It was a pleasure to meet other hikers in the Austrian Alps, all of us enjoying an environment not usually seen by the less adventurous. Upon meeting someone on the trail, I could be sure I would be greeted. It quickly became apparent that in spite of this one constant, NOT all greetings were the same. Continue reading
Each mountain hut has its own personality, molded by the building itself, along with its physical surroundings, but also crafted by the personality of the family & workers managing the hut.
Upon arriving at Kasseller Hütte, the sign on the corner of the building said, “Eingang ➡︎➡︎”, pointing to the mountainside entrance, on the side of the hut opposite to the sun terrace overlooking the valley. Upon entering the hut, I found NO office at which to register, and NO door to the outside terrace from the dining room. A sign at the entryway to the kitchen said, “Kein Durchgang” (No through traffic). The lady of the hut instructed me to retrace my steps, and register on the outside terrace.
Waiting on this terrace with the million-dollar view, was her stubbly-bearded husband, and a kitchen worker offering Apfel Strüdel and drinks to those wishing to refresh themselves after the long day’s hike. Jokingly I told the host I wanted the bed on the stones in front of the hut. He hesitated a moment, then came back with the perfect reply. “It is fully booked the rest of the summer. It is only available in winter.” Continue reading
The morning after arriving at Greizer Hütte, I made the decision to spend a second night at the hut. Actually recovery from the strain of the previous day’s downhill hiking was almost complete. I had slept well. I was feeling so good, I was tempted to continue on with others heading toward Kasseler Hütte. Bonding is real among hikers sharing the trail & the mountain huts, and it was with a sense of sadness that I bade farewell to those continuing on. The hiking chorus group. that had sung so beautifully on the mountain pass the day before, even sang a farewell song at the hut entrance before they departed.
Today’s hiking was without a doubt the most difficult. I was hit by a one-two-three punch:
1. A three-hour ascent from Alpenrosen Hütte (1875m) past the Schwarzsee to Mörchenscharte pass (2872m);
2. A steep four-hour descent from Mörchenscharte to the valley floor below; (Like all branching valleys at the southern end of Zillertal, this alpine valley dead-ends into a 3,000m-high glacier. Italy guards the other side of the glacier.)
3. A final steep one-hour ascent on the northern face of the valley to the Greizer Hütte (2227m). Continue reading
Today was a special day by any measure. I had planned it to be an “OFF” day, not only to recuperate from the previous two days of steep climbs and descents in the Alps, but to explore the environs around Berliner Hütte. I had heard the 1 1/2-hr hike to Schwarzsee was scenic, so that is where I headed first thing this morning. Continue reading
I slept through most of the snoring, and the neighbor’s elbow punches to my shoulder, awakening at 5:30am with other early risers. My strategy was to enjoy the breakfast buffet & engage in post-meal toiletries without a lot of competition, and of course to get an early start on the trail.
The breakfast buffet exceeded expectations. In abundance were dry and moist müseli, yoghurt, milk, herbal tea, coffee, and cheese, honey & jam for the various types of bread. The feast even included watermelon! As I was to learn later, each hut has it’s own menu and style, and although nowhere was I dissatisfied, the breakfast at Furtschlaglhaus was #1.
When I hit the trail alone at 7:50am, a few hikers had already started, but most were planning more relaxed departures. It was reassuring to know that many would be following, just in case I needed rescuing. Continue reading
Vacationers in the Zillertal of Tirol began to emerge from hotels, B&B, and vacation homes where rain had kept them holed up for the last three days. They were anxious to hike into the now visible mountains. The weather had also delayed my planned trek into the Alps, and now I joined the throng at the Mayrhofen bus station, waiting to be carried up to one of the trail heads. Instead of queuing up orderly, with newcomers joining the back of the line, as our bus arrived, we converged en mass around its open front door. Not a few cut to the front with the apology, “Excuse me. We are all one group.”. Continue reading