Note: Sorry this is obscenely late, my computer crashed and I lost all my files and more importantly, most of my pictures. Backing up – super duper important!
“Want to go climb a mountain tomorrow?”
I don’t know how many times you’ve been asked that question, but in my experience, the answer is always obvious: yes.
Traveling in Austria with my family, we’re always meeting up with my mom’s old friends. In this case, it was Dopps, who my sister and I knew quite well. He and his family had visited us a couple years back, so we had experience traveling together. So when he asked us if we wanted to go up a mountain, we knew it was going to be good.
The next morning, we woke up and dressed in our best hiking clothes (shorts and tennis shoes). As we drove further and further out of Vienna, buildings turned into farmland, less people were walking around, and something amazing happened: mountains appeared in the distance. “Do you see that one?” my mom asked, pointing down the highway. “That’s the Schneeberg.”
I exchanged glances with my sister, Natalie. We hadn’t hiked in a while, but it didn’t look too impressive for part of the Alps. It would be a pleasant hike, but not particularly challenging.
Boy, were we wrong.
Dopps drove us partway up the mountain, where we stopped at a small tourist center. We took a ski lift (would it be a hike lift since it was summer?) another part of the way. Natalie and I swung our feet and snapped pictures as we gazed at the trees around us.
Then the hiking began. After passing a few friendly cows, we started going uphill – quickly. I almost immediately started breathing hard and realized I had vastly underestimated how hard it was. For a while, we climbed through forest, but eventually we broke above the tree line and were rewarded with amazing views.
For the record – the Austrian Alps are amazing. To be fair, I’ve only been to the Alps in Austria, so I can’t really compare. Austrians, in general, are very outdoorsy and don’t hesitate to take advantage of the amazing natural formations around them. This means plentiful skiing opportunities in the winter, and well designed, well maintained hiking trails for the rest of the year.
The best part about the Austrian Alps? They have a gasthaus on basically every mountain, and it’s just about the best thing ever. It’s basically a small hut that serves anything from beer to strudel. As we made it to the summit, it started pouring like mad, so we quickly headed inside to take shelter.
Well, once we were there, we obviously had to have lunch, and maybe a couple drinks. I felt absolutely no guilt diving into an apfel strudel – I climbed up a mountain and hell, I deserved it. I honestly don’t know how these little houses make such good food, but they do. Around us, more hikers than I thought were around were digging in as well. Why isn’t this a thing we have everywhere?
Once it stopped raining, we ventured out again, slightly disappointed to leave our warm refuge. We took an alternate path down. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty scared. Everything was slippery from the rain and at times the path seemed to go straight down. I didn’t even have real hiking shoes on, just some flimsy running shoes. While I had been easily able to keep up on our way up, I quickly fell behind as I cautiously picked my way down the path.
It was frustrating, climbing down so far behind everyone, even though I felt like I was going as fast as I could. But I finally made it, even if it was twenty minutes after everyone else.
As we walked to the car, I looked back at the Schneeberg one more time. Having been to the top and back, I knew what a challenging climb it was. But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to do it again.
Have you ever climbed a mountain? How challenging was it?