If you like to hike, you can:
- Backpack, carry 40+ pounds, eat freeze-dry food, sleep in the mud, not wash
- Trek in Nepal, let porters or mules carry your pack, sleep in tea houses (inns)
- Hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, stay in the Appalachian Mountain Club Huts, and eat hearty meals
- Hike in the European Alps, eat delicious food every night, and even enjoy (often) hot showers
I have done all of these, but in my dotage, I am not sure if my knees can handle a heavy pack and carrying all my supplies for traditional backpacking (option 1 above). Using the services of porters and/or horses is luxurious (Kilimanjaro 2015
, Nepal 2007, 2011, and 2017). And in some countries, using porters is the common way to trek. But the last option looks better and better, especially if you want good food and easy access.
|Stubai Alps (from Cicerone Press)|
The Stubai Alps are an awesome complex of limestone peaks in western Austria, southwest of Innsbruck. They are easy to reach from almost any US gateway airport or European city.
One of the classic mountain tours is the Stubaier Höhenweg, or the Stubai rucksack route. It is an 8-day walk in the fantastic mountain terrain. It can be extended a couple of days with an alternate start route. Route Information: buy the Cicerone Press guidebook on the Stubai route. You can also plan your trip with the help of the Tirol web page's interactive map.
|Changing trains in Munich|
I flew into MUC (Flughafen
München), took the train from the airport, and was in Innsbruck in about
three hours (yes, the Europeans are civilized). Once I reached Innsbruck, I bought a few munchies and a
SIM card for my mobile. Then I took the bus to the village of Mieders and the
cable car up to Hoch Series, and was ready to start.
|Stubai Rucksac Route (from Cicerone Press)|
Below, I will list each day's walk and and where I stayed (and ate; after all, I ate my way through the Stubai Alps). Please note: this is a long article, and no urban decay here.
Day 1, Maria Waldrast Monastery (1638 m)
|Maria Waldrast Monastery (1638 m)|
I started my Stubai trek on an alternate start, which adds two days to the total. So for me, Day 1 was a short walk from the cable car at Hoch Series. I was exhausted from the long flight across the Atlantic and the train ride, so a healthy Tirolean dinner (see, I ate a salad) and it was bed for me. The monastery operates rooms like a hotel. They are immaculately clean, and hot shower is in a tiny lavatory.
|Health food dinner at Maria Waldrast|
Day 2, Padasterjoch Haus (2232 m)
|Padasterjoch Haus (2232 m)|
Hiker note: This and most of the huts do not accept electronic payment, so take cash.
Days 3 and 4, Innsbrucker Hütte (2369 m)
|Innsbrucker Hütte (2369 m)|
This the first hut for the normal start of the Höhenweg. Hikers take a taxi up the up the Pinnistal valley and climb to Innsbrucker Hütte. Because I was already up on the ridge to the east, I had to plunge steeply down 1000m to the Pinnistal valley, rest (and eat a pastry), and then ascend 1400 m to the hut. Long day! The hut was welcoming and had showers. The hut was crowded and I had to stay in a lager (bunk room) rather than a room. I stayed two nights here because the next hut on the route, the Bremer, was full.
|More health food|
Day 5, Bremer Hütte (2413m)
|A welcome sight when tired, the Bremer Hütte (2413 m) |
|Frühstück at the Bremer|
The Bremer Hütte is in an austere spot with a lake and snow patches. When the mist clears, the view is fantastic.
|Room with a view - from the lager at Bremer Hütte|
Day 6, Nürnberger Hütte (2280 m)
|Nürnberger Hütte (2280 m)|
|Afternoon in the sun at Nürnberger |
|Obligatory mid-afternoon nutrition snack. The glass contains Radler, light lager beer and half sparkling lemonade. The whip cream comes from real cows.|
This was an easy day's walk to the Nürnberger Hütte, only 5 km, and I had plenty of time to sit in the sun and eat the obligatory pastry and Radler (to rebuild my strength, of course). This beautiful old hut dates to 1886 and functions more like a hotel than mountaineers' hut. The same family has operated this hut for over 100 years.
Day 7, Sulzenau Hütte (2191 m)
|Sulzenau Hütte at a comfortable 2191 m.|
Most of the alpine mountain huts gain much of their revenue from day-hikers, who stop for food and beer (or many beers). They head down late in the day, leaving the over-nighters to enjoy the views.
|Families welcome and locally-sourced food|
Sulzenau is a gorgeous hut (hotel) with expansive views. This building was erected in 1976-1978 to replace an older hut that was destroyed by an avalanche. Like many of the other huts, the hot showers are coin-operated. You insert a token or 1 Euro coin and wash quickly before you quota of hot water runs out (often 1 or 2 minutes).
|School group near the Grunau See (lake)|
I saw school groups on mountain outings. These children were bright-eyed, intelligent, disciplined, and well-equipped. How refreshing to see good parenting and encouragement.
Day 8, Dresdner Hütte (2302 m)
|Dresdner Hütte (2302 m)|
The Dresdner Hütte is very popular because it is next to a cable car station. Mid-day, hundreds of hikers and casual tourists come to eat and enjoy the view. It becomes quiet and lonely at night after the last cable car departs.
|Fresh bread, beer, vegies - does it get better than this?|
Danger, danger, health food overload. By now, I was running out of cash, so I took the cable car down to base station, went to an ATM, and headed back up by cable car.
Day 9, Neue Regensburger Hütte (2286 m)
|Wild ferocious mountain animals en route|
|Neue Regensburger Hütte (2286 m)|
|Dehumidified (or air-conditioned) boot drying room|
This is a beautiful hut in immaculate condition. The hut was built in 1931 and enlarged in 1967-1968. This had been a 7½ hour walk, and I was tired. When you enter a hut, you must place your boots in racks or shelves and wear slippers or flip-flops in the building. This helps keep dirt and mud out of the hut.
|Danger, danger, health food alert|
Day 10, Franz-Senn Hütte (2147 m)
|Franz Senn Hütte (2147 m)|
|Instructions for the uninitiated?|
Franz Senn Hütte is another beautiful accommodation with good food, hot showers, and internet. This hut began life in 1885 and has been added to and enlarged several times.
|Obligatory torte ünd espresso|
Day 11, Starkenburger Hütte (2237 m)
|Starkenburger Hutte (2237 m)|
|Crush your mobile phone here|
|Tiroler gröstl (more health food for the rugged bergsteiger)|
Starkenburger was the last hut on the Stubai Rucksack route. This had been an 8-hr day on the trail, covering 13 km on a spectacular trail that cut across scree fields and below towering limestone peaks.
Day 12, Off the Mountain to Fulpmes
|Mountain marathon at KreuzjochPanoramarest|
This was my last day on the trail. I walked a few miles below towering limestone spires to the Kreuzjochbahn Berstation (cable car). The crowds watching a marathon were a rude awakening to being back in normal civilization. I took the cable car down to Fulpmes, then caught a bus to the town of Neistift.
I felt like a fish in Neustift. No problem, from the hatchery at the nearby stream.
Dear readers, this has been longer than I originally intended, but the exercise of sorting my pictures reminded me of the fabulous 12 days in the high country of the Stubai Alps. Everyone I met was unfailingly courteous and friendly. It is hard to find more rewarding hiking than the European Alps, be it in France, Switzerland, Germany, or Austria. Of course, I do not need to tell you that Austria is a fantastic destination even if you are not a hiker. Once the pandemic restrictions have passed, just go.
These were all digital files from a Moto G5 mobile phone.