Today dawned chilly and rainy, and, looking out the window, it appeared that someone had stolen all of the neighboring mountain peaks during the night — only the ridge opposite us, the closest one, was still fully visible through the mist.
Hiking didn’t seem like the right choice for today, given the weather, so we climbed into the car instead for some “car hiking” on and around the mountains near where we’re staying.
We first started choosing turns at random, and found ourselves on the Trattberg mountain, climbing up a winding, switchback filled road. We would have been treated to some great views as we climbed up to about 5000 feet of elevation, but as it was, the vistas in front of us were just mountain, edge, and then gray, mist-filled nothingness. When it started to snow, we turned around and headed back down the hill. It wasn’t much snow, but at nearly 1 mile up, in a rented car without winter tires, it was enough to send us back down to the valleys.
We journeyed back, past our hotel, and down into the valley in search of something to eat. We found a snack and fixed a blown fuse in the car, all in the town where Silent Night was written — pretty cool. And then we continued exploring.
We investigated Gasteig, a teeny town pressed right up against the sheer mountain face. And, long after we ran out of roads recognized by our GPS, we found ourselves staring up at some massive mountains only about 2 miles from the German border (but a significant portion of that straight up).
We wandered further down the valley to cute Golling, and back through the winding streets beyond, lured by signs for a waterfall. When we finally arrived, B had fallen asleep, so Liam and I hiked through the woods to see the beautiful waterfall. The path was steep, rocky and slippery in the rain, but we didn’t have any trouble until it was time to head back. Liam didn’t want to go back — he kept trying to clamber further up the hill, and attempted to convince me several times to go “That way!” even though “that way” was up the mountain or across a swift river. We made it back to the car, wet and tired but happy, and then drove home to dry off and enjoy a relaxing amend to the afternoon.
Dan went out later to pick up pizza for dinner, and came back with a report of falling snow. We’d seen little bits of spitting snow earlier, and that was what I imagined . . . until the thunder started. We looked out across the balcony to see lightning crackling and heavy, wet snowflakes pouring down. The thunder rolled and echoed for long moments across the mountain ridges.
When Dan went to ask our hostess for some fresh milk for morning, she hiked out to the barn and brought us “milk with snow” (her words — extra impressive because she doesn’t really speak much English). (We didn’t realize we were sending her out into the snow to get it!)
The snow fell for a few hours. The two boys who live here (6 and 10) played enthusiastically in it as it fell. We went outside later to find roads, grass and cars lightly coated in wet slushy snow (B made some serious snowballs from the stuff). Our host poked his head out to tell say, “It’s wonderful!” as we played in the falling snow. We came back in to find the skylight in Liam’s room completely coated. (We’re not sure yet, but if this keeps up, we may have to rethink some of our travel plans for tomorrow.)
We could not have asked for a better day or a more wonderful experience here. I was so pleasantly surprised to see everyone here celebrate and enjoy the first snow of the season — here, where snow is so common that you might expect it to seem tedious or mundane. It was really special for us, too.