The phone wasn't working last night. I drafted a sentence denigrating the service in Austria, then turned it off. This morning I turned it back on to find out the time and was bombarded by all manner of bleeps, mainly from Orange, about the wonderful Austrian phone service. I must remember to turn the thing off and on in future when changing countries...
Tea and chocolate wasn't the ideal preparation for a hot 500 metre ascent, but at the end of the steep climb up to Gaislach Alm we had no issue with lashing out for 'Warmer apfelstrudel mit vanillesauce' to accompany our customary Latte Macchiatos.
Before we left Talhütte we had scoured the hut book for English visitors. They just don't come here. An Australian came a couple of years ago, but even he had an East European name.
Today's start caught us out. We should have followed our instinct, but we followed the only E5 sign we could find. That resulted in an unnecessary 20 minute walk along the Obergurgl road, from where the top image was taken. Judging by the traffic, not much happens in Obergurgl! But the river was much lower than last night, presumably because the glacial supply of water freezes overnight.
In that 20 minutes we learnt two things:
1. The E5 in Austria doesn't necessarily follow the most scenic or off-road route, and
2. Whilst the Italian signposting was equally easy to follow in both directions, the Austrian waymarking sometimes assumes that the route is only walked in a north to south direction. So map, compass and educated guesswork are now close to hand at all times, though it would be pretty difficult to veer far off course.
Slow progress on the thrutchy ascent gave us plenty of chance to admire the colourful array of flowers beside the path, including lots of Grass of Parnassus, Nottingham Catchfly, Eyebrights and Cow Wheat, Willowherbs and Wintergreens, and in places whole banks of bright purple orchids.
Having refuelled at Gaislach Alm (a similar 'alm' which we passed a few minutes later is pictured), we found the rest of this short day very easy and amenable. A lovely belvedere path rose gently over some distance, passing through open woodland and hillside meadows, all with fine views, before running a few metres near the road to the Rettenbach glacier and reaching Rettenbachalm in good time for a luxurious lunch of toasted cheese sandwiches and salad. I am pictured just below Rettenbachalm on the path that leads to the glacier.
The easily accessible path was being well used, with day walkers, many with children, in the ascendancy compared with E5ers. There were excellent views back to yesterday's route, where the 2509 metre Timmelsjoch pass appeared for a while to be in cloud. Sölden (spelt in various ways, but I'll now try to be consistent with the Kompass maps and the tourist office) appeared far below us - a rather spread out sort of place in the Ötztal valley.
The belvedere route hosted a number of information boards, some of which may have been quite interesting, but sadly only in German, so we can't read them, whereas their Italian counterparts were very helpfully mainly in Italian, German and English.
With another holiday beckoning, and with a few clouds rolling gently in, we foresook the E5 and headed on along the fine belvedere path to Gampealm, before heading down to Sölden on a mixture of gently descending roads and steep paths (the roads were easier on the knees) to our welcoming host at Haus Wiesenblick, situated near a free 'shuttle' cable-car about 150 metres above the main town.
Arriving soon after 3pm gave us plenty of 'chilling out' time (catching up on the Tour de France - Bradley Wiggins looks very happy) before washing everything, putting some of it back on again, and heading off for a barbecue and salad supper at nearby Pfandl restaurant.
Gayle - good to hear from you. You are to blame for this late transmission. With WiFi for the first time since leaving home, I clicked on 'M & G' and got hooked. What a contrast there is between our respective trips, though in some ways they could be considered similar. Ours is much, much easier, and very much a holiday. A holiday from what, though? Is it more a way of life? The pension still rolls in. And, of little comfort, I can still kid myself that I'm carrying nearly as much weight as you, and at times the temperatures are in the 30's...
As for the photos (snapshots) - even if we take 3000, it'll be a struggle to find more than 72 of any real quality. Brace yourselves for a few flowers!
Stay at Home Hazel (aka Anonymous) - it must be really bad if even you are complaining about the weather in Manchester! We hope you find somewhere sunnier for your holidays. If it's any comfort, our friends from western Austria (where we are heading) say their weather has been terrible as well. We hope that we will bring them a change in fortune. We'll enlighten you as to the ice man and the tropical fish when we get home - we think you'd like Bolzano.
19 July 2012
13km in 6.5 hours with 850m ascent
Cumulative on E5; 316km with 17,250m ascent
Other walkers - lots, it's holiday time
Flower of the Day - Nodding Wintergreen
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange