Hiking the Alps

Students in the Alps

During our trip to Germany over spring break in 2017, our group had the opportunity to visit Austria. We took a train from Munich into Kufstein early that Saturday morning. We walked to through the town to the trailhead of the Ebbs Kaisertal. We began our hike with a long stretch of steep stairs. The weather was great for the hike and we were pleasantly surprised as we were all prepared for rain. As we progressed up the mountainside, we passed several other hikers taking on the trails. One of the best parts of the hike was making it to the area shown in the photo below. Most of the trail was lined heavily with trees, but this spot was a clear view of the beautiful sights of the Alpine mountains lightly coated in snow. Needless to say, we all stopped for a photo opp. We then advanced a little further where there was a small chapel and a small lodge/restaurant to stop for some food. We had packed sandwich supplies and other snacks, so we sat and had a nice lunch break. Shortly after, we started the last leg of the hike and we came upon some snow. After another hour and several more pictures we made it to the Vorderkaiserfeldenhütte, where we found more kind travelers and an even better view of the mountains. We arrived there in the early afternoon and spent the next few hours hanging out in the hütte, playing some games, and relaxing. We also met a new friend, Laura. She was a 4-year-old girl who lives at the hütte with her parents who work there. We had a wonderful dinner and continued to chat and play games.

The next morning we had a traditional European breakfast at the hütte then hiked back down the mountain to Kufstein. It was a faster trip down, but I think we were all sorer from that part of the hike. We walked back to the train station, finding some ice cream and souvenirs along the way. We made our way back to Munich with sore legs and full hearts.

I learned so much from this part of the trip, about our group and about being a global citizen. Communication is such a special and interesting thing that we share as people. I also learned that communicating with one another doesn’t just happen with the words we speak. Language was as clear challenge we faced not just during our trip to Kufstein, but throughout the trip. However, that didn’t stop us from learning and enjoying our time in Germany. This was very evident through our interactions with some of the hütte staff and Laura. We spent a long time with Laura playing and chatting, even though we didn’t speak the same language. This helped me to remember to be more empathetic and open in future situations of communication with others from around the world that have different cultures and languages.

This was such an amazing experience; I would definitely recommend this type of trip to any UC student even considering it. We got to experience the beauty and challenge of hiking in the Alps and meet new people. This was just one highlight of a great 10-day trip. This is an ideal length of time to spend in a small area of a new place that is so rich in opportunity and culture. Being exposed to a new part of the world helped me to realize that there is so much left to experience. I hope others will take advantage to opportunities like this offered to them at UC. I can’t wait for my next adventure!

By Karina Cheek