Alpe-Adria Trail Stage 22
Starting point: Baumgartnerhöhe, Austria
Ending point: Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
Stage distance: 21.75 km / 13.5 mi
Total distance: 373.55 km / 232.04 mi
Stage time: 6 hours, 54 minutes
Average pace: 19:04 min / km
The weather forecast promised clear skies by 10:00 a.m., but we hiked all of the Alpe-Adria Trail’s stage 22 under gray skies and cool wind. Slovenia’s Julian Alps are jagged and rugged, much more imposing than anything in Austria, and the weather matched their sinister nature.
In theory, stage 22 was a Point A to Point B walk — the final stage of the Alpe-Adria Trail in Carinthia, Austria, into Slovenia. From there, it hops back and forth between Slovenia and Italy on its way to the Adriatic Sea for the final 21 stages. But it was much more than Point A to Point B for us.
Stage 22 didn’t have points of interest along the way like other stages did. Stage 22 was the point of interest.
We walked for several hours along the ridge line, straddling the two countries. It was surreal to look to the right and see Austria’s lakes and valleys, and then look to the left at overwhelming — almost menacing — peaks dominating the landscape in Slovenia. The trail was narrow and, in some places, no wider than a meter before plunging down either side.
We met very few people on the trail today. And, perhaps it was the lack of people, stark landscape, or gloomy weather, but something about the trail made it feel a bit lonely and far from anywhere. It was rough in places, with loose sand and rock, which made for a tricky descent. But climbing up and coming down into Kranjska Gora, we followed streams, which is always enjoyable.
Despite the relatively long day, before we knew it, we had walked into town, and stage 22 — and our epic summer hike — came to an end.
It will take some time to digest the full experience. Our bodies are tired, and we’re looking forward to finally letting them rest. I don’t know if we’ll walk the rest of the trail next summer; that’s a decision for another day.
But for now, we’re very proud of our accomplishment.
And I’m glad we decided to spend our summer taking a walk on the wild side.