Train to Innsbruck and the first day of hiking

Trip Start Sep 09, 2006
Trip End Dec 23, 2006

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Flag of Austria  ,
Thursday, September 28, 2006

The way most of the train tickets work in Europe is that you buy a ticket to a certain destination that is good for about a month. So that means that you are not locked into any one time. Nick and I chose to leave on Tuesday at 3:30. We got all of our clothes packed up into our backpacks as well as our bit of food that we would use for lunch and got to the train station at 3:26. Very efficient timing!

The train was moderately crowded, but we were able to spread out in one of the compartments and have a pretty relaxing train ride. We got dinner in the dining cart for about 10 euros, and the food was surprisingly good. The whole train ride took about 5 hours and went through a bunch of cities, including Salzburg, before getting to Innsbruck. We couldn't really see much out the window because it was very cloudy. It looked as if the only way we were going to be able to see the mountains was by hiking up them! So the train rolled into Innsbruck at around 8:30 which gave us a little time to get from the train station to the hostel we booked. The desk at the hostel closes at 10:00pm. We decided to take a taxi there, which cost 6.90 euros. Our first impression of the hostel wasn't that good as the place didn't look that impressive from the outside. When we went to the desk, the woman was very unfriendly although we managed to book 2 beds in a 6 person room that costs us 17 euros a piece. This is a very good deal considering a hotel would be much more expensive then that. However, living in a room with 4 other people that you don't know is not always the easiest.

We found our way up to the room fairly easily and tried to get into the door, but no matter how many times we turned the key, the door wouldn't seem to open. Finally a guy approached us and told us in English that the door was a pain in the neck to open. He then showed us how and explained how the confusing lock worked. It turned out that this guy was also staying in our room and so we talked to him for a while. His name is Jeff and it turns out that he grew up on a cattle/chicken farm in Arkansas and wanted to explore Europe a bit. He is 24 and had been in Europe for a few weeks going to different places and staying in hostels. He told us that he had a really bad experience in Innsbruck with the weather and the people at the Hostel, so when we told him that we were hiking to Italy the next day, he instantly asked if he could come with us. Nick and I decided that it would be fun to have a 3rd person along, so we agreed to let him come with us. We showed him our planned route and he was impressed with the route we had planned out, and was very excited for the next morning.

After we had talked for a little while, the other people that were living in the room that night started to trickle in. They were all about our age or a little older, except for one guy that came in a little later. He was maybe 60 years old and pretty portly. I never caught his name or even talked to him that much as he went right to bed. We knew he was asleep by the loud grumbled snoring noise that started coming from his bed. I instantly knew that this was going to be a hard night to sleep.

After looking over the map we had bought for about half an hour, I tried to go to bed. At first I tried to cover my ears with my hands, then I tried to put my pillow over my head and cover my ears at the same time. No matter what you did, you could still here this guy's snoring as loud as ever. It was probably the worst snoring I have ever heard in my life because not only is it loud but its not consistent. There are bits of coughing, wheezing, and what sounded like choking, intermixed in the snoring. People in the room were making loud banging noises, throwing stuff at him, all in an attempt to wake him up so that they might have a chance of getting to sleep. A couple attempts did succeed in waking him up, but only for a few grumbles and a little movement, before the snoring started again. After two hours, I was so tired that I fell asleep for about 15 minutes before I was woken up again by the snoring. This lasted pretty much all night with little bits of sleep here and there. Needless to say it was not a good start to the trip...

The next morning, we woke up at around 7am for our free breakfast which turned out to be just some bread and jam. At around 9am, we took the bus to the alpine club in Innsbruck where they booked us a space at our first hut that night and told us where the trailhead started. Jeff was carrying everything with him in his backpack that he brought to Europe because when we got to Italy, he was going to head off to some other place and probably not return to Innsbruck. This meant that he had a heavy load to carry, and the route we had planned wasn't exactly easy. After the tree of us got off the bus, we started to walk through the town of Igls on the border of Innsbruck to find the trailhead. We found what we were looking for and started up the trail, which at first was just an ordinary road. Jeff wanted to stop after we had walked for about of a mile on a paved road... not a good sign.

Eventually we made our way off of the paved road and out of the town onto a real trailhead. Jeff kept trailing behind and Nick and I would go ahead and then wait for him every now and then. We had to climb over 5000ft to the hut for the first night, so it wasn't very easy to say the least. You can see pictures of the terrain in our first day from the images section.

Each time Nick and I waited for Jeff, it took him a few minutes longer to catch up. Eventually when there was about 1 hours left of hiking to do to get up to the hut, Jeff said that he couldn't carry his pack any farther. Nick decided that he would switch bags with him since Nicks pack was very small and should be a lot easier for Jeff. So we did the switch and then made the final push up to the hut. Nick and I made it there at around 6pm and we decided to do an over/under on when Jeff would arrive. The temperature was about 35 degrees at this point, so after looking around the outside of the hut for a little while, we led ourselves in. It turns out that we were the only people that were staying in the hut that night so we had the entire place to ourselves with the exception of the two owners of the hut and their two dogs. Jeff stumbled into the hut just as we were ordering dinner around 6:30.

For dinner, I had a bowl of extremely good cheese soup with balls of cheese and meat intermixed in it. I don't remember the name of it, but it's a Tirolean specialty. (Tirol is the name of the region in Austria we were in.) I also had a very sweet cake platter that you dip in jam. The dinner was extremely good and a great reward for the miles we walked up to the hut.

The tree of us were so tired that we went to bed while it was still light out at about 7:30pm. We had the whole place to ourselves, so we stretched out across the beds that you can find in the pictures and had a very good sleep without any snoring!
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