Dear Readers, today I would like to take you on one of my favourite early holiday walks in Obergurgl, Austria. It isn’t very rugged, or very challenging, though as I arrived with a sore throat and cough, and as the sole of one of my boots has decided to drop off, it was quite challenging enough. I love it because of the sheer variety of terrain, from meadow to pine forest to scree to mountain hut. I also love it because it has some uphill and some downhill, and so my muscles can start to get into the swing of things.
Here is the view back to the village at the end of the first climb. Obergurgl is at the end of the Oest valley, which is one reason why we love it – it doesn’t have through traffic, the curse of many an alpine village, and it is the epicentre of numerous side valleys. One of the glories of the surrounding hills are the meadows, at their very best at this time of year, just before the first hay cut. And I am in my element – the sheer variety of insects makes my head spin.
Clouds of butterflies descend on the dusty paths to feed on the salts in animal droppings, whirling up as we pass.
And then it’s on into the woods. These are mostly Arolla pines, and at this time of year you can hear the local jay, the spotted nutcracker, leading the fledglings through the branches. The youngsters make a call a bit like a car alarm.
The woods are cool and quiet after the meadows, apart from the occasional sound of cow bells from the Tyrolean blue cattle that graze here, and the roar of motorbikes from the road below. Many biking folk choose to go into Italy via the Timmelsjoch pass, just half a kilometre from where we are walking, and there is also a Motorcycle Museum beside the tollroad.
Soon we reach a little lake called the Pillersee, which has a most attractive duck house in the middle, though I have never seen a single duck take advantage of it. You might think that this would be an ideal spot to stop for a sandwich, but be careful, gentle traveller! On our last visit, we stopped here for the time it took to eat a cheese sandwich (approximately four minutes in my case) and I acquired 12 mosquito bites. My husband didn’t get one. I have recently read that mosquitoes prefer people who have Type O blood, and as my husband has Type A maybe this is the explanation. Or it could just be that I was sweatier than he was. Anyhow, take this as a warning, and glance at the duck house while rushing past at speed.
Just a little further on, we found a patch of early flowering orchids popping up among the buttercups. There are lots of orchids here. In fact, the whole flora is so diverse and plentiful that it makes me weep for our intensively managed, vanishing meadows in the UK. Nearly all the plants here can also be found at home, but I rarely see such variety.
Once over the bridge, we walk alongside the glacial river which is in full spate at this time of year, making it difficult to hear. The plants along the path are lush and green, with lots of meadow cranesbill.
Last year’s cat is still in residence.
So, my throat is now better (thanks to some very fine throat lozenges), I have new boots (after spending a week patching the old ones up with glue I decided that they really were done for), and we have another week here in Obergurgl. Who knows what we will get up to this week?
Photo One (Nutcracker) – By Original author and uploader was MurrayBHenson at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3708573
Photo Two (New Suspension Bridge) – Copyright Berger and Brunner https://www.facebook.com/obergurgl/photos/pcb.10154787951209888/10154787912744888/?type=3&theater