Climb every mountain......

Trip Start Mar 22, 2010
Trip End Jun 10, 2010

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Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Sunday, April 11, 2010

Utilised the internet this morning to update the blog and to phone Slimey to congratulate him on his graduation. He sent through some photos of his big day which included a lovely one with Mum and Dad, and a ‘selfie’ with the vice chancellor, to which the Vice chancellor said “we don’t normally do this” and Slimey wanted to reply “I don’t usually graduate!!”.

Organised a little picnic to take out with us today because the plan was to hike an Austrian mountain. Stepped foot outside to icy cold wind, black clouds above, and a quick duck back inside Hans bubi to find another layer of thermals. Merinos today, that gives you some indication of the cold! Once I had rearranged my clothing, got back outside and put the poncho away because the rain had been blown down the valley, and the sun was making an attempt at coming out. Both rugged up though, and headed for the hills.

Started off looking at the Innsbruck camping map, and it had tracks criss-crossing all over the mountains up behind Kranebitterhof, so we decided to start there. Most of the tracks were marked as ’moderate’, and we thought “too easy”, and off we went. Started off with a nice gentle walk past a park, with dozens of kids kicking balls around and dozens of grown ups smoking around campfires. The nice gentle slope then made itself a little bit more known to our legs, and swerved upwards slightly, where it changed into a gravel road. We had read that it went upwards and the train line was the half way point. Panting, sweating and madly stripping off layers, with no train line in sight, we started to worry ever so slightly… S: The track got quite steep but all too soon we passed the train line and made it to the road above, after a few stops for a breather….. The road hair pinned upwards (looked a bit like something out of Tour de France) and we reached a farm house with a little chapel set on the hill over looking verdant green pastures down the slope. It’s the sort of thing you think of when thinking “Europe”. The trail headed off above the fields and soon entered into the forests. The going was quite a bit easier as we traversed across the mountains. We noticed just how many people were out, simply for a walk. Some had their dogs, others running (….mad bastards…), and lots of people out in their hiking gear with the hiking poles and all. There are so many trail, all marked out very clearly…although I had the thought that back home they wouldn’t have these types of trails…..every tree root would have to be cut out, every change in gradient would have to have steps put in blah blah blah blah…. It was so nice to actually hike on organised trails that aren’t sanitised so someone sues for a scrapped knee…..

After walking for half an hour or so, we came to a junction of trails and decided to hike up to a mountain hut. The map showed that the trail was easy to moderate and involved about 8 or 9 hairpins. We thought ok. By switch back 14, Rach had just about had it. It wasn’t as bad as the first pitch, but was quite constant. By this time, we could make out day light up the slope and a fence. When we reached the fence, little did we know that the Austrians practically fenced in cliffs (with post and rails….).

We finally reached the mountain hut, where there was a small restaurant and outdoor tables overlooking the city and valley below. While we were grateful for a sit down and a drink of water and the sunshine upon us, the breeze coming up the valley made our soaking wet clothes quite cold, so we decided to retire to the indoors and seemed to wander in to a room that was a private party of hikers all drinking and being merry and playing cards (I noticed they were the same cards as we used in Bavaria). We discretely took up a small table by the small fire and ordered a couple o cups of tea. The hiking revellers seemed not to be too bothered by our presence and the barman kept coming in, having a schnapps and going out again to serve more customers

After warming our bones by the fire, the party got better with one of the party goers breaking out his piano accordian and another guy breaking out his guitar and the whole room was having a right sing along  in that warm little room (with deer skull decorations) overlooking the valley below and up to the snow covered mountains beyond. I think this was our close encounter with Tyrolean culture and quite frankly not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

After enjoying several songs and clapping along with the music, we decided to pay the pissed barman and make our move. After being toasty and warm in the hut, it was a bit of a shock to go back out into the cold, even though the sun was shining. We decided to head home via a different trail, and soon found our selves alone again in the forest. It was quite interesting to notice that the forest changed as you made your way along. In the more exposed areas, conifers predominated, although the cones are much smaller than many of the conifers planted back home. In more protected areas, deciduous oaks and birch dominate, resulting at present in some sun light (as they are just starting to sprout for spring) and a carpet of golden brown leaves. We decided to pick one of these spots for our picnic lunch. It was warm and sunny and out of the wind. It was glorious……. The speck and cheese sandwiches went down a treat. We both could have stayed right in that spot all afternoon, basking like lizards in the sun.

After half an hour or so, we decided to push on and the trail got quite steep and narrow (obviously not one of the more popular trails…). I found that I had Edelweiss going in my head (a steady rhythmic tune to slowly descend with) and marvelled at the fact I was humming Edelweiss while hiking in the Austrian Alps. As we made our way down, I spotted little wild pansies growing by the trail, in blue, pink and white and picked a few. Needless to Rach was overjoyed at receiving flowers (I have now published to the world wide web that I have given Rach flowers, no need for subtle hints……). The trail brought us out at the top of the field where we started the hike. By this time we were enjoying our apples and looking forward to getting home. We followed the road down and followed a creek back to the camping ground. We had both decided by this time that we had earned a beer today, so changed into some dry clothes and headed across the road to the local inn. After deciding that the bier garten was a bit too cold and the smoking rooms were …..well disgusting…. So we ended up out the back in the restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed a few pils and had a lovely time debriefing for the day, talking about Austria and where to go to next.  After 3 beers each we headed back to Hans Bubi to cook some spatzle and enjoy a few more beers.

Really does it get any better………there’s always tomorrow.

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