A fascination with the mountains is still fairly new for me. It’s something that has slowly developed during the last few years.
In the past I was always drawn to beaches and the ocean. I love the warmth of tropical climates, swimming in the sea and diving through the waves. I love the sand between my toes and the feeling of relaxation that comes with the sound of waves rolling onto the shore. I love looking out at the horizon and wondering what is on the other side.
In recent years though, I’ve spent more time exploring mountains than I have beaches. And the reason is the challenge they represent. Exploring mountains is scary, exciting and demanding.
Last summer, North Wales was the location for hiking and adventures with day trips to Snowdonia.
This summer, it’s the Tirol region in Austria. Tirol is nestled in the Alps and is a nature playground for hikers and climbers. Hikes range from easy to difficult and vary between a couple of hours in length to several days. With so many options it can be difficult to choose but there is one gem that has become a new addition to the wish list.
The Eagle Walk is 1,400km in total, reaches an elevation of 87,000m and takes hikers across the length of the Tirol region and beyond. The walk is split up into stages and can be enjoyed as separate day hikes, or over several days or weeks with overnight stops at mountain huts along the way. It’s a big challenge, involves careful planning and plenty of research, and it gets the adrenaline pumping.
In 2012, I spent three days hiking in the Sapa region of Vietnam, staying at a different homestay each night and sampling rural Vietnamese culture. Back then, I was completely unprepared with poor footwear and a ‘waterproof’ jacket that was definitely not designed for Vietnamese downpours. I spent the entire trip trekking in wet clothes, but the sense of achievement could not be dampened by soggy feet and the experience kick started a passion for hiking.
Fast forward to 2016.
I’m older, wiser (hopefully) and educated on the importance of planning and research. This summer will start with smaller hikes in the Wilder Kaiser, a stunning mountain range in the Eastern Alps. The plan is to get a feel for the mountains and the terrain before working up to bigger, longer trips.
My heart will always be with tropical beaches but they will have to wait a little longer. There are mountains to conquer right now.
Facts and figures from tyrol.com