The main ski area in Schladming is Planai, really a group of four mountains with Planai the tallest. Behind Planai is Krahbergzinken, which seemed like a good option to finish the climb on a high point. Then slide sideways down to the river below and an easy stroll home. Sounds good and it started well.
Walking through the woods, following the tracks between small hamlets, the dampness of the trees and earth, flowers and birds everywhere. It was all it could be as I left the town behind and pushed higher towards the ski station hiding up ahead somewhere. All the time, fleeting views across the surrounding valleys gave glimpses of what was waiting higher up.
It’s always a strange jump in perception, after climbing alone through the wooded slopes for 3 hours, to arrive a the summit station and find a bar, and lots of people, to change focus and return to normal takes a moment. The bar was a welcome break, nice cold glass of apple juice, Jane had come up in the cablecar to meet me, we had a picnic lunch watching extended families using the walk to relax and take in the late spring sun, and the children loving the play area as well. But sunbeds? Lots of people just laying out and taking in the sun, first time for me seeing that on a mountain.
Jane walked with me around the well made family track, enjoying the views, lazy strolling time together we wouldn’t normally get when I go climbing big hills. She walked to the point where the paths split and I headed up a little higher.
The trees are thinner and the climb a little slower, taking time to look about at the mountains all around. Reasons for another visit in the future. I met some walkers coming down who told me about the final ten metres of the hill, metal steps bolted into the mountain. Should be interesting, I played leapfrog upwards with a Czech man, both aiming the same way but happy to walk alone. Days like these should be bottled and sold as food for life, the colours are bright, the air clear and views show you the future.
The top was a narrow strip of rock, mostly occupied by the cross and the summit book holder. I took great pleasure in filling in my details, the first summit book I have signed in the Alps. I sat for a while, looking feeling the space and place around me. The airy feel of a narrow spit with steep drops all around. I am always drawn to the edges, to look over and wonder at the flight to the bottom. Others arrived after me, so I vacated the small rock bench and headed down.
I leafed through the book, glancing across names and dates, maybe one day I’ll come back here and spend a night, I bet the stars shine so clear here.
Blue on Blue running away to the hills. I dragged myself back to now, time to head down and back to the river for a different experience of the Alps.
The trip through the woody slopes to the valley bottom was an experience, the footpath shown on the map was overly optimistic, wildly overgrown and in places lost to the logging of the trees. I met a party climbing up, and redirected them to the next marker above. Their parting words were “Good luck going down” It was a slow, picky process. Descend, traverse, stop and examine the hillside, find small clues, and descend a bit more. It was about two hours longer than planned, but safely achieved.
Once in the valley navigation was assisted by the river leading me home, cooling the air and refreshing my water bottle. Secret views as the valley sways with the water, following the curves, drawn always towards the sea.
The world gets quiet as the sun drops lower, the deep valleys mean shadows earlier in the day, and the temperature cools quicker at this height, making for a pleasant end to the walking day.
A great mountain day, mixed and full of interest. Views, rough bits, exciting edges, cool woodland walking. A river to lead me home and a picnic followed by a stroll with Jane to make it perfect.
I hope you are all enjoying the late summer sun, or perhaps the cooler times, Autumn will soon be here, changing the colour of the landscape and drawing us towards winter and the turning of the year, take each moment and wring out the life from it, you only get to use it once.