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Early bird gets the worm, and a brilliant sunrise at the top of Hochkeil, Austria

Where are we going for the sunrise?

You like nature, hikes and being outside in the fresh air? You also like watching one of the most important celestial bodies for us earthlings rise to begin a new day full of new experiences? If your answer is yes, then do I have a story to tell you! If your answer however happens to be no, I still very much recommend you keep on reading as I am certain that by the end of your read, your answer will change. The destination I am going to describe is a stunning mountain hike to the top of the mountain Hochkeil at the base of the famous Mountain Hochkönig. The trip begins at the Mountain Hotel Arthurhaus at the base of the two mountains.

Arrival

You can easily drive there from Salzburg, takes a little over an hour and you may park at the Arthurhaus. To be noted however, that the parking lot is barriered and requires a fee to be paid before exiting. However, there are enough parking spaces especially when you are planning to arrive early for a sunrise. I went there with one of my best mates. We planned the trip relatively spontaneously, however we knew the inviting location already. We have been wanting to do a hiking trip for the main purpose of watching the sunrise for a while. when we realized that the weather would cooperate this time, we immediately planned the journey.

The stunning surprise

Waking up at 4:30 in the morning was a tad bit challenging, however after having a quick and delicious breakfast and a good cup of coffee we quickly set off to pursue our goal and witness the sunrise. Naturally the lack of traffic in the early hours helped us to get to our destination quicker than expected. After we arrived, I parked the car on the nearly empty parking lot, and we jumped out of the car. We quickly swapped to our hiking boots, grabbed our backpacks, readied our torches and began navigating through the darkness uphill. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we noticed that because of the little light pollution in the area the stars are stunningly visible. We stopped dead in our tracks and just admired the majestic night sky for a few minutes. We did not expect such a clear sky and the stars to be so visible thus we enjoyed a few minutes of peace before we quickly continued our ascend.

The goal

Even if the stars amazed us, we have decided to revisit them another time as we already committed to catching the sunrise at the peak of Hochkeil this time. We illuminated the path with our flashlights as we smoothly made our way through the forest and fields.  The track was relatively easy thus we reached the peak in 50 minutes so we had more than enough time to search for a good spot and set up the camera. Up on the top we came to find out that you can view the surrounding area and mountains in 360 grade angle! The weather was quite chilly but otherwise clear, only the valleys down below were coated in a thick layer of fog. These circumstances provided a brilliant sight as we spectated the various mountains emerging from the blanket of fog.

What a sight

As we were setting up and awaited the moment the sun pops over the horizon, several other early birds joined us on the peak. We greeted each other with a casual “Servus, koit is huh?”  and everybody settled down at a different spot. Shortly after we settled down and shot a couple of test photos the area already started to become more and more illuminated. Additionally, the sky began shading into a soft orange and light pink. The sun arrived shortly after, we were sitting there peacefully and watched the star emerge and expel the darkness. We caught the astonishing moment as the sun rays grew bigger on the surrounding mountains and chased away the shadow on the Hochkönig. We packed out and ate our second breakfast, very much like the hobbits from the Lord of the Rings regularly do and savored the moment. As the magic of the moment slowly faded away and the sun rose completely, we packed up and started walking around the peak to check the surrounding landscape. After a few minutes though we began our descent and after casually walking for 35 minutes we reached the car. We paid the parking fee and set off to drive back to Salzburg with another fantastic experience stashed in our memory.

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