Amusing stories from the past
Experiences from the huts at the foot of the Wilder and Zahmer Kaiser
No road, no train and no airport: Until 2008, 307 steps separated the Kaisertal from the “outside world”. Can you live there? Yes, in fact very well! These amusing stories from the past confirm it. Friendly hosts at the seven alms still provide hikers with large portions of local humour and other Tyrolean specialities. Lisi Schwaiger is a retired hiking guide, and knows the Kaisertal like the back of her hand. This includes the associated anecdotes. From beer-drinking “Goaßn” (goat) to hosts who hid their guests’ hiking boots...
Away from the mainstream
Kufstein has about 18,000, compared to the Kaisertal with between 30 and 50. We’re talking about the population. And it’s quite manageable in the charming valley between the Zahmer and Wilder Kaiser. “Everybody knows everybody, and there are no limits to their willingness to help. Still, until 2008 the valley could only be reached via 307 steps. That’s when the connecting tunnel was built, though it can only be used by residents”, explains Lisi Schwaiger. This is a good thing. Cars would be out of place in the fascinating alm landscape at the foot of the rugged Kaiser Mountains.
And because it’s so nice there, plenty of hikers come to the Kaisertal. Countless routes wind up toward the peaks. “All tours start from the car park at the Kaisertalaufstieg. A good family tour is the hike to the Antonius chapel, or for experienced mountaineer the three-hour tour to Hinterbärenbad is worthwhile”, reveals Lisi. There are countless Kaisertal insider stories, which Lisi tells us about with a wide grin on her face: “Things used to be different...”
The host who didn’t want to let go
“Waiter, the bill please”. When a guest asks to pay, the host usually appears in a few minutes with their wallet. Not in the Kaisertal. Or more specifically at the Alpengasthof Pfandlhof. “When the old host of the Pfandlhof was in a good mood and his guests wanted to leave the alm, things were just getting started as far as he was concerned. He poured out a round of schnapps, so that they forgot their intention to leave. And if that didn’t help, he simply locked the door. Then there was simply no escaping for his guests”, laughs Lisi Schwaiger.
The tall tale teller
There’s no sin on the alm. And there were a number of Alpine dairy farmers who liked to tell groups of hikers tall tales that they’d made up. One herdsman enticed them into the stables with fresh buttermilk, before telling them the following tall tale: “Last September we were totally snowed in up here. I had to cook dumplings for my cows every day, so that they made it through.” And according to Lisi Schwaiger, he told it with such a straight face that the guests even believed him.
The chicken hypnotist
Chickens? Hypnotised? Why? “Because it looks hilarious when the chickens lie on the ground on their backs and don’t move”, grins Lisi and continues: “For 13 years there has been a dairy farmer in the Kaisertal who is in close contact with his chickens. When a hiker passes his alm, he practices a trick with his feathered friends. He hypnotises them until they lie stiff on the meadow. It’s an attraction for the passing hikers, who have most certainly never seen anything like it in their life. “Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt the chickens, and they can’t injure themselves in the process”, adds Lisi laughing.
Bread for the cows
Cows eat fresh grass and concentrated feed. But there’s one person in the Kaisertal who treats his cows to a piece of bread. It works like this: “When the cows are grazing in the meadows he calls them each by name – and every animal knows exactly when to come. They come at a leisurely pace, but aren’t willing to set a foot inside their barn before they get a piece of bread. The dairy farmer taught them that way. It doesn’t do them any harm...” Lisi announces.
When hiking boots disappear overnight...
Hinterbärenbad is well known for adventurous climbing tours. Mountaineers and climbers regularly stay at the hut of the same name. But – as is the case in the high mountains – the weather isn’t always right for Alpine excursions. And who can forecast the weather better than the hut host himself? “The previous host was very talkative, and always had plenty of tips and tricks for his guests. But there was one thing he couldn’t stand. When hikers or climbers simply didn’t pay attention to his weather forecast, and planned on going out the next day despite his warnings of a weather change. Sometimes there was suddenly only one shoe instead of two in the entryway. The other one disappeared overnight. While the guests were, of course, initially angry, at the latest after the first thunderstorm or rain shower that anger changed to thankfulness”, says Lisi, who has a suggestion: “You should listen to the locals, it’s almost like they can feel a change in the weather coming in their bones!”
A beer for the “Goaß” (goat) please
Yes, you read that right. It’s not only the hosts in the Kaisertal drink a beer for a nightcap. “There was a dairy farmer who sat in the field with his goat every evening, and they both drank a beer before going to sleep. Even just thinking about it makes you laugh. But it’s really a true story”, claims Lisi. And who knows, maybe the mixed beer drink “Goaß”, which is made from wheat beer and cola, got its name from that?
Sleeping hosts on the alm
The former owner of the Vorderkaiserfeldenhütte was famous for his funny stories and hospitality. He lost an eye in an accident, and had it replaced with a glass one. But in some situations this serious incident had some advantages: “When he was very tired, but didn’t want to leave his guests, he would sit at the table with them, support his healthy eye with an arm and listen to the hiker’s anecdotes. Or that’s what his guests thought anyway. After all, he couldn’t close his glass eye. This let him take a “powernap” in peace, without his guests – who probably weren’t completely sober by this point – having any idea”, Lisi reveals.