101 We never go on vacation

101 We never go on vacation

At the end of May, we went on a hiking trip with my husband’s family to the Kleinwalsertal in Austria.

We never go on vacation. We prefer to stay home–or move to a new place. 25 hours of driving. 8 people. Thousands of liters of rain. 3 days of hiking. I’m not sure it’s in balance. I’d rather move again.

Note: The video version of this post gets released on Monday, June 17, 2024.

The Kleinwalsertal, though in Austria, can only be accessed from Germany. A documentary called them the prettiest cul-de-sac in the world.

It sure was pretty there. After years of living in flat areas, I’d known didn’t like the endless flat. I hadn’t known how much I missed seeing layers.

Imagine you had to hear that [cow bells] all day, every day, every time you move. The cow bells drove me as insane as they are probably driving these animals.

But even steadily falling drizzle could not take away from the stunning old maples and lush meadows.

Snow! It’s not even cold. We are in shirts and everything. But there’s snow!

For months, I’d thought about what to wear while hiking with my in-laws in unknown mountain terrain. I admit, I mostly chose these to not have to talk about my feet all the time… and then had to debate ankle support. The only places I would not have preferred going barefoot were snowy mountaintops. Most of the group had invested in new hiking boots for the trip.

With six other people along and the weather, we could not stop to fly the drone the way we would have wished to. Nice scenes could not be repeated, so we had to hope there were no wobbles or jerks.

The views were stunning. We would have loved to spend more time capturing them from above.

Most of the first day’s hike had been on easy terrain.

Most of the group took the bus home from the valley. Eager to get as much out of the hiking there as possible, my husband and I added an hour through the valley. We walked along this river surrounded by trees and meadows covered in flowers.

I was glad for some time with fewer people and happily accepted some wet toes in return.

I had packed for the wrong weather. Everything was fast-drying, not water-tight. From the waist down, I was soaked through for most of this vacation. Walking through wet grass got my feet wet to the socks quickly. I’d chosen the lightest shoes possible.

The next day brought me in touch with one of my least favorite groups: tourists. The group had chosen a deep valley with an entrance fee as the hike for the day.

The narrow paths were often single-file only, so other people determined the pace. I am glad we were here this early in the year. A few weeks later in the season, this will likely be packed with people shuffling through “So many people!”

The deep is, well, deep. We definitely got a lot of steps in that day. Up and down. Up and down.

Later, we’ll be down there. Yes, that means we’ll have to get back up, as well.

But first, we had to hike further up the mountain to reach the entrance. I was happy to see not all the cows have to wear bells to give tourists a romantic feeling. I even got some cow love from this cutie covered in flies.

When we reached the bottom of the deep to start the long climb, a hail storm arrived.

We hid under a tiny roof until the worst had past. I was thoroughly enjoying the added adventure. My shoes and socks were soaked. My pants were clinging to my legs. I didn’t care.

We were almost alone in the deep. My husband was even able to film some footage. Impossible on a good day.

Water was dripping off all the rocks. New waterfalls appeared in many places. And the river below was roaring loudly. It got really dark in places. Much too soon after, we were out of the deep, and back in the light above.

Our last day brought weather good enough for the mountain passes. They had been closed the days before due to snow.

Here, spring was just arriving. Thick layers of snow and ice were melting into the valley below. In places, the ice sheet was still thicker than I am tall. Careful not to crush any flowers, I returned to the path. Even my light shoes will crush a tiny blossom.

We let the group hike ahead, and quickly captured some drone footage. But we’d have to catch up, so time was short. Usually, we fly a few takes of each shot we have in mind. That wasn’t an option here. Drizzle and wind kept interrupting as well. Not ideal drone conditions.

But still stunning, these views.

Flying was as rushed as most of this vacation. Three days is not enough to enjoy this valley. Three half days of hiking are not worth the hassle.

A final sprint to some random mountaintop just before the last gondola down. And then, the next morning, 11 hours in a car home. We arrived home for the flooding in Germany. Luckily, we only had one bad storm here.

I’ll tell you all about how everything survived in the next episodes.
So long, and thanks for being here.