20 Feb. 2018 · Winter Activities | Culinary
Susa Schreiner

Hut tours with a difference: 3 courses in 3 huts

A culinary hike. For our starter we’re heading to the Sonna Alp, the main course will be in the Maxhütte, and dessert will be served in the Bühlalpe. And all via easy paths and chair lifts, with breath-taking mountain views.

I hear “Atemlos” by Helene playing on the radio … Two weeks later, we’re in the car heading for Riezlern and a long weekend filled with gentle hikes and the great outdoors. We’re also looking forward to delicious food to satisfy our culinary desires, and we’re planning a casino visit to add a little excitement to the mix. The journey of almost three hours gives us plenty of time to compare progress in our injured knees, and we come to the unanimous conclusion that Kleinwalsertal will be our hiking comeback. We have our
“Alpine suspenders” with us just in case. That’s what my orthopaedic surgeon lovingly calls my knee support - funny, no? So, all good, everything’s packed - Kleinwalsertal, here we come! 

 Après ski at the cantina | © Kleinwalsertal Tourism eGen | Photographer: Dominik Berchtold

And now we’re sipping our tea on the terrace and once again discussing our hike. We’ve got maps and a few tips on the tour, and we’ve promised each other no-one will get lost! “Girls, if you DO get lost, just call us and we’ll come and get you”, says the lovely lady in the Walserhaus tourist office. After she tells us that you can reach all three huts fairly easily from the Heuberg mountain station in around an hour and a half, we are raring to go - going uphill is fine, but downhill is a bit harder on the knee. So we’ll head up the valley “by fair means” to the starting point next to the Heuberg lift, then we’ll come back down “by fair technology” on the Zaferna 2-seater chair lift. In between, three cabins for 3 courses: Sonna Alp (starter), Maxhütte (main course) and Bühlalpe (dessert). We’re hungry – let’s get moving on our search for delicious delicacies

Around 11 o’ clock, we get off the route 1 bus at the Walserhaus stop and find ourselves practically at the starting point for our hike. “Strapped in”, and armed with map, compass and camera, we set off towards the mountain - better safe than sorry ... 

Schöntalhof Sunski Heuberg Parsenn | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen

The tour:

The starting point is the Walserhaus in Hirschegg. Here, you can decide whether to take the lift up, or whether to hike up past the Schöntalhof and the Parsenn lift to the Heuberg mountain station, with a short, sharp climb over the Rohrweg; all in all it’s a climb of about 250 metres. It’s an entertaining ascent, with stunning views of the valley and the skiers who pass by every now and then. Our worry that we might not find the
path proves to be unfounded. The signage is perfect. When we reach the Heuberg mountain station, we already have the majority of the ascent behind us. From here, a wellprepared hiking trail takes us through a sparsely forested area practically to the Zaferna mountain station (1420 m), and to the Sonna Alp. 

We have left ourselves plenty of time for the first stage, and we arrive at the hut bang on time at 12 o’ clock. “That was great, but I’m hungry now”, I announce to Cecilé, who agrees with a beaming smile. On the terrace, sun-seeking skiers rub shoulders with winter hikers. We pass through and head inside. “Servus”, we are greeted at the door. “Here for lunch?” Yes, please. They confirm the number of people and ask us to wait while they prepare a table. While we wait, there’s a schnapps on the house. We feel welcomed, and clink our glasses. Less than fifteen minutes later we are sitting down, studying the menu. We choose baked Limburger cheese on a bed of salad. It’s delicious, and the hut itself has also won us over: modern Alpine style, and beautifully decorated without a hint of kitsch. The same goes for the cuisine: simple, traditional dishes, given a new interpretation and freshly prepared.

Max Hütte  | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Hans Wiesenhofer

“That won’t be our last visit”, I prophesy as we head off towards our next destination. We stroll up a slight gradient towards the Maxhütte (1380 m). Stretching our heads back in the sun, we almost miss the sign for the Maxhütte. We slam on the brakes and turn left. The first part of the forest road down is a little steep, then we switch onto a narrow path that leads us into a dense wood. It wouldn’t surprise us if a plump owl were to land on a branch and strike up a conversation ... We carry on, and after the next bend we see the hut with skiers whizzing past. 

The owls flutter from our fantasies as we stand in front of a small, very real rustic lodge with the obligatory sun-deck. A sign points the way to the “Friendly self-service”. We follow its advice, and enter a room with a large tiled stove. “It’s almost a shame it’s not stormy”, I say, “then we could sit in front of the stove, but in this weather...” We choose a hearty stew, which the landlord (a true Walser original!) chattily slides over the counter to us in person. We head outside again because of the weather, and tuck in. A quick coffee, then back onto the main path - direction dessert. 

A good 20 minutes later, we reach the last sun terrace of the day. It belongs to the Bühlalpe, our final destination. Having had our curiosity aroused when we checked out the website, we order “Helmut’s worldfamous Kaiserschmarrn“, and we are not disappointed. Dessert demolished, we take over a couple of deckchairs and toast each other with a warm baked apple liqueur - our 3-cabin, 3-course tour is drawing to a close,
and what started with a schnapps should end with a schnapps - in our opinion, at least. 

The last descent on the Zaferna chair lift is at 16.30, so we still have time for a short nap to aid the digestive processes. Our knees have held up so well that we consider hiking down to Baad. “It would only take half an hour or so”, says Cecilé … But we are good, and instead just walk the familiar terrain to
the Zaferna chair (about 25 minutes) and save our knees by taking the gondola back down to the valley. After all, we want to do another winter hike tomorrow. Our comeback has been a success. 

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