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VII. Alpenrosen and Goat's-Milk Henry van Dyke

Section IV.

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When a stern necessity forces one to leave Cortina, there are several ways of departure. We selected the main highway for our trunks, but for ourselves the Pass of the Three Crosses; the Deacon and the Deaconess in a mountain waggon, and I on foot. It should be written as an axiom in the philosophy of travel that the easiest way is best for your luggage, and the hardest way is best for yourself.

All along the rough road up to the Pass, we had a glorious outlook backward over the Val d' Ampezzo, and when we came to the top, we looked deep down into the narrow Val Buona behind Sorapis. I do not know just when we passed the Austrian border, but when we came to Lake Misurina we found ourselves in Italy again. My friends went on down the valley to Landro, but I in my weakness, having eaten of the trout of the lake for dinner, could not resist the temptation of staying over-night to catch one for breakfast.

It was a pleasant failure. The lake was beautiful, lying on top of the mountain like a bit of blue sky, surrounded by the peaks of Cristallo, Cadino, and the Drei Zinnen. It was a happiness to float on such celestial waters and cast the hopeful fly. The trout were there; they were large; I saw them; they also saw me; but, alas! I could not raise them. Misurina is, in fact, what the Scotch call "a dour loch," one of those places which are outwardly beautiful, but inwardly so demoralised that the trout will not rise.

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When we came ashore in the evening, the boatman consoled me with the story of a French count who had spent two weeks there fishing, and only caught one fish. I had some thoughts of staying thirteen days longer, to rival the count, but concluded to go on the next morning, over Monte Pian and the Cat's Ladder to Landro.

The view from Monte Pian is far less extensive than that from Nuvolau; but it has the advantage of being very near the wild jumble of the Sexten Dolomites. The Three Shoemakers and a lot more of sharp and ragged fellows are close by, on the east; on the west, Cristallo shows its fine little glacier, and Rothwand its crimson cliffs; and southward Misurina gives to the view a glimpse of water, without which, indeed, no view is complete. Moreover, the mountain has the merit of being, as its name implies, quite gentle. I met the Deacon and the Deaconess at the top, they having walked up from Landro. And so we crossed the boundary line together again, seven thousand feet above the sea, from Italy into Austria. There was no custom-house.

The way down, by the Cat's Ladder, I travelled alone. The path was very steep and little worn, but even on the mountain-side there was no danger of losing it, for it had been blazed here and there, on trees and stones, with a dash of blue paint. This is the work of the invaluable DOAV--which is, being interpreted, the German-Austrian Alpine Club. The more one travels in the mountains, the more one learns to venerate this beneficent society, for the shelter-huts and guide-posts it has erected, and the paths it has made and marked distinctly with various colours. The Germans have a genius for thoroughness. My little brown guide-book, for example, not only informed me through whose back yard I must go to get into a certain path, but it told me that in such and such a spot I should find quite a good deal (ziemlichviel) of Edelweiss, and in another a small echo; it advised me in one valley to take provisions and dispense with a guide, and in another to take a guide and dispense with provisions, adding varied information in regard to beer, which in my case was useless, for I could not touch it. To go astray under such auspices would be worse than inexcusable.

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Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

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