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Get on your hike for great scenery in Austria

Visit AustriaI thought only actors in stage productions of The Sound Of Music still wore lederhosen, but standing at the breakfast buffet of the Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl in Tyrolean village Obergurgl I’m proven wrong. Next to me, filling his bowl with Bio Krauter muesli, is a man in short leather breeches with braces. Admittedly, he is alone. Other hikers preparing to tackle one of the 21 3,000m peaks in the scenic Otztal Valley have made the more sensible choice of wearing Windstopper jackets and GORE-TEX shoes. But his outfit’s a reminder that hiking, like lederhosen and even Julie Andrews singing ‘The hills are alive...’, is a distinctly Austrian pastime. And if you want to join the thousands of walkers who revel in Alpine beauty during the hike-friendly months, this is the place to do it. As I take the Hohe Mut cable car skywards, the village shrinks away and jagged mountain tops meet my eyeline. Wrapped in wispy plumes of cloud, it’s as if they're puffing smoke rings from a cigar. The sound of clanging iron bells echoes through the valley as herds of sheep and cartoon-like Tyrolese grey cattle graze on thick rugs of grass, and at times I swear they’re running through the scales of Do-Re-Mi. I choose a trail running alongside a milky-grey brook of glacial melt water, stepping over clusters of tiny blue and violet star-shaped flowers. Due to a combination of altitude and shamefully poor fitness, my pulse races faster than the Autobahn speed limit and I feel the urge to relieve an Austrian hiker of her very attractive-looking walking poles. But when my heart almost stops, it’s for a different reason. Sparkling icy blue in the sunlight, the Gaisbergerferner glacier tumbles from the jaws of the Hochfirst and Liebenerspitze mountains. Faced with this mighty landscape, I suddenly feel as small as the dainty Alpine flowers I’d passed on my way. Our journey ends at the Hohe Mut Alm restaurant. Built like a giant gingerbread house and filled with sheepskin rugs, I bet it’s a real delight in winter. But the outdoor view from the summer terrace is a masterpiece; nature’s paintbrush has worked its magic here. My aching limbs may be yearning for the saunas back at Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl, but I’m far from beaten. While I won’t be purchasing a pair of lederhosen any time soon, summer mountain hikes are an Austrian tradition I’'ll happily be adopting in the future. Source: http://www.winsfordguardian.co.uk/leisure/leisure_events/10674763.Get_on_your_hike_for_great_scenery_in_Austria

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