Even on the lower paths the views were still wonderful - especially this view of the Kaiserbirge bathed in the late afternoon sun.
Our feet were still not tired but we were bemused by the walking signs in this area which kept saying 1.5 hours walking time to Ellmau even after we'd been walking in their direction for another 30 mins. Must have been a detour somewhere!
Higher up on the path to the Walleralm the views of the snow-capped mountains were even better. Another path detoured off in the opposite direction about this point - a 6km walk downhill in the direction of Kufstein on the Wilder Kaiser Steig. This Wilder Kaiser Steig is a long distance hiking route across the Wilder Kaiser range., totaling some 35 km long and runs from kufstein to Kirchdorf near St Johann in Tirol. We would pick up this path higher up a bit later on but in the opposite direction.
The path back to Ellmau from the Jagerwirt Hut was an easy meandering tarmac path now - this was still a good hours walk back to base. The scenery around us was still bathed in sunshine and we enjoyed the view across to the Kitzbuhler Horn a few kilometres further down the valley from our Ellmau base. We arrived back at our hotel just in time for a quick wash and down for dinner. Well we were certainly ready for it and we really enjoyed for our full day hike. I hope you've enjoyed this story of the hike - its almost taken as long to write as the hike itself!
Well we evetually got to the end of this section of the Wilder kaiser path to reach another fine alpine pasture - the Steiner Hochalm. If we had started this hike from the pilgrim chapel back down near the Hintersteinersee it would take about an hour to reach here - so you could do a much shorter hike if wanted.
Needless to say the hut here - a very simple affair - was closed and no stamp was available for my walking booklet :-( It was early season and the cattle were still on the lower pastures for now.
This is more or less the hike we did - with a few detours. A walk from Scheffau up to the lake (883m) took an hour itself before you start this circular tour. We walked along the lake up to Walleralm (1171m) and high above along the lake to Steiner Hochalm (1257m) but instead of returning back down we carried on along the high alpine pastures and eventually down to valley level and back to our resort of Ellmau - hence a lot longer than the 5 hours just for this circular tour. With the next few tips I'd like to show you the various sections of the hike and give you an idea of the terrain involved.
The Jagerwirt hut has a stunning setting on the paths between Scheffau and Ellmau. Unfortunately for me it was another hut not open in the early season. Two men (presumably the owners)were sitting outside having a meal and responded in the negative to my requst for the stamp for my book - well i'm glad I got my walking medal on my previous visit!
We followed the path a bit further from the Steiner Hochalm before we started our reluctant descent in the direction of the jagerwirt hut and eventually Ellmau. There was a bus from Scheffau but we knew we would not reach it in time. Besides the late afternoon sun was still gloriously warm and refreshed from our short picnic we were surprisingly not tired. The light was just perfect on the mountains and with views this this (looking back up to Steiner Hochalm) the tedious tree-rooted path was soon forgotten.
From Steiner Hochalm there are several path to choose from. Paths descend from the hut here back to Scheffau. A bit further on but higher up still is the Kaiser Hochalm. This was only some 30 mins away but the time was now 5pm and we had to start our way back to base. It was in this high area that we suddenly spotted some chamois. They had spottted us to and were moving up to higher ground but not before we manged to quickly capture them on the digital zoom :-)
The view up at the Steiner Hochalm is tremendous. Just by the hut there was a mound in the meadow with a handily placed bench on it. Weclambered up to it and had some refeshments here drinking in the view as well as plenty of water. Make sure you carry plenty of water with you, especially in such warm weather.
The stretch of the Wilder Kaiser Steig from the Walleralm to Steiner Hochalm was supposed to take about 2 hours. This was one of the few times though where the signposted times were out for us - took us a good 30-40 mins extra. Its a fairly narrow path, clinging just underneath the rock of the Wildder Kaiser, undualating over tree roots and rocks - you really had to watch your feet to avoid twisted ankles here. This was probably the most tedious part of the hike but the ocassional views over the lake- especially towards the begining and end of the path (as in page intro pic) made it all worthwhile.
Well the path from the Walleralm started out well but it was a quite a steep rocky climb up to the Wilder Kaiser path. Fortunately it only took about 15-20 mins and I have to say it was better going up rather than down as we might have done it we'd kept to our original hike plan. We were rewarded with glimpses of the lake below us and the mountains of course.
Just by the Walleralm there is a short path up to a cross with a fine viewing point across the valley. Refreshed with our lunch we decided it was time to press on though - our path was in the opposite direction - a narrow path heading towards a hill back in the direction of the lake way below. Many alpine flowers were at this level - mainly the gentian violets with their trumpet-shaped petals.
Our eventually arrival at the Walleralm - the high mountain pastures - was timed perfectly for lunch. There are a few rustic huts in this area where you can get snacks and meals but we chose the Walleralm Hut itself at the far end of the path in this picture. Even though we had our packed lunches with us we decided to have some tasty goulash soup to go with it - it was delicious and the setting was fantaastic.
The path up from the end of the Hintersteinersee up to the Walleralm takes a good one hour but its not all uphill - thankfully!
The path is known as the Wirtschafsweg and the terrain is an easy wide path that slightly narrows towards the top. Look out for the viewpoints on some bends which afford fine views of the valley towards Kufstein and the mountain ranges there.
We took the short bus ride from Ellmau to Scheffau and started off up the hill towards the lake, I'd forgotten how long that stretch of road was :-S The original plan was to start the hike by this pretty pilgrimage chapel near the Hintersteinersee. The chapel is consecrated to the "Sacred Heart", and Saint Leonhard, patron saint of pets and prisoners.
The path started here to "Steiner Hochalm" - a steep one hour climb through the forest.
It had taken us a good 45 mins to get here and I was keen to see the lake again. That took another 20 mins by which time I was loathe to retrace my steps back UP to this little chapel, so we decided to do the hike in reverse :-)