The “Early Bird“

Even for me, who loves to get up early, it is very early when the alarm clock rings at half past three. But what wouldn't you do for a dreamlike sunrise? At 4 am we set off in the direction of Grossarl. Passing St. Johann, we reach our starting point for today's tour of the Heukareck in about 30 minutes.My husband (a passionate hiker) and I have chosen the ascent from the Himmelsknoten car park (Grossarl) via the Niggeltalalm. The tour is only suitable for experienced hikers, as you have to cover around 900 metres in altitude. The Heukareck can also be hiked from Schwarzach via the Tennalmen. From here, however, it is a very steep climb.

We hike the first part through a short stretch of forest, the air so early in the morning is simply wonderful. After about 30 minutes we reach the Niggeltalalm. Here we listen to the deer that are already in rutting season. When you hear the deer you know it is autumn. A beautiful water wheel, which used to be used for churning butter, can be found by the little stream in front of the hut. Here we will treat ourselves to an alpine breakfast on the way down. I am already looking forward to the delicacies served here. From the Niggltalalm we continue on a beautiful alpine path. After about 40 minutes we reach the end of the valley basin, from here the area of the chamois and marmots begins. By now it is getting lighter. We discover some chamois in the exposed terrain. It is really amazing how these fabulous animals move in the terrain.
We have to hurry a little, hopefully the fog will clear and we will be rewarded with a fantastic sunrise. The trail makes a slight right turn and we march on between some, larger boulders between the Schober and the Höllwand. After a few more metres in altitude, we reach the field of mountain pine bushes. Shortly before the Heukareck is the Tennköpfl, we will make a detour here on the descent. From here it is about 20 minutes to the summit. The last metres are always the most strenuous. But we have made it and the sun comes out from behind the clouds. It's these moments that make it worth getting up early. Do you know that feeling of freedom when you stand on a summit and can just enjoy it? It is simply dreamlike.
We enjoy the fantastic panoramic view of the Salzach valley while sipping a schnapps at the summit. It's impossible to list all the peaks you can see from the Heukareck: from the Grossglockner to the Grosses Wiesbachhorn, the Tennengebirge, the Dachstein, the Bischofsmütze and many more. Here you can choose the summit for your next hiking tour. As it is a bit nippy, we decide to make our way back. On the way down we dare to make a detour to the Tennköpfl. There is a great view from here as well. After about 2 hours we reach the Niggeltalalm, now we have really earned some refreshment. Now it's only a 30-minute walk back to the starting point, the Himmelsknoten car park. What a great start to the day and the best thing: it's only 9.30 am. :)
Planning is the most important thing for your "sunrise tour", prepare all your equipment the day before, so you can set off early in the morning. What to pack for your Heukareck hike:
  • Walking boots
  • Walking trousers
  • Functional shirt
  • Warm jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Walking socks
  • Walking poles
  • Walking rucksack
  • First aid kit
  • Charged mobile phone
  • Binoculars
  • Drinking bottle or hydration system (at least 1.5 litres)
  • Energy bar, chocolate, glucose, nuts
  • Hip flask for the summit schnapps
  • Good mood
photo credits: Melanie Moser