Day 18 / Zillergrund-Rastkogelhütte

This morning I emerged out of the Zillergrund into Mayrhofen, a little town I know and like very well from seven years back. Mainly I had a few small errands to run here, like food shopping or sending used maps home by mail, but it turns out the most important one can’t be done in Mayrhofen at all: boot repair. There is simply no cobbler in town who can fix my left boot, which has developed a weak spot in its mesh, letting water seep inside.

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The beautiful Zillertal, with Mayrhofen under the towering Ahornspitze (2973m)

So I follow the Ziller river to Hippach, one of the nearby villages, where a cobbler is said to reside. Finding Josef Hotter isn’t too easy, he doesn’t even have a sign above his door. But as soon as I find him, the man is not only extremely helpful, swiftly attaching (effectively welding) a hot adhesive onto the broken spot in my boot’s lining. He is also much too kind, steadfastly refusing any payment, and even inviting me to try two of his delicious local Schnapps (as you do, around noon).

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The man himself; Josef in his workshop

I’m flabbergasted. A real prime example of an honourable craftsman working in an old trade, willing to help out a stranger. The least I can do is promise to send him a postcard from France when I get there.

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View back to the Zillertal Alps, with Foehn clouds

The weather today was characterised by the Foehn; a strong, warm southerly wind blowing over the Alps, which can on occasion raise the temperature by 20 degrees overnight, but also just as quickly also stop and turn into bad weather. Baking and sweating in the hot sun (and no, I am not complaining about the warm weather!) the afternoon ascent brought me a full 1500 metres up from the valley to the Rastkogelhütte, a refuge in the Tuxer Alpen. Doing this ascent  (and 12km) in just 3 1/2 hours, after having already done half a day’s walking, I can really feel how my stamina has grown during this trek. A good feeling.

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Rastkogelhütte on its ridge

Three cheers for good old honest craftsmanship!
Phil

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