Is a local mountain worth exploring when it’s far away and not tall at all?
How far away is it really, and how tall does it feel when one climbs it?
The Parndorf Plateau, the geological zone around my hometown Parndorf, offers wide views.
The surroundings are all flat – but not totally. In the north, the Hundsheim mountain rises up.
Compared to the flat countryside around it, it has a (very) little something of Ayers Rock.
On many a run, I felt the mountain’s pull. As the tallest “peak” nearby, it would be a good destination for runs.
At the same time, the mountain is so far away – and especially, as I had never actually checked how far away it is – that it never seemed reachable just on a run.
The paths there are also a bit odd – or actually, very usual, just like all the paths here. Mainly, they just go straight for long times, with very little up and down.
Over fields, they are mainly gravel. In this direction, they also include roads. And the crossing of the Leitha river, which is a peculiar thing.
Then one day, playing around with a route planning app, I put the mountain in as destination to see what automatic route creation would make of that.
It turned out to be 25 km away. A good distance for a training run – if only the one way.
Getting there and back promised to be a fair bit harder. Still doable, though. And thus, one of those summer days, I set off.
The path is a strange one.
Well, to me, at first, it is a very ordinary path. After all, I have been living in this area for the longest time.
Still, it always amazes me how the landscape is so flat. And at the same time, so undulating, if barely noticeably so, that it can get quite tough.
It is also a landscape that has been shaped by agriculture for such a long time already, the nature one runs through is really all culture – and industrial-agricultural landscaping.
This only makes it more of a difference to get to the Leitha river and the fluvial forest along it – and to the path that the map app suggests one should follow.
It is a part of an Austrian long-distance hiking trail. Which is, yet, grown over with stinging nettles and brambles and lots of other, often uncomfortable, vegetation.
The whole time, the mountain beckons, only slowly getting closer.
It does become bigger and bigger all the time – and not really. Its height, after all, is not exactly impressive.
It still makes it easy to imagine what a great lookout point across the flats it must have made – all the more so as the Danube flows past its northern side.
Only having come very close do paths up become visible. And they look pretty steep, at least compared to the long flat way to get there.
Up, Up… and Only Along?
Indeed, once at the mountain, the climb is fast – and leads to another puzzlement that is so typical of many, more massive, Alpine mountains:
The climb is hard and leads up quickly, steeply… and then, one moves along further up the mountain, with a softer ascent, up and along the mountain, for much longer still.
This makes the trail very peculiar, in different ways from those before.
It continues for much longer than it seems like it should, and much flatter than one would expect.
Sometimes, it goes through depressions in the mountain flank, with trees around, that feel like worlds unto themselves.
Then again, it goes along exposed parts of the mountain, with the view going far into the flat land one just came along.
Finally, the view opens up further towards the west, towards Vienna, along the Danube, here mainly flowing through yet more fluvial forest.
Down the trail that goes over the mountain for longer, more towards the east, the run goes through forest that could just as well be somewhere deeper in the Alps.
Not only are the trees different, though, the descent also ends at the foot of the mountain, back in the flats, very soon.
The Troubling Path Home
I wanted to take a different path back than I had come, but the small Leitha river once again proved a big problem (as it had often enough before).
With some of my own knowledge of the area’s paths and a little navigational help from a sports watch, I easily came close to it somewhere else – and ended up in a village I had never even heard the name of, even though it was so close to my home.
Modern navigational aids then led me to the river… and mightily astray.
There should have been a path there, along the river, for sure. Often enough, there is a path there, further up the river, where I had been on many another run.
Here, however, where the online map service insisted on leading me, to get me off roads, the path did not actually exist.
Plowed under and grown over, it was impassable where there were signs of it. Most of the time, it just wasn’t there.
Nothing other worked than to follow the roads, run right through the villages, until it was finally possible to find one of the few bridges across the Leitha and get back onto the usual agricultural roads.
Eventually, with all these detours and by now, in midday heat, the run got considerably longer than it should have been, anyways – and I got slower and slower.
It was a fun microexploration of the landscape around me, finally to my local mountain – which now seemed considerably closer, and yet farther away – anyways.
I also used this for a bit of microexploration into the workings of Polar’s Grit X with its reminders for hydration and carbohydrates, which are a bit more of a focus in the video of this run: