The Gerzkopf is a real natural gem and well-known beyond the borders of SalzburgerLand as the ‘Green Mountain’. Due to its unique flora and fauna, including the Gerzkopf moor and the mountain pine belt reaching up to the peak, the mountain was declared a European Nature Reserve in 2006 and is under a special nature preservation order. As one of the ‘7 most beautiful mountains in the Salzburger Sportwelt’, it’s a particularly popular destination for hiking tours, as it can only be reached on foot. The panorama from the peak compensates for all the effort and can easily be described as fantastic. So let’s go to the peak of the Gerzkopf …
Where’s that sound of a bell ringing coming from? Since I left my car around an hour ago at the Knappbauern Farm in Schattbachwinkel at 1,130 m and headed up towards the peak, I’ve kept on hearing it. At completely irregular intervals. Sometimes several times after another, then again 20 minutes quiet. Well, it’s not that important. It sounds lovely anyway. To start off with the path up to the Gerzkopf leads me gently uphill along a forest trail through thick, lovely shady forest. The gurgling of the stream was my initial companion and contributed greatly to the fact I’m in a good hiking mood. After the Rossbrand, the next of the ‘7 most beautiful peaks in the Salzburger Sportwelt’ is on the agenda and I’m looking forward to what’s awaiting me here. After about one kilometre I turned off onto a well-prepared hiking trail and since then I’ve been hiking along this unspoilt, yes almost fairy-tale like spruce forest. The 1,728 high Gerzkopf lies in the Fitztaler mountains and its peak counts amongst one of the Filzmoos energy spots. Due to its particularly rich flora and fauna it was declared a European Nature reserve in 2006. The ‘Green Mountain’ can be conquered from three sides – today I’ve chosen the tour from Eben. After about an hour I reach a turn-off and at the same time the ridge height. I turn off to the left and carry on cheerfully. The forest opens out and again the Dachstein, the Bischofsmütze and the Gosaukamm peep through the branches of the trees. What a view there’s going to be from the very top. Stop! The bell’s ringing again. This time definitely louder and nearer…
The Gerzkopf moor on the Green Mountain
After a further hour I finally reach the edge of the forest and set off over lush alpine pasture. On my left-hand side I can already see the mountain pine field, which covers the Gerzkopf right up to its peak and what makes it so special. The gully forks off once again and I head off to the left. Off to the right, somewhat below, you can already see the Schäferhütte (Shepherd’s Hut), which is open from June to September and where you can get a tasty platter snack. On the way back I’ll stop and see for myself. But at the moment conquering the peak is my main priority. The gully through the thick mountain pine is distinctly steeper. After a short ascent I cross over a last crest and there it lies before me in all its glory, the Gerkopf moor. As a unique natural gem and habitat for countless insects it has outstanding ecological value requiring special protection. Generally speaking, intact high alpine moors such as this one are considered endangered and rare. In the majestic, deep-black ponds the surrounding mountains are reflected in a way I’ve never seen before. I place my rucksack in the grass, take a few photos and let the beauty of this place and the moment itself work its magic on me. On the banks of the moor pond a number of mini shrubs, herbs and grasses grow, offering a colourful contrast to the black water. Equally typical for moors of this sort are the white heads of the bog cotton which I find particularly beautiful. And how do I know all this? Quite simply, the nice man I’ve just met, shared some of his knowledge with me and completely fascinated me. Unbelievable. When you know where to look.
After a while we say goodbye and head off again. He back down into the valley and I finally up to the peak. It can’t be much further now. There – the bell’s ringing. And this time loudly!
The ringing of the bell
The scent of mountain pine accompanies me the last few metres up to the top, the majority of the bends in the path lie behind me and as if out of nowhere it suddenly stands before me – the giant bell on the Gerzkopf. Right next to the peak cross. So that solves that mystery. It was originally intended to call together the many sheep, which still today spend the summer up here on the mountain, but in recent years it has become tradition that every hiker reaching the peak rings it once. A wonderful custom and of course I give the bell pull a hefty tug, upon which the familiar sonorous and steely sound rings out. I’ve come a step nearer to my aim of conquering all ‘7 most beautiful peaks in the Salzburger Sportwelt’. I’ve only got two left. The peak is quite expansive. A number of hikers are sitting on the benches and enjoying the sunshine, whilst eating their packed lunches. I take a sip of my water, take off my walking boots and walk barefoot over the warm grass to the peak. I savour the 360 degree panoramic view of the Gosaukamm, Dachstein, Bischofsmütze and the Tennengebirge and can even make out the Hohe Tauern in the distance. Incredible, the tranquillity and amazing beauty of the mountains here. Slowly but surely, I’m getting hungry and therefore it’s not long before I head back down. Next stop – the Schäferhütte.
I’m welcomed in front of the hut by the young dog’s friendly barking and I sit down next to other hikers at a shady table. And sure enough – the snack platter is really tasty and I enjoy it immensely. Today around 400 sheep still graze here on the alpine pasture of the 130 hectare large peak area until St. Rupert’s Day – the traditional day for herding the animals back down to the valley. Waving, I say goodbye to my friendly mountain companions and set off homeward. And tomorrow? The Lackenkogel awaits.
What I take with me from the Gerzkopf:
- The sound of a ringing bell has an positive effect on sheep
- According to legend a golden carriage is hidden n the black pool on the Gerzkopf
- I didn’t find it unfortunately
- You learn by listening. Not by talking
Photo credits: Peter Zeitlhofer