Alpe-Adria Trail Stage 8
Starting point: Obervellach, Austria
Ending point: Pension Scheilflinger, Austria
Stage distance: 16.96 km / 10.53 mi
Total distance: 109.91 km / 68.29 mi
Stage time: 6 hours, 2 minutes
Average pace: 21:24 min / km
Alpe-Adria Trail Stage 9
Starting point: Pension Scheilflinger, Austria
Ending point: Hühnersberg, Austria
Stage distance: 20.14 km / 12.51 mi
Total distance: 130.79 km / 81.26 mi
Stage time: 5 hours, 27 minutes
Average pace: 16:17 min / km
Alpe-Adria Trail Stage 10
Starting point: Hühnersberg, Austria
Ending point: Gmünd, Austria
Stage distance: 14.4 km / 8.94 mi
Total distance: 145.19 km / 90.21 mi
Stage time: 3 hours, 28 minutes
Average pace: 14:46 min / km
Though we continue to wander through the Austrian mountains, each day is a bit different than the day before.
As we walk, Cory and I talk about what the point of the Alpe-Adria Trail is.a Trail tourism in general is a form of slow travel — a kind of travel where people stay in one place for a longer period of time rather than bouncing around, which helps disperse tourism money in smaller communities as well. It is also a type of travel that can help mitigate the increasingly common overtourism problem. On the busiest day of our hike so far, we encountered only seven other long-distance hikers. I’m making poor but meaningful small talk in German with our hosts every day. We can see our tourism dollars at work with this kind of travel.
As for the Alpe-Adria Trail specifically, I imagine this portion of the trail is meant to highlight different aspects of Austria’s Carinthian region, because every day seems to encompass a few notable and unique places and sites.
From the lovely, colorful town of Obervellach, we could see a massive stone trestle bridge across which the train passes. During stage eight, we worked our way into the hills and criss-crossed below this bridge several times. We ate lunch just beyond Falkstein Castle’s locked gates, but unfortunately the castle was closed for the day so we couldn’t walk the grounds.
During stage nine, our sun-soaked morning’s walk led us along the River Möll, where we passed folks out walking their dogs and I saw a fish ladder for the first time. Mid-way through the day, we climbed through the Barbarossa gorge, which was shorter than the gorges from stage seven but significantly narrower and still impressive.
And stage ten passed by a church known for its therapeutic waters that supposedly heal eyes. Ultimately, this stage ends in the artist village Gmünd, which has a number of galleries, three of its original four walls, and a medieval-style center street. We arrived just after noon and spent the afternoon at an art exhibit featuring works by Henri Matisse and popping in and out of working art studios. Stage ten really was about the terminus point.
Every day is a bit different. And I say a bit different, yet walking is still walking and one valley is similar in many ways to the next one.
This is why one of the things I do every day as we walk is notice the details.
Trail tourism is slow tourism in the economic sense but also in the literal sense. We are literally traveling at a slow pace. And at a slow pace, we have observed lots of intriguing things.
For example, climbing over a fence, we found a huge leaf covered in snails. In a pasture area, there were six different colored wildflowers in a very small area. On a logging road yesterday, we found a live baby snake in two small pieces; we think perhaps a bird dropped it shortly before we passed through. We passed a farm with two ostriches, and a home with three kittens climbing the fence.
Homes are meticulously detailed, and people take great care of their yards with a wide variety of colorful flowers and lots of gnome lawn ornaments. Natural spring fountains are found along on the trail, often with creatively carved spigots. The crickets are particularly big; there are very, very few mosquitoes.
Maybe these things are slightly boring in isolation, but so often we — and by “we,” I mean “I” — speed through life, forgetting to take note of the details. The sites along the Alpe-Adria Trail have certainly made this particular trail what it is, but it’s the details we’ve observed along the way that make each stage, each mile, each step a little more interesting.