The Alpe-Adria-Trail through rushing gorges
Let’s go to the Tauernportal, the tunnel through which the train Gasteiner Tal - Mallnitz ‚outsmarts‘ the Hohe Tauern with a journey time of just 12 minutes. And then back into nature, more precisely into the core zone of the national park. This time I am hiking to Lake Stappitzer See, a natural jewel situated right below the Ankogel glaciers. The Alpe-Adria-Trail soon leads me down across meadows and pastures to the Rabisch Gorge, through which a beautiful climb leads past gurgling pools and rushing cascades. Here I let my legs dangle in the ice-cold water.
Now I am refreshed and ready for the second descent through another gorge, the Groppenstein Gorge. It impresses with narrow jetties high above the water, several waterfalls up to 30m high and circular pools. I hand in my ticket at the former toll tower, it was already ready for me in my travel documents. Again very handy! I reach Obervellach via the Römerweg-path and continue through the valley to the hotel. Shower, balcony and dinner complete the day. I really do not need more today – I am so fulfilled after this day of hiking.
On the Way of St. James to Lake Millstättersee
A short bus ride through the Drautal river valley brings me to Spittal. Here I stroll through the colourful city park to Porcia Palace and soon climb up to the little pilgrimage church of St. Wolfgang. An extensive hike through dense forest leads me to the hilly mountain range of Mount Wolfsberg. On today’s section of the Way of St. James, shell symbols show me the way. In the deep forest I discover Lake Egelsee, one of the warmest lakes in all of Carinthia, with cosy benches right on the shore. A jump into the almost black water is almost unavoidable! In the afternoon the forest thins out and the huge blue area of Lake Millstättersee opens up. I hike on to Döbriach along its shore path. After an enjoyable ice cream, I relax on the sunbathing lawn by the lake – a perfect combination of hiking and swimming!
A visit to the giant on Mount Mirnock
The Mirnock-giant at an altitude of 2110m is on the hiking program: A big project and I have to leave early! After the almost vertical, steep ascent to the Sternenbalkon, an ingenious viewing platform with a magnificent view of the lake and the Hohe Tauern, I come to the crucial fork in the path. Here you either continue up to the Mirnock summit or take a leisurely walk around the mountain directly to Lake Feldsee. Weather conditions are stable and I feel fit, so let’s go up. On the not too demanding but longer ascent, I keep catching a glimpse of the lake. At the top I cross a windswept bare plateau and can slowly imagine that the giants live up here.
A few deep black pools and gnarled mountain pines greet me before I climb up to the summt cross. A feat of strength, but at the same time a great experience! After the obligatory summit rest, it’s back down over the impressive plateau to the Hochalm-hut, where I enjoy a hearty snack. On the way of the Book (trail of the bible smugglers) I descend in serpentines over alpine pastures and forest paths back down to Feld am See. Actually, I can’t take another step, but fortunately the lovely landlords of the Hotel Lindenhof have a hotel bike for me and so I only have to pedal three times and can throw myself into the refreshing waters of Lake Feldsee – a brilliant reward after this active day of hiking!
Final stage from Lake Ossiacher See to Lake Wörthersee
My day of hiking starts right on the shore of Lake Ossiacher See, where I first deliberately hike slowly on the so-called „Slow-Trail“ through the Bleistätter Moor and observe the exotic-looking landscape of the wetland from the observation towers. Then I ascend again more quickly through the Rappitsch Gorge. The path leads very close to or above the creek bed and some bridges and steps have to be overcome. At the top I can then relax and enjoy the last few kilometres on good forest and hiking trails. Soon I come to the small Lake Saissersee, a wonderfully warm, dark moor lake, where a short swim refreshes me.
The forest ends abruptly and I stand in front of the ‚Picture Frame‘, an oversized frame through which Lake Wörthersee and the mountains behind it can be seen as if they were painted. Wow, awesome! Yes, Lake Wörthersee is actually as green-blue in colour as it is advertised. The last exciting descent through the Teufelsgraben (devil’s basin) follows and then I am there: All of a sudden I find myself in the middle of the chic society in Velden. I stroll past the casino to the lake promenade, where the obligatory ice cream sundae and an exotic drink await me. A few palm trees and the view of the noble yachts in the turquoise bay almost feel like a vacation at the sea.
The crowning glory on the Villach Piazza
Admittedly, it is not St. Mark’s Square in Venice, but there is something about the Southern flair on the piazza in Villach’s old town. Perfect for a well-deserved final drink. It is exactly three minutes from the hotel across the turquoise river Drau. Here I see the highest mountains of the Southern Alps again and feel the warmth of the evening sun. Italy and Slovenia are within reach. I sit down in one of the beautiful cafés, enjoy the atmosphere and review my tour. Yes, I experienced, saw, perspired and puffed a lot, but it was worth the effort! From Bavaria to Carinthia: crossing the Alps at various altitudes with countless impressions. It was different everywhere, but beautiful everywhere.
The hiking holiday from Lake Königssee to Lake Wörthersee, 10 days is a unique long-distance hike that makes every hiker’s heart beat faster with its varied and fantastic routes! With all the amenities of an organised hiking holiday such as the luggage transfer, relaxation and enjoyment are never neglected. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
By the way: The return journey by train to Salzburg (and then by bus to Lake Königssee) is in no way boring whatsoever, but instead a real highlight on the day of departure. From the train I experience the course of the route again and can recognise some sections of the daily stages. In only about four hours I arrive back at the starting point of the hiking tour.