight in my life). It was hardcore. I was hardcore. I did it. I didn’t cry, I didn’t whine, I absolutely loved it.

Hiking the Alps

Hiking the Alps

Now that I practically live up in the Alps this Summer I’ve already gotten a few good hikes in. I even did a peak hike (two hours, so a small peak) with my husband. Tania, a Russian friend of mine who lives up here in Sestriere works for ClubMed and invited me on a hike with hotel guests, for free.

I didn’t know what to expect, so I slathered coconut scented SPF on my face and arms (legs got burnt, dammit), threw my Vibrams on and brought along some water. When I showed up to ClubMed in Pragelato (they have a great ski run btw) I thought it would be more of a flower picking type of hike.

Wild flowers in the Alps
I had no energy to pick these!

Hiking a red

Tania said “we’re going on a red, ok?

I dumbed down her warning, “ya, red, whatever.

Tania then tensed her face and reiterated “a red, it’s right under black, so it’s the 3rd of the 4th level of hiking. I’ve never been on a red, but I hear you see more beautiful views, so we should go. Here. Take these!

Red it is, I can hike, no problem!” I replied cool and calmly. “Wait, hiking poles? Are you kidding?!” Oh mamma, I’m in it now. I’ve never needed poles before, I thought they were for pansies or newbies. I soon found out that they saved my life on a few occasions that day.

Let the bum whipping begin

Hiking the AlpsRocks for 20 minutes

We walked through this space-like section of rocks and what you may call a river for 20 minutes before we began the ascent into the extremely painful National Park, Parco Val Troncea. In my head I knew I had 2.5 hours ahead of me, but had no clue it would be up the whole way.

Where was the picnic? Where was the powwow where we all sing songs and make up funny animal names for each other?

Hiking the Alps
How do you say “Wait for me!” in French?

No, none of that, just up and up. The first 20 minutes up I thought it was no biggie, then into the full hour I realized my lungs were not working as hard as they needed to in order to draw in life to keep my eyes seeing clearly and my legs moving swiftly.

Due to the lack of oxygen my legs started to feel tired. I could tell that they had no more juice left. This was getting harder and harder. I was in the ‘fast’ group, but soon drifted to the tail-end of the ‘slow’ group.

The pain was ending

Parco Val Troncea
7.76 km uphill = 4.8 miles up the freaking mountain

The 2.5 hours were coming up and I was starting to feel my legs a bit and catch my breath. My water bottles were empty and the incline started to soften. We made it, I made it! What a feeling of relief. Visions of unborn children and unicorns fluttered my brain as I smiled.

I hiked 7.76 km uphill and covered 700 meters of altitude, so that’s 212 floors of some tall ass building. High fives all around.

The easy way down

Riding the ski lift
Why are hiking boots so ugly?

Luckily, the hike included a ski lift back to ClubMed’s village. Tania and I jumped on. We were the last ones down, thanks for waiting for me Tania!

If I had to hike down I would have lost a toenail, I just know it.

The descent was cool, breezy and relaxing. The pain was now in the distant past.

Snack after hikingWell deserved lemon granita at ClubMed

ClubMed must have known I was coming because they had a colorful assortment of sweet and tart granitas waiting for me! I hit up the lemon one and almost started convulsing. My body was in high need of sugar.

When I came back home I told Nicco all the curse words that unconsciously stammered out of my parched lips. He said “that’s not bad, you usually say worse words than that!

Phew, I thought I had offended everything on that mountains plus all of the lovely French ClubMed guests who were actually paying for this painful experience.

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Paige Miller July 28, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I went hiking in the mountains of Madrid a couple weekends ago, and, likewise, I thought it wouldn’t be that bad. I also ended up swearing obscenely. We were out there for 7 HOURS straight. I don’t think I’ll go hiking again for awhile. At least your pictures look nice. My views definitely weren’t as beautiful.

Tiana Kai July 28, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Oh my! The longest hike I went on was 8 hours on Outward Bound and a gnarly one in Montana, but this recent trip totally killed my lungs more than those. I couldn’t get enough air, making it painful at times. Yes, I recommend you take a break too, your body needs it! I passed out for two hours after this one, so I bet you totally wanted to die. 😮

Tania Kuybida July 28, 2013 at 7:54 pm

That’s really funny Tiana! I still feel bad. We should have started with a BLUE one! ) Anyway i hope you had some fun, not only a pain in your ass! 🙂 And then it was worth it – otherwise you would not write this fantastic post for your blog! 😉 Hope to see you next Friday! Kisses!

Tiana Kai July 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

It was great, I’m really glad I did it despite the pain! 😉
I’m ready for a blue anytime, see you Friday, and thanks for the great inspiration and those two pics for this post!

Becky Padmore July 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Ha ha I had thought I’d quite like to do this, I’m not so sure now! 😉

Tiana Kai July 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Ha, well it was worth it and a funny story in the end. Luckily, I was able to walk the next day, not sure how I pulled that off!

Angela July 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I loved you comment about trekking poles. I thought the same until I started hiking steep slopes/trails in the PNW. Even though it was work, were the views worth it?

Tiana Kai July 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Oh yes, the views were worth it! It was a gorgeous hike that I would even do again, just need to prep better and drink water the night before!

Tiana Kai August 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Well then you are ready for anything! That hiked sounded gorgeous, I loved the jetting cliffs. Have a great hike coming up.

I’m by the seaside now, with a great hike up behind my house… no poles needed 🙂 Looking forward to returning to Sestriere in a week to get a few more good ones in!

Matthew Hirtes August 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm

It’s not really hiking season over here on GC. Indeed, whilst walking yesterday a guy holidaying with his family stopped his car and said, “Do you realize it’s 48 degrees?” So I gratefully accepted the offer of a lift to the top of the hilly climb I was negotiating at the time.

Tiana Kai August 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Haha, smart man. I am now by the seaside and hope to hike here in the hills every day where I am staying… but it is really really hot!

Safe and cool hiking. 🙂

Matthew Hirtes August 18, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Thanks. Today’s hike was a more gentle one. To a beach. Now it’s time to write up the adventures.

Tiana Kai August 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Ha, that sounds more relaxing!!

Matthew Hirtes August 24, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Not as relaxing as today’s adventure. Which saw me have a full body massage. Review to follow.

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