On our last day in Alpbach, we cut our time on the slopes short so that we could do a little hiking before the sun went down. Not knowing exactly where to hike, we stopped in the tourism office where they gave us a gigantic, color-coded map (much like the ones handed out for the ski runs) detailing over 40 different cross-country trails, toboggan runs, and winter walking trails in Alpbach that we could take. Distances for the trails ranged from under 1km to over 15km, with varying levels of difficulty.
We didn’t have proper footwear for the cross-country trails, so we chose the Ausserland/Hausertal winter walk starting in Alpbach’s village center and taking us through nearby farms and forests before ending back in the village. Our map told us it would take around an hour and a half to complete, so we set out in the fog and rain so we could complete the trail before sundown.
The first part of our trail was completely uphill, and after three days of skiing, I was definitely feeling the burn! The path took us along the paved roads through the streets where all the guest houses are. As we moved out of the village and were walking higher up, we were able to see the town from a distance – it’s actually much smaller than it appears when you’re staying in it! We used the church as a landmark to find our own guest house. I wish I had a decent picture, but the village was heavily covered in fog and the one I took didn’t turn out.
After we left the village, the trail wound through Alsten Farm. The smell of cow patties filled the air, and I smiled as I breathed in the familiar scent. After three years of running through farms every morning, I’ve learned to actually like the way cows smell. It reminds me of home. Considering we were walking in a cloud and couldn’t see the mountains, we could just have easily been walking through Tennessee farmland as similar as the two looked!
When we reached the uppermost point of the trail, there was a look-out where cars could pull off and admire the view. On a clearer day, I’m sure the view would be outstanding, but when we went, the mountains were still very much covered in fog. We’d only occasionally catch glimpses of what was underneath the clouds when they’d part momentarily. It wasn’t particularly cold, so we stayed up there for a good while waiting to see if the rain would pass so the clouds could move on, but they were being stubborn. We eventually gave up and continued walking, accidentally taking a small detour along the way that ended up being my favorite part of the walk.
If we’d followed the map, we would have made our way through a small section of woods before heading back into the town, but instead we continued to climb higher, up what could have been someone’s extremely long private driveway for all I know. We didn’t pass a single person after leaving the village, so it didn’t seem odd that we didn’t see anyone on this portion either. A gravel path took us through areas so thick with fog that we could barely see the trail in front of us. I loved it! After about half a kilometer, we came across a stream running through the forest, and as we looked up higher and couldn’t see any end in sight to the trail we were walking on, we decided we’d taken a wrong turn and agreed to head back.
I was sorry it had to end. It was so wonderful to be back in the outdoors again. I’m outside a lot in London, and certainly do my fair share of walking, but being outside in the city doesn’t compare in the least bit to being outside in nature. I’ve missed it tremendously. The last time I hiked in the mountains before Austria was a year and a half ago when we hiked in the foothills of the Himalayas. It had been far too long! Considering how lousy I was at skiing, this is what I should have been spending my time doing in Alpbach!
If you’re planning to check out some of the cross-country trails and winter walking trails in Alpbach, the map we were given at the tourism office is also online – you can find the Alpbachtal Seenland map here. Happy hiking!
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