I'd arrived in Innsbruck in the dead of night, unable to gain my bearings of the layout of the small Austrian town.
As I drew my curtains the following morning I was presented with a postcard perfect view of the Austrian Alps through the tall windows.
Little did I know three days later I would be hiking around the peak of the same mountain.
From the hotel lobby to the the heavens
At 7.45 in the morning our small group of travel bloggers consisting of Melvin, Kate, Mike, Scott & Pia, were met in the hotel lobby by two true Austrian men and veterans of hiking through the nearby Tirolean landscape.
Hans and Georg were to be our guides for the day and after they kitted us amateurs out with the correct footwear, we boarded the Innsbruck funicular railway for the short trip part way up the mountain to the Hungerburg station. Following that were two gondolas that deposited us near the peak.
When I saw the Alps for the first time the tips of the rocky outcrop were a stony grey, however following low cloud a couple of days previous, when we stepped off the final gondola at Hafelekar we felt the crunch of freshly laid snow beneath our feet.
My first reaction was of sheer astonishment. The view through the thin cloud back over civilisation in the valley below was amazing. It felt as though we were walking in the heavens.
Remember, short small steps
Hans led us a short path further up the mountain to give us an even better view where we could make out the airport in the distance. Being higher than a plane is a very surreal experience.
We began our hike by veering away from Innsbruck. We were constantly reminded we were in Austria with little painted flags along the trail but Hans did point out some peaks in the near distance that were actually in Germany.
After a strenuous two and a half hours we were afforded a rest, and what a place to rest. Surrounded by snow covered peaks it's only a view I'd seen at the movies. I managed to get a little footage of our surroundings.
On the way down to the nearby hut Hans suggested we tried scree running where we basically had to slide along the loose stones down a slight slope. I was a little wary and did lose my balance at one point but once I was in a pattern it became a fun ride down.
It wasn't long before we grabbed some lunch, the first food of the day for some of us, and I took the opportunity to dig into some traditional Austrian food. I could quite grasp the name but it consisted of dumplings filled with bacon and was just what I needed for the remainder of the journey.
Descending towards Innsbruck avoiding the view
We headed upwards for around half an hour before we began our descent. This was a time were it was more important to concentrate on your feet rather than the views and after an hour of doing so it became tedious so I was glad we came to a stop for a lie down and to soak up the summer sun that had appeared.
The path levelled out and we all settled into a casual stroll we we could chat away rather than us all looking at our feet.
Our final stop came with a nice refreshing beer and a chance to get to know our guide a little better. Hans is a 58 year grandfather who hikes around three times a week during the summer. In the ski season he'll hike up, find a suitable spot and then ski down. The following day he was taking his grandson out rock climbing. A truly exceptional man who lived a happy life in the fresh air.
We bade Hans goodbye at the Hungerburg terminal and headed back down to reality.
Reflecting on a memorable day
I think every single one of us when hearing we would be hiking for 8 hours approached it with a little trepidation but came out of it with a sense of achievement, a state of wonder and the thought of going back for another hike the day after.
Following that day, every time I saw the mountains in the streets of Innsbruck I thought to myself- I've been up there!
Hiking trips are free to all visitors holding a Club Innsbruck Card and includes shuttle bus, hiking boots and guides. Find out more »