Day 48, Saturday, October 12, 2019
We have a beautiful day for our drive on the Grossglockner High-Alpine Road located about an hour and a half south-west of Salzburg. We drive through many tunnels on the way to the beginning of this highway. There were several 2 and 2.5 km long tunnels. On the way home we drive through a 5.5 km long tunnel! The toll for the tunnel road is 12 euros! Soon we are in the mountains.
The Grossglockner High-Alpine Road has an altitude of 2,504 meters at the highest point and it is the highest surfaced mountain road in Austria. The 48 kilometre road has 36 hairpin curves and two side roads to spectacular vantage points. There is a 36 euro fee to drive this road. At one of the first stops along the road I find this water trough that reminds me of the one my grandfather made years ago. The views are amazing. We see a couple gathering something. When I ask them what they are picking they give me a handful of tiny tart cranberries to taste. The road winds steeply upwards. We are amazed at how fast we are climbing. We stop at what looks like a giant stone table and seats. A composite view showing the beginnings of fall colours. Looking far down to a deep valley. There is fresh snow up here. These devices point to and give the names of the mountain peaks.
There is a little museum with a great film about marmots and some of the other animals that live at these high elevations. Take a look at the Snowshoe Hair’s feet! There is also a display that lets you see what it feels like to be a small creature on a mountain hillside.These are a bit hard to see, but there are cyclists on this road, lots of them! Because we stop so often we pass the same bikers several times. They don’t stop and just keep climbing. I am in awe! We take one of the side roads to the very top of the mountain. If you look carefully you can make out the narrow steep road that winds back and forth to the top. Getting close to the top! The road continues up by that blue railing! The view from the top. See that road way down there? Here is a close up, that shows the road climbing again up into the snow covered pass. More hair pin turns on the way down from the viewpoint at the mountain top.
We stop at the parking lot at the bottom of the side road to the summit viewpoint… where we have our lunch in the sunshine. Here is the road just below our picnic spot.There is a big valley on our way to the snow covered pass…
and a giant marmot!This tunnel is at the top of the road. There are large chunks of ice forming on the inside of the tunnel, and some workmen busy breaking them off. This is a view of the road on other side of the tunnel. Before long we are back in the trees. These larch trees are starting to turn colour and glowed in the sun. We take the second side road up to the Pasterze Glacier. A jet stream makes it look like the mountain is smoking! We see some tunnel-like construction on the hillside but can’t figure out what they are, as there is no path to reach them. We then discover there is a tunnel that enables hikers to walk to the glacier. Those tunnel-like constructions we saw are viewpoints along the way.Here is our view from one of the viewpoints looking back to the glacier information centre. We only walk 500 metres into the tunnel. Walking back to the car we see these stairs that lead way down to the lake at the base of the glacier. The sun is starting to set as we start our drive home, which is still 2 1/2 hours away. The alpine highway is only 48 kms long but it took us five hours to go those 48 kms! We have never seen a hay ride like this going down a highway back home!