Category Archives: The Big Hike

TBH, … again ;)

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I really wanted to finish my hike from last year. But due to University schedules, and incredibly hot summer, and weird working schedules, I haven’t been able to prepare as much as I wanted. Also, the BF, who wanted to come with me on this trip, won’t have the time to do so. So the new plan was to just go for a 2 day-hike with my Mom while I was back home for a week.

And with the assistance of my brother, his wife and son, TBH became WOAR: Whichever Outdoor Activity, Really. I just wanted to get outdoors and get some fresh air.

And really, that was what I got: 2 days hiking along river Lech with my Mom, one day with lots of rain, the other with cloudy weather, and 2 days of geocaching with my brothers’ family.

And, as pictures say it all, here’s a little gallery for you!

The Big Hike – continued and extended

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After quitting [more info here] on the go last summer, it was clear of course that I would finish The Big Hike. Talking about this with my Mum around Christmas, she said she’d love to join me on a 2- or 3-day hike – so I decided to do more than only finish TBH this coming summer.

Here’s the plan: as part of preparations I will this summer hike the “Rundumadum” hike, a 120 km route around the circumfence of Vienna. This should be done within 4-5 days of real hiking (as in 7 hours of walking per day). I hope to start as early as April or May already, so I can do the 2-3 day hike with my Mum in Tirol in Summer.

And then, in September, I will finish the hike I had planned for last year. But instead of walking from Mariazell to Graz, I’ll go from Graz to Mariazell. As the pilgrimage’s destination is Mariazell, all the signs and other information are set up in that direction, too. It will be easier to follow the path that way 😉

Again, I’m planning on leaving behind my smartphone (on both hikes) and try to shut out facebook and other stuff for some time. It was really relaxing last year, so I’m kind of looking forward to it already 🙂  Also, I want to continue geocaching on the way. One cache per day would be nice, and I know that there are a lot to be found along the route.

TBH, Day 5: Mariazell – Vienna

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I did not complete The Big Hike.

Long story short: I had a bit of a nervous breakdown which could have been avoided. And I could still have walked on, but I decided against it.

Instead, I went to the trainstation, got a ticket to Vienna, and waited for the next train. I even met an interesting guy on the train. He too had just walked for a couple of days to get from nearby Vienna to Mariazell. He has done that already a few times, but keeps changing the routes to explore the area. We kept talking during the whole ride – and that’s more than 3 hours, mind you!

But: Postponed is not abandoned. I WILL walk those last onehundredandsomething kilometers. It just will have to wait until summer. Or at least until spring.

TBH, Day 4: Türnitz – Mariazell

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If you guessed it from the title – congratulations!

Somehow I managed to get from Türnitz to Mariazell in one day. It’s about 34,5 km, so no small thing to do … but let’s start at the beginning: in the morning 🙂

I started at 7.10 in the morning, and decided to take it easy. If I’d manage to get to Mariazell all by foot, great. If not, I’d take the bus. Period.

One break was in Annaberg, the next “big” village. 13.5 km – and a rather large part of that going uphill rather steeply. As a reward, I sat down for half an hour, and even had a nice chat with 3 gentlemen from UK. I even saw them again later … lovely 🙂

In Josefsberg (yep, it’s on a mountain. just like Annaberg and Joachimsberg.), I decided to have coffee and homemade Apfelstrudel. Also, I found a cache (nothing special, and dripping wet). Unfortunately, that was the only cache of the day as at the next location the GPS signal kept changing in a range of 30 ft and more.

Somewhere I of course missed a turn and walked along the Bundesstraße again.  And just before St. Sebastian, the gentlemen from UK passed me on the motor bikes 🙂  They even remembered me and waved – that’s a nice piece of motivation!

Did I just say St. Sebastian? Check the map! It’s the last village on the way to Mariazell. I seriously did it. The moment when I realized this was amazing. I started laughing like a madman.

The village itself is as touristy as I imagined. Prices in Pensions and Hotels are of course crazy. Couchsurfers are non-existent. After checking out one Pension (and not liking the room at all: there’s huge demand for rooms, so providers can ask pretty much any price for anything), I found a room at a lovely Gasthaus. If you ever go to Mariazell, let me know. I’ll tell you where I stayed 🙂

Just this much: the rooms are nothing special, but the owner was incredibly lovely. He reminded me of my Grandfather (who died last year in September) big time. In the evening, friends of his occupied the dining room – and we had a blast. Age ranged from about 19  (yep, I wasn’t the youngest there) to 74 (the owner). There was a lot of live music and singing, a lot of laughing and even some food 🙂

Although I was up all day, walking for 8 hours straight (about 10 including all the breaks), I still managed to stay up until nearly midnight.


TBH, Day 3: Lilienfeld – Türnitz

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I started late on day 3. It was raining, and my plan for the day was to get as far as possible. Due to the rain I did not plan for much 🙂

After failing big time trying to find a cache “on the way” (I have no idea if I really passed it or how far away I was at the closest point), I scored thrice:

The first was easy even without the pretty clear hint.

The second was tricky to get from its hiding place, and even trickier to put back. Big fun!

The third was lovely. I have seen hideouts like this before, but here it can still be used as intended 🙂

During the day, the weather kept changing from raining to dry but windy and back to rainy again, including various stages of sleet. Yuck! Also, there was a part just before Türnitz that seems to go on for ages. I swear I saw a sign “Türnitz, 1 hr” and walked for at least 2 hours until I arrived!

Arriving at Türnitz, I immediately checked out the bus schedule – the next one would have left 4 hours later. I got into the next Gasthaus and ordered a beer to think about my next moves. The bar tender also was the receptionist for the Gasthaus, so I asked about rooms and prices – and was taken aback. A single room would go for 39 Euros! “Can we do anything about that price?” – “Yep. Let’s make it 25. Only, you won’t get an official invoice for that.” How I love the black market 🙂

TBH, Day 2: Hainfeld – Lilienfeld

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After getting off the bus at Hainfeld train station, I went to the next Gasthaus and asked if they could recommend any accommodation in the village. Some minutes later, I arrived at a nice Hotel where I got a room for the night. The hot shower and one hour-nap immediately after arriving felt incredibly good 🙂

The next day, I started out just after 7 am again. The GPS indicated a Geocache only on the other side of the street, but after searching for some minutes, I gave up on that one. Instead, I headed west towards Lilienfeld, where I had a room booked at the monastery. I was very much looking forward to spending the night there, as I had never slept at a monastery before, and Lilienfeld itself, the monastery and the church were said to be very beautiful places.

After two hours of hiking through the foggy morning, mostly along the river Gölsen, I arrived in St. Veit an der Gölsen, where my GPS again indicated a Geocache nearby. It was the perfect cache in the perfect moment: Steingarten, an open-air display of different types of stone, is a lovely place for a break. There are also different kinds of trees, flowers and bushes with descriptions. And right at the moment when I was looking for the cache, it got backlit by the rising sun … just perfect!

At St. Veit, the route divides in two stages: the valley track, along Gölsen river, and the mountain stage, over Staff. I decided to try the mountain stage. Unfortunately, I did not bring enough to drink, so I had to go thirsty for the better part of an hour, but at least this made me meet some locals and also I had the possibility to see their 690 year old farmhouse from the inside 🙂   Also, by choosing the mountain track, I met a doe rather close-up.

At about 2.30 pm I already arrived at Stift Lilienfeld, thus resulting in 22 km hiked within 7 hours (including breaks).

I washed some of my clothes in the basin in my room, took a shower, had a rather early dinner, and spent a lot of time reading before going to bed while outside it was raining heavily.

TBH, Day 1: Vienna – Maria Raisenmarkt

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Looking back, there are already a couple of things I can learn from the first day of The Big Hike:

  • try to get as close to your starting point as possible.
    Getting up at 5 in the morning to go to the starting point by public transport and arriving there, ready to finally really leave, at 7 am, thus being 2 hours awake but not really doing anything but wait, is a bad start.
  • get good maps, have a GPS device with you.
    Losing the route every half hour is not funny. Having a GPS device with hiking/mountain biking maps can at least help you to get where you want, albeit not via the route you wanted.

So yes, I got up at 5 in the morning, just to make sure I had packed everything I needed. I had a bus to catch at Siebenhirten (end station of U6 in the south of Vienna), and I was nervous as can be that I could fall asleep and miss the stop either at Siebenhirten or at the stop where I had to change, or the stopt where I had to eventually get off the bus to start the hike.

The hike was not very exhausting physically, but in a mental way it was very challenging: I kept losing the “right path”, because there were not too many signs around to tell you in which direction to go. I am incredibly happy that I had a GPS device with me, especially since Georg and I had downloaded a hiking/mountainbiking map for Austria the night before. That way, I at least knew which way would lead in which direction and if it would take me to the “right” next village at the least.

I called it a day in Maria Raisenmarkt, after hiking about 22 km, just before reaching the Peilstein area which is supposed to be really beautiful. I felt exhausted already, and was looking desperately at the schedule for the regional bus at the bus stop. Some guy was putting up signs for hiking routes, and he asked me where I wanted to go. Bad news was, I would have to follow the route, as it would be the shortest way to get to the next village. Good news was, he had been through the same mess as me, and in the end even offered me a ride. In the next village, I had a nice late lunch (Radler, soup and cake 😉 ) and then checked for the next bus to leave towards Mariazell. I would skip part of the hike, as I did not feel at all capable of walking on, and I was lucky: a bus towards the right direction would leave only 2 hours later. The 2 hours I spent reading at the bus stop – and I also fell asleep a couple of times.

TBH: Final stage of Preparations

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The Big Hike (TBH), taking me from Vienna to Mariazell and on to Graz, will start on September 4th, 2012.

Two rooms have been preordered already. The rest will be arranged on the go.

Things to do:

  • charge the phone
  • charge the camera
  • download information for Geocaches along the route (oh wait, the GPS is still in the US … this will have to wait)
  • make sure the plans and route descriptions will be in my backpack
  • start packing.

I’m getting VERY excited now 🙂