Hiking the Lake District

View across to St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut

View across to St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut

I awoke to cloudy skies, contrary to the weather prediction I checked last night.  As I made my way toward the main tourist office, I came across a large farmer’s market.  I purchased 2 chocolate croissants before making it to the Mirabellgarten.  I wandered more of the garden today, enjoying the well-manicured beauty.  I sat down on a park bench under the grove of linden trees to eat one of my croissants.  A steady rain began to come down, but the trees completely sheltered me and I enjoyed the ambient sound of rain as I finished my snack.  By the time I was ready to get up the rain had come to a stop, giving me freshly wet cobbled streets as I made my way to the Mozart Plaza.  I gathered some information from the tourist office and decided to spend the afternoon in the lake district, starting in St. Gilgen about 30 km away. 

The views on bus ride over gave me a nice teaser of the area I’d be exploring.  I actually went one bus stop too far, but found my way to the edge of the lake anyway, enjoying a quiet spot on the water’s edge near a campground.  I decided to go ahead and eat my second croissant.  Pretty soon some young boys came around to go for a swim, and I decided to start heading along the lake for the 4 km back to St. Gilgen.  My route was interrupted from time to time by fences and cow pastures, but the occasional hopping of a gate or crawling under barbed wire kept me moving forward.  The lake eventually curved towards the main road, and I ultimately joined the walking/bike path that paralleled the road.  Just before reaching St. Gilgen, I found a pleasant bench overlooking the lake and away from the sounds of people or traffic.  I pulled out my book and read a couple of chapters, feeling myself finally starting to relax a bit for the first time in months.

St. Gilgen was a charming little town with lots of inviting shops, waters-edge restaurants, and irresistibly charming guesthouses.  I particularly liked seeing older couples, dressed in pleated dresses, plaid pants and jackets, and felt, feathered hats.  Their tidy dress perfectly matched the tidy town.

I had packed enough in my daypack to provide for an overnight, and I seriously considered stopping in one of the many flower festooned guesthouses to book a room for the night.  My frugal side won out, realizing that I’d have to return to Salzburg in the morning anyway, so I might as well go back tonight and stay at the perfectly acceptable youth hostel where the nightly rate was only 28 Euros.

So I continued to follow a pedestrian route out of town, but soon realized that I had continued past the last bus stop in St. Gilgen.  The signs informed me that the next destination with bus service was only 2 hours away in Fuschl am See.  It was only 5:30, so I decided to go for it.  The path quickly shrank to a pleasant trail through the woods, following a crystal-clear cascade up a fairly steep incline.  Within minutes my heart was thumping and my tech-wick shirt was working fulltime.  Eventually I crested the hill and came out on a secluded clearing.  At the other edge began a decline into the next valley.  In the valley below sat a lovely guesthouse, nestled completely by itself among some trees and sweeping, Irish-green fields.  I continued the long way out the valley floor, pausing every now and then to snap a photo.  Slowly the valley gave way to the town of Fuschl, itself another picture-perfect collection of quaint Austrian houses, a cozy church and steeple, and rolling wildflower-covered hills.

When I arrived back at my hostel in Salzburg, I learned that every bed was completely booked.  So began a 2 hour quest to find alternate lodging.  The first place I called that had rooms available turned out to be at the top of the rocky precipice that loomed high over the town.  I didn’t feel like finding my way to the top of that while lugging two backpacks on my shoulders.  I found another place on the main, lower level of town, but it still required a lengthy walk.  I sprung for a private room when I checked in, and immediately hopped into a hot shower.  The steamy water brought instant pleasure to my road-weary legs and shoulders.  I finally returned to the lobby for a pizza and WiFi access.  I caught up on the day’s work, and with the completion of this blog entry, I’m very much looking forward to a good night’s sleep.  Plus the song playing on the lobby speakers has been stuck on repeat for the past hour and a half, and I’m starting to go a bit crazy with the repetition.

Tomorrow’s plan is to head to the world’s largest ice cave for some chilly exploration.  Then it’ll be back to Salzburg for a midnight train to Lyon.  Camp starts in only 4 days!

3 Responses to “Hiking the Lake District”

  1. Betsy Says:

    Your pictures would make anyone want to go abroad!! It just seems like everywhere you look is a quaint beautiful scene!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ~Betsy

  2. Ken Says:

    Thanks, Betsy! Yes, Austria was a stunning place! I’ve been truly blessed to be able to travel to so many beautiful places. Some overseas, and many right here in the USA. This world has an incredibly diverse and beautiful geography, but I have to remember not to love it too much–it’s just a temporary home.

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