(Previous post continued) Views from the top of Siplinger Kopf:
|I loved the look of those ridges, making it visible how millions of years ago the mountains were folding up.|
|These mountain daws were constantly flying about in the most acrobatic manner. They know that where there are people, there is food, and waited patiently to be thrown some bits. (Not from us, though.)|
After resting for a while, we started on the most challenging part of the entire hike, the descent. Already from our place on the grass near the top we had seen other hikers coming and going and knew more or less what to expect: a path so narrow that no two people can pass each other, along the top of a rocky ridge with sheer drops on both sides - hence the aptly named tour ("Gratwanderung" or balance act). One had to have a good head for heights and simply focus on that bit along the ridge, and there was no way I would have stopped to take a picture while navigating that ridge. It was made easier by its shortness, and the steep climb down behind the top was really a climb in that we needed both hands and feet to get down safely.
|This is not the "worst" bit, but it gives you an idea of what it was like.|
From there on, the path was much more comfortable again, meandering along the mountain ridge almost the whole length of the Balderschwang valley before starting to curve to the bottom of the valley just after the Stillberg Alpe.
|Looking back almost the whole length of Balderschwang valley|
Not long before reaching the hut, we had come across an elderly gentleman in the woods, holding a cloth bag and a knife. He was looking for mushrooms, and we exchanged a friendly greeting and a few words about the beauty of the area.
At the hut, we were not sure whether it was a private one or open for business; we saw a woman at one of the windows, and greeted her. She told us that it was only their own private place for weekends and holidays, but of course she would help us out with water or food in case of an emergency, and if we needed a rest, we could sit on the bench outside. We were fine and did not need anything from her, but it was nice chatting for a bit - the man in the woods was her husband, and they had come up this weekend explicitly for the mushrooms. If you look at the picture of the hut, you can see a trestle table with a wooden crate to the right of the building - this is where the mushrooms are sorted, cleaned and dried.
We were still relatively high up at that point, and from now on, going steeply downhill for what felt like hours. It was just as exhausting as the long stretch uphill at the beginning, and we were glad to reach the bottom of the valley and walk on a level road back to the hotel, where we arrived mid-afternoon.
It was another warm and sunny day, and once again we had coffee and cake on the terrace outside before heading to the spa. Dinner was welcome, too, and it was probably one of the earliest times during our stay that we retreated to our room.
It was definitely a hike I am not going to forget; I was glad I did it, and managed it rather well, but I am not keen on a repeat any time soon.