This past weekend, my roommate (Sonja) and I went hiking in the Austrian mountains. She has a car, so on each of those two days, we decided to get out of the city and reconnect with nature.
Saturday was cloudy and a bit cool, but we had a wonderful hike nonetheless. We started in Semmering and followed the trail up to the mountain there. (Across the valley from the ski slopes.) We hiked up steep hills and had lunch on the top of the mountain (Sonja made calzones), while admiring the view below us. Near the end of our day’s journey, we saw the most beautiful little church, with roof tiles that glowed iridescent in the evening light. Throughout the day, we had a few “rustic” adventures when we lost the trail, but all in all, it was so much fun, we decided to do it again the next day on a different mountain!
On Sunday, we had lots of sunshine and warmer temperatures. This time, we started in the village of Payerbach and hiked up through the mountains there, getting some spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. On the way up, we even got to taste some fresh pressed apple juice from one of the local farmers who was offering it to all the hikers with a “pay as you wish” arrangement. The waning daylight kept us from ascending to the very top of the mountain, but we still took in some spectacular vistas. We definitely want to get back for sure to finish the hike all the way up. We drove to Payerbach, but there was a train station right there in the village, which makes for easy access for those without a car.
In both towns, parking was no problem and we were able to find hiking trails with little effort. Hiking is big in Austria and the trails are marked, but not as well as in the States. And sometimes the hiking trail maps are a little ambiguous. Regardless, we still had no trouble finding our way around. I really recommend decent footwear. Some of the trails are very steep and a bit treacherous. We wore sneakers, but there were also lots of hikers with real-deal hiking boots on, and Alpine sticks in tow. We did okay in sneakers, but I know I would have done better in my Keen hiking sandals.
If you venture out in to the mountains, be sure to know when the sun will be setting, and plan your hike accordingly. Sunday’s trail especially would be impossible without good daylight. I recommend taking a photo of the hiking trail maps to have them handy on your smartphone. Also, we each took a back pack with supplies: drinks, sandwiches, an extra sweatshirt each, and an extra t-shirt each. (The extra shirt comes in handy when you get all sweaty hiking up the mountain, only to be confronted with cooler temps while you descend. You’ll want a dry shirt to change into.) We also wrapped our sandwiches each day in a small towel. It helped to keep our lunches from getting squashed, and hey, you never know when you might need a towel – Douglas Adams was on to something.
People in general are very friendly in this area, and all your fellow hikers will say hello! And each day, I met super friendly cats who were instantly my best friends! Saturday’s cat literally jumped right into my lap when I knelt down to pet her. She then curled up and closed her eyes as if to take a nap. And on Sunday, that particular cat enthusiastically ran right towards me from a yard in town, purring and wanting snuggles!
Here are some pics from our weekend!
First, Saturday’s hike out of Semmering…..
And then here are some photos from Sunday’s hike out of Payerbach…