Walking in the Austrian Tyrol
Gaistal, Leutasch, near Seefeld :
Do the cattle realise they are living in Paradise?
Well, in fact they probably do see it that way as they are only taken to the mountain pastures (Almen) for the summer months
And then they spend the following nine months indoors being fed on hay which has been cut on incredibly steep slopes, often by hand with a scythe.
This is ABSOLUTELY my favorite place for walking ! Beautiful scenery, a friendly hotel, delicious food.
You can get the walking map of the area here : (Wettersteingebirge - Zugspitzgebiet). Both the booklet accompanying the map and the signposts indicate the grade of each path and give an idea of the time needed.
If you head up the valley of Gaistal past Obern and Klamm, you come to a series of five car parks
(2007: 3 euros for those staying in Gaistal on showing your visitor's card).
Several walks leave from each car park. Go to Car park no. 5 if you want to head further up the valley to Hammermoosalm, Gaistalalm or Hochfeldernalm, etc. There is also a WC at Car park no. 5.
There are so many huts (Alm, or plural: Almen) where you must be sure to reward your efforts with a scrumptious apple tart (Apfelstrudel) and perhaps a drink of the local lemonade (Almdudler which translates as "tootler round the mountain pastures"). And here a pig on the Alm enjoys a snack of fruit which is past its prime.
The Leutaschklamm is the narrow gorge through which the Leutascher Ache river rushes before passing the German border and joining the Isar river in the Mittenwald valley.
It's an easy walk for all the family.
I can recommend the Leutascher Hof in Weidach, Leutasch, where I have stayed twice and certainly intend to return: friendly family welcome, lovely rooms and excellent food.
Karwendel - Dammkarhütte
This is in fact in Germany but so close to Leutasch, Austria, that I include it on this page.
The cable car (Karwendelbahn) will take you from 922 metres in Mittenwald to 2244 metres in just 10 minutes. From there you can take the easy panorama route (Panoramarundfahrt) to the Nordliche Karwendelspitze at 2374 metres. There are superb views in every direction. The yellow signpost marks the frontier between Germany and Austria.
(Have a closer look at the right-hand photograph and you'll see the climbers.)
But then you have to get down again !
Of course, the easy way would be to just take the cable car back to Mittenwald. Otherwise, take the 400 metre tunnel which is right by the exit of the cable car station (I missed it and had to cope with climbing up and over an extra ridge). Then the difficulties start.
The path takes you on a never-ending route down the slippery moraine. Everyone overtook me except, I'm glad to say, a family with a 5 or 6 year-old child. The path is graded moderate so I was wondering if it was right for me but I certainly don't think it was suitable for the little girl. Anyway, both she and I were extremely happy finally to reach the welcome of the Dammkarhütte and a satisfying lunch.
I'm glad I managed it because it had been at the back of my mind for a while, but you won't be finding me on that moraine again ! The winter photos of the valley show a long, inviting ski slope - very different from the bare, stony glare of the summer landscape.