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The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music
by Dez Bartelt

Like the musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, I just want to bust out with one of my favorite songs; Climb Every Mountain as if I’m Julia Andrews runny over the hilltops in Austria. With the cold gray days of winter over and spring slowly awakening from its winter sleep, the first ray of sunshine comes out and a yearning for fresh warm air and the sweet smell of wild mountain top flowers is in my head.

I arrive in the picturesque village of Mayrhofen; a small village at the base of the Zillertal Alps in south Tyrol. I’m greeted with lovely green valleys, churning streams, orderly waterfalls cascading from the mountain tops, and clean crisp air. The air is so sharp that it stings my nose and inhaling gives me a wonderful boost of energy. It’s a veritable treasure trove of picturesque alpine huts, welcoming traditional guesthouses, magnificent hiking and biking trails, and an abundance of climbing routes. It’s like a candy shop of choices for adventure junkies. I don’t know where to begin, but there are plenty of choices. After checking in to my hotel, wait hotel is not the right word- my enchanting chalet, I feel the need to explore some before for I have dinner.

I gradually stroll through the small village of Mayrhofen taking in its small village charm. It’s a complete story book to look at. Local children must learn to plant window-boxes for every house is strewn with geraniums. In any direction you look, the view will be one of riotous color. I truly feel I’m in a story book -this scenery canapostrophet be faulted. I see I’m not the only one out for a stroll as I pass what looks to be some of the locals of the village all trussed up in the typical flavor of checked pinafore dresses, lederhosen, felt hats with feathers, men in long shorts, lace-up boots, neckerchiefs, braces and leather sandals. Oh my goodness, I really am in The Sound of Music, especially when you spot - honestly - high on a hill, a lonely goat herder. Have I wandered on to a movie set?

Overcome with this postcard town and its fairy tale looks, I feel it’s time for a refreshing favorite of wheat beer back on the terrace of my mountain inn The days are longer now and I have plenty of time to enjoy the view and relax before dinner. As I’m enjoying the lowering of the sun, I remember they have a spa and maybe a spa before dinner would be nice. Get the kinks out from the long drive. With the idea planted, I’m off to investigate. I head off down the corridor in the lower levels of the lodge in search of the steam room. Ha-ha mission accomplished! I swing open the door and wow yeah wow, wait-holly molly it’s a Nude zone. Not expecting this, I want to scream- Did you forget your swimsuits? I hurriedly close the door as fast as I opened it and am now in a state of shock. No offense, but are you kidding me? Maybe if there had been a 6 foot Austrian guy with a body to kill it may of changed my mind, but I was exposed to both men and women of the average age of 60 and let me tell you gravity has taken its toll! Now I’m not prudish but having to strip off even a bikini top and sit, exposed, in a steam room with nude strangers was to traumatic. I think I’ll pass on the spa. Maybe a good dinner will help my shock. If not I will try a hot poker in my eyes to burn the image away. I know just the thing- a typically Austrian dish of bauernbratl with braised pork, beef, potatoes and dumplings in delicious rich gravy all cooked in a huge skillet over an open fire. With this and a few beers, I relax and enjoy the warmth of the atmosphere of my surroundings as my spa experience starts to fade. I feel I can return to a normal life.

The next morning I awake and have a fresh look on life. I head out for my first hike and instead of doing the extreme alpine thing and start my hike from the bottom of the mountain, I enjoy a relaxing ride towards the snowline in a cable car and take in the view. The view is clear and gorgeous with patchwork hills with wooden chalets. I honestly sense the energy flowing. It truly is a harmonious blend of unspoiled natural scenery. I immediately realize why I came here and reasons to come back. I find a spot and take a seat relaxing in the sun and soak in the tranquility and serenity. I spot Austrian red squirrels sitting on bolder eating on something. But I feel a need to do nothing. He looked like he was working hard enough for the both of us. But doing nothing was not on the itinerary so up I go to look for something to climb. I make my way further up the mountain and spot some bizarre rock formations with steep rock faces. Pure excitement, but I don’t have any climbing gear on me so I’ll have to settle for a little bouldering. I traverse an exposed section of the back face and climb up through a large crack making it just under the overhang of the summit and come face to face with another climber. He’s all roped up and clipped in with tones of quick draws and I’m in shorts and hiking boots with no gear in sight. We both give a knowing smile. He continues the rest of the way up and I head down in search of more routes and adventures. After my trip to Austria I realize I must return with Best of Both Adventures for Women and show my adventure girls this remarkable place and all the extraordinary things it has to offer.