“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”
These words, spoken famously by wilderness pioneer John Muir, were particularly fitting as we made final preparations to head off through the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the John Muir Trail. At that time, we were mailing off resupply kits, packing bear canisters, reviewing wilderness first aid for snakebites, and spending weekends hiking up Las Vegas’ steepest paths.
Three years on, and so much has changed. We now live ten time zones from Las Vegas in a high-rise city apartment. We have new friends and routines, and still struggle to speak the local language well. I’m still working for myself, but Cory’s schedule and accessibility affords us the luxury to visit a myriad of interesting places.
Up until now, for the most part, those excursions have taken us to other European cities.
But, as Muir said, the mountains are calling, and I must go.
In less than a week, we will fly to Vienna, Austria, then make our way to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe. From there, we will begin trekking the Alpe Adria Trail, a 750-kilometer trail established in 2012 that runs through Austria, Slovenia, and Italy from the foot of Austria’s highest mountain to the Adriatic Sea.
This summer, we will hike 22 of the 43 stages — the portion of the trail that passes through Austria. Next summer we plan to hike the other 21 stages.
I am beside myself in anticipation for our departure.
It would be foolish to take off on a 240-mile hike without being aware of what awaits us in Austria, but the conditions are so much different this time around.
This trek feels so much simpler to plan than our JMT hike. Each day we’ll be going from accommodation to accommodation, and we’ll sleep in an actual bed each night. We don’t need to ration food, carry tents or fuel canisters and stoves, or exert energy after reaching the day’s destination preparing food and setting up camp. Though portions of the Alpe Adria will be challenging, we won’t be carrying as much weight, and we won’t ever be too far from help should we need it.
At one point on the JMT, we went 12 days without leaving the trail, bathing, or having fresh food. By the last day, we were down to one peanut butter packet and 12 gummy bears per person.
That will not be the case this summer. Not at all.
I love living in the city, but I can’t wait to reach Austria. I’m eager to escape the noise and people, the concrete and chaos. I look forward to valleys, peaks, waterfalls, and lakes. Lunches of cheese, bread, and wine served with serene and stunning overlooks. Is that cliche? I don’t care.
Because the mountains are calling. And we are definitely ready to go.