Statistics: mileage 12.4 miles ascent 1785′ descent 4478′ 7 1/2 hours
Steinerhaus served a delicious breakfast and packed us a generous bag lunch to eat on the trail. To reach today’s trail we had to backtrack about 1.5 miles over gnarly roots and rough meadows.
We were about to enter one of the most intriguing sections of the trek, the Notgasse, an ancient trading and smuggling route dating back to pre-Middle Ages. Salt was traded to Italy and wine, metal and coal were traded to Austria. The Notgasse is a deep gorge, 60 meters (almost 200 feet) at the deepest and less than a meter (3+ feet) at the narrowest point.
There are over 500 petroglyphs left throughout the ages, some representing names and dates, some appeared to be a type of counting method (possibly one man’s way of counting his trips?) and various figures.
As we emerged from the damp, slippery gorge we came upon colorful wildflowers along the way.
Nearing the Viehberghalm we crossed through what looked like a lush meadow. Approaching the middle of this area, we realized that we weren’t walking on grass, but on thick layers of moss growing on a pond’s surface. We spread out and walked as quickly as possible to avoid breaking through the moss and submerging. Having avoided that disaster, we arrived at Viehbergalm, which looked like a pleasant place to stop for refreshment. We had our huge lunch that had been provided by Steinerhaus this morning, so did not need to stop. With a final view of the Dachstein far behind us, we continued on our way.
After lunch, we powered up a steep portion of the trail known as the Mühlech.
The top of the climb was the Hochmühlech which afforded a marvelous view!
The rest of the afternoon was a descent to our next refuge, the very picturesque Steinitizenalm, situated in a lovely meadow. The buildings were adorned with flowers and had an inviting area to sit and have a cool drink.
After dinner we sampled different flavors of schnops with the other guests, a group of German mountain bikers. And to add a little more decadence, the girls who were cooking dinner made us a special regional dessert, a donut filled with apricots and sprinkled with powdered sugar.