August 1, 2005

Pleasure on the mountain

Thomas Kieller

Photo – Copyright United Athletes Magazine

A moutainous scenery (Innsbruck, Austria).

When I arrived in the Tyrolean capital by a morning train, I was struck by the magnificent alpine sight. Innsbruck is encircled by sharp-pointed mountains with peaks which go beyond 2,000 meters. I came to this Austrian city to do some trekking on the Brandjoch which reaches, at its highest point, 2,559 meters. Tough? Not at all. Even better, it's pleasant to walk up there.

The zigzagging path was recommended to me by an employee who worked at the Innsbruck tourist office. She told me with her beautiful smile that the temperature in the mountains was excellent that day. Indeed, the employees of the center are a good source of information with their numerous brochures and their mountain maps. They are easy to talk to. They're very friendly.

Equipped with a good pair of walking shoes and dressed light, I was ready to leave on a bright day. Can I tell you also that in the region of Innsbruck, it's not complicated to walk on the mountains. I left the hotel by foot and I took a northerly direction toward the Brandjoch. As simple as that.

I walked many streets, then eventually I ended up in less frequented alleys. In thirty minutes, the scenery of the city gave way to a landscape of the Austrian countryside. I walked between the colourful houses and I opened some gates of wooded fences to finally arrive to the principal path.

Venturing myself on the well marked track and bordered by the numerous conifers, I continued the ascent. With a good rhythm, the passage through the forest takes two good hours. However, one should not hurry too much in this enchanting place. A break is recommended in order to enjoy the flora and the fauna. At approximately 1,500 meters of altitude, the mountain becomes barren little by little. The trees give way to green grass. It's not surprising to see at this high altitude sheep grazing. One of the classics of the mountains! After three hours of walking, you will be delighted to reach the inn which is there since the beginning of the 20th century. It's possible to drink a good cool Tyrolean beer and to rest there a bit.

After a few words in German with the manager, I went back to the trail. Past this point, the slope is more pronounced and walking needs an effort of endurance. That's good. The cardiac rhythm increases and the state of well-being also. Above 2,300 meters, I can tell you that I felt a sensation of elation when I looked down on Innsbruck. From there, the view of the city is striking especially that in the background there is a beautiful mountain chain which completes the scenery and is worthy of a postal card. I will add only one thing: smiling is easy when you are in the seventh heaven.