Sometime in the early spring, I went with a group of my school mates to hike up Gaisberg. To us, it was a mountain, but to the Austrians it was surely little more than a glorified hill compared to the mountains that stand out so sharply in the skyline. It stands about 4,226 ft and seemed a popular spot for paragliding. I was probably far too out of shape to do this hike. As I was overweight, my asthma was worse then than it is now. This was the first thing I had climbed where the landscape actually changed into SNOW halfway up. I managed to stick with my friends for a little bit, but quickly fell behind. I told them to keep going without me, but didn't turn back. I was determined to do this, on my own if I had to, no matter what. It was a hard trek, I won't lie. While a lot of the details are fuzzy from nearly 5 years ago, I remember a lot about how breathtaking the scenery was. I remember being passed up by old Austrians with white hair and walking sticks, and thinking of what a great quality of life these people must live. I remember the ground slowly turning into snow and ice, and how hard it was to see the trail and get traction-- I was wearing terrible shoes that looked like hiking boots, but were clearly either not well fitting or more for fashion than climbing.
I reached the top and felt more accomplished than I had in awhile. The view of Salzburg and Austria stretching out before me was gorgeous, the mountains in the distance, the paragliders jumping off the edge one by one. I really do think that what had always been a fascination from afar with hiking had become something else entirely.
Here is my original blog entry for this hike when I wrote it on April 8th, 2006: Livejournal Entry for Gaisberg 2006