We were driving on the Felbertauern Strasse, a scenic alpine road in Austria known for its beautiful views and its tunnels, when the weather turned foggy and chilly. We stopped for a bit at a place called Rastplatz Elisabethsee to have a look around, and we were treated to these wonderful views of the mountains above, the Osttirol Alps, where a snowstorm had begun, even though it was still early autumn. The contrast between the greenery being covered by fresh snow and fog was so wonderful to see, and it was a reminder of how quickly the weather can turn at high altitudes. Enjoy the photographs!
During our stay in Matrei, we hiked to the top of one of the local mountains, which I believe is called Inner-Klaunzer Berg, and where you’ll find a mountain cabin/guesthouse caled Kals-Matreier Törl. The altitude is about 2200 meters, so it’s not something that will tax your body greatly, but it is something that you’ll notice and you may experience a headache, depending on how accustomed you are to high altitudes.
It was lovely to be up there. The air was so pure, and other than the whooshing of the mountain winds and the occasional cow bell, there were no other noises. It was a real treat to be away from the unwelcome cacophony of the world. I know some people prefer the noise of a big city, but I’d much rather be far away from all of it, as much as possible.
Here is a gallery of 87 photographs from that hike. Enjoy!
In Austria’s Hohe Tauern National Park you’ll also find Krimml Waterfalls (Krimmler Wasserfälle). This series of tiered waterfalls is Austria’s highest at 380 meters. The waterfall begins at the top of the Krimmler Ache valley and plunges downward in three stages. The upper stage has a drop of 140 metres, the middle of 100 metres, and the lowest a drop of 140 metres. The highest point of the waterfall is 1,470 metres above sea level. The Krimmler Ache is a glacial stream whose flow varies greatly with season. Its volumetric flow in June and July is 20,000 m³/h (about 5.28 million gallons per hour), while in February it is only 500 m³/h (about 0.13 million gallons per hour). The greatest measured flow was on 25 August 1987, when it was 600,000 m³/h, or almost 160 million gallons per hour. That must have been a real sight!
We visited the waterfall in mid-September 2008, when the flow was still generous, but I’m sure the falls are even more spectacular in the months of June and July. Of course, that’s when you’ll have to put up with the summer heat and the most amount of tourists, so just know what you’re getting into. About 400,000 people visit the falls annually, and that means it can get crowded at times.
I took a lot of photos. I loved the different shapes formed by the water as it fell down those tall drops, shapes that could only be seen with high shutter speeds. I also had an ND filter and tripod with me, and that meant I could take long exposures of the waterfall and the river, where the shapes are completely different and everything turns out silky smooth. So you’ll see both kinds of photos, sometimes of the same scene, side-by-side: a high speed photograph and a long exposure, to show the difference.
There is a gravel-paved walkway that winds its way to the top of the waterfall. It takes a little over an hour to get there, depending on how busy it is that day. The forest is beautiful on the way up, with lots of evergreens and shrubs. The misty spray of the waterfall creates ideal growth condition for hundreds of mosses, lichens and ferns, which you’ll see in the photos. That fine mist hangs in the air and you’ll get to see it in most of the photos I’ve taken there; it looks like camera noise, but they’re actually tiny little drops floating in the air and reflecting sunlight, making it seem as if the photos are noisy. Let me give you an example: this is Ligia, standing in front the waterfalls. All the little dots you see in front of her face and in the air around her are tiny drops of mist.