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We were going to spend three days in the Austrian Tyrol and had carefully selected our accommodation from among the fifteen mountain villages in the area. This was not easily done as they all sounded beautiful and most had interesting summer walks. They have names like Rum and Rinn, Matters and Nutters (or is Mutters and Natters) but we finally chose Igls.
Igls is only a 20 minute bus ride out of Innsbruck and a short walk up the 'main' street to "Hause Maria", our picture postcard BandB, roses and all. It was just what we were looking for.
After settling in we went to the local Information Centre to enquire about their Mountain Hiking Program organized by the Innsbruck Toursmus. The friendly young girl said we were in luck as Igls was the start for a hike the next morning. She gave us instructions re comfy boots, lunch and water in a backpack and told us to be at the Visitors Centre at 9am where we would meet the leader (sound familiar?). But there was a difference - we would then go by bus to the start of the hike.
There were eight of us with our guide, Heinsi, a couple of Scots and French, a German, a Ukrainian and us two Aussies. All aboard the comfy bus for the 45 minute ride to the start of the hike. Soon we were off the busy autobahn and through lovely farmland with clear fast flowing rivers, a few small dairy herds, fruit trees and summer crops.
We left the bus at another typical village. the picturesque church, millwheel, hens, goats and rabbits. Cameras were out for the Group photo and lots more shots of the surrounding scene; all so beautiful. Then across a stream and onto the narrow track we were to follow most of the day. It wound through thick forests of stone pines and past a couple of large lakes, one with a chapel reflected in the clear water.
We said "Hi" to a few cows being 'minded' by an ancient herdsman and to a 'local' driving a brightly coloured covered horse-drawn cart, possibly looking for tourists. There were a few deer in the distance, beehives, goats, but no other walkers.
The track was steadily rising and was rough and boggy in parts but no one had any difficulty keeping up with Heinsi past meadows of alpine flowers and by the occasional farmhouse. We were now below the spectacular snow capped peaks of the Tyrolean Alps silhouetted against a perfect clear blue sky.
There was some discussion about where to have lunch. Most of us had brought our own but the Scots easily talked us into stopping at a nearby gastehaus to sample the local food and beer. We were on the return when the young French girl came running wildly down the track yelling hysterically. We realized she had seen a snake which Heinsi identified as a kreuzotter and poisonous. No one got a close-up photo of this intruder in Paradise!
All too soon we were back on the bus returning to Igls. Like most Wednesday Walks anywhere around the world, it had been a Great Day. We were awarded Bronze Mountain Hiker's Medals for completing one hike and our guide presented us with signed copies of the mountain tour book.
(Ettremist - November 2004)