We’ve had an amazing walk today. I don’t think I stopped smiling for the first couple of hours after we popped out of the clouds in the valley and found the sunshine. The views were stunning!
It was forecast to be quite sunny until 4 o’clock so I was a bit disappointed to wake up to cloud, but we decided to go ahead with the hike anyway. We caught the bus to Badgastein and took an early gondola on the Stubnerkogelbahn lift to the start of the hike. As we rose, we left the town behind and entered the cloud. Then I noticed the sky above us was getting bluer and we were really pleased to pop through the cloud and to see it filling the valley below, with mountain tops poking through it.
After spending some time at the viewing points on Stubnerkogel (which is 2230 metres high), we set off, first taking the ‘rock trail’ over a small suspension bridge and round a rock face, then we turned off the main track to head up to Tischkogel (2409 metres) along a wonderful ridge.
There were quite steep drops at times and cables to help us climb tricky sections, although none of it was too difficult or scary. the views back towards Stubnerkogel and down into the Gastein Valley were beautiful all morning, with the cloud inversion.
We hardly saw anyone all day until we neared the end of the hike. It was lovely having the mountains to ourselves… so unlike many of the mountains at home! Our next peak, Zitterauer Tisch (2463 metres), was the highest of the day.
We now had different views as we headed steeply down from the ridge and crossed boulder fields, watching careful for the splashes of red and white marking the way. Whoever had painted them most recently seemed to like pointy rocks!
The path then headed uphill to the col, Miesbichlscharte (2237 metres), becoming grassier and easier to walk on. Soon we could see the lovely blue Unterer Bockhartsee below.
Here we had to decide whether to head to the end or do a much longer route via a high mountain hut. We decided to stick to the shorter option for several reasons. Firstly, the hut was still 3 hours away and we were aware that the weather forecast was predicting rain later. Secondly, the last bus back to the campsite was at 5.30. Thirdly, my legs were getting tired. This is the first proper mountain hike we’ve done in years!
The path was lovely, traversing the mountain high above the lake, but was quite tricky. It was narrow in places, with steep drops, and there were gaps between boulders that threatened to catch our feet, and slippery rocks where streams tumbled down the hillside. The views were stunning and the hillside was covered in alpine flowers, buzzing with bees and grasshoppers. We heard marmots from time to time, but didn’t see any.
Finally we headed down towards a small lake, Oberer Bockhartsee (2070 metres), crossing the river and following the path past some pretty waterfalls.
We then headed back along a path above the shoreline of Unterer Bockhartsee, through woods with birds singing. I was hot and tired by now and very pleased when the Bockhartsee hut (1933 metres) came into view. As we sat and had a cold beer, I commented that it was amazing that we were almost at twice the height of Snowdon, and we’re well on our way down.
Finally, we zig-zagged down the hillside and along a wide track to Sportgastein. I was feeling pretty rubbish by now… too much sun or not enough water maybe… and was pleased when the bus arrived to take us back to the campsite.
It was a brilliant hike. Hopefully, I’ll feel better tomorrow as my body gets used to the altitude and the heat, and we’ll have another great day in the hills.