I have to admit: I fell in love with the Gerzkopf (1,728 m) straightaway. The forests full of blueberries, the dragonflies on the moor, the wishing bell on the peak, the legend surrounding the “Golden Carriage“ and the over 10 year old Shepherd’s Hut are real bringers of joy. And that’s exactly the question behind the Bearer of Secret’s ritual: What makes me happy? It’s all about wishes, gratitude and whether we believe in miracles. As they happen too.
The Gerzkopf in Eben was the very first mountain I hiked for the “Salzburg Summit Game”. I wasn’t familiar with it, I’d only read about its special, protected peak moor and that capercaillies and dragonflies are at home up there. Thus, I was naturally curious and excited at the same time: curious as to whether the mountain is really as beautiful as I’d been told. And excited, as a bit of excitement is a pre-requisite for the success of any project.
I started my hike at the Knappbauer farm and straightway entered the high altitude, light mountain forest: fir, pine and larch trees grow here and long, fine tree moss covers their branches. And for those who don’t know: these ancient plants are a sign of excellent air quality! Ferns, lupins and cotton-grass line the wide forest track and the damp meadows and little streams are the first signs of water resources on the mountain.
The summit itself remains hidden: hikers first view the Gerzkopf very, very late – completely in accordance with the Bearer of Secrets. Yet, it means well with us: the thick forest is magically beautiful, the root trails seemingly emanating from secret, underground realms.
After the forest track, there’s a narrow forest trail which leads through copses overgrown with blueberry bushes. The path is never really steep. Soon the small moor ponds appear and the first main highlight is the wooden telescope offering a view of the Bischofsmütze: what splendour! The Benevolent Queen is much closer to her “Bearer of Secrets“ than I thought.
After a good one and a half hours the forest opens out and whilst on the left-hand side a large mountain pine shrub fields can be seen, on the right-hand side you’ll spot the somewhat lower lying Shepherd’s Hut. The path through the mountain pine shrubs leads up to the summit. The summit moor really is fascinatingly beautiful: dragonflies dance like elves over the dark waters. The grass-covered summit plateau reveals a fabulous view of the Gosau range and the Dachstein: the Bischofsmütze seems almost close enough to touch! All around the grassy plateau there are possibilities for sitting, made of stone and wood, enticing you to linger. And that’s exactly what you should do: as the Bearer of Secret’s ritual is all about our own, deepest and most secret wishes. Do we really know them? Are they really wishes, which make us happy long-term? What is important in life? And what do we own?
Once we’ve formulated our wishes, we should say them out loud into the wind using the wishing bell – the former Eben church bell. You can hear its loud ringing again and again on the mountain. A great feeling, that people still believe in wishes and miracles. They really do exist!
On my way down I make a short, worthwhile stop at the Shepherd’s Hut. Shepherdess, Gitti Oberländer and her dog Finn, look after around 320 sheep belonging to 27 farmers, which spend the summer on the slopes of the Gerzkopf. At the 100-year old Shepherd’s Hut the shepherdess prepares snack platters for hikers: just take a seat in front of the hut. In the background you can hear the tinkling of the sheep’s bells and now and again the ringing of the wishing bell on the summit of the Gerzkopf. A feeling a satisfaction overcomes me, which I would describe as being “perfectly happy“.
Photo credits: Salzburger Sportwelt – Michael Grössinger