The only two people I saw all day.

I had heard about Bad Gastein from the Euro Youth Hostel that I stayed in the first time in Munich, they had ads running on the TVs advertising their sister hostel there. Its a tiny hiking and ski village about 4 hours from Munich. Its a direct train, the hostel is good and cheap, has hiking, and its on the way to Slovenia, so it all sounded pretty good to me. I got off the train at the tiny station and the hostel was across the road, sweet. Checked in and because it was so quiet I was given a single room instead of the dorm I booked for the same price of 15 euros. I wanted to stay longer, but they were closing on October 1st for renovations. The room I was in was wicked, big bed, table and chairs, wardrobe, tv, full bathroom, this is luxury! Only normally costs 25 euros a night as well.

I didn’t really have any idea about what to do in this place so I went to reception and grabbed a hiking map and the chick gave me a few good options. Went to the bus stop and caught it to Sport Gastein which is about 30 minutes down the road. As we went on the weather had gotten progressively worse to the point when I arrived it was raining. Whacked on the trusty Jack Wolfskin jacket and off I went, couldn’t feel the rain or wind, brilliant. First walk was a big circle around the valley national park. All of the mountain peaks surrounding the valley were unfortunately covered in fog. The walk was quite nice, bit muddy in parts, but better than I expected. The view was always really nice, and no one else was around to ruin it either. I did it a lot faster than I thought I would though, so decided to walk up to a mountain hut and lake. I walked up the trail, that kind of runs next to a road that also goes up there. The road came to a tunnel after a while and I started to walk in to it. There was no lights though and no indication of where it went. I walked in a bit further but I was at the stage where it was so dark I couldn’t even see my hand infront of my face. I didn’t have my little torch on me so I decided since I have no idea where the tunnel goes its probably the best to take the trail to the lake instead. I got up to the mountain hut that was supposed to look straight over the lake, but I wasn’t seeing any lake. The clouds just cleared the tiniest little bit and there it was right infront of me, I could see the bottom half of the lake, and its gigantic. A mad made dam keeping the water in. On a clear day it would look amazing.

I started to make my way back down and got the shock of my life that nearly made me shit my pants. A massive cracking sound, like a shotgun going off in your face, came out of nowhere. It was a huge chunk of glacial ice breaking off somewhere up the mountain. It happened a few more times throughout the afternoon, but I was waiting for those ones so it was ok. Made it back down to the bottom just in time for the bus back to Bad Gastein. No surprises that I was the only person on the bus.

The second day I decided to be a little more adventurous and/or stupid. Caught the bus again to Sport Gastein and headed for the trail called ‘Peter Sika Weg’. This trail goes up to about 2600m, but branches off to other trails at various points and can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours. It was quite obvious that up at 2600m there would be far too much snow to be walking around without full on snow gear so I was just going to play it by ear and take whichever other trail down that the conditions dictated. Started on my way up, then kept going and going, the trail quite muddy in parts. The trail also semi disappears sometimes as its not that ‘walked in’ at this time of year so you have to look around for the trail sign painted on a rock nearby to make sure you aren’t wandering the wrong way. It didn’t take long before I got up to around 1800m and the ground was now starting to be covered in snow. I got up to a section that flattened out a bit, and the ground was now completely snowed over. There was a couple that was walking the same trail a few hundred meters behind me so I decided to have a rest and let them overtake me, they seemed to have more of an idea on where to go. The rest of the trail up to the 2200m was quite fun. The weather wasn’t the best, pretty cloudy, but hiking through the snow is good fun especially when you’re not used to it. Im glad I let the other two go ahead of me though because it was pretty hard to find my way at a few points. The snow was about a foot or more deep in a lot of places, and the painted markings on rocks were mostly covered. All part of the fun. Thank god for my awesome jacket though, it was really windy up there but I didn’t feel any of it the entire time.

Once up at the top of that section of the trail I decided to not go up any further, the visibility was bad, the snow was deeper, so I didn’t really want to get lost and die. Made my way all the way back down to the valley floor and was hurrying to try and make the bus that only comes every hour. I was about 200m away from the bus stop and saw the bus drive away. Son of a bitch. All good, right near the bus stop is a little traditional restaurant. Had a lovely meal of sausage with mustard and potato salad (its not the same as Aussie potato salad which I don’t like). Finished that just in time to run across the road and get on the bus back to Bad Gastein. Chilled for the rest of the night, enjoying what could possibly be the last time I have a room to myself.