Highlights: the Eagle Statue, Weiner Schnitzel, and a quiet inn
After finding out about the Almatrieb festival, which is when all the cows come down from the mountains for the winter and get all dressed up and people celebrate in town with drinks and music and markets, I mostly decided to come back to Kufstein for Saturday and cut the 7-day hiking plan short. I just couldn’t pass this up. So, after breakfast downstairs at the inn, we headed out for another 2 days (Stages 4 and 5) before hoping to take a train back to Kufstein Saturday morning.
Stage 4 was gorgeous. We set out walking across town to the bus station, where we got tickets to Unterlangkampfen, where the trail started. It wasn’t fully clear where to get off the bus or where the trail started, but luckily we got off by a church, and that was just about where the trail started.
We headed straight up for a good while, with views back down on the towns below. We even came across a water source and an old bench on the way up.
We finally stopped at a hut for a drink outside, but it was so crazy windy we went inside to finish and then left pretty quickly to make the second part of the hike before any rain started. We decided against taking the steeper route because of the weather, which turned out to be a good move. We did come across a group of cows on the path just as we started out, and after trying to challenge them nicely, figured that wouldn’t be the smartest move…
Luckily, the rain waited until just after we got inside the inn to start. We were offered a nice room with corner views out to the mountains (then again, what other kind of view is there in the middle of the Alps?), so we showered and then went down to dinner. Showers do cost 3€, typical for some of these huts, especially the privately-owned ones like this one. We were offered a menu of options, also unlike the first hut, where dinner was pretty much whatever was being served that night, at one set time. In any case, we were the only ones staying there that night, so I wondered what it would have been like if I had been alone.
Looking back, I would definitely recommend trying to stick to Alpine Club huts if you want the “authentic” experience of no-menus, intimate, cozy, and cheap huts. I had invested in an Alpine Club membership for about 50€, but was a bit disappointed to realize that most of the places I stayed were privately-owned or weren’t part of the Austrian Alpine Club and provided no discounts. And in terms of experience, the first night was definitely the coziest, including the older man playing the guitar, the climbers resting and playing board games after a rainy, long day, and the friendly innkeeper. You can find them by looking here ahead of time and planning your route accordingly, or by getting a map listing them all once you get to Innsbruck or Sankt Johann (I know the German guy had gotten one). At least I’ll know for next time!
I also realized something about hiking alone in the Alps. Based on the last 2 hiking days particularly, I really wondered if I could have done this hike alone. I underestimated how little English there was, and also how lonely some of the huts could be. None turned out the way the first was, with its cosy warmth and convivial atmosphere of other hikers and climbers. While I really wondered if I could have benefited from the independence and solace of my original plan of hiking alone the whole way, I felt grateful that I’d decided to go a different way, to just stop gutting forward, and grateful for having fallen in with this great group of people that I fully expect to see again.