Hiking in the Alps

I’ve spent the past few days staying with friends in the city of Innsbruck, Austria.  It’s a stunning city, located in a wide valley in the middle of the Tirol Provence.  Unfortunately… my first couple of days were rainy.  Most of yesterday was spent enjoying the city center–sitting in cafes and wandering into beautiful Baroque churches.  I knew there were mountains (after all, I’ve been here before!), but couldn’t actually see anything.  That is… until today.

This morning, I had the opportunity to go hiking with my friend Anna and her mother.  Thankfully, I’ve been traveling in a pair of heavy-duty boots and was well prepared for the climb.

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View from the end of our hike

We made the windy path up into a steep gorge and made our way along the wooden steps built into the stone walls.  Below us, a river plunged through the steep terrain, resulting in an endless stream of waterfalls.

Eventually, we reached the top of the gorge and emerged into a wider valley.  Before us, perched atop an outcropping of rocks, stood an old church.  It seemed to grow out of the stone, blending perfectly with the surroundings.  Behind it was the sharp, stunning face of a mountain peak.

We took a wide, winding path up to the old church.  There’s now a cafe in the building, so we sat on the terrace and sipped soda while eating a traditional Austrian cheese dish.  (I’m terrible with names, so sadly don’t remember what it was called.)  From our dining spot, we had an excellent view of the entire valley.

I’m always thankful for the opportunity to get outside and into nature.  It was a beautiful day: the sun was shining, leaves were just starting to appear on the trees, and the birds were singing.  It was quiet on the trail–we only crossed path with a few fellow hikers.  We frequently stopped to take photos, but spent a great deal of the hike in silence, soaking in the majesty of the Alps.

I’m going to miss Innsbruck.  It’s been wonderful beyond words, staying with friends.  I feel more at home here than I have since leaving L’Abri so many weeks ago.  After home cooked meals, the privacy of my own room, baths in the evening, and hours of laughing with dear friends, returning to hostels, strangers, and journeying alone will be hard.  Plus… the Alps have a special place in my heart and I’m always sorry to leave them behind.

Nevertheless, Vienna is calling.  There are grand palaces and galleries that must be seen and I am determined to see as many as I can.

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Anna and I near the end of our hike.

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