Waterfall meets "almkas" adventure hike
Bist wia a wilds Wasser, des vom Berg owarinnt, wia a wilds Wasser, auf a Roas mi mitnimmt ...
I'm lying in bed with a song by Austrian band Seer stuck in my head – about wild rapids rushing down from the mountain. I'm thinking about the trip I have planned for today. I jump out of bed full of energy and excitement. I can't wait to join the guided hike intriguingly titled "Wasserfall meets Almkas" (literally: "waterfall meets alpine cheese"...)
At 8:45 am I meet Herbert, our guide, and Constanze, who also works as a guide in the summer at the sports and outdoor activities centre. Most of the group has already arrived and a few people take advantage of the option to test a pair of climbing boots on the hike.
We grab our rucksacks and get going
At 9:00 am we take the "Sportwelt" bus for Obertauern. Visitors pay just € 1.00 with the Flachau Summer Card and the bus is therefore a very cheap way to get to the starting point for today's hike, which is just outside Obertauern. The bus driver kindly lets us out before the official stop at the turnoff to the Johannes waterfall. There's some last-minute application of sunscreen, and our guide Herbert briefly explains what we can expect today.
The first – and very impressive – highlight of the day will be the Johannes waterfall. I'm really looking forward to finally seeing this amazing spectacle up close again. It takes us about 10 minutes from the starting point to reach the waterfall. Carefully, we descend the damp wooden steps and are soon admiring the Johannes waterfall in all its glory. We look on enthralled as the water thunders 60 m down into the depths. Many of us pull out our mobile phones or cameras to capture the sight. And hiking through behind the waterfall? I'm not the only one to find that pretty cool. We pause to enjoy the cool drops of water on our skin – today is to get pretty hot.
Cows and alpacas on the Hirschwandsteig trail
We're soon heading off again as we still have a long way to go. The route takes us to Felseralm alp, where we encounter some rather unusual animals for this part of the world – alpacas! They normally live in the South American Andes, but these two creatures obviously feel at home with us. It's not just the children in our all-age group who have a lot of fun with the good-natured animals; the adults are quite taken with them too. We now head along the Hirschwandsteig trail through beautiful alpine pastures. The Hirschwandsteig takes its name from the rock face (the Hirschwand or "deer rock") beside the trail. Unfortunately, we do not spot any deer today.
You can still clearly hear the roar of the Johannes waterfall at some points and in some places even see it.
I bring up the rear of our group of hikers and make sure there are no stragglers. I love the mountains and spend a lot of time here, because hiking allows me to really switch off and leave everyday worries behind me. I am often in the hills on my own – which is all the more reason to enjoy the company and conversation today, and pace we have chosen is perfect for a sociable walk.
We take the odd break for a drink. Herbert tells us about the Alpine flowers, their uses and how they were used in the past, and which ones are poisonous and inedible to livestock.
Cow bells set the pace on this section of the route and the young cattle, who are spending a wonderful summer up on the alpine pastures, watch us curiously. The sun beams down and we glory in it and in the most magnificent view of the mountains you could possibly imagine.
Staging post in sight
The children are already tugging on their parents' t-shirts and asking when we will finally reach the alp. Soon, we can see the Scharfetthütte hut, which nestles in the Hafeichtalmen alpine pasture area. Elisabeth, the proprietor of the hut, gives us a warm welcome and rewards our hard work with a hearty snack: a "Brettljause" cold platter, "Kasjause" cheese snacks, "Bauernkrapfen" doughnuts, buttermilk... delicious!
And the Scharfetthütte has "Binoggl" – what the locals call binoculars – so we can soak in the magnificent panorama and watch the wild animals. Despite the heat, we are lucky enough to spot some marmots (or "Mangei" as they say here). We'll have plenty of stories to tell when we get home!
Happy and well-fed, we leave the alp and hike downhill towards Flachauwinkl. The Sportweltbus bus takes us back to the starting point in Flachau. We will remember this wonderful day for a long time, and I am determined to do this hike regularly.
As they say: "Auf der Alm, da gibt's keine Sünd" (there's no sin on the alp)
... just a lot of great food – MMMMMMHHHH!