Autumn is in the air
I love hiking during autumn! And, being an early riser, it’s not at all due to the fact I can now stay a little longer under my warm blanket before hiking up the mountain to admire the sunrise. No, for me it’s all about the multitude of feelings and atmospheres. When the sun shines, the mountains glow in all their glorious colours. The slowly withering leaves of the once lush deciduous trees bring a red-brown-yellow hue into the forests. During the now dewy mornings, the cobwebs sparkle with thousands of water drops when hit by the sun’s first rays. And when the ground beneath the mountain pastures warms up with the now higher positioned autumn sun, the wet forest floor smells as intensively as if it was trying to engulf everything into its aroma one more time before the break of winter.
Peace returns to the mountain
When the rain begins, the autumn season remains just as beautiful, albeit in very subtle ways. The fog engulfs the valley floor and nestles into the mountain cirques. It begins to soften everything around, redirecting one’s focus on what’s located in plain sight. Little things along the wayside suddenly become visible, like the fine droplets of fog that form a thin sheet on the skin. With the first snowfall in the summit region, the cattle get their signal to return home. Mooing, they stand next to the fence, seemingly anticipating the journey down from the mountain pasture. Then, when the chimes of the bells slowly fall silent, everything becomes much quieter around the mountain. The buzzards use the last bit of warm wind to let themselves effortlessly be carried from the treetops into the great heights, while keeping an eye on the mice the whole time. The warm noon sun can still be enjoyed during autumn hikes, like on the sunny terraces of the many huts — this is where, during the autumn days, you will be treated with freshly sourced specialities or regional delights, like the “Schepsernen” or sheep roast.
During autumn, nature slowly comes to a halt and the buzzing and whirring of the insects, so hectic during the summer months, also slows down. Everything seems to be taking it just a little easier as the farmers look back on a good and satisfying mountain pasture summer season. When the sun moves closer to the horizon, the light becomes especially soft and intensive. The mountain crests glow under the final bursts of sunshine and, later in autumn, you finally get to smell it — the snow wind. To those endowed with more delicate noses, this scent marks the beginning of the oncoming winter.
Well equipped for autumn
Those embarking upon an autumn hike early in the morning should make sure to bring along the right appropriate footwear. The morning dew hangs onto the blades of grass in the form of thick droplets, which makes a hike in wet mountain boots particularly torturous. A headband can help keep the ears warm during the ascent, as they can freeze rather quickly when encountering the previously mentioned snow wind. Extra clothes and a warm jacket are now especially important additions to the backpack. A hood and gloves are also on the packing list, just like thermos flask filled with a warming beverage. Those who want to make sure that their smartphone doesn’t suddenly run out of juice under the cold temperatures and when taking countless of pictures of the beautiful autumn light, will want to pack a portable battery for recharging as well. Detachable hiking trousers are ideal for autumn — use them to let the warm noon sun grace your calves one last time. As soon as it starts getting colder, simply zip the bottom parts back on again. When planning your hike, you absolutely must consider that the days are now shorter. Even though the autumn weather is usually quite stable — a glance on the weather app is indispensable, because a sudden change in the climate can now bring along some of the first snow.
My favourite hikes during autumn:
1) The Wetterkreuz tour
Take a relaxing ride up the mountain in the Reiterkogelbahn gondola and hike across the Reiteralm mountain pasture via the beautiful hiking trail, all the way up to the Wetterkreuz reservoir. Along the Reiter-Ost-Abfahrt, a gorgeous path leads up to the mountain’s summit. Here you will find two benches to rest on, which provide an incredible panorama view of the Spielberghorn mountain, the entire Glemmtal valley and the Fieberbrunn mountains. On my way back, I hike across the Grat, all the way to the Rosswald mountain station, before stopping at the Rosswald hut for a bite to eat on my way back to the Reiterkogel gondola.
2) The Kohlmais tour
Up to the summit in the Kohlmaisbahn gondola! Here, I find an amazing 360-degree view, prior to taking the Montelino path downhill. After the panorama mountain pasture, I make my way through the picturesque forest to the Wirtsalm mountain pasture, when I descend into the Spielberggraben trench. During the deer mating season in September, you may, with a bit of luck, get to hear the king of the forest. I return to the centre of Saalbach via the Spielberghaus.
3) Valley head tour
For me, the area around the Lindlingalm mountain pasture is the ideal spot to recharge my batteries. All it takes to reach the valley head is an easy walk from the parking space. From time to time you even get to see a pair of eagles flying around in the air. During autumn, the otherwise lively valley head around the Hochseilpark, the Teufelswasser theme park and Schnitza’s Holzpark, becomes much quieter. If I feel like it, I extend my tour by going up to the Saalalm mountain pasture and coming back via the Ossmannalm mountain pasture. Otherwise, I just take in the incredible atmosphere right here from the Lindlingalm mountain pasture while relaxing on their terrace.
Here you can find out for how much longer Saalbach Hinterglemm’s gondolas will stay operational during autumn, as well as which huts are still open to the public.