Yes indeed. It was “another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Ollie” sort of day. I thought I understood the hiking map, the trail would be within our ability and it began along the road towards Saalbach. The intended hike would make its way up to the Sonnalm, proceed to the Reiteralm, from there go left to the top of the Reiterkogelbahn (gondola), where we’d ride down and walk the few yards to our hotel. Sounded good to both of us.
Well, it was a stupendously gorgeous day. Feeling good at the Reiteralm, I took a look at the map again. (Steve does not read maps, leaves the hiking decisions to me, and holds up his end when things don’t work out right by shouting at me.) It appeared that if we made a right turn, and continued up on the waymarked trail, we’d get to the top of the Bernkogelbahn (gondola). From there, we could take the Bernkogelbahn down into Saalbach and catch the free bus back?
That’s the new plan. More uphill while ex-Marine muttered, “How much longer?” The trail suddenly ended at a construction site with a barrier that said, Geschlossen. Geschlossen is one of the few German words I understand. Closed. Al-righty then. No cable cars were visible from where we stood but there was an extremely dusty road going down that could be followed until it ended on a road, or so I thought. Wide open views up of the valley made it easy to get our bearings.
Construction equipment, and cars, driving in both directions occasionally threw up clouds of gritty dust. Down, down, down until legs shook like leaves. Off the mega-dusty road onto a steep, straw-covered ski trail being prepared for winter that at least had some give to it.
Close to collapse with occasional rests in the grass when we couldn’t take another step, the outskirts of Saalbach were visible. Down at the bottom, we discovered that, duh, the Bernkogelbahn was still under construction.
The anticipated, short, two-hour hike took over 5 hours with a 2,000+ meter/6,000′ ascent and descent, over six miles; not what either of us wanted to do on a day’s hike. Sore and totally depleted, one of us (him) is not happy with the other (me); who knows if we’ll ever walk again . One of us is going to read the topographic maps a little more carefully for the rest of the trip.
The free bus took us back to Hinterglemm where we wobbled to the room, barely making it into a hot bath with so-so schnecken as a reward for surviving. Oy vey….