Two Mountain Weekend Bookends

The worst week of my blogging career to date was definitely the last one. In my non-virtual life I spent the entire five days scrambling at work and feeling guilty at home. Blog friends were neglected, notifications dried up and statistics bottomed out. But it was kind of worth it – as you will soon see . . .

The reason for my absence is that I spent two weekends in a row – before and after Scramble Week – in the mountains.  The first trip was all the way to Innsbruck in Tyrol for a cousin’s wedding. Unfortunately, lots of traffic jams turned our trip there into a 7-hour drive rather than the 5-hour one Chantall originally promised us.  (Chantall is the name we have given to the GPS Navigator voice in my husband’s car – there will surely be some future blog post about her.) The longer than expected drive ended with me to changing into wedding clothes in the passenger seat at 90 miles per hour while my husband purposely pulled up next to trucks whose drivers had a great vantage point from which to watch me doing so. (#33 on the Grounds for Divorce List). We arrived just in time to catch the last five minutes of the ceremony.

wedding02As far as weddings go, though, this one made it into my Top Five. Not only were the bride and groom a happy, easy-going and convincing match, but the view from the venue overlooking the city and surrounding mountains was stunning. There were a lot of great reunions with far-flung, humorous relatives, some spontaneous performance art in which I actually partook, and I got almost 4 hours of sleep before getting back in the car to head home again.

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So those were the mountains at the starting end of Scramble Week. The mountains constituting the other bookend were the chosen destination for a long planned siblings+partners hiking weekend. We rented a little vacation lodge in a place called Tauplitz in beautiful surroundings:

I had agreed to these plans in a weak moment months earlier, but was kind of dreading it. As the only flatlander-by-birth in the crowd, I worried they would pick some strenuous updownupdown-pant-pant-updown-heartpumping-updown-kneecaving-updown route – in other words, something normal for the average Austrian and potentially nightmarish for the average Wisconsinite. Instead, it turned out to be a beautiful “Seven Alpine Lakes” tour with a bearable amount of updown – sort of the best of both worlds combined.

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There were some extra treats along the way. We chanced upon an outdoor church service which was really moving. Music and singing work their magic even more strongly way up in the mountains, reverberating over such majestic displays of nature. It was almost enough to evoke religiosity-like feelings, even in a heathen like me.

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After the fourth lake, there was a long strenuous stretch that made the sight of our mountain “restaurant” stop such a treat. You’d be amazed at how comforting a hard wooden bench or how tasty pig lard spread on brown bread can be.

mountains10 mountains11

mountains12On the return stretch, we crossed paths with some hunters wheeling their bounty down the mountain – an “18 pronged buck”, they told us. We had to take their word for it because the poor creature’s head was missing. (It had been cut off with the antlers by another hunter and transported away separately.) I found it amusing that they had so modestly covered the decapitated buck’s other prized parts.

   mountains13On the home stretch, I found myself hiking alone for about an hour, doing the updownupdown and feeling increasingly sulky. The sportier among us had raced farther and farther ahead (my husband included – Grounds for Divorce #34), while the slower hikers kept lagging farther behind me. mountains14As I passed such beautiful sights, I began to formulate my devastatingly rebuking remarks to the husband about leaving me in the lurch. When I finally caught up to him, though, the wind was immediately taken from my sails. There he was, holding a tray of Swiss/Arolla/Stone Pine Schnapps for all of us (It is such a local delicacy that there is no real English name for it.) mountains15Basically, it is distilled pine or pinecone sap – proving that, in a pinch, you can turn anything into alcohol. Austrians swear that it is good for your health. I’m not sure I swallow that line, but swallowing the schnapps was certainly good for the health of my marriage. It got him halfway to redemption. From there it was another half hour till we were back at the mountains16parking lot where he went right into the tourist office and bought me a pin for my hiking stick (which is a very touristy and therefore slightly humiliating thing for a real Austrian to do.) My husband was now fully redeemed.

On returning to the lodge, I took stock of the day. We had had about seven hours of updownupdown. As the only flatlander and contrary to everyone’s expectations, I had not come in last place when it came to: tempo, pain, number of blisters, moaning, aching, or injury. I call that success. And I have a new metal pin on my hiking stick to commemorate it all. So here’s how I will remember the weekend:

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9 thoughts on “Two Mountain Weekend Bookends

    1. Hail fellow flatlander!
      That was a good tip. Unfortunately, my cooking talents are miserable.(Only slightly above my gardening talents.) Definitely worse than my updown talents. It seems, unfortunately, that hiking is still the lesser of these two particular evils for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beautiful scenery. I love the impromptu run-in with the church service, too. Husbands have an uncanny way of escaping the dog house, don’t they? Mine talked me into a 20-mile hike up and down the highest point of the Appalachian chain. The last three or four miles were torture, and at the end, my thigh muscles were so spent that when I sat down on the toilet in the trailhead bathroom, I literally could not get back up. It was some few minutes after this when hubby came to my rescue… the bathroom door creaked open and I heard a voice say “M’Lady?” I opened the stall door, and he took my hand and pulled me off the john. Concrete proof that romance is not dead. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Let me guess – those last few miles of torture were all downhill. People who have never done mountain hiking don’t realize that the downhill part is so much harder.
      Love your version of the damsel-in-distress trope. That is true romance!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, all downhill. It is as if your body wants to fling itself down the side of the mountain and it takes every bit of energy you can muster to hold it back. Bonus: you are forced to look at where you might end up, should you let gravity have its way with you. I wondered why other hikers all had hiking poles… now I get it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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