My hike up an Austrian alp
Oh yes, the majestic Alps that everyone thinks are beautiful and serene, as did I before I made the horrific trek up one this past summer in Innsbruck, Austria.
I was studying abroad this summer when one day we decided to start hiking up a trail to reach the top of one of the peaks near our student housing. It was a beautiful day, the fresh crisp air, the sunshine, the perfect 70 degree weather, all the conditions ideal for a day outside.
My friend Megan and some of our other girl friends decided that they wanted to wake up bright and early to go on the hike; I on the other hand, thought it would be better to sleep in and just get two of my guy friends, Austin and Brennan, to hike with me, BAD MOVE.
Megan, the girl I had traveled with the whole time in Europe, knew very well how much I disliked hiking up things, mind you, I enjoy walking on flat surfaces, I think my bias must come from 21 years living in Southern Louisiana where there are no such things as hills or mountains. The smart girl that I am, I ignored this minor detail and took on the trek ahead of me.
We start, it was ridiculous. 45 minutes into the walk up the streets of the small town that separated us from our starting trail was miserable. As we are about to enter the ominous woods, I called Megan to see where they were. I had in mind a beautiful picnic similar to that in “The Sound of Music”, hoping to find a grassy knoll near a stream. Megan immediately said, “turn around Sarah you are going to hate this”, but no, why stop now I thought. She continues to tell me that she is almost half way up the mountain and that they went on some crazy trails and that were seriously tough. I figured I would just get over it and continued on my merry way.
An hour later, we find a bench to sit at
The boys were far from happy that I had asked for a break. God forbid a girl take a rest for 10 minutes. This “rest” initiated the next call to my trusted, or so I thought, confidant Megan. She claims at this point that she had just passed snow. Oh wow, snow in July. I have only seen snow three times in my life, I was so excited, but not nearly as excited as Austin, the extremely athletic, hard headed, super determined guy that was heading our “little” expedition. I’ll just make this known now; I threatened to throw him off the mountain probably 30 times by the end of our strenuous hike. The second he heard that playing in snow was a possibility he had that stuck in his mind. There was no turning back now for him, I had other plans.
They dragged me off the bench and made me continue. I bitched and moaned for a good 10 minutes afterwards and then resigned to the idea of our hike, for a little while at least. I was dying within 30 minutes. I am not the most athletic person, but I am also not out of shape. I enjoy a good run to relieve the stress, but the incline and lack of a sufficient oxygen supply were two factors I simply wasn’t acclimated to.
We took a random overgrown trail because there were simply no other options. There were no more benches to rest on, and I couldn’t find a decent walking stick if my life depended on it, not that I am even sure what purpose they serve, but any help would be appreciated at this point. It had been three hours since we began, we hadn’t eaten yet today and it was two o’clock in the afternoon, I was hungry and thirsty and exhausted, but no, stopping and eating was out of the question, there wasn’t any snow in sight yet. Austin, I am convinced is the devil reincarnated. I came to this conclusion, when I was climbing with my hands AND KNEES, up the mountain. I am talking vertical position; I didn’t know I was signing up for this kind of journey. I finally make it up, amazingly without any severe injuries, minus the bruises, blisters, and abrasions.
Give Me A Break
It was at this point, I insisted no matter what they thought that we sit, and eat an apple. Otherwise they would be carrying me down the mountain. We do so; I take a good 30 minutes to regain consciousness and energy.
The voyage continues and we start hearing bells, cow bells, a ton of them. We follow the noise and it leads us to a huge open clearing. This clearing, we later figure out, is a ski slope, in my opinion a double black diamond, but hey I am no professional. We are walking up a ski slope, people take gondolas to get up ski slopes, but no, not us, we just continued walking.
This is when the most passive aggressive Brennan has a freak out. “Those things are freaking huge, they could eat us.” Austin however starts making a move; to him they are demon cows blocking his way to the beloved sanctuary that is snow. He moves slowly at first then faster when they don’t react to him. All of a sudden they start getting a little jittery; Brennan is hyperventilating behind me, Austin a little more cautious now in front. They start running in all directions and we leap for cover behind trees. Holy cow, literally, that could have ended badly. Needless to say I am sure at this point; this didn’t stop the deadly force Austin from making us continue. At least at this point, I am not alone in my suffering. We keep walking, up and up and up and up. If that seems too repetitive, imagine my agony. It is now 3:45 in the afternoon, I am hungry and tired and I just sit down and demand we stop, for the fourth time.
Once I finally convinced them, well mostly him, we ate a picnic lunch of sandwiches and chips. The view was amazing. Austin still didn’t think we were high enough. Just as those words escaped his lips, I turn to look down from where we came from and an airplane flies across the sky –at least 30 feet below where we are sitting. It was then that I asked him if he was satisfied yet, he replied, “Nah that was probably some random plane I bet they don’t all fly low.” Jesus must love me because 2 minutes later another one flies by at that same level. I won, kind of because then Austin finally agreed to go back down.
The trip downward is a completely different adventure; instead of going back the way we came, which was what I thought was the best idea, we simply walked down the ski slope and ended up on a highway with no sidewalk, where we repeatedly had to jump over a fence, hang on with dear life, and cringe to avoid being taken out by a bus.
When we finally got home at 7 at night, I told Megan the whole story. She had this goofy smile on her face the whole time. When I was finished telling her my saga, she confessed that the first time I talked to her she was already back in our room. They got tired after 10 minutes and went back down to go shopping.
By Sarah Sadler