Friday, July 22, 2016

More Incredible Views, The Trek Up the Mountain to the Ice Caves! Day 2, 5/27/16

Alex and I slept well after our first day in Europe! But we were up early and ready for a big day.  A really big day! First though, breakfast! Our hotel had a wonderful included full buffet breakfast, and when one is traveling with a 16 year old teen boy, this is very important! The selection included croissants, sausages, cheeses, eggs, meats, fruits, various pastries, hot and cold cereals and each day there were subtle changes just so you would have a bit of variety. It was a great way for us to start our mornings here in Salzburg!

After breakfast, we were ready for the tour Alex was most looking forward to and the one that I was probably the most apprehensive about. The Ice Caves in Werfen, Eisriesenwelt. While I truly wanted to go to the Ice Caves, this was a physical day, and based on everything I'd read about it, me not being in the most moderately decent physical condition, including having a hip problem, I wasn't sure that I should be, or could even do this walk, or hike or whatever it was without any preparation for it.  But hey, for Alex, I'd give it a shot. If it came to it, I would wait at the entrance of the cave while he went in.  I knew going what the logistics were, how bad could it be? And I love an adventure, I'd been to caves before, how hard could it really be? 

So, at 8:30 am we were picked up by our driver from Edelweiss Tours. There were three other people in our group. On our drive to the mountains, our driver told us a lot of history about Salzburg and many personal stories.  It definitely made the hour long drive go quite fast.  He was a very good guide. As we approached the mountain where the Ice Caves are, he gave us the rundown of how the day would work.  We would have approximately a 20 - 30 minute walk to the cable car, then the cable car would take us up another 1600 ft or so, and then we'd have another 20 more minutes to walk to the actual entrance, up...and up...and up.  It's a gradual incline on a stone walkway. Not bad. But you're already up at an altitude of 5000 ft, so yea. I'm so looking forward to this! And then, when we get to the entrance, there are just 700 steps in the cave to walk up and 700 steps to walk down. We'd all meet back here at the visitors center at our designated time. 




Eisreisenwelt is the name of the cave in Werfen. We were ready! We had our tickets, bottles of water, cameras and off we went!

Fair warning for this post, there are a huge amount of pictures here! So much about this day was taking in the scenery and around every turn it was just an other beautiful view. I just don't think that it's possible to capture the scale of the mountains, but hopefully you can get a little taste of just how we felt on this incredible day!

 

So this is what we were ready for. You can see, it would be cold in that cave!  0 degrees celsius! There would be 1400 steps in there!  No cameras...once we got in, I did understand why.  No, not to sell their books and postcards. Really, to prevent people from backing up on the steps and falling into the abyss! It's dark in there. It's narrow and really, your pictures wouldn't do it justice anyway! And then the trip up to the entrance is drawn on the map. We were at the bottom. We just had to get up to that picture of the ice up there at the middle of the mountain!

The air was so clean and crisp and the views were just stunning. So, at least we had a nice slow walk with plenty of picture stops!








It was so very green



And you'd look up and see the snowcapped mountains....




Eventually we'd be way up there!





At one point there is a tunnel cut into the mountain that can be used as a shortcut. So, I took the shortcut, Alex of course continued along the scenic route. He took the camera and pretty much kept it the rest of the walk up the mountain. I had my cell camera. He did a great job with the photos!

This is the exit of the tunnel





Me, waiting for Alex since the tunnel route was just slightly faster!  Just taking in the amazing views....and resting a bit!





These are some nice shots of the paths and the scenery together








A glimpse of the Hohenwerfen Castle....some tours offer a tour of this castle as an option for those in your group who don't want to make the trek up to the Ice Caves.







While this certainly isn't my favorite picture of myself, my face says it all....what am I saying?  "You have got to be kidding me, with every turn there is another turn and we just keep walking, where is the cable car, and do we seriously have another 20 minute uphill walk after this?" Yes, that is exactly what my face says here!




Another castle view




Oh, maybe we're almost to the cable car!



Whoo Hoo!!!  Only 3 minutes to ascend 500 meters or so! But hey, for the truly adventurous, there is apparently a trail that takes only approximately 90 minutes to hike, and it's not a paved trail like the one we've been taking. For those who are interested!









And here we are....sort of. Now we're in the home stretch!



Yea, we're way up there now!



We can't even begin to express just how much Alex and I absolutely loved these mountains....they were just breathtaking!



After disembarking the cable car, you can grab a snack at this nice little snack bar, or maybe save that for on your way back down the mountain.







Alex saw this path and had we not been on a mission to see the ice, I'm sure he would have been long gone down this trail!



Holy cow...do you see that hole in the mountain?  That's where we're heading. It might look close, but seriously, do you know how many switchbacks are between us and that hole? Too many!



Danger, Rockfall!  No worries here!





Almost there!






















And this, this I just don't even understand! This sign below indicates that on the "sidewalk 221" there are exposed cables and danger rockslides.  Ok...that is all good.  But then look at the pictures below where there are exposed cables.  Is this a sidewalk or a deathtrap!  Oh my! I sure hope no average tourist decides to walk on that path!








But back to our nice, safe walk, with railings!














And we made it!  We are at the entrance to the ice caves!!



Beautiful, just beautiful...



Now we got to sit and wait for our tour to begin....next up! Inside the cave!

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