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Between trail running and back carrier

A family sports weekend in Gurgl

I really can't remember it, but my mum told me we were on vacation in Gurgl a long time ago. My daughter is now almost two years old. Probably she will not actively remember it and yet she also had a weekend full of fabulous adventures.

When we registered for the Glacier Trail Tun, the three of us decided to conquer the mountains of Gurgl. Cooling off a bit on truly hot summer days is good for everyone and at an altitude of 1900 m above sea level it will definitely not be 35 degrees. On a Friday, we traveled through the valleys of Inntal and Ötztal up to Ötztal’s rear end in Gurgl.

We checked in at our hotel at a pleasant 24 degrees. The view of the mountains, how long have I waited for it. Mountains are simply good for your soul. Since the weather forecast was not that good as the weekend progressed, we wanted to take full advantage of the good weather and went straight to pick up my start number: we wanted to explore the Stone Pine Forest. Unfortunately, my memory failed me and we soon realized that it was very difficult to make progress with an all-terrain stroller. Therefore, we preferred to sit down on one of the countless benches offering fabulous views of distant Ramolhaus high above Gurgler Ache brooklet, and enjoyed both the panorama and the sun. Heidi loved it too, there was so much to discover. Stone pines just look different than the trees at home and the entire area looks like an enchanted fairytale forest.

Time passed very quickly. In the evening we cooked in the kitchen of our apartment and went to bed quite early. The pleasant cool temperature finally let us take a deep breath and sleep soundly.

View to Gurgl in summer
Zirben trail sign
Stroller at the Zirben trail in Gurgl
Explore the Zirben trail, child

Saturday started very early for me. While my ladies could sleep late and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, I stumbled out the door with my backpack and camera at around six o'clock in the morning. The 42 km race started at seven o'clock and I wanted to take some pictures on the lake plateau above Obergurgl. In about 1.5 hours, I mastered steep 700 altitude meters on a small hiking trail leading up to lake Soomsee at 2600 m. It is called “lake plateau” because the area boasts several small Alpine lakes. The sun rose further and further behind the snow-capped Alpine peaks and I felt the warmth on my face. However, the wind cooled me down, so it was comfortable despite the exertion.

Landscape, Mountains, Gurgl

The panorama with a view of Ötztal up to the edge towards South Tyrol with myriad glaciers was really awe-inspiring. I still had time until the runners came, so I sat down to enjoy it. Sheep and marmots all around me, from below I heard the cow bells clinging. Almost too kitschy to be true.

When the first runners came, I took some pictures and walked along the route to Küppelehütte. A wonderful hiking trail through herds of sheep with a view of the mountains and steeply down into the valley. With loads of photos taken I walked back to my holiday apartment through lush meadows and past blooming Alpine rose fields.

Glacier Trail Run, Man, View, Mountains
Trail running in Gurgl, 2 People, Panoramic view at the mountains
Trailrun Gurgl, Lake

Basically, this loop hike (approx. 14 km and 800 altitude meters) is easy, except for the physically challenging high altitude, and has only a few slightly exposed spots. It is ideal for a splendid panoramic hike.

Then I went to bed again. It was already eleven o'clock and only three hours until I started the 10 km Glacier Trail Run. The heat of the past week had dropped my training to almost zero and the morning hike was quite exhausting for me. Nevertheless, I confidently stood at the start at 2.00 pm and we were sent out on the track punctually to the cheering and clapping of many spectators. 10 kilometers peppered with 750 altitude meters had to be conquered. From Obergurgl through the Stone Pine Forest up to Schönwieshütte, further on to Hohe Mut and back into the valley on the ski slopes. Actually, a nice loop hiking tour - but this time it was a run.

However, the sun and my challenging morning program did not make it easier and I had to shift down two gears early on. Completely dehydrated, I passed the first refreshment station and was able to get hold of some iso before starting the steep and sometimes slippery climb to Hohe Mut.

I wanted to make it and the view of the upper valley and the glaciers almost compensated some of the cramps that dragged my body.

Trail running in Gurgl, Panoramic view at the mountains
View from Hohe Mut, sheeps

Thanks to the Summer Card, my ladies could take the mountain gondola and I was really happy to see them. But after a short hello and moaning, I went steeply downhill on the ski slopes for the last three kilometers to reach the finish area. It was a true struggle because of the cramps. I felt the non-training all over my body. I was so happy to have reached the finish line after more than two hours. The fact that the winner only needed 51 minutes just caused a shake of the head. At least I knew that despite the painful whining, I could enjoy the view.

The evening included only food, body care and sitting. The day was hard, long and extremely beautiful.

We could have got stuck in a traffic jam on Sunday, but decided to take advantage of the Summer Card for a short hike. We took the mountain gondola up to Hohe Mut and enjoyed the fabulous view again. On the large playground with an easy “climbing garden”, sandpit and swing, Heidi loved to play for the first time at over 2600 m. And in the meantime, we adults could inhale the soothing mountain world and air.

The wind got stronger and the mountain lift had to stop operating. But we enjoyed ourselves in the summit restaurant. Sitting outside with a cup of coffee and a shandy, we watched the clouds go by. The winter garden was a cozy place to linger until the gondola started operating again.

To get some exercise and let Heidi sleep, we got off at the middle station and walked through the Stone Pine Forest. Swiss stone pine smells delicious and we could perceive this smell a little. An easy and beautiful hike. A little more strenuous if you walk from the valley to the middle station, easier if you hike from the middle station of Hohe Mut Gondola in the direction of Zirbenalm. Quaint Zirbenalm mountain hut was our destination, we watched the climbers on the via ferrata over a typical Tirolean groestl and cheese spaetzle. A true highlight of the weekend before heading home.

Hohe Mut, View, Child
Mountains, View to Gurgl
On the way to Zirbenalm
Bench, Zirben landscape

Gurgl offers something for all ages and preferences. Be it climbing, hiking or trail running, you can have a really great time here in summer. Due to its high Alpine altitude at 1900 m, it is pleasantly cool even in summer and the fresh mountain air lets you breathe deeply - we'll be back for sure!

(Images: © Robert Kampczyk)

Robert Kampczyk

Guest Author Robert Kampczyk

Robert loves the mountains. And because he doesn't live there, he travels there as often as possible.

In his podcast and blog "VitaminBerge.de" he deals with great mountain love and invites interesting mountain people to talk.

He is also an UltraTrail Runner.