Soothing tranquility in the forest, the Chapel of Peace at the peak, a climate-friendly mountain hut and a fabulous view of over 300 summits: at the Hochgründeck (1,827 m) body, mind and soul are in harmony and a ritual that invites you to find inner peace.
The starting point for the hike up the Hochgründeck lies high above St. Johann. Those looking for the summit from the car park “Steinbauer“ on the Talblickstrasse, have to concede: you can’t actually see it from here. No surprise though, as the Hochgründeck is one of the highest wooded peaks in the Alps and that really is unique.
Although your destination is somewhat uncertain, the route up to it is well-signposted. It takes nearly three hours along forest roads and then narrow trails heading steadily uphill: first of all, past idyllic mountain meadows, later through the green mountain forest, wonderfully refreshing in summer and quite charming with its plays of light and shade, rooty trails and birdsong. On the last part of the path you’ll find interesting natural installations along the theme of “Music“: having a go and listening is heartily recommended. And from here on, one thing is sure: it can‘t be much further. One of the loveliest parts of the trail for me was the straight stretch before the Heinrich-Kiener-Haus: now the forest and sky open out in front of you. The climb was well worth it. The reward, in the form of a fantastic view, nearby.
From the hut it’s just another 15 minutes up to the peak. I didn’t take the direct route up, but the one via the St. Vinzenz-Chapel of Peace and I spent more time there than expected. The chapel is a real gem, the peak book a treasure trove of wishes, blessings and expressions of gratitude. Some of the entries moved me to tears: they made me realise with which great feelings people head into the mountains, what moves them, what they are grateful for, what strokes of fate they’ve had to deal with. Just a few lines give you an insight into the lives of people you don’t even know and you will never meet. And yet you feel connected somehow – on the mutual journey up here – as an empathic reader, wishing for healing for oneself and others.
Once at the summit, the ritual of the Salzburger Summit Game invites you to connect completely with this healing spot. Feel the earth beneath your hands, embrace the power of the spot, find inner peace. The summit, with its mountain pasture and wooden benches, entices you linger: why would you ever want to leave? The view is phenomenal – from the Hohenwerfen Castle to around 300 peaks – and you feel as though you’re the centrepiece of the world.
However, at some point it’s time to head back down: the Heinrich-Kiener-Haus is worth a refreshment stop. The mountain hut is self-sufficient and produces 100% of its own electricity, is a Climate Alliance Partner and has been awarded the Austrian Ecolabel. Cooking is done on a wood-burning stove and what can I say? The cheese dumpling soup is the crowning touch, before heading off back down to the valley. Those yearning for healing should think holistically: body, mind and soul need to be nurtured. That’s within reach at the Hochgründeck.
Photo credits: Salzburger Sportwelt