|Useful hiker's map of the Zillertal area - our grand walk seems insignificant, |
up in the top right hand corner, starting from the blue reservoir and heading
towards the corner
Funny things, holiday photographs - if you look through them as soon as you get home you see lots of stuff that is familiar because you have seen it very recently - it's basically just more of the same, and the tendency is to judge a photo by the quality of the composition (or something); a lot of them can get ditched because they aren't significantly interesting. Fine - now go and look at some holiday photos you have kept from 5, 10, maybe 20 years ago. Apart from the fact that everyone looks so much younger (ouch!), the pictures will leap at you, and will bring back places and events and feelings and people which would otherwise have been forgotten. What I am trying to say, I think, is that the criteria by which we judge very recent pictures are likely to overlook the main reason why we store away pictures at all - to jog the memory. Stryker recently commented here that once upon a time he carefully excluded his schoolmates from his snapshots of a school visit to the Tower of London, and now rather wishes he hadn't - with the passage of the years, those long-gone faces would be more interesting than the cold old stones of the Tower. I think that is significant - something to keep in mind.
One of the events we recorded in our photos from last week was a major hill walk on Wednesday - major by our own standards, that is. It was a wonderful day's outing which I shall certainly never forget, and as a result of it I am pleased to consider that I have joined a select group of people - some of them rather famous people - who have walked over the Alps into Italy. No matter that my route was not especially historic, nor that the definition of Italy for my purposes is rather new-fangled (post-1918) - that's close enough for me to claim Hannibal and Napoleon as potential drinking buddies. Also, if my own march lacked a bit of classical authenticity, I can claim the distinction of being older, by quite a bit, than my distinguished predecessors at the time of making the journey. Better and better.
We started by taking the public bus up a spectacular toll-road to the reservoir at Schlegeis - right up at the southern end of the Zillertal, and then trekked up the valley to Pfitscher Joch and the border with South Tyrol, which - thanks to President Wilson's crayon alterations to the maps at Versailles - is now in Italy. That probably sounds pretty unspectacular, but for a family day out this is tough going. The walk is about 5.5 miles each way, the start is at about 1700 metres and you climb up to something over 2200 metres. The path is rocky and steep in places, the temperature on Wednesday was about 30 deg Celsius, without a cloud in the sky, and the air is thin, offering reduced oxygen and pretty trifling protection from the sun. The trees gradually disappear as you climb, and there was still plenty of ice up on the hillsides - even in a heatwave in August. This is serious boots and walking poles and plenty of sun-cream, and no messing about. We took about 2-and-a-half hours on the way up, and a fraction under 2 on the way down. Marvellous - unforgettable views and a real sense of achievement for humble hikers like us - my knees are still stiff now!
|The magical reservoir - what a place!|
|So off we go, climbing steadily...|
|...and the trees start to peter out, and it gets steeper...|
|...and more rugged...|
|...and steeper, and hotter...|
|...and we try not to think too much about the fact that the only way back |
is the way we have come...
|...and we drank about 2 bottles of water each - the stuff evaporates without trace...|
|...and eventually, with my Polar pulse-meter reading a steady 140+ because |
of climbing in the thin air...
|...we reached the border...|
|...courtesy of the Treaty of Versailles.|
|Here's a peek into Italy - I was interested to remember that Andreas Hofer and |
many of his Tirolean rebels of 1809 would technically have been Italians
in the modern world. I wonder how they would have felt about that!
|Here are some of Hofer's pals on the monument in Innsbruck - doing |
some serious skulking - it was a speciality.
|We also did a few trips on the excellent narrow-gauge railway which |
serves the Zillertal - it's efficient and it's cheap, though if you want to go
anywhere outside the valley you have to travel to Jenbach and get on to a
proper OBB train
|And we did some cycling along the valleys - I have put my son's chain back in place |
in some surprising locations, over the years.
|The Catholic church is everpresent - the inescapable social, as well as spiritual, |
core of the community. Here is the church of the little village of Hippach - this
was the weekend of the Ascension.
The rest is simply a series of things which amused me:
|Not sure what this is (anyone remember Harry Worth on British TV?) - it seems |
to be a very compact device for coming and going around town.
|A warning of the potential dangers of walking on the river|
|...and of possible drastic measures for unathorised parking at the shoe shop.|
|Here's an attractive sight for those who like their knackers smoked...|
|...but a street sign from the Old Town in Innsbruck reminds us of the need to avoid overindulgence.|