I love wandering around in the mountains. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to do it when the weather is suboptimal – if it’s excessively freezing, windy or raining – but otherwise, it really is the ultimate way to get some fresh air, exercise, and of course some traditional Austrian food!
With so many mountains around us we have plenty of choice – Steep? High? Easy? Hard? Sunny? Shady? Rocky? – You can choose your favourite adversary. Though with the unpredictable weather in the mountains you have to be careful… you don’t want to run into a storm when you’re exposed up there. However, this also means that if there’s inclement weather on the mountain you were planning to hike, often you can just choose an alternative, not too far away, where the weather is more ideal.
On hot days we opt for staying lower, winding our way through shady paths of pine trees, watching the birds circle and spotting wild deer or squirrels. On cooler, sunny days we head further up the mountain, emerging out from under the tree line, putting ourselves at the mercy of the potentially strong wind, and keeping an eye out for mountain goats… or mountain bike riders!
In each scenario it’s important to always take a wind jacket and sunscreen. And water, of course, which you can usually fill up at cold, clean streams along the way. Luckily, you can’t walk too far in the Austrian mountains without coming across a Guesthouse or Farmer’s Hut where you can stop for a quick beverage and a snack, or a full meal, finishing of course with a home-brewed schnapps.
There’s nothing more rewarding than finally reaching the summit after a hard climb and breathing in the fresh alpine air, taking in the scenery around you. Watching the sun slowly rise from below the horizon really is worth the trek, if you can handle the early morning. And you’ll definitely know you’ve reached the summit, because in Austria there’s a cross at the top of each one.
It’s possible to hike year-round with the right gear, though we tend to head up from late March till early November, when the weather is milder, and most of the snow has melted. Of course we also have our snow-shoes ready for this coming winter… and we’re looking forward to using them – hopefully on ideal, sunny winter days!