The Suunto Ambit2 (my tool of choice for an exploratory lifestyle to get at home) gets trackback – and sometimes, the power you need most is that to turn right back around…

My plans for this year’s running had included quitting with races and just going for runs on some hiking tracks that would circle around interesting places.

After all, getting at home requires making oneself at home, and no better way for that than on tracks, whether rail or hiking/running.

Experienced with attention, they avoid the virtualism of going places without really being there, and they shape knowledge of places – and fitness, in the case of runs – instead.

Last weekend’s weather sounded good enough to give the circle around the Grossglockner a try. And with the Ambit2 having recently gotten a new firmware, adding trackback to its bag of tricks and giving it more GPS (power saving) options, there was another reason to try something out.

It was a calculated risk, knowing that it had already snowed above 1500-2000 m, but that isn’t going to change for the better as the year is shifting into fall. And this year, the weather already shifted quite a bit: it changed from a summer with heat just like in Hunan to rainy and cold conditions that would be more usual for November. Or April.

Anyways. I prepared the usual equipment and set out. It promised to be a decent day.

Early Morning Promise of a Decent Day

The train ride alone proved a little geography lesson, for we passed (and the train would have continued) through quite a few places I had heard of, had even been to, but had no idea were all in this area.

Going up to the well-known reservoir lakes above Kaprun (by bus) was a trip into the reaches of the snowfall, high-alpine areas – and to fascinating views of what was to be this day’s playground.

Panorama Kaprun

Unfortunately, those views included clouds being driven up the mountain by a strong wind.

Clouds Driven Up the Mountain

The path the Glocknerrunde (that hiking path circling around the mountain) started at for me was easy enough to see, the navigation on the Ambit2 was good enough (I quickly checked it and then turned it back off to conserve battery), and so I set off.

Starting on the Glocknerrunde

Snow covered some of the trail, but wasn’t a problem there. It did, however, show that no one had gone there all last week, ever since it had first snowed… or actually, some ‘others’ had, but only those of the animal kind.

The Only Other Tracks in the Snow

Now, not that I’d mind sharing a trail with animals alone – but once I got to the end of this upper reservoir lake and to the first rocky ascent, it immediately became clear that I would only be able to follow the GPS track and the general direction that the way markings would point.

The trail itself was hidden, covered by snow. And clouds were still being driven past, the wind was not so light at times, a little snowfall set in… It was clear, even as a little blue sky and sun was sometimes getting visible as well, that it would be possible,  but not advisable, to go on.

So, as much as I hate to give up on plans, I turned around, backtracked to the place I’d started, and since I was already going that way, decided to just run back down to the lower bus stop. After all, that just meant a descent, and thus conditions that aren’t dangerous.

Interesting trail it was, and strange behavior of my navigation tech, i.e. the Ambit2:

The trail partly went down alpine meadows, partly along the road going up the mountain, but breaking off to the side when the road went into tunnels. Many times, it was a bit of a creek, a little water using it as its bed. At one point, a veritable mountain creek burbled down the rocks, crossed by the trail. So, avoid slipping by holding on to a metal rope… which is hanging into the water falling down the rocks.

Trail-Creek, Creek-Trail...

And then, duck into one of the road tunnels for a little bit…

… and right back outside.

Into the Light

Along this reservoir lake, I wanted to check how well the track/route had been set up (from a GPS track and using Google Maps), so I turned on the navigation function of the Ambit2, set it to the next waypoint and to follow the track in backwards direction…

And I waited, and waited.

GPS should have been recording my progress anyways, but there was no GPS lock. Only after quite some time of fiddling around, there was some, and even then, the route was off…

Then again, that seemed to have been (mainly) a result of how the original track was set up, as it had one come up this section of the trail by bus and the kind of funicular ‘elevator’ running there, and not on the hiking trail. Which became clear getting back onto the road…

…and while passing under that funicular elevator track…

Aligned Tracks, Virtual and Real


Back home, having uploaded the recorded track, it turned out that the log is at least as problematic as the navigation was. I don’t know if it was because of the setting (of “good” GPS reception, which used to be the mode getting a fix every 60 seconds… but used to be / should be changed to constant fix when using navigation) or because of actual problems with the reception (or, perhaps, a bug) that this happened, but it sure did. Quite a bit of the track hadn’t been recorded, including the section where I turned on the navigation and had a GPS fix.

On test runs of the new trackback function, which is just the thing for leading one right back in one’s footsteps, in my usual flatland areas, there had been no problems like that, as can be seen in the “review” videos I produced using navigation/trackback there.

Whatever the problem was, it was another sure sign that it would have been a bad idea to go on.

Signs like this are very helpful, too. After all, on the way down, I got into some rain, but also had sunshine, experienced some stronger wind, but also ran beautiful forest tracks, and with the overall experience on which this outing ended being that of a nice day and enchanting trails, it all feels like it would all have been good.
Which is a problem, because if everything feels all good, why did I not go on along that circle and have another special experience seen and done, and to tell you about?

Good thing, thus, that this exploratory lifestyle I aim to live and promote is also a documentary one, for I can re-check my impressions from the section where I decided to turn back…

… and thus I can convince myself that it was a good thing not to go on, or I may not have come back quite as safe and sound, and ready to go on to new adventures. Like the rest of life, with running and without.