In Kufstein on Saturday, we got in just as the festival was kicking off. The little town we’d seen so quiet a few days before now was lined with tents selling homemade schnapps, food, honey, and all sorts of little trinkets. There was one big beer garden area, where everyone sat eating donuts and pastries with beer or Fanta. We watched rowdy, entertaining Austrian performances of men in suits chopping wood and dancing in circles. Another had young guys snapping ropes above everyone’s heads, standing on beer garden tables. Tons of pastries and beer flowed freely and it was quite an experience in a little Austrian town. Finally the cows started coming down and I made sure to get plenty of videos. This is really a thing? I loved it. After grabbing some local pear schnapps to go, we reluctantly headed to the train station, sad to leave this little town that had grown on us.
The next day’s hike was definitely the hardest of all, as expected. It was marked a “black” trail in the ranking (which really only varies between red and black), and it does deserve that marking. We started off with about 1,000m almost straight up, usually with the help of iron wiring, steep steps, or just good ol fashioned uphill. It was fun, though, and if you’re decently in shape and not too afraid of heights, this might be one of your favorite days.
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.
Highlights: Almdudler, Kaiserschmarrn, and Chairlifts
The next morning, a little groggier after our late night of jagertee and schnapps, we woke up for breakfast at the Pension, another plate of meats, cheeses, breads, and yogurt. We met Anja, our new guide for the day (well, really, Deb’s guide, who was gracious enough to take us along for the ride). A gregarious, body-building type,she may have had a bit too much gusto for our tired faces first thing that morning, but I’m definitely glad we had her. Our first ascent wasn’t too bad (not at all like the first day), and mostly took us through wooded paths and then into open alpine pastures. We did pass little huts selling fresh buttermilk and other fresh goods along the way, which was a nice change of pace from the first day where we didn’t pass anything open until our drink stop). Continue reading
The next morning, I headed down for breakfast early- hot coffee, a plate of meats and cheeses and breads, and of course butter, Nutella, and jam. I talked more to the American woman and to another German guy who’d stayed in his room the night before. Turns out, the American woman, Deb, is a travel writer and she was waiting for her guide for the day. She was also heading the same way I was, as was this new German guy. While I was planning to get through 2 stages that day, I agreed to start with them and just keep moving on half way through the day.
The 6 days I spent in Tyrol definitely proved to be very different than I imagined.
I set out from Innsbruck on Monday morning, after stopping by the Alpine Club to get any additional info I could. The guy at the Alpine Club was helpful and seemed to know the route pretty well. But, in broken English, he kept pointing at the map gesturing his hand in a “so-so” waving way, saying the weather wouldn’t be great and he wouldn’t recommend setting out, but that I could start today if I really wanted. I’m stubborn, so he told me where to go down the street to buy some detailed maps from the bookstore (this may have been my most reckless move of the trip so far, but I at least wanted to take as many smart precautions as I can). I grabbed those, and a bright red Mammut raincover at the sports shop next door, and set off for the train station to make it to my starting point: Sankt Johann. Hoping to beat the impending storms, I looked forward to some alone time on my gutsy solo venture. Lots of time to think, I figured.
I got into Innsbruck late afternoon after stopping in Mittenwald on my way from Fussen, where I mostly just walked up to see the castles, did an unexpected nature walk back to the city (and discovered that while trails aren’t marked in distances but in time here, it’s done by seniors and therefore estimates about double the amount of time it really does end up taking), and then had lots of Bavarian food and beer. Not worth a full post, so some pics below before on to Innsbruck.