Enchanted forest of earth holes, grottos and boulders

"When we were children we climbed trees, played hide-and-seek behind the huge boulders, filled our bellies in the blueberry paradise and dreamed of soft moss," Erika recalls. "Later I turned my back on Tauferberg. I wanted to aim higher and go further away. Preferably something exotic. When I did go to Tauferberg - to collect mushrooms and berries, for example - I just followed the path, barely noticing the surroundings. It was just there, existing, but not important. Later, when I needed a break from work, I found some places off the marked paths and without any people, but never in the Tauferberg Area."

Erika Falkner
About Erika Falkner-Gigon

Marital status: married, three children
Activity: innkeeper
Volunteer activities/hobbies: nature enthusiast, reading, looking after my children's animals, traveling with my husband

About favorite place

Starting point: car park, hamlet of Lehen (football field)
Walking time, both ways: 2 ½ – 3 hours
Difficulty level: easy
Difference in altitude approx. 200 m

Enchanted forest of earth holes, grottos and boulders

The wall drops vertically from Hoher Stein ridge - a true Dorado for daring climbers! If you don't want to climb up by using rope and hooks or even completely free-handed, you can take the ladder that leads up to the huge boulders. It's really worth it as the level summit of the giant block rewards with awe-inspiring views of Längenfeld's wide open valley basin.

Hoher Stein is the largest of all rocks covered with moss and trees, that are scattered in the Tauferberg Area. Almost 10,000 years ago, huge masses of rock thundered into Ötztal in the course of the Köfels rockslide and were piled up on the opposite side of the valley. This is how Niederthai's high Alpine plateau and its ridge - Tauferberg Area - came into being. A magical forest brimming with holes in the ground, grottos and granite boulders as high as a house.

Ready for total silence

A cryptic place, inescapable for Erika: "But over the years my needs somehow changed. The speedy mountain conquests were a thing of the past - too little stamina. After a quite exhausting phase of life, I needed air to breathe again and had to regain my strength. Then I rediscovered Tauferberg in all its facets. Of course it started with chanterelles that grow in abundance in some places. But there was so much more. The first and last green of the year, boulders, lichens, bird life, deer, fog and winter hikes."

Most of the time Erika goes to "her mountain" alone. Only her mixed breed dog Lucky Loup is walking next to her. Today there are three of us, ready for total silence. After just 20 meters, the outside world is swallowed up by the natural sound absorption of the deep green forest. Another hundred meters further we are part of the forest ourselves.

 

Completely relaxed after half an hour

All senses are on stand-by. We speak more and more softly and listen to the rustling of the wind, the creaking of the trees - we become mindful. Suddenly we see everything through a magnifying glass. Zooming in a woodpecker pounding his way into a tree trunk. Deeply inhaling the wonderful scent of moss and mold, resin and wood, leaves and berries. "Nowhere you are as receptive to it as in the forest," Erika says. "If I walk through Tauferberg Area alone for half an hour, it's like meditation. Calmly and peacefully, you are really centered. Deeply relaxed."

Erika discovered the healing power of the forest long before terms such as "forest wellness" and "forest bathing" were declared a trend. Before studies showed that the "terpenes" messenger substances, which are emitted by the trees, have a positive effect on the human immune system and the psyche.

 

You go in and you will come out changed

Even in less good weather, Tauferberg Area has something mystical for Erika - or especially then. When it rains the trees protect you, they are so close together that they form a green roof made of leaves and needles. "It never gets monotonous here," says Erika. "Behind every corner there is a different perspective while attention is drawn to something new. There are no straight, uniform paths in the Tauferberg Area, on which thoughts often turn like in a mill. Even if I only have an hour, I can relax at Tauferberg." At the heart of this enchanted jungle that is completely left to nature. Where trees and bushes grow naturally and rot naturally. Where bridges are formed by rocks and fallen tree trunks.

"There are certainly only few places in the world where you can discover so much in such a small space - also in your inner self. It inspires so many people of all ages. For me, Tauferberg Area is a magical mountain. You go in and you will come out changed."

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