Hello, Friends and Family!
I have just completed what I, in a bold move, am calling the “Oberstdorf Eight.” This is because I have basically walked a huge loop through the eastern Alps and then walked a straight line down the middle of it, thereby creating a sort of figure eight. I must say, this last section of trail from Trieste to Oberstdorf via the Red Trail has been very enjoyable and included several highlights.
I left Trieste, or more specifically Muggia, in a frankly terrible mood. I ended up spending an extra €100 on shoes because the Italian post office failed to deliver my package on time, I was unable to get a place to stay and ended up on the streets, but after much work, I at last ended up on the trail and made some new friends at one of the huts where I spent a few hours visiting and enjoying their hospitality.
From this point, I began a very pleasant journey northwards through Slovenia. While the trail wasn’t always quality tread and often followed a forest road, it was also well-marked and very unique. From Muggia, it leads up onto the Karst, a limestone plateau that is very unique. This results in the formation of many dolines and caves, including the Skocanski Jama caves, a UNESCO site due to the fact that it has been a center for geological research. The trail also led me through several cultural highlights including Predjama Castle, the site of a famous robber baron knight. At one point, the Emperor made the order to have him arrested, so a siege was laid in front of his castle. However, the castle is high up in an overhanging rock ledge behind which is an extensive series of caves, all of which were well-stocked with supplies, so the siege accomplished nothing. IN the end, he fell to the treachery of one of his servants. This stage through Slovenia ended in the spectacular Triglav National Park, in my opinion, the gem of the Julian Alps. It was strange to walk back to where I started my journey, especially because the snow had melted completely.
From Slovenia, I headed up to the Carnic ridge, that is, the mountains that form the northern border between Italy and Austria. This area has been the site of much dispute, particularly during WWI, and remnants of that conflict are scattered all along the ridge–old bunkers, trenches, and so forth. However, in modern times, this has given rise to what is now called, “The Path of Peace.” I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this 150 km stretch of trail is really world-class hiking. It is well-marked, filled with stunning scenery, and generally apart from the modern world with just enough huts to service a weary hiker. Here, I must make special mention of Silianer Hütte, the final hut on this fantastic trail. I entered the hut with just a few euros to spend, and asked for a bowl of soup. The kind folks at the hut responded by giving me soup, bread, schnapps, beer, a hot shower, and a place to stay–all of this in a hut system that has charged me for using the bathroom. Their kindness was really amazing.
The Carnic trail ends at the northeastern corner of the Dolomites where I was able to visit the symbol of those famous mountains, Tre Cime. That night, due to several wrong turns, I ended up hiking very late, but I enjoyed running across the green meadows of the Dolomites under gathering clouds until at last reaching a hut where I took shelter for the evening. From there, I headed up into the area around Innsbruck where I was able to enjoy views of some of the most famous climbing routes in Europe. As I left that area, I was pleasantly surprised to meet some other backpackers who were preparing for their PCT thru hike the following year! We camped together that night, and they made me dinner and shared a bottle of wine over some very pleasant conversation.
The last few days have seen me basically cruise back up towards Bavaria through the Allgauer Alps where, at long last, I finally completed the Oberstdorf Eight and am set on enjoying the luxury of a good meal before finding myself a bridge to sleep under. This town is far too expensive for a thru-hiker to enjoy, however pleasant a town it may be. So, I am currently roughly halfway through my alpine journey and about one third of the way through the Red Trail. My next destination, Monaco, is still very far away, so don’t be surprised if my next post is late in coming!
Thanks for reading!
Daniel “Cloudwalker” Liu
P.S. Sorry, but I am once again forced to use an Internet Cafe that seems to hate my memory stick, so there are no pictures here. Please look forward to a detailed slideshow at the end of my journey.