I have fond memories of the hours I spent with my great-grandmother in her herb garden. Of the many different leaves and grasses and the bright orange marigolds. Together we often collected a variety of plants. They were dried for teas or used for making liqueurs or schnaps or simply for adding the finishing touch to a dish. She always carefully explained their effects and uses to me. Therefore, I knew very early on about the power of herbs, but I don’t know too much about trees.
Of course, I know the names of some, and I’ve even read that majestic examples were revered, yes even prayed to in olden times. Therefore, I was very excited when in July 2018 the new “Power of Trees – Trail” was officially opened.
The trail leads from Kleinarl past the Jausenstation Ennskrax´n and then in a large half-circle back again. Along the 3 kilometres you find 32 local deciduous and conifer trees with descriptions. You cover a total of 244 altitude metres in around 3 hours, but you can stop at resting places along the way.
The trail was designed and created by a committed lady from Kleinarl, Christine Höller. As a qualified herb expert, she knows all about the uses for the buds, blooms, leaves, bark and water from the trees. Christine also offers guided walks:
- “The Medicinal” – a 4-5 hour guided walk incl. tree snack at the Ennskrax´n
- “The High Proof” – this tour includes an additional schnaps tasting on the trail itself and on request there’s spare ribs and/or “tree spreads” afterwards
I’ve become curious and we arrange a guided tour with Christine. As we are a group of 10 persons, a tour at 18:15 hrs. on a sunny Thursday evening is no problem. Equipped with sturdy shoes, a light jacket (in case it gets colder) and something to drink, we meet up with Christine at the start of the tour.
Schnaps glasses around our neck
Ten minutes from the Kleinarl Church, at the end of the Kreuzsalgasse, a large overview map of the trail marks the starting point. You can also pick up a leaflet with a map of the trail. As we meet up Christine welcomes us warmly and hands us each a schnaps glass on a band, which we tie around our necks – well, then let’s get going! Some of trees have been freshly planted for the nature trail, others have been standing here for many years. After 500 m the group stops, as we’re already reached our first tree – an ash. An info board beside the tree describes its uses and healing powers in German and in English. That way you can learn lots about our trees even without Christine, the expert. We learn for example, that the ash belongs to the precious woods and is well-known for its stability and elasticity. After a few details about the leaves and buds we carry on up the hill. The third tree is a birch and that’s where our schnaps glasses come into use for the first time. Christine fishes a bottle out of her rucksack and pours us all a glass of birch water and tells us about its cleansing and purifying properties. With these thoughts in mind we sip the clear liquid – it doesn’t even taste that bad!
Oak & juniper tree
Soon we reach the first resting place and take a group photo. A few trees on I’m completely convinced: the healing properties of trees and their varied uses are as extensive as herbs and should not be underestimated. It’s great that you can learn so much about the green giants along this nature trail, before all this knowledge is completely forgotten. Along the trail some highlights await us, such as the “tree info hut“. Where you can find a collection of leaves, seeds and tree cross sections, in addition to descriptions you can test your new-found knowledge with a tree quiz. I’m sure children will love this hut too. We walk pass a “sound station“, where you can make sounds from the various wood. My favourite tree is the old beech tree. This tree is enormous and grows on a rock with its giant roots snaking around the stone. A wooden bench has been placed under its leaves…
The tree snack
Around 2.5 hours later – and after a variety of different schnaps (cherry schnaps, swiss pine schnaps, nut schnaps – we come to the finale of the tour – the tree snack.
I couldn’t possibly imagine how you can put together a snack from leaves and buds – but I soon learned otherwise…
Katharina from the Jausenstation Ennskrax´n was already waiting for us. In the warm cosy snug we sat down around a table and waited for our tree snack. The “starter” consists of small golden brown rolls with spruce needle butter, a forest guacamole and a meadow cream. Everything’s unbelievably tasty! For the main course there’s hearty lime tree blossom rolls – lovely. And for the crowning finish we get a juicy blueberry cake and forest-whoopies (sweet sandwich biscuits), the plate’s empty very quickly indeed 🙂 “Depending which month, the different parts (buds, leaves, blooms…) of the tree are used. I’m always trying out new creations and every time the snack is unique, just like every tree and every berry”, Katharina assures us.
Which is your power tree?
As we head back down with full stomachs, it’s already dark. Back at the starting point we say goodbye to Christine and thank her for the wonderful evening. As a souvenir we each receive a tree amulet. I’ll definitely take this trail again, as there’s still plenty to discover – and which is your power tree?
Photo credits: Kassandra Klein, Wagrain-Kleinarl Tourismus