Have you ever hiked in Tyrol?

I have. So has this man. We were about 5 000 years apart, so we didn’t bump into one another. Sadly.

Oetzi

Oetzi (or Ötzi) the Iceman is probably the most famous mummy around, outside of Egypt. He lived during the Alpine Bronze Age, and was discovered in 1991 by two hikers in the mountains here, on the border between Austria and Italy. Examining Ötzi’s bone structure, researchers have determined he must have spent much of his time hiking in hilly terrain. This wasn’t typical of Europeans of that era, so it’s not unreasonable to assume he was a high-altitude shepherd.

Hiking in Oetztal: A heart-shaped little lake amidst tall snow-capped mountains in Oetztal, in the Austrian region of Tyrol.

Oetzi’s present home is the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. He was found just across the border, and is therefore deemed an Italian ‘citizen’, or, at least, Italian property. Oetzi, no doubt, walked these mountains completely disregarding future international borders.

Hiking in Tyrol

He may very well have strolled about in these particular hills, just like I did last summer. That thought continues to fascinate me. I had it much easier than he did, though. Oetzi climbed all the way. I took the cable car.

After a blogger conference in very agreeable Innsbruck, nine fellow bloggers and I were invited to retreat to nearby Oetztal to… well, retreat – and have a closer look at this enchanted valley. The Easy Hikers and I decided to forgo a bit of pampering at the fabulous Bergland, to instead check out the mountains above Sölden. The things I do for you, dear reader…

Hopping off the Bergbahn; I was tempted to run. Something about being cooped up in a small space makes me want to really stretch my legs. However, I’ve done that so many times now, I seem to finally have learnt the lesson: above 3 000 metres altitude, resist the temptation.


The landscape is harsh up here


A solitary hiker in a massive, jagged panorama.

A bit further down is Gaislachkoglmitte – the midpoint station, easier on the eyes, legs and lungs. Trails head off in different directions giving you numerous hiking options. We settled on a short, leisurely hike towards Hühnersteign.

Cocky cows

Three quarters of the way, we walked past cows and horses grazing lazily on the mountainside. It was a pleasant scene. All the more so for the sweet memories of my childhood stories. Heidi and Peter could easily have come running and laughing up the hill at any time.

I decided to investigate further, so our ways parted. The Easy Hikers continued along the trail, while I tried to get up close and personal with livestock. The horses were my goal, but I had little success as these beastly bovines wouldn’t let me pass. I was too intimidated to challenge their stares.

Hiking in Tyrol: Determined cows in Oetztal.

Heading back towards the Bergbahn, I ran into this much more peaceful girl. I sat down in the grass for a chat, but she ignored me completely. Cows and I, we just don’t seem to speak the same language. Wonder if Oetzi had better luck…

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Disclosure: I was in Ötztal as a guest of the Austrian Tourist Board. As ever, all opinions are mine, all mine.