For Whom the bell tolls (not us)

Trip Start Jun 04, 2012
Trip End Jul 03, 2012

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Where I stayed
Berliner Hutte

Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Sunday, June 24, 2012

We woke very early today to the sound of bells and the feeling of flies dive bombing our faces.  Adam quickly shut the window, but the muffled sound of bells continued on for over an hour and the flies continued flying into our faces and ears until we finally got out of bed.  It was 6am and Sunday, so I guess the bell is a reminder for everyone in town to get up and go to church.  The flies were just a special treat for staying in a town with a lot of cows and a lot more manure.

We arrived late last night and so (as usual) we missed our opportunity to get to a grocery store to stock up on water and snacks for the trip.  Today was Sunday (as the bell so abruptly reminded us)  and the markets were all closed.  We had to settle for gas station food.  I stocked up on lollipops, chocolate bars, pringles, and water.  Adam did not think this was all necessary since there are huts along the way to provide lunch, but I was sure that we would need a hut every 20 minutes to provide enough food and junk to get our family up that mountain.

Our plan was to take a bus to the beginning of the first trail head and hike up the valley to the top of the mountains to the Berliner hut.  We would then hike over a pass to the Griezer hut and over another pass the Kasseler hut and come down the valley to the place we left our car.  

Best laid plans.....After waiting till 10 for the tourist info booth to open, (so we could find out which bus to take), we ended up only having 5 minutes to walk back to our car and gather all of our stuff and get to the bus stop.  So we not only just missed the bus, but ended up slowly following it up the mountain for the next 20 minutes.  

New plan.... we would pay the extra money and park at the first trail head and when we got back to town from the hike, Adam would take the bus up the mountain and get the car.  Problem solved.

The trail began as a lovely meander through a valley, complete with grassy pastures and cows with bells (and lots of manure).  It was a Sunday so most people were hiking down from the mountain while we hiked up.  Adam had read that there were three huts along the way to have lunch.  That should be enough for us!

After only 20 minutes of hiking we came to the first hut.  It appeared to be serving food, but we had not been gone long enough to start the eating frenzy, so we skipped this hut so we could gain some ground on our hike.  It was a warm day with the promise of a large storm by the days end, so wanted to get up to the hut and not waste too much time.  When we told the owner of the pension our hiking plans she had dubious face and said something in German about the weather.  Not a great sign, but this was the days we had for hut hiking, so we were going anyways.  We would make weather related decisions as needed.  We may be new to Austria, but we are not new to mountains and hiking and safety and we usually make safe choices.

Unfortunately the next hut we came to was closed for lunch until July.  It was still early in the season, so not everything was open yet.  We were starving so we had a lovely lunch of pringles, chocolate cookies and water.  After 2 and half hours of hiking we came to a hut and stopped for a delicious lunch.  The menu was completely german and we had no idea what we were ordering, but we got lucky.  Our favorite was the specknodel.  Some kind of dumpling with bits of ham sitting in a light thin gravy. Everything here comes with sauerkraut.

We only hiked another half hour after lunch and arrived at the Berliner hut.  Really looked more like a beautiful old hotel sitting at the top of the mountains.  We were at the foot of a glacier (well a receding glacier) and the views were phenomenal.  It was built over a hundred years ago, but it has been renovated recently and the outside and inside were gorgeous.  Wood carved ceilings and walls in the main dining hall.  There is a warm shower and flushing toilets and even a warm foot bath.

We have an amazing hut system in Colorado that our family has used many times, but the reason we came to  Austria to hike the huts is so we could enjoy the hike and let the hut do all the work.  They cater to your needs as soon as you arrive.  Beer, wine, coffee, hot cocoa, and all of the best food you can eat.  You of course pay for everything, but it's not very expensive and it's so much better than lugging it all up the mountain on your back.  We sat on the back deck and drank beer (hot cocoa for the kids) and watched the storm roll in.  A heavy fog was heading our direction so we were glad we had made it up there early.  We were given a room to ourselves and then we read and played chess in the main dining hall and ate dinner.  Very relaxing evening.  It was only $10 euros per person to stay at the hut and we only spent $40 euros on food for the evening.  This is because we are members of the Austrian Alpine Club.  We get 50% off of all hut expenses.  The sleeping quarters were not heated, but they provide heavy blankets and down comforters for the guests.  Not a bad deal!  I think we might be getting spoiled.  It may be difficult to persuade the kids to ski into a hut next winter with sleeping bags and food on their backs.   

We went to bed when the sun went down around 10pm without the worries of bells or flies waking us early.

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