I managed to sneak some hiking into the trip in the glorious Austria. The Austrian Alps are just incredible and make me feel at home for some reason.
I decided to get a bit of a head start of my adventure up the mountain behind Saalfelden by riding halfway up on a gravel road on my touring bike. The road just stopped and the hike begins, with no carpark or map or sign. It looked like not too many people come up this valley, but it was a really nice ride up. I disguised my bike so that nobody could find it. Today’s camouflage was big leaves I’d found on nearby low-lying plants.
I didn’t have a lot of time to get up this mountain. I knew that I had to be back at the cross country race course to watch the men ride the World Cup event. I decided to run. The road didn’t go as far as I expected so I was limited to my clip in cycling shoes. If you weren’t aware, cycling shoes are stiff and lack grip making them not so ideal for trail running. Whatever.
The signage along the Austrian trails is fantastic; you can always find a marker along along the way. Occasionally there were distances and times to the next point and I was happy to see that running got me places in well under half the time. The trails were steep the whole way up and down and had a mixture of roots, rocks and loose soil.
On my way up I spotted various birds of prey as well as a little mole… wasn’t expecting that!
I passed many people who were two or three times my age which inspires confidence in the fact that I will hopefully be able to do these things when I am their age.
I didn’t have enough time to get to the peak. I think I turned around at about 2000m to get back down to the race.
The Innsbruck trail was a bit more wild. It was steeper and rockier, with more places where you could slip down hundreds of metres. This time I brought appropriate footwear! The trail switchbacked up a really steep hill, verging on vertical (or so it seemed). The view just 10 minutes into the hike was already amazing. I wanted to run up this one but it was much more efficient to walk.
Halfway up the climb I noticed a glorious grey owl. When it saw that I spotted it, it dropped from the tree and glided down the hill 100m. I saw the same amount of humans on this hike; just one. The lone hiker started talking to me in German without me having the time to inform him that I don’t speak German. Once he realised, it was just one word, “super”, which allowed me to understand what his previous sentence was about.
It was like climbing a ladder through the next section, with no rocks to contend with, just roots. The top of this valley offered a disappointing view however encouraged me to summit the peak. At over 1000m there were goats everywhere, all with tails. It is so strange to see goats and sheep in Europe with tails! I found some Ibex on the trail a bit further on… wasn’t expecting that!
The summit was peaceful, as nobody was around. The view over Innsbruck was sublime.