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Hiking with six kids through the Austrian Alps

29 September 2023

Do you think that kids don’t like to hike? Because it’s “boooooring”? Well, think again! If the scenery is adventurous and the vibe is on point, they just love it. They might even be walking faster and be more enthusiastic than you. Not quite convinced yet? Read along! 

I am a hiking enthusiast and fond of mountains. So you can imagine that doing a hut tour is just about the best vacation ever for me. Taking my kids along is the icing on the cake. I shared this long-held wish with a friend over two years ago. One thing led to another, and so two years ago, we left with four moms and seven boys for five hiking days through the French Alps in the Vanoise. That was so incredibly fantastic that we decided to do another trek. 

So last summer, we were ready with, this time, only three moms and six boys for a hiking adventure through the Stubaital in Austria. We filled our backpacks with one set of hiking clothes, a nice warm and light fleece, a picnic for a few days, a sleeping bag or liner, good hiking boots and off we went!

Hiking in Stubaital

After one night at the youth hostel in Innsbruck, we headed for Neustift. We scheduled five nights in huts and six hiking days. On the first day, we climbed almost 1000 meters to the Nürnberger Hütte. That was a tough start, but with a little patience, perseverance and pep talks, we managed and would continue to manage.

Day 2 along the Freiger See and almost to the Italian border goes a lot smoother. We fully enjoy the mountains, our natural playground for a week, where we recharge, slow down and unwind. It is wonderful to be completely out of this world for a few days and not have to think about anything but eating, sleeping and hiking. Life can be so simple.

After two nights in the Nürnberger Hütte, we lift our heavy backpack again and climb over the Niederl ridge. Again, a tough and also fairly technical path. Yes, this is adventure baby! Not simple, but therefore so much fun. 

Once we reach the summit, sweaty from head to toe but above all proud, we have our final destination for that day in sight: Sulzenau Hütte. Before we get there, we stop at two lakes. The last one, Lake Grunau, is overwhelmingly beautiful. So bright blue, in the palm of those mighty giants. A true delight! The path afterwards, up to the hut, is also otherworldly. Phenomenal. I invariably lag behind because I take so many pictures.

At the hut, things go as usual: catch our breath, take a shower, join the table and eat what's on the hikers' menu, play a joyful card game all together and then go to bed early. This time, there are nine of us in one room. Quite cosy!

Unexpected twist

On Day 4, the pace in the group is far apart. My youngest son can barely keep up. Fatigue strikes. I try to distract him with conversations about class, soccer and expensive cars, and I succeed. The smile and the strength in his legs come back slowly but surely.

Still, combined with a sick person in the group, buckling knees and worn soles, this caused us to decide the following day to shorten our tour by one day. Instead of six days, we will hike five days. Very unfortunate, but it is more important to listen to our bodies and take care of the group. Shortening unexpectedly was also possible because the last hut was located next to a gondola ski elevator that could take us to the valley. 

And so, suddenly, we were back in Innsbruck. Despite the beauty of the city, that hurt. I really missed the mountains and the simple life up there right away. Mountain lovers know what I mean. To the others, I have only one message: give it a try. 

Hiking in the mountains, and especially with children, is cursing and sweating, but also pushing boundaries and being proud of your accomplishment. It is suffering, but also stepping out of your comfort zone and growing. It's exercising patience and going the extra mile, but also having an unforgettable adventure. It is memorable. Just do it!

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