Hiking in Austria Day 6: Weißbach to Lofer

Day 6 of 6.  Satisfied with a filling pre-hike breakfast, we set out north from Weißbach to the famous Lamprechtshöhle (Lamprecht’s cave).  The 700m of cave that is accessible to the public is just the foyer to the 51 km cave!  The cave has the medieval version of the Goonies story: a famous knight (Knight Lamprecht) hid all of his treasure in this mysterious cave.  The Knight’s two daughters, one blind, one greedy, inherited said treasure, but the greedy sister betrayed her kin and tried to take the treasure for herself. Somehow, the blind sister discovered this and cursed her sister with the treasure in the Frauenhöhle section of the cave.  Then there’s this thing about a Baby Ruth bar and a pirate’s ship, or something like that, I’m not fluent in German remember 🙂  Anyway, the tale convinced at least 198 adventurers to seek the treasure unsuccessfully, since that many human skeletons were found by more experienced spelunkers.

Knight Lamprecht’s treasure is here somewhere.

The entrance to the cave is marked with a wooden awning with a stone carving, which gives the cave a dwarven feel.  We were fortunate to even get to see the cave since it was initially closed due to “High Water” when we first arrived.  But, the attendant told us it would open in about ten minutes and we waited while she setup her kiosk and arranged all the plush bats by the cashier’s stand.  We proceeded into the cave with caution…

Being tall sometimes comes with disadvantages.

After the cave, we continued up the Saalach a bit and then veered west to detour to the Vorderkaserklamm.  Just one… more… gorge… I’ve mentioned before that it had rained after we returned to the hotels, each night in fact.  However, we carried our rain coats with us every day, just in case.  Well, at the base of this gorge, we shrugged off the sign that said something like “You will get wet on this ride.”  After 40m of a single-file-wooden-catwalk, we were soaked.  A deluge of water, all runoff from the mountain above, poured into the gorge.  We took momentary shelter under a hanging rock and put on our rain coats and the otherwise beautiful gorge became a blur as we raced up the hundred or so steps to the exit.  We were immediately greeted by two resting women who could do nothing but laugh at the sight of us, so we asked for a picture 😉

All gorged out.

Out of the gorge and through the woods, back to Lofer we go.  Stopping of course, for a snack at a well-timed snack-bar just north of St. Martin.  Another healthy snack: Nussschnecken and Pretzels!  Ending our day at the Salzburger Hof again, we completed our six days of hiking without luggage in the Saalachtal!  One last night in Austria before we set off for a travel day in Munich where we had one more adventure…

Day 6 map.

Metrics:

  • Date completed: 22.6.12
  • Distance: 19.4km
  • Start Time: 0947
  • Start Elevation: 664m
  • Highest Elevation: 883m @ 1228
  • End Time: 1551
Day 6 Elevation Plot

Hiking in Austria Day 4: Unken to St. Martin

Day 4 of 6.  Leaving our luggage again, we re-traced Day three as far as the Innersbachklamm, but continued through Reith and quickly through Au.  Along the way we had great views of the Steinberge mountains.  The morning was relatively cloudless, but the forecast called for heavy rains starting around 1700, so we decided to clip about two hours from the planned route.  But back to the trail…  We stumbled on a few hunting shelters (Jägersitze) in the dense woods, which when discovering them unoccupied, has a creepy feeling, like finding the “others” camp on LOST.

Loferer Steinberge

Next, we went through the Maybergklamm (we were taking the Route der Klammen, “Route of the Gorges,” after all) and up to the Auer Wiesen pastures.  With panoramic views overlooking Au, we continued in the open slowly making our way back to Lofer.  As we approached the Knappenstadl restaurant, we passed a small chapel dedicated to St. Hubertus.  I took the photo at the well-trampled photo spot, where it should be obvious from the photo that St. Hubertus is the patron saint of hunters, which probably explains the many Jägersitze!

St. Hubertus Chapel

From there, we hugged the base of the Kienberg and popped back out in Lofer in the campground behind Castle Grubhof.  There is a cultural difference about camping in Germany / Austria than in the U.S. that I can’t quite explain; it’s somehow more accepted but still has a certain stigma to it.  In fact, a few years ago while I was traveling in Stuttgart, I saw a German comedy sitcom called, “Die Camper,” which captured the social drama of living in a RV-park.  Anyway, the Grubhof campers were very content sitting on their lawn chairs in the shade of their pull out patios.  From the campsite, we crossed the highway and arrived at our hotel in St. Martin, the Gasthof zur Post.  Interesting typography fact: a roman cursive medial character, ſ, looks like a ‘f’ but is pronounced like an ‘s,’ i.e. the “long s.”  A short trip around the church in St. Martin confirmed that the Gafthof zur Poft was indeed our hotel 🙂

Day 4 Map from Unken to St. Martin through gorges and pastures

Metrics:

  • Date completed: 20.6.12
  • Distance: 15.3km
  • Start Time: 0945
  • Start Elevation: 536m
  • Highest Elevation: 861m @ 1236
  • End Time: 1451
Day 4 Elevation Plot

Hiking in Austria Day 3: Unken and Innersbachklamm

Day 3 of 6.  Day two left us very, very sore so we decided to make Day 3 an easy day.  We were supposed to take a route following the Saalach river in the direction of Bad Reichenhall and cross into Germany and come back.  Instead we followed a trail south to the Innersbachklamm (gorge).

Salaach River after heavy rains
Day 3 Map

It was a particularly nice day to visit the gorge and we had fun walking along the bridge and taking plenty of pictures.  This entire trip and especially the gorges, made me feel as if I was wandering through Zork.  Going through the gorges, I felt I would suddenly

Innersbachklamm

stumble on flood control dam #3…  Fortunately, there was enough light so I didn’t have to worry about the Grues.

After a pause at the end of the gorge, we walked through cow-infested trails into the village of Unken.  Stopping briefly for cash and some groceries (pretzels and Mezzo Mix), we walked back to the hotel.  But on our way back, I walked up a trail briefly to get a view and I serendipitously found a small cabin, with a stone lion fountain (again, very Zork-like).  We had a short pause in the lion-hut before calling it a day.

You have stumbled upon a hidden hut. Inside the hut there is a stone lion fountain. You also see a jewel-encrusted egg.

Back to the hotel for a restful afternoon.  I opened my Kindle and finally got around to finishing Life of Pi.  A decent book to read while traveling.  Although, the algae-island that turns carnivorous at night is a bit trippy…  Dinner was a delicious Austria BBQ consisting of grilled chicken, sausage, pork, beef and bacon.  Otherwise known as a Vegetarian’s Nightmare 😉

Day 3 Elevation Plot

Metrics:

  • Date completed: 19.6.12
  • Distance: 8.6km
  • Start Time: 1043
  • Start Elevation: 554m
  • Highest Elevation: 607m @ 1216
  • End Time: 1407