Published: May 30th 2012May 30th 2012
Monstrous Alpine Hare on the Ascent
At first I thought is was a schnauzer.
Bad Gastein is a famous spa town in the Austrian Alps. But it is no ordinary spa since the water is naturally infused with high concentrations of radon. Many people come here for treatments specifically to absorb the radon into their bodies either by bathing or spending several hours in specially constructed caves breathing heavy doses of radon. Patients swear by it but I did not come here to expose myself to radioactive gases. Bad Gastein is only a little more than 1½ hours from Salzburg and right on the edge of Hohe Tauern National Park. I think the name means High Tower possibly referring to Großglockner mountain, Austria's highest peak at 3798 meters. I did not get nearly that high but I did hike to Graukogel at 2492 m. Accommodation and Food
I reserved 3 nights in the 6 person dorm at Euro Youth Hotel & Krone on hostelbookers.com for ~17€/night (plus 1.75€/night city tax) including a breakfast buffet. Imagine my surprise when I was upgraded to a single room at no extra cost. The hotel is very nice and right across from the train station which is important because the town is perched all along the valley walls
It's in that general direction but didn't look high enough. Hard to tell with the clouds.
so anyplace not in the immediate vicinity of the train station necessitates a steep walk downhill. There is a great restaurant in the hotel serving a menu of the day for 10.90€ which includes soup, entree, side, salad, and dessert. The food is excellent and the daily menu is a bargain for anywhere in Austria. The only other places I ate were the nearby kebab shop and the train station restaurant which serves really good pizzas for 6-8€. Many places are closed between ski and summer hiking seasons. Good, cheap coffee machines at the kebab shop and petrol station. Transport
Can walk everywhere in town although up to the train station from the center is stout. Many trains trundle through Bad Gastein and it's easy to connect anywhere. However, the road through town abruptly ends at the next town heading south but cars can be transported by train through a very long tunnel to Villach. There are also regular post buses to nearby towns. Graukogel
Might be a bit early for the summit as a lot of the trail on the upper reaches of the mountain is still covered in snow but it wasn't that bad. From Bad
Looking up at the summit from the false summit.
Gastein "uptown" head behind the Raffeisen bank towards Windischgrätzhöhe. There is another trail more easily accessed from down in the center. The way up the mountain is part logging road/mountain bike trail/snow cat track/ski run and exposed slope above Berghütte am Graukogel at the top of the chair lift. It took me 3:20 to get to the summit from the hotel including rest and contemplation breaks as I considered bailing more than once as the clouds began to form. Above the hut I met Czech couple who had a GPS. What kept me moving fast early on were the massive swarms of flies buzzing around my head for the first couple of hours until I got above the hut. The upside of the storm on the descent was that it kept the flies at bay. Descent was an hour and half not counting waiting out the rain under the hut balcony. Got totally soaked before that but it was a good workout.
There are more photos below