During this tour you will have to bring yourself to take an ascent of arounf 1,500 ft. along a skiing slope. At some points it is a bit steep, but easily manageable. As soon as you have reached the upper end of the ski lift on a ridge called Tanne you will continue on a forest road comfortably downwards. The first part of the tour will offer great views of the Jochtal and Gänsbichl. Once you have reached Meransen you can enjoy panoramic views of the Dolomites with the Geisler group and the Pustertal. This is an ideal tour if you want to go for an easy walk. And you won’t have to renounce great views.
My second day in Vals starts with blue skies and bright sunshine. The storm and rain from the day before has been blown away. However the sumits surrounding the valley are covered with snow. I chose an easier tour for today. Mainly because I have an appointment for a massage at 6 p.m. and the next day I am planning to climb my first summit of 10,000 ft. Since I don’t know what to expect during that tour I want to save some power for this tour.
After breakfast I leave the hotel and start walking towards the end of the valley. Across from the Jochtal gondola is a ski lift bringing you to the Tanne in winter. During the summer it is closed. I have to cross a meadow and soon do reach the Lucknerhütte. This early in the morning it is still abandoned. Right behind this cabin there is a forest road mounting steeply uphill. The trail lies in the shade and it still is rather cool if not cold.
I am loosing my breath pretty quick which is due to the low temperatures, I assume. When it is cold it takes longer till you are getting warmed up. I am enjoying the crisp air and the great views of the surrounding mountains anyway. Since I am walking along the ski slopes I do have a great view into the valley at all times.
The struggle is worth the while. With every step I am coming closer to the summit the view of the snow capped mountains on the opposite side of the valley is getting more spectacular. I can now see the Jochtal where I was trying to hike yesterday. Since I am still walking in the shade the temperature rises very slowly.
About an hour later I reach the ridge called Tanne. This is where the ski lift ends. I come across a sign that tells me that the summit of the Gaisjoch is only about 2.5 hours away. For a short time I am tempted to take this trail. But I have an apointment at 6 p.m. and this could get tight. So I am enjoying a last view of the valley where Vals is lying in the sun before I cross the ridge and admire the view across the Altfaßtal on the other side.
The view to the south into the Dolomites is somewhat limited since high trees are blocking it. After a short break I start the descent. Along a shallow forest road the trail leads comfortably towards the valley. From now on the hike becomes more of a stroll. The signs are not very clear but there aren’t many options, so I do find my way without them.
Soon the effort of the ascent is forgotten and I am walking slowly through the forest. There aren’t many people around. I guess that most of the hikers have chosen sunnier trails. It could also be due to the fact that it is quite early in the morning. Just a short time after I do reach the Altfaßtal. There are a few trails leading through this valley. One of them leads to the Seefeldspitze which is still on my to do list but along another ascent.
I continue direction parking lot of the Altfaßtal. There I should come across a trail called Leitensteig which would bring me back to Vals. But this would mean that I would miss out Meransen. Once I have reached the parking lot I am looking in vain for the entry to that trail. So I continue on the forest road and soon after I am leaving the forest and have a great view of Meransen sitting on a high plateau above the Pustertal.
The most impressive thing is the spectacular view of the Dolomites to the south. Breathtaking. Finally I can enjoy some warming rays of sunshine. That feels so good.
Meransen is not really one village but a conglomeration of several settlements scattered over a terrace below the summit of the Gitschberg. This situation makes it warmer and sunnier here as in Vals which is sitting in a valley. If you have a northern wind blowing there its getting fresh real fast. And in Vals it is getting dark earlier since the sun vanishes early behind the mountains.
The first settlement I reach after passing the parking lot is called Außereggen. Here I am walking by the Hotel Bergidyll Tratterhof. The name idyllic fits perfectly. It looks very inviting and the view is just awesome. Very idyllic indeed.
I continue along a tar road which thankfully is not very crowded. I enjoy the warming sun and keep admiring the spectacular view of the Dolomite summits.
I see this beautiful cabin from the road. It fulfills about every cliché of the alps. But I am not sure if I would want to live in it. The small windows probably don’t let much light through. The road continues along green pastures. I still haven’t found something like a town center. But the situation of the village is really beautiful. The plateau does get a lot sun.
Shortly after I do come across something like a center with a church and a few restaurants. On the terrace of a cafè with a breathtaking view I sit down for a coffee and an apple strudel which is very tasty. It’s so warm now that I take off my jacket. A short stroll further down there is the church and behind it a lookout. From there I get a great view of the Gitschberg to the north, the Pustertal and the Dolomites. Nature and scenery can be so beautiful.
I still haven’t found the entrance to the Leitensteig. So I walk back uphill for a while. After a few minutes I see a sign showing the direction to Vals along a trail through the valley. So what. Then I will take this trail. I have to get back to Vals somehow. The entrance to this trail looks a bit like a blind alley, leading right into the shrubbery. Well let’s see where this trail will lead me.
Actually it leads through a dense fir forest. I did pass the shrubbery at the entrance real quick. In the woods I stumble over these mushrooms. They look like dying fly agarics. I can still see the characteristic white dots. Shortly after I come across fallen power poles and am wondering why they haven’t been brought up again. The power cable is lying openly on the trail. Pretty dangerous. A few feet further on I get the answer. Apparently a huge part of the mountain has been comming down in a slide not that long ago. This slide has brought down all the poles. At the edge of the slide I see this lupine still in bloom so late in the year.
At a farm house called Badwirt I reach the valley floor. This house has a very idyllic situation but looks abandoned. It’s not really well maintained. I have to walk along the main road leading to Vals for a bit and do pass a farm called Oberegger. They do have their own cheese shop selling homemade goat cheese. Sounds interesting. Unfortunately it is not easy to take home. I fear that my rental car would smell for weeks off these delights.
Just behind a bend the trail leads to a forest road into the woods away from the street. In the far I get a glimpse of the village center of Vals. It still is a bit of a walk before I get back to the hotel. Next to the road I see a huge sign showing a village of chalets. Looks very exclusive but cozy at the same time.
In the middle of the woods they have built 9 chalets which can be rented. The cabins are quite big and now that I have checked out their homepage I can assure you that they are. Some of them have their own sauna and whirlpool. Indulgence for people that are looking for a relaxing vacation. Not to be had for a bargain.
The trail leads along a creek through the shade of a forest. It’s getting cooler again here. There is a path that runs along this creek. It is very soft and brings you back to the road back to Vals. It rises comfortably into the valley. From time to time there are openings that offer views of the village. This way you have the goal in front of our eyes.
About half an hour later the trail brings you back to the main road while crossing green pastures. Just a few steps below the village you will reach the main road. The road gets a bit steeper on the last small stretch into the village. There is not much traffic and there is a broad sidewalk. So my first hike in this beautiful valley comes to an end.
Even when this hike was more of a stroll during most part of it, it was worth while to take it. Fresh, crisp mountain air and great panoramic views from Meransen.
Not to forget the tasty apple strudel. That was very yummy.
Before I have my appointment for the massage with wooden slats there is till time to spend some time in the wellness area. During the massage the masseuse is churning me with short wooden batons made of swiss stone pine. This massage takes effect deep into the muscles. Blockades and tensions are being declamped and your self healing powers will be activated.
Afterwards I feel like newly born. I’ll have to get this treatment more often.