Rofan Mountains - Hike with the unexpected

Early summer, with the whole team from work, I went for a hike in the Rofan Mountains, Austrian Tirol. It has several moderated hike paths all the way to the summit and has a gorgeous view on the beautiful Achensee Lake. It was full of excitement for me as I had never been there before, well, none of us had.

Hiking, scenery, beers, and friends, what more one could possibly ask for?

Oh yeah alright, shoot some photos as well, if I’m lucky. But who will take 10 kg camera gears on a hike? Seriously. It was like hearing the restless me whisper in my ears: take your gears, no matter how much you don’t want to, take your gears damn it! Ok, I did….

The plan

We planed a two days trip: get there; hike to the mountain hut and enjoy the breathtaking view; have some beers and stay at the hut overnight; chill out around the next day; head down and go back home. Good plan, isn’t it?

The reality

The weather was everything else than we dreamed of when we arrived at the parking lot down the hill: wind, rain, flat skies… I already checked the weather forecast the day before, the rain was supposed to stop when we arrive but… I seriously thought for a second to head back home and forget about all this. But come on, we were in the mountains, no expectation right? Especially the weather.

5:30 pm., rain jacket on, with no hope of any worthy sightseeing, we started our ascent: distance 5km, elevation 800m. We have to get to the mountain hut before sunset at 9 pm. Sounds easy peasy, all good, for now.

From Maurach, there is literally only one road to get up. After about a few hundred meters, cross a very slippery water stream, the real hiking path begins. It is well marked and maintained, just a bit steep over some parts. Things get tricky with the rain and wet tree roots, they are all over the place! You can easily hurt yourself if step on it.

The wetty rooty path

Enjoy the downside, too

Around 6 pm., walking in the misty forest, the atmosphere was so peaceful and relaxing. The forest has a whole different look under the rain. We were the only ones over there, getting wet and still having fun. Throw everything else out of your mind, just listen to the flowing water and your own breath. That’s the best part of going out in such a weather.

The rain eventually stopped after more than 2 hours hike. The path led us out of the forest, to an open space where we believe is a ski slope in winter-time. Green grass coated with water drops, we could almost smell the freshness.

Open space path heading up

8:30 pm., half hour to sunset, we were still on the way uphill. We were so tired, skies are getting dark, only last few hundred meters left, but it was like taking forever. At the point we thought we were about to give up, the cloud suddenly broke out, a ray of sunlight cast on the Ebner Spitz in front of us, totally unexpected. My breath was taken by the stunning view, it was absolutely magic.

Symmetric Ebner | 35mm | iso320 | f8 | 1/40s

The more I look at it, the more it looks like a painting. Vibrant color, interesting subject, perfect composition, there is definitely a picture to be taken, I was telling myself. So, I took 2. :)

In the blink of an eye, the sun was gone. Like those beautiful moments in life, short but persistent. Before we completely gave up, we had to move on, again.

Meet the unexpected

8:50 pm, after more than 3 hours hike, we were finally there, Erfurter Hütte, our final destination of the day. It sits on the edge of an open platform, with a terrace facing the Achensee Lake down the hill. With just 10 mins to sunset, I honestly didn’t expect anything. But I couldn’t resist the view when I actually saw it, despite my fatigue and hunger.

Break Through | 127mm | iso200 | f8 | 1/40s

I could not describe what I saw, I just love it, the atmosphere, the color, a such peaceful moment. It was totally worth it, every step, every cross, every pause and go.

Achensee Caught On Fire | 24mm | iso800 | f8 | 1/40s

Fortunately the kitchen was still open, beer and food were waiting, I joined the rest of the group on a table, time to relax and enjoy the beer (we brought our own case of beer >_<).

After a long refreshing hangout under the stars, I went to bed at 1 am. with plenty of excitement. Just about 4 and half hours to sunrise.