Austria Vacation Log: Day 12, The Alp (Post 1 of 2)

We started off Day 12 by going grocery shopping. Hallstatt didn’t have supermarket per set, but we went to a bakery for breads and pastries, and then to a small deli for cheese. What we should have bought was another two or three water bottles, but instead we left for an all-day hike with under 1.5 quarts of water. Not the smartest plan, but we really didn’t have a firm destination in mind.

We started off by hiking European style- we took the funicular up from the village. In Europe, this isn’t considered cheating!

From the top of the funicular, the trail followed a paved road, then a dirt road. Both roads climbed straight up the mountain. I was frankly surprised that cars could climb something so steep- there were lots of tire marks where cars had lost traction. Finally it got just too steep for anyone- and the road started making switchbacks. The trail, however, cut the corners and made officially marked anti-switchbacks, heading straight up the mountainside. The trails were somewhat maze-like and not particularly well marked. Or at least they didn’t match the cheap 1€ tourist map that I had with me.

Somewhere along the way, we decided that we would climb an Alp, a peak marked “Passen”. The trail finally left our last road behind and started to get interesting. The trail opened up and we got some views of craggy, crumbling cliffs.

Soon we hit an unmarked (on my map) trail junction and then met some Germanic hikers, who confirmed that we were on the right path- but that we still had 1-1.5 hours to go. Right after that we came across our first of two sets of cables and ropes bolted into the cliff. The climbing was hard but fun. We were both getting hungry and thirsty, but we pushed on to the summit, crowned with a cross. We ate our lunch, drank a few precious drops of water, then snapped a ton of pictures in the haze, and signed into the register.

Rich on the Summit



Views from the Summit

For the return trip we opted to take the longer loop around, since it had to be less steep… well, not really. Fairly quickly it plunged down a steep, wet gully with mud and small, loose rocks. The going was slow, and the lack of faith in the map didn’t help anything. Eventually though it started to get less steep, and we hit a trail junction clearly labeled “Hallstatt”.

For a short time the trail went up and down small hills as it traversed across a notch. Finally, it dropped down the other side. We were rationing gulps of water at this point. We came out to a road and started following it down. I resorted to chewing gum just to keep some moisture in my mouth. We hit familiar terrain and the grade steepened again. We had about 2 sips of water left when we came across a spring of sorts- a wooden post with water gushing out of a pipe. Risk be damned- not seeing a “Kein Drinkwasser” sign around we drank and drank and drank, ate a snack, and then drank some more. I estimate that about half of the water that I drank on the entire hike was from this single spring. Plus I drank more on the way home than I did on the hike up, and we were an hour from home. The funicular was closed, so we took the trail that switchbacked down to the Catholic Church. We were jubilant when we returned to town at 6:00 pm.


Salvation!


The Plassen – red arrow points to the summit cross