The Week I Fractured My Toe Hiking In The Alps

This Week:

  • What it’s like to hike in the Austrian Alps.
  • The most awkward hotel experience I’ve ever had.
  • The hike that led to me fracturing my toe.

September 2023

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Where In The World Was I?

  • Innsbruck, Austria
  • πŸš…
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • πŸš…
  • Interlaken, Switzerland

Live Travel Map 🌎

Back In The Mountains 😍 (Innsbruck, Austria)

Oh man it felt so good to be back in the mountains.

To wake up and look UP to see that morning light striking the rocks. Beauty in every direction you look.

There’s something special (at least to me) about being surrounded by mountains… I love it.

Ate at the same burrito place 3 times. Inexpensive, healthy, and high quality? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, as they say.

My First Hike! Wait, Really?

Had to think about his for a minute… But yeah, this has been my first (proper) hike while on this backpacking trip!

Everywhere I’ve been it’s been urban environments, cities, and towns. Nothing inherently wrong with that but I was starting to get the itch to be back in nature.

So I searched for a hike to do while in Innsbruck and boy did I find the perfect one.

I took a bus up to the base of this gondola (Patscherkofel).

Sorry let me just repeat that.

I took a bus (came every 10 minutes) up to the base of the resort gondola.

Then took the gondola up to the top and oh my lord, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

I hiked the Zirbenweg trail out to the top of the other gondola (separate resort):

Sat for a lunch break and took in the views.

The weather said it was going to storm in the afternoon, so I wasn’t originally gonna hike back. However, by the afternoon, the storms were pushed back to the evening, so I thought well screw it let’s hike back!

And I’m SO glad I did.

Wow.

☝️New portfolio pic??? πŸ‘€πŸ‘€ Like fuuuuuuuck man I love mountain layering SO much.

This was literally the perfect hike. Trail wasn’t difficult or too rocky, the weather was cool and fresh, and there was nothing but birds chirping and water trickling in streams.

Exactly what I needed and wanted.

I took SO many pictures, I couldn’t help it.

Get me some skis! I’m not sure I’m gonna ski this winter and I’m starting to get a little sad πŸ˜₯ but I think it’s the right call. It would be SO cool to ski here in the Alps.

Food

  • Der BΓ€cker Ruetz – a chain bakery, eh, I miss French croissants πŸ˜₯
  • Machete Burrito Kartell – 3 times let’s gooo
  • Miso – husband and wife korean food, delicious!

The Most Awkward Place I’ve Ever Stayed (Hammermoos Alm)

So rewind back to Lisbon, Portugal, I was talking with this girl (see: The Week I Questioned Everything About My Travels) (yes one of those 2 πŸ˜„) and she recommended going to Innsbruck and this alpine hut (an “Alm”) up in the mountains that you have to hike to.

During that conversation I marked it on my Google Maps account and then basically forgot about it until I was in Vienna planning where to go next.

Fast forward to Vienna and I was speaking with this guy who had gone to Innsbruck and he said it was super easy to get to by train, which I like.

So!

Instead of going Vienna->Munich->Zurich, I decided to hop down into Innsbruck.

And while I was in Innsbruck I saw the Alm on my Google Maps and remembered our conversation, so I decided to make a stop!

I took a train from Innsbruck to Seefeld. A jaw-dropping train ride. Wow.

Then hopped on a bus that took me into the forest to this trailhead, which is where the 30 minute hike to the Alm started!

Sorry let me just repeat that once more for the non-Europeans reading.

I took a bus.

From a town of under 5,000 people.

To a trailhead.

In the forest.

There’s a bus stop at a trailhead and the bus stops every hour.

I was shocked. I don’t speak this type of public transit language πŸ˜…

Check-In

When I arrived at the Hammermoosalm, I opened the door and went past the stairs into the little breakfast/reception area to see… no one?

I sat down, thinking the receptionist was probably just in the other room.

After a couple minutes I got back up and opened back up the door to the stairwell.

Coincidentally there was a woman at the top of the stairs in slippers, a tshirt, and gym shorts. She started speaking German to me, to which I responded with a blank stare and said, “uh, do you speak english?”

She said “a little bit. Do you have one bed or a room?”

I said, “ah, just a bed.”

She said “come” and showed me up the stairs to the room, pointed me to a bed and said “here’s your bed. We have dinner at 6pm, but please don’t come after 6pm, and breakfast is downstairs from 8am-10am. The bathrooms are over there. I think that’s about it, do you have any questions?”

I said “oh uh… nope” thinking wait hold on, you’re not gonna ask, like… who I am? Or to see my passport? … Alrighty πŸ˜‚

She turned around and went back to the “Privat” room and I started putting my stuff down, kind of half confused what just happened.

Dinner

In the time between checking in and dinner, I walked around the land, put my drone up, and took some pictures.

I was in my bed doing some Duolingo just before 6pm.

I had seen a big group of other people outside earlier, who (I thought) were also staying in the Alm and would join for dinner.

So at 6pm, on the dot, I thought, ah I should head down and meet the group for dinner. I promptly went to the bathroom and as I opened the bathroom door and started walking down the hall to the stairs (must have been 6:02pm), this German guy comes up the stairs, seemingly in a rush.

He’s wearing sandals, black gym shorts, and a casual basic black tshirt with a graphic on it.

He looks at me and starts speaking German to me.

I go “uhhh sorry I… I don’t speak”

And he goes “ah… I… also don’t speak”

And we both kind of laughed.

He said some more things, then I pieced together he was talking about “eat” and “food”

I said “ah yes! Eat! Now! Yes. I come”

I followed him down thinking, not sure who this guy is and what he just said but he seemed to be in a rush.

I walked into the restaurant portion of the alm and it was COMPLETELY EMPTY. It was just me and this guy.

He hands me a menu and I sit down.

I order a beer and a schnitzel and he goes back into the kitchen. I’m thinking, huh! okay… so this normal-looking guy in slippers is actually the waiter and the chef, got it got it πŸ˜‚

Every so often I see him kind of rushing around with his phone in his hand.

Eventually he brings out the schnitzel and it was actually incredibly good!

But after I finish, I decide to get a dessert and ask for an apfelstrudel. He nods and affirms but says in broken english “to go” and points out the door.

I go, cool, okay I can take it in a paper container, that works.

2 minutes later he comes out with a dish and a fork and the apple strudel and goes “it’s ready.”

I pull out my phone and say “to pay” and he goes “tomorrow, you can pay tomorrow” and says to go outside because he’s going to close the restaurant portion of the alm.

So I go, oh, well alrighty, and pick up my apple strudel dish and walk away πŸ˜‚

There I am standing outside of this alm with a dish of apple strudel that I didn’t pay for, having just sat down as the only person in this restaurant, possibly the entire alm.

It started to drizzle so I went back up to my room (I was the only one in a 4 person room), sat on my bed, alone, eating my dessert, watching the rain come down out the window.

That had to be the most confusing and awkward dinner I’ve ever had, I just had to laugh.

In hindsight, my guess is that he was looking at the radar for the rain storm that was quickly approaching, which is why he was rushed.

But I also found the fact that I was a WHOLE 2 minutes late before he came running up pretty funny. I guess the Germans are pretty strict on time πŸ˜…

A Hike For The Memory Books

The next day I had the whole day at the alm.

See I wanted to hike up the valley to this lake, but it was 10mi+ each way and it was supposed to rain all afternoon, so I decided to stay closer to the alm, but I still wanted to do something.

There’s this other alm (Rotmoosalm) on top of the mountain behind the Hammermoosalm and there’s a trail to get there.

It was about 9am and looking at the weather, I had a bit of a window until 12pm/1pm until some rain was forecasted.

So I threw everything together and hit the trail! I figured worst case, it started to rain, and I would just hike back down to the alm since I’m close.

The trail went basically straight up. I had to stop a bunch to catch my breath, but I was down for a little challenge!

On my way up I kept looking up and around, no rain yet!

I was so close to the top when I started to feel some rain drops. I pushed it faster.

I knew I could always just chill in the alm and maybe wait it out if it were that bad.

And I made it!

Surprisingly there were 2 people serving and a family having a meal at this alm when I arrived!

I decided to get a beer to celebrate and help solidify the experience.

I checked the radar. I had a window of about 1.5hrs (it took 1.5hrs to hike up) of some sprinkles (green) before some heavier rain (yellow).

So I put my rain gear on and hit the trail with a brisk pace to beat this storm.

I made it past the mudslide section more gracefully this time (it was pretty sketchy going up 😬)

But it was all wet and muddy everywhere…

And in the picture above, right at the other edge of the slide, you can see where the trail starts back up.

In that area were a bunch of medium sized rocks.

I stepped on a rock and slid a little bit, losing my balance, but I regained it quickly.

I thought “ohhh boy okay, note to self: rock = slippery”

And literally as I was thinking that I stepped my right foot on a flat rock.

My foot slides forward.

I lose my balance, instinctively pulling my body back and throwing my left foot out front to counter balance.

And before I could even think, my left foot slams into a rock in front.

Immediately I go “ohhhh that hurt” and pull out my phone.

It hurt immediately, but I could still move it, so I knew it wasn’t that bad.

A couple minutes later I slipped (again) on some grass hopping over a mud puddle and almost fell into the mud.

After that I really started to slow down, like holllllllldddddd up there Peter, let’s slow it down, we’re not in that big of a rush.

My toe went from a 4/10 up to a 6/10, starting to hurt on every step, so I started doing a little limp every step to not put pressure on it.

First look, some color starting to form on the outsides:

The cold stream water felt amazing.

The rain never got any worse, just a light drizzle the whole way down.

Fortunately I made it down the rest of the hike just fine, but from then on I really focused on my footing the whole way down.

At the end, I found a secluded spot along the stream to soak my feet in the freezing water.

But I also decided to go for a quick dunk. I thought, if I’m gonna do this at any point, it’s gonna be now, took off the shorts (πŸ˜‰), got in, and immediately went under, no thoughts, no objections.

Went for 2 full head dunks.

What a rush.

Got back to the Alm, took an advil, and put my foot up to rest.

By dinner it started to hurt more. And by bedtime it was hurting more than that.

Click for toe pics (πŸ˜‰)

On the bright side, dinner was less awkward this time! And the food was fantastic, yet again!

It didn’t feel nearly urgent enough to get help ASAP, but I did send my doctor back in the U.S. a quick message and some pictures just to get a second opinion on the severity.

The next morning my toe was swollen up like a balloon, but surprisingly it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might.

Click for toe pics (πŸ˜‰)

So, I hobbled my way down the trail, back to the bus stop. I took the bus into town, then hopped on a train back to Innsbruck. From there I hopped on a train for Zurich!

Another jaw-dropping train ride!

Everything’s Expensive, X-Rays, And River Swimming (Zurich, Switzerland)

When I arrived my toe looked quite awful, but actually didn’t hurt that much.

Click for toe pics (πŸ˜‰)

I headed into Zurich to grab dinner.

And walked limped around town a little bit since my toe didn’t hurt much.

But as I walked it started to get worse, so I headed back to the hotel.

The next morning when I woke up, it was VERY sore and VERY swollen, nothing like the previous morning.

I thought, man, the first night I thought I should get an x-ray, but then the next morning it felt better so I thought it could just be a bad sprain, but then last night it got worse, and this morning it’s also bad, maybe it’s worth paying for the certainty of knowing if it’s fractured or not with an x-ray.

So I headed into town and my first stop was the university hospital. They pointed me to the emergency room waiting area. I asked how much it would cost for an x-ray (it wasn’t THAT urgent) and they said 550 CHF (~$613). I was shocked because from what I saw online I should expect 100-200 CHF. Fortunately they pointed me to a medical clinic (think: small urgent care walk-in center) downtown that they said would be cheaper.

I went there and the wait was going to be 2+ hours. I was starving and my toe didn’t hurt, so I bailed and took the tram to a supermarket and to this river swimming area which was awesome!

This area is completely free for people to use, swim, and jump off the diving board!

The river runs really fast though which is why they’ve put up a gate at the end so people don’t get carried away downstream.

By the evening I headed back to the clinic and took my ticket and waited.

After the x-ray I waited outside the doctor’s office. Finger’s crossed it’s just a bad sprain!

She came out and said “what’s your shoe size?”

I responded “12 U.S.”

Wait.

Fuuuckkkkk

Awwwwwww πŸ₯²

She took me in and showed me the x-rays.

Drum roll pleaseeeeeeeeeee

Definitely fractured, there’s no question about that…

So this is my life now, unfortunately.

But honestly it’s been interesting to notice how my mind has reacted to this incident compared to some of the other emotional events on this journey.

Do I wish I would’ve been a bit more careful hiking down? Sure.

But ever since, my mind has mainly been focused on either the present (how does it feel now, how much does it hurt), or the future (what should I do next, is it worth getting an x-ray, etc).

I feel like I’ve accepted it.

And in all honesty, I’m grateful that things didn’t end up worse than they did. There’s a non-zero chance I ended that hike not with a stubbed toe but with a broken ankle or leg.

I can still walk, and that’s huge.

Sure, I have to limp to not put pressure on it, but it’s better than lying in a hospital bed with something like a cast around my entire leg.

There’s nothing external to get mad at. What, I’m gonna get upset that it rained? Com’on πŸ™„

There’s no one to blame but myself.

And there’s been a great freedom in that.

It’s all forward from here.

(Also it’s great content for my blog posts πŸ˜‚πŸ€ͺ)

That EU Healthcare

(Actually technically Switzerland isn’t in the EU)

My bill (summarized):

  • 121 CHF – Consultation & examination & report
  • 82 CHF – X-ray
  • 70 CHF – boot and tape
  • Total: 273 CHF (~$304 USD)

I don’t know what this would cost in the U.S. but it seemed reasonable.

The Best Place To Recover (Interlaken, Switzerland)

Okay literally every train ride through the Alps has been incredible.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

I wanted to hike while I’m here but… uh yeah.

So instead we’re just chillin, catching up on some laptop work, and recovering.

I’m convinced there can’t be a better place to just relax and recover than the Alps.

How Long Is Too Long?

Here’s a thought for ya that’s been coming up more and more lately.

These Life Update blog posts used to take 1-2hrs to complete. However, they’ve been growing in length and time. The last posts have taken …, 2.5hr, 2.5hr, 3.5hr, 2.5hr, 3.5hr, 6hr, 4.25hr and this one ~4hr, which does not include time taken editing and posting photos.

I’ve been feeling a bit of mental friction with the idea that these are taking longer and longer to complete.

But what exactly is the problem?

I think it’s the fact that I don’t want to spend the majority of my day on my laptop instead of exploring/traveling. These posts have never felt like a tall task before. But now I start to feel hints of procrastination knowing that this is gonna take 3, 4, 5, 6 hrs. That 1-2hr time frame felt like a sweet spot.

Today I pretty much spent my entire day editing photos and putting together this post.

Surely there’s an upper bound somewhere, right? πŸ˜…

Here’s where it gets more complicated, because well, first off so much more is happening in my weeks than previously. The bar for what feels like it should be shared has risen. So, I want to capture more things, which takes longer.

But, at the same time I feel like I’m producing a better “product” for my future self. I have more stories, I have more details, I have more content. Take a look back at my old posts and a lot are just collections of images with a couple captions.

I feel like these stories and details are the thing my future self wants most, and particularly during this period of my life while traveling.

I haven’t figured out a good solution or middle ground yet. This has been a relatively new problem, so I’m still grappling with how it’s presenting itself.

I’ll let ya know what I find.

What’s Next?

That’s a GREAT question.

A question I don’t know the answer to yet.

I have a follow-up appointment to make sure my bone(s?) are healing in the right direction, but after that, everything is up in the air.

The facts?

  • The doctor said probably ~6 weeks to recover, ~8 weeks until I can put full pressure on it.
  • Somehow it’s coming up on 8 weeks abroad, which means I only have ~5 weeks left allowed in the EU.
  • I can still walk, get groceries, go to train stations, etc. just not hike, walk too much, or put pressure on my toe.
  • I have lots of ibuprofen.

Fortunately this still leaves a lot of possibilities.

Exciting adventures ahead!


Location

2 Comments

  1. Margaret Geanisis

    O.M.G the Alps – there is nothing like them, we encountered them in Italy at Lake Como. There are no words, nor photos, that can actually capture the experience! I am such a mountain girl myself. IN al honesty I can think of no place better too have to stay some extra days than in the Alps. Some unasked-for-advice, yes I know it’s never a good thing, but go to Italy. the Italian Apps are, especially seen from a boat on on one the lakes. Get a real meal in Milan – we loved the No. Italian food, go to Florence and Rome for the art and the history. Yes, there’s walking, but not big hikes with lots of opportunities to sit, have a gelato and people watch if your toe gets sore. Our confession: I often blog when I go on a trip – I ever finish them though, I totally get how it feels like chore after a while. All my friends love them tough. Have more fu on your journey and I will give a prayer request for rapid healing for your toe on the prayer chain.

    • Peter Meglis

      Thank you Margaret for the recommendation and for your prayers! I have seen and heard great things of Italy and I’m particularly interested in the north side along the Alps as you may be able to guess πŸ˜„ I would love to read some of your posts if you are comfortable sharing them! (either publicly or privately, you have my email)

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