Departing from the small lake near Steg, the hike through the valley is peaceful and easy. The scenery ahead takes your breath away. On both sides of the river, there are pinetrees, while higher up ahead, you can spot mountains with fields of snow. At the end of the valley, you are more exposed to the sun; it is burning on my head while I am working my way up the green slopes of the mountain. I see a small group of llamas grazing the grass. After hearing the ringing of cow bells from a distance, I now get close to the impressive beasts. They look at me, and let me pass in peace. The mountain hut in which I want to sleep, is visible ahead, and when I reach it, I am rewarded with more mountain views. The hut is right on the border with Austria, and I look straight into the Austrian Alps. After securing a bed and having something to eat, it is time to continue enjoying the scenery. From the Pfälzerhütte, a trail goes up the crest of a mountain, and some steep climbing, over rocks and a small stretch of snow, brings me to the summit of Augstenberg at 2359 metres. From here, I have far-stretching views in all directions. The village of Malbun seems to be very close, but the trail takes me over the crest, and then down into the valley where it turns out to be a little hard to find something to drink.
It is time to return to the hut, also because they stop serving dinner at 19:00. A trail goes up, with switchback after switchback, until it reaches a pass. Towards the north, I see Malbun lying comfortably in its valley, and ahead, the trail, until it reaches the track that leads directly to the hut. Further still, and higher up: Naafkopf, which I hope to climb in the morning. The trail first goes down, and the track is steeper than what it looked like. When I arrive at the hut, a hearty and filling dinner is exactly what I need. After the constant sunshine and hiking, I am thirsty, and also getting a little colder now that the sun is on its way down. While having dinner, I am looking at the summit of Naafkopf, at 2570 metres the second highest point of Liechtenstein. Even though I feel my legs after a day of hiking in the mountains, I cannot resist the temptation and set off for Naafkopf, to enjoy sunset. The climb is supposed to take 1h15, but I am up in less than half the time. The summit is also where Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein meet. Actually, much of the climb is on Austrian soil. I sit at the Liechtenstein side of the cross marking the summit, since that faces west, to enjoy the views of a sinking sun. The wind comes from the same direction, cooling me off quickly. After all the sweating, I am happy with the sweater I took. In the far distance, I see much higher summits with eternal snow in both Austria and Switzerland. Closer by, the Grauspitz, at 2599m the highest summit of Liechtenstein. Clouds obscure the sun, which I take as a sign to descend to the hut before it gets dark. On the way down, I am lucky enough to see a couple of mountain goats.
The next morning, the hut is still dark and quiet when I put on my shoes again, switch on a headlamp, and climb to Naafkopf once more. The mountain goats are still there, but this time, I only hear them. There is only a vague light around me: much is still covered in darkness. The sky is filled with clouds, but there are also some openings, so I wonder what sunrise will bring. Meanwhile, I try to take shelter on the Austrian side of the cross, which also gives me good views of the cloudy sky. Dark grey is slowly turning to light grey, and then, colours are seeping in to the sky. Faint orange, deepening, turning into red. Meanwhile, the contours of the mountain peaks are getting always clearer. And then, I see a slice of bright light right next to one of the mountains, and a fiery ball of fire rises before disappearing into the clouds. The early morning light spreads over the mountain tops, and then starts to reach into the valleys. Soon after I start heading down to the hut for breakfast, my hands get warm again. The clouds lift, and while heading down into the Valüner valley, the sun is burning on my head. In the forest, there is the pleasant smell of pine trees. The ice cold water of the stream sparkles in the morning light. Too bad there are quite a few other people walking around, as I would have loved to dip into the water to cool down. A few hours later, I will have a splendid view over this valley, and the Naafkopf summit and other high peaks of Liechtenstein from the top of the Alpspitz, in the north of the small country.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Naafkopf (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Naafkopf.
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