“How to call to the forest…”
…. takes on a whole new meaning when you’re alone in the middle of it. Because here we don’t call… we listen. And somewhere between the hammering woodpeckers, the rushing rivers and the trees cracking in the wind, we find these incredible stories that no one has ever told us before. Stories that don’t need any words to catch us. Stories that you can’t just write down, but simply have to experience for yourself.
In July 2019, 18 young people from all over Austria set out to discover a small part of the native wilderness of our country. Together with the biologist and wilderness guide Bernd Pfleger they spent four days in the Styrian seclusion and learned what it means to follow the call of the wild…
. . . finally, Day X has arrived. And once again I am sitting in the train, torn out of my everyday life and this incredible feeling overcomes me when an idea gradually embeds itself in reality. I still remember very well, when half a year ago I sat with Flo and Judith in Scharnstein and we talked about this day. We were in the process of founding the Youth Wilderness Ambassadors, building our foundation and setting goals. We didn’t have any budget or a big plan. But we had a romantic vision of that one moment when a randomly assembled group of people would get off the trains and become a group that had never existed before.
So when we arrived in Liezen on July 22nd from all over the country, our first route led us to the next supermarket, where we stocked up for the next days. And that was also the first big challenge. What is a healthy balance between simple food and light luggage? After all, we have to carry everything we need for 19 people over 1000 meters on our back. Regionally it should be and vegan – or at least vegetarian. What happens if we do not take enough into account? Will we find something in nature that will enrich our diet? How big is the appetite of this pack? How exhausting will the next few days be?
Less than an hour and three shopping carts later we had divided the provisions among ourselves and started our journey to Weißenbach. At the starting point of our hike it was time to get to know each other a little. At least the names would be good to know, because somebody has to be cursed for this hammering ascent…because admittedly we too might have underestimated the tour a little bit. Together with luggage and food, 1200 altitude meters in scorching heat can feel like a trail run up the Großglockner. But somehow we all survived it more than well and were even more happy to reach our accommodation after 5 hours. And I swear to you – every single drop of sweat more than paid off. After it slowly began to dawn, we spent the first evening eating our delicious meal at the campfire and planning the next days. Of course the obligatory campfire stories were not to be missed…
The next days were filled with a pleasant mixture of exploring the area, storming peaks, reading tracks, solosits, sneaking exercises, stories of adventures alone in the wilderness and ribbons tied between us. And every evening, of course, a campfire, which we lit without the help of a lighter (ok, “we” might not be quite right now – but theoretically we know how it works in any case). While some of us spent the nights outside under the incredible starry sky, most of us preferred to snuggle up in the mattress camp.
I have to say, meanwhile the Liezener Hütte has a very special place in my heart and, when I think about it, it is also the most beautiful place I have been to in 2019. Because there, where the jagged peaks of the Tote Gebirge Mountains merge seamlessly into the sparkling Milky Way, where the black grouse hides between the Swiss stone pines and mountain pines and there is nothing but you and what you brought with you, there I felt really free for the first time in a while.
Freedom begins somewhere in the head and for me it means to consciously let go of what gives me security. It means to have no everyday life and to choose a new adventure every day. It means sitting around a campfire in the evening and telling stories from another life. For me Freedom also means to push my limits and to grow beyond myself with every summit. To be one and not just to observe nature, but to experience it. All this doesn’t just happen…but always starts with the first step.
Even if the whole trip may not have been too wild and survival-heavy, the nature around us definitely was. And in these four days she invited us to experience it with all our senses. And in my eyes it could not have been more beautiful and honest.
In any case, I am not writing all this now to tell you what a great time we had (well, maybe a little 😉 ). But I want to tell you much more about what a great nature is surrounding us! With steep gorges, high waterfalls, rugged peaks, lush alpine meadows, rustic huts, modest isolation, warm people, wild animals and living forests. Of course I knew this somehow anyway, but I have rarely experienced it so intensively. Above all, however, I have once again been made aware of how fragile and worthy of protection our nature is, how much we have distanced ourselves from it, what it can teach us and that you don’t have to travel far to lose yourself in it.
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All Photos: © Ariane Wrumnig