Holy moly! The second day of our three-day hut hike through Tirol, Austria was a big day. The first day was pretty easy: we arrived at the hut around noon, drank a bunch of beer to pass the time, and went to sleep around 9pm. Day two was a much bigger and more taxing day. I wish I had known that before drinking a bunch of beer…
We woke up abruptly when Michael’s iPhone alarm went off at 7am and it almost vibrated itself off the shelf. We quickly made ourselves ready for the day — it’s easy to be fast when you just wear the same thing as yesterday — and went upstairs to the dining area. Being the cheapskates we are, we did not pay for the Halfboard at this refuge hut (when you pay for “Halfboard” you get a bed to sleep in, plus dinner and breakfast). We only paid for a bed and figured we would just eat our own food for breakfast. We brought out our bread, pre-boiled eggs, cheese, and mayo, and made a few lovely open-faced sandwiches. People at tables nearby looked at us funny, but we didn’t care. It feels too good to be a cheapskate to care what anyone thinks.
Our day two hike would take us to Schweinfurter Hütte (part of what makes these Austrian hut hikes so fun is the names of the huts). We began our hike under thick cloud cover, through some misty rain. We climbed up a huge hill, to the bottom of a man-made dam, and stopped for a rest. Turns out having a bunch of beers the night before a big hike can really dehydrate you! We stopped and drank a bunch of water before continuing. The sky began to clear just as we reached the top of the dam. It was absolutely beautiful! The water was so blue, the sun was peeking through clouds, and the view down to the valley was lovely.
We walked along the water, and then reached the real climb. We scrambled up shale and we climbed over boulders. I used my arms to balance my body when my exhausted legs shook; it really was straight up. And just when I thought we were so badass for hiking up this crazy wall-like trail, a few mountain bikers passed us going the opposite way, biking DOWN this crazy wall-like trail! I felt less badass in that moment.
We reached the notch (that’s cool hiking lingo for the top of the pass), and had to stop, mostly because our legs were so tired they needed a break, but also because the view was magnificent!! What better snack to eat at the top of a mountain that an apple with some Nutella?
The hike down felt fast. We walked through pastures on a very scenic trail along a fast flowing creek. We walked past some sheep who mistook us for shepherds and followed us for a while. We came to a precipice and from where we stood, we could see the length of the whole valley, and under us, the Schweinfurter Hütte! We decided to hang out at this perfect lookout point and enjoy lunch.
We finished eating and walked the rest of the way down. My thighs were shaking, my feet were aching, and my knees were about ready to give up! We checked into the hut and headed right back outside to the creek that runs alongside the building. We took off our shoes and socks, pulled up our pant legs, and dipped our swollen feet into the ice cold glacial water. There’s nothing better than a post-hike glacial creek foot soak! Thanks for the best day ever, Austria!