17.06.2013 - 17.06.2013 32 °C
Ben awoke at 6 AM this morning, blaming his early rising on his bedmate’s snoring. I don’t think this can be true. I was there and I don’t recall hearing anything. I think it was because he was very eager to get a jump on the day as we had promised him we would go hiking today...despite the planned alpine route being one that gained 800 meters and regardless of the temperature estimate of thirty-two degrees. The impending temperature was actually why we agreed to get up so early; we knew we would need to get up the mountain early to beat the heat. Therefore, Ben woke Hannah and me at 7 and we were out the door by 7:45, heading off to the start of the path some kilometers away. Meanwhile, Abby elected to dream another dream.
The morning started with a temperature of about fifteen, which was perfect for setting off. The uphill hike took us under the cover of shaded woods, over rocky paths, beside raging waterfalls and through mountain streams and run off until we finally reached the first summit. There, we were treated to the glorious sight of the Tappenkarsee alpine lake, the highest in Austria in fact, with craggy hills rising all around, many with snow still clinging to them. It was absolutely beautiful. We stopped for a while at a well-placed bench, which allowed all of us to appreciate the atmosphere and me, a chance to dry out my wet socks (so much for Gortex boots). We only saw two or three others who had reached the location before us. Surrounding the lake was a level walk so we set off again, passing by two of the seemingly-mandatory ‘hutten,’ rustic restaurants meant to satisfy the thirst and hunger pangs of weary travellers. With such opportunities for repast, Austria makes hiking so very civilized. Many take advantage of the ubiquitous cable cars, network of paths and myriad of huts to make a very nice day of it.
The walking is therefore available to anyone really, regardless of fitness level or age. And, as the day progressed, we saw more evidence of just how well used this trail was. People of all ages, shapes and sizes either ascended to the lake via the trail or by way of the cable car. Germans and Austrians sure seem a hearty bunch, hiking well into their advanced decades; we saw one fit couple who looked to be about seventy-five just below the crest of the trail – I thought she was going to kiss Ben when he told her there was only five more minutes of walking. Ben and Hannah elected to forge onto higher ground so I walked back around the lake and waited for them to descend. Their walk took them much higher where they received beautiful views of the lake for their troubles and the opportunity to walk through larger snowdrifts, always a treat on hot days such as this one. We lunched by the lake, taking advantage of the cool breezes off the water as the sun climbed higher. While it did indeed reach that promised temperature, going downhill, and seeking shade from the trees and respite by the waterfalls did a lot to address the heat. Still, once back, we felt it necessary to stop by the store for sufficient lemonade and ice cream supplies to see us through the rest of the day.
The rest of my afternoon was spent getting a spa treatment of sorts. My husband graciously helped to dye my hair while I cashed in birthday gift chits for my youngest to give me a massage and paint my toenails. That, together with the ice cream, capped off a great day.