Ok so we at Alpenglow love the outdoors and have many many years of combined experience in outdoor adventure. And we agree: this is the most beautiful hike we've ever been on. Ever.
To back up, this course based in Innsbruck, Austria is a trek-based course. We plan to spend 5 days trekking a section of the Adlerweg (translates to Eagle Walk) trail that runs east to west through the state of Tirol in Austria. You hike hut-to-hut, since Europeans don't really do "camping" in the sense of tent & sleeping bag camping. The trail goes through the Austrian Alps, all above 6,000 feet and some passes as high as 12,000 feet. And the trail looked beautiful when we were doing research online.
We left the town of Innsbruck and took scooters up to the Nordkette cable car. Side note: public transport in Innsbruck was probably the least friendly of any of the towns we visited. But not to worry! The electric scooter rental game is strong! And wayyyy more fun! So we took the Nordkette up into the mountains above Innsbruck.
The rating system for the trail is new to us. They categorize different sections of the trail as intermediate or expert, red or black. Due to what gets lost in translation, things we were reading said that you need to be an expert mountaineer and have mountaineering equipment to do the black sections. So we had to go scout out a black section of the trail to see what that really means.
We found out that what we think of when we think of mountaineering, i.e. ice axes or fixed lines and 4th and 5th class terrain, is not what they mean! Basically the black/expert terrain is rugged trail, can be steep, and you should definitely not wear flip flops, but no need for technical equipment or skills. The trail is literally chipped out of the sides of the mountains, and at times it can be thin with drop offs on either sides. But the risk of actually falling is pretty small. Plus there's lots of metal cables fixed to the rock for handlines if you felt you wanted a little extra security.
The trail was truly magnificent. The view were airy and stunning. You walk on the south side of the ridge, then cross over the ridge, then walk on the north side of the range so you get stunning views either way. One side overlooks the town in Innsbruck. The other side is views of mountain peaks on mountain peaks, with Germany somewhere on the horizon. There were sleep! Lots of sheep and their little bells tinkling. We had so much fun hiking! It was just breathtaking view around each bend of the trail. I am most excited to go on this trip again next year!
Naturally, we treated ourselves to a beer after a big day of hiking. High above Innsbruck, we could see it all. What a cool place, to one minute be in a neat college city in Austria, then a short scoot and lift ride later, to be trekking on the sides of the Alps, with Germany over one shoulder and Austria over the other. This place is hands-down. Don't be surprised if I never leave Austria next year!