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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 27: Fusch to Wald

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Fusch was at nearly 1000m, so it was with a false coolness that we had a late start to our journey down towards Zell Am See. The road was smooth and there was a bike path. Rolling along on the bike path, however, we suddenly heard a "Hello!" It turned out to be the couple we had seen on Grossglockner highway the day before! They said they were on a 6 week trip, and that they got caught in the thunderstorm yesterday on the way down the mountain, and had to pitch their tent at the campground in Fusch in the rain. They seemed to be in good spirits, all things considered though.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

We parted ways at Zell Am See, where we looked for the Tauern Radweg which took quite a bit to find. Unlike in Switzerland, bike paths aren't always clearly signed in Austria, and there's no real rhyme or reason to them: we frequently ran into bike path signs long after the intersection where a sign should have been, with the path saying nothing other than "you're on the right path."
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Nevertheless, the bike path was pretty, meandering through fields and meadows, and only really occasionally following the Salzach, which was now a much smaller river than when we first encountered it in Salzburg. In fact, we would go past the origin of the Salzach tomorrow.

Our goal today was to make it to Wald, where we would stay at Gasthof Grubl, another "Jobst hotel", where the food was likely to be great and the prices affordable. Riding along the Salzach, we saw lots of people, many of whom looked like they were out on day rides, but were actually touring, having employed some sort of luggage service to ensure that they did not have to carry much. One particularly obvious couple were riding electric bikes with an assist. This limited their range to somewhere around 30 miles a day, but it also meant that they were zipping up hills at a speed that one could not believe from people who were clearly not avid cyclists... until one saw the giant battery pack mounted on the seat tube.

In Uttendorf we stopped for a supermarket lunch, and by the time we left the temperature was well into the 80s. We followed the bike path, and then in Stuhfelden it suddenly went unmarked. I tried to get back to the river by following a hiking trail, but the Austrians clearly meant business about hiking trails. Gates were placed every 100 meters to ensure that a cyclist would get annoyed by constantly having to lift his bike over the gate, and of course, the tandem could not do this more than a couple of times before turning back.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

We stayed on the main road for a while until we found the bike path again. The path was pretty, but also as exposed as the main road, and the climbs started to get pretty warm. Once in a while the path would make an excursion into the woods and everything would cool down again, but these were not happening soon enough. Eventually, the road made one final excursion, crossed a river, and then went right across the street from the tourist information center in Wald.

We asked at the information center if they could call Grubl and make a reservation for us, but they merely laughed and said, just show up. She's got room and we know she's open. In a rare case of GPS navigation failure, the Edge 705 thought that the hotel was actually in the valley. We backtracked after that failure on the instruction of a local, and went past the church and started climbing up the Old Gerlos Road, which at a 14% grade for 2km in the sun was not a lot of fun. At least there was a confirmation sign telling us that the B&B was just 2km ahead. As we ground up the 14% grade in the afternoon heat, Lisa said, "I've decided that I don't like Jobst hotels." "Why not? Rosenlaui was a Jobst hotel!" "They're always halfway up steep grades!" "But the food is fantastic!" "I don't care. I don't like Jobst hotels." Finally, I saw a sign that said "Hotel Grubl, 400m ahead." 200m later, however, I saw a giant vehicle towing a tractor come down the road. Well, I wasn't going to get in his way, so I pulled into a driveway while it went past. I could see Grubl 100m up ahead, and did not feel like getting started again on the 14% grade, so got off the bike and pushed it up there, the only time we would do so for the entire trip.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Mrs Kaiser greeted us, and showed us our room on the top floor, with beautiful views of the valley below. Lisa complained that we should have stayed down in Wald so she could visit the mineral baths, but neither she nor I were going to ride down there to take a bath and then ride back up here, especially in the heat. The dinner here was great: Mrs Kaiser made a wonderful Lamm Schnitzerl, but Lisa was not happy with her vegetarian meal, which was essentially a salad, so we ordered a Kaiserschmarm afterwards for an additional meal. As we ate, a thunderstorm rolled in and out, granting us beautiful rainbows outside our window.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Fatigue set in at this point, as we contemplated the rest of the trip. Neither of us had any heart to do any more hard climbing after this, and fortunately it looked like we could mosey along the Inn River and then climb back into Germany over Ursprung pass (836m). We decided that we could use an extra day in Munich to visit my old friends at the Google office, as well as spend some time in Schliersee, since it was supposed to have good hiking.


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