Alpe-Adria Trail Stage 2: Tiny Towns


Alpe-Adria Trail Stage 2

Starting point: Heiligenblut, Austria
Ending point: Döllach, Austria
Stage distance: 11.75 km / 7.3 mi
Total distance: 25.74 km / 15.99 mi
Stage time: 3 hours, 47 minutes
Average pace: 19:20 min / km

Water millLeaving stage one with a good night’s rest and sore thighs from those steep stage one declines, we left Heiligenblut for higher pastures. Our trail wound back and forth as we climbed out of the valley, and we spent most of the day with a bird’s-eye view.

Wispy clouds passed by here and there. The warm, muggy air signaled an afternoon rain shower before it hit.

One of the things I find most curious as we move from paved road to packed path to pilgrimage trail is how often we cross private land. Occasionally we dip down into a driveway, wander through a backyard, or have to open gates to pass through. Today, we even walked beneath two barns. Along the way, the Alpe-Adria Trail is well marked.

We don’t see many people as we walk.

This morning, we passed a farmer with his grandson on a tractor. Another old man wished us a good day while he worked in his barn. Yet another said hello as he read a book on his back porch. We saw two people out bailing hay. A dog barked at us as we refilled water bottles at a working mill — one of the eight mills in the tiny town of Apriach. Blink and you miss it.

I adore wandering through these little hill towns with foot paths criss-crossing across the hillsides. I wonder how people get their mail. Are there ever neighborly conflicts? How long have these homes been passed down through the family?

It’s so quiet, incredibly peaceful, and stunningly beautiful.

Stage two was a short one. The rain shower we expected in the morning held off until we were only an hour outside of Döllach. We’ve learned a few things in our hiking days: Pack a rain jacket and bag cover. Don’t leave home without hiking poles.

And always take the time to slow down … even if it means you get a bit wet. 

Austria mountain town

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