Before I get to why I’ve titled this post the way I did, I suppose it’d be customary for me to start from the break of dawn.
My Dad and I got up at 4.45am because we had plans to hike all the way up to Hundstein, a mountain whose name literally translates to ‘Dog Stone’. If it puzzles you, don’t worry for you’re not alone – I still am pretty bemused about it too. The plan was to drive to Enzianhütte, a hut atop one of the nearby mountains, park our car there and subsequently begin our hike from that location. It would be a steep 10.6km hike uphill to the hut located at Hundstein’s summit, and another 10.6km downhill hike back to our car – a total of 21.2km by foot. It was an ambitious plan to have for a Sunday to say the least, but despite of its daunting nature, I was utterly excited for it. Talk about some bonding time with my Dad wew! 🙂 Adventures of this kind have been on my bucketlist for a while, and at the frequency at which I’m pushing it to the end of my list, I’m not sure if I’ll ever actually get it done.
Truly, if not now, then when? Right?
As we got out of our car at the Enzianhütte, it became obvious to us that beautiful and warm day of hiking would be something we could expect. The sky was a wonderful shade of blue, the Earth portion of the landscape was a vibrant shade of green, birds were gleefully chirping, squirrels were squirming by the roadside, little kids were running around in the meadow and their youthful laughter filled the area’s audible space – oh the wonders of being a child!
Youth is such a beautiful thing to possess in one’s heart.
As we began trekking uphill, and our altitude kept increasing, the air got fresher, the rate of our rejuvenation picked up its pace and our senses became more in tuned with surroundings. Nothing clouded our perception and the world seemed more majestic to us than ever before.
Our Earth is absolutely regal and I doubt I’ll ever get bored of it. There’s just so much to appreciate and love about this planet we share – the sky, the soil, the water, the people, the animals.
I loved how the trek gave my Dad and I the opportunity to rid ourselves of the many distractions that came with modernity, and thereby allowing us to avail ourselves to each other and to the nature around us. We talked about everything and anything in the world and I’ve never felt so much relief from letting every single thought flow freely out of my headspace. It felt so wonderful to be able to share my musings with someone who understood me and expressed interest in the way I think. Likewise, it was so refreshing to have been able to be exposed to different points of view on the topics I raised. My Dad has a special way of making me understand things I’ve never considered before, and I do believe that he has played a major role in the shaping the way my mind functions and perceives life around me.
Moments later, we met a local named Hans and ended up trekking with him for the next 8.2km all the way to the peak. He knew the area like the back of his hand and he had so many two cents of Hundstein to share with us – it was pretty much a free tour of the area. Absolutely lovely! He told us about how the restaurant at the peak was built – the hardship involved during the transportation of material due to the lack of paths for trucks, etc. This meant that the construction workers had to walk up 10.6km and down 10.6km several times a day! Oh gosh, talk about intense!! Hans also told us about the flora and fauna in the region, and where (we found out the prettiest flowers were found near the peak) and when (i.e. during which seasons) what grew best. He even mentioned that Austrians usually don’t say ‘blueberries’, they say ‘moss berries’ because blueberries grow around mossy regions on these mountains. I could tell that his heart belonged to nature for his eyes lit up in the most childlike manner whenever the conversation topics weaned towards this very topic. It was heartening to see someone talk about something they undoubtedly held close to the heart. Sigh :’) Passion is such a beautiful thing to have emanate from those around you. The excitement they possess never fails to be infectious!
By the time we reached the summit, it was already about 10.16am and despite of my heavier-than-usual breakfast that morning, my stomach was already making a fit and demanded no less than 3 bananas, so that’s what I gave my brat of a tummy hahahaha ah wells. As a cheeky friend of mine always says it, “It was very Y U M M Y F U L”.
The picture above was the view we had as we indulged in a bit of snacks to fuel our bodies for the trek down. Isn’t it just lovely? I adored how the little Bergblumen (Alpine flowers) made every picture look as if someone had sprinkled confetti all around the area and how, if the landscape was dominated by kilometres and kilometres of mountains, there never failed to be a gradient between the green and the blue of every picture – almost as if the sky and Earth melted into one continuous blanket of colours. Beautiful! :’)
A wonderful thing about Europe is that hiking around the Alpine region has pushed for the tourism sector to step up its game in terms of providing amenities at the pit stops of the hiking tours, i.e. the peak. Amenities range from children’s playgrounds, to restaurants, to souvenir shops and even to bed-and-breakfasts.
As my Dad and I sat with Hans at the restaurant – Hans having a beer, my Dad drinking an Apfelsaftschorle (Apple Juice mixed with Sparkling Water) and myself with some fresh spring water (I literally did top up my bottle at a spring we walked past hahaha) – we continued our conversation about the area and here comes the reason behind this post’s title. A few years ago, the owners of the restaurant at the peak of Hundstein apparently owned a goat that had an alcohol addiction. As a young goat, he would confidently come up to the customers and nudge them until they let him have a sip out of their beer mugs. As he grew older, taller and outright bolder, the goat went straight for the mugs on the tables, without waiting for any permission given by the customer! Hahahaha talk about an animal having sass! 😉
About 45 minutes later, my Dad and I started on our descent, and even though 10.6km of downhill trekking did not seem attractive for my injured left knee, the prospect of another insightful barrage of conversation topics with my Dad did. For some reason, little critters started to inch closer and closer into my personal bubble. I thought, it must have been the time of day for it was almost 12 noon and these lovely creatures must be out and about trying to get their duties for the day completed – bees collecting honey, ants building transporting grains of Earth to have everything accumulate into a burrow they could then call home, and birds bringing strands of hay to build their nests. One fly in particular got a little too close for comfort though… It flew straight through my shirt and into my bra… Now what an experience it was trying to discreetly get it out!! Hahahaha…
So that was it, 21.2km, reached a peak of 2117m, 7.5 hours (pit stops included – there were heaps of little huts and benches along the way, which were set up for hikers to pause, take in the breath-taking view that came with that particular spot, and maybe even feast!), with a temperature range of 39°C to 46°C.
Good job Nat and Papa Voelker. What a day it had been.