Hiking Pass – From Code to Code

Hunting for Points in the  Salzburger Saalachtal

“A hiking holiday in Austria – just great.”  My daughter can barely contain her excitement when I explain our holiday plans for this year. In the past she used to trek through the mountains enthusiastically with me, but apparently in pre-adolescence you can’t score points with that any more. “But hiking is boring, I’d rather go to the beach.” Not even the prospect of a girls’ trip with her friend Lisa and her Mum can cheer her up. The mood in the car is accordingly subdued. Suddenly the first mountains appear on the horizon. I turn around to the children and see that they both do in fact have a tiny sparkle in their eyes… but of course they would never admit that.

A Real Boost for Motivation – the Hiking Pass

While we check into the hotel, the girls sit with indifferent faces on the sofa in the reception area. Suddenly my daughter discovers something on the table, “A hiking pass Mum, what is this supposed to be?” The friendly lady at the reception tells us that there are a total of 66 different hiking destination signs in the whole region with codes which you can find and enter into the hiking pass. Once you have collected a certain number of points you can collect your well-deserved hiking badge in bronze, silver, gold or top of the class, oak leaves, in the Tourist Office. “Well that does sound cool, don’t you think?”, I ask my daughter. “Hiking isn’t cool”, she says and returns to her sofa. I look at the receptionist apologetically. “Could you give me one anyway please”, I say. The next day we set off on our first hike. We follow the picturesque waterfall trail from the middle station of the Almbahn I up to the Almenwelt Lofer. The weather is magnificent, the view is fantastic but the mood is still somewhat subdued. All at once my friend’s daughter sees a small yellow sign on a signpost with a three-digit code framed in green on it. “Hey is that for this hiking badge which the woman in the hotel was talking about yesterday?” “Yes, exactly”, I say, “Should we write it down?” Inwardly I congratulate myself for putting the hiking pass into my rucksack this morning. “Fine by me”, says my daughter quietly. During lunch up on the alm, the two girls have a look in the hiking pass after all and are amazed to see that there are two more codes to be found in the Almenwelt Lofer. After we have polished off the Kaiserschmarrn down to the last crumb, we set off, surprisingly without the usual discussion, for an afternoon circuit over the alm and take notes of the codes at the Marmorsee and Kechtalm. In the hotel that evening my daughter is amazed to discover, “Mum, that’s 12 points already, we only need another 18 for the bronze hiking badge.” And with this, our hiking holiday was saved.

The Hunt for Points Begins

Over the next few days the children make the plans. After acquiring a hiking map in the Tourist Office on which the locations of all the codes are marked with yellow dots, our two girls spend every evening bent over the card like two small explorers. They planned a route for the next day to collect as many codes as possible. In this way we got to know the region from a completely different perspective and came to places which we otherwise would never have included in our hiking plans. And so we discovered, for example, the raging Innersbachklamm in Reith or the Kalvarienberg with its small, old chapel and a unbelievable view over the Hiking Village Unken. In short, the girls took on the roles of the top-informed hiking guides and we adults couldn’t finish our coffee at breakfast as quickly as they were dressed, equipped with rucksacks and ready for the next tour. 

The Well-Deserved Reward

On the day of departure we stopped at the Tourist Office in Lofer to collect the reward we had so diligently earned. After the codes were thoroughly checked and the points counted up again, we received our hiking badges proudly. The two girls were thrilled with their bronze hiking badges and did not miss the opportunity to put them on straight away and did not take them off again until the first school day. My daughter carefully packed the hiking pass in her suitcase…..there aren’t that many more points to collect for the silver badge. And I couldn’t believe my ears when she left the Tourist Office and called out cheerfully, “See you next year”. 

To Make You Laugh…

In the Tourist Office we continue to hear amusing and amazing stories about the hiking pass and we don’t want to keep these from you: 

• In the summer we received an enquiry by e-mail from a, according to him, diligent hiker. He had heard about the hiking pass and was busy trying “to earn” a hiking badge “online”, assuring us that he had already visited all of the hiking destinations around 30 years ago as a child and therefore asked us to send the codes. After we advised him politely, that this unfortunately wasn’t possible, a post appeared the next day in the private Facebook group “Fans und Freunde der Almenwelt Lofer”, in which codes were requested for the same reason. Responses by the community were also limited….

• A man of around 70 years of age determinedly marched into the Tourist Office and presented his hiking pass to be stamped for the oak leaves hiking badge. We congratulated him and asked him in which year he had begun to collect the points, “7 days ago”, he answered, completely unfazed.  We were open-mouthed for a few moments…

• In May we received an e-mail requesting an empty hiking pass by post. The lady was busy planning her holiday for August and also asked us to draw up a weekly plan for hikes so that she could collect exactly 100 points. The exercise took a few hours and several colleagues. Unfortunately we never found out whether she achieved it or not…

So how do I get a hiking pass? You can collect this from your host or in the Tourist Office Lofer. You can find out details of the destinations, points etc. in advance here.

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