First aid outdoors

First aid course: a doll for practising reanimation is lying on the ground
a doll for practising reanimation 

i took part in an 8-hour long refresher course in first aid in September, focussing on accidents that can happen in the outdoors.
the Red Cross in Mödling offers this course (find all courses by the Red Cross here: https://www.roteskreuz.at/site/erste-hilfe/aktuelle-kurse/) and i thought it was a great opportunity for me to better my knowledge in first aid.

First aid course: Improvised supporting bandage for an arm with debris stuck in it
an improvised, supporting bandage for an arm with debris stuck in it

you need a good foundation of first aid skills to transfer them into situations where you don’t have the full amenities of civilisation and i feel much more capable of giving first aid outdoors now!
it only takes a few hours of practise every now and then, so i urge you to also sign up for a course and get educated!

one weekend of path maintenance work with the Gebirgsverein

path maintenance at the Schneealm: hammering a pole into the ground
hammering a pole with marking into the ground

are you aware of all the work that has to be done to ensure safe paths in the mountains? do you know how much time has to be dedicated to refreshing markers and mounting signposts? are you informed about the people who take care of handrails alongside steep paths? well, i wasn’t, at least up until the first weekend of july 2016!
after years of splitboard touring, hiking, freeriding and some (easy) climbing in the alps, i decided it was time to give something back to the volunteers who generously donate their free time to ensure safe paths in the mountains for everyone to use free of cost.
in may, after getting inspired by an article about path maintenance, i contacted the Alpenverein to ask about possibilities to help out. i quickly got a reply, offering the chance of joining a team which takes care of the paths on and around the Schneealm in Styria. this sounded like a great opportunity to me – to be taken under the wings of experienced people, getting initiated into the vast field of knowhow around path maintenance.
although the weather was forecasted to be a bit capricious, i set out for Altenberg an der Rax in the morning of the 2nd of july 2016. i arrived at 10pm and met up with Otto from the Gebirgsverein Südwien-Mürzer-Oberland. after a short stop at my accomodation, the Lurgbauer-Villa, we quickly began our drive up the Schneealpe.
our first tasks were improving the mounting and cleaning some signs. we then moved on to the Kutatschhütte, which is a small shelter on the Schneealm. to ensure a welcoming hut experience for all visitors, we cleaned up a little, sweeping the floor, emptying the trash can and folding the blankets.
path maintenance at the Schneealm: sweeping the floor of the Kutatschhütte
sweeping the floor of the Kutatschhütte

then we continued our trip across the Schneealm plateau, stopping every few meters to either rectify existing posts with marking or to hammer new posts into the earth, to allow for good orientation even on foggy days. every post needs a bit of barbed wire wrapped around it to keep the cows which graze on the mountain pasture from playing with the posts. they love a good scratch just too much!
after a short break in one of the huts, we continued our work and repainted the letters on some signs. they get worn out by the weather so much that they need a bit of refreshment now and then.
path maintenance at the Schneealm: Otto repainting a sign
Otto repainting a sign

later on, we drove back down towards the valley and stopped at the Knappensteig. we ascended a short bit, carrying a cordless screwdriver and a cordless brushcutter to the path. we enhanced the mounting of a sign and then proceeded to mow the grass covering the path. since a lot of people like to use this path for trailrunning, we made sure to uncover the path as good as possible.
at 5pm, just before the thunderstorm, we ended our work day and i headed back to the Lurgbauer-Villa for a very relaxing night of sleep.
 
on sunday, the weather was not too friendly – grey clouds and rain greeted me in the morning. still, we had work to do and met up at 10am. this time, we were 4 people in total, since we were joined by Peter and Nikos.
we packed all of the needed equipment into the all-terrain car and drove up to the Nasskamm. at the end of the road, we noticed that a handrail had been partially destroyed, probably by an avalanche in late spring.
our first task for the day was found!
path maintenance at the Schneealm: picture of a handrail, that was broken and has been repaired by us
the handrail, before and after

we searched for the missing parts of the handrail and tried to figure out how they could possibly fit together. after getting a general idea of the situation, we started with pulling up one of the longer logs with assistance of a rope to the path over the steep slope. we hammered a shorter pole into the ground and Peter used the chainsaw to even out the ends of the longer log, so that they formed a flat surface to lie upon the tops of the vertical poles. after using long nails to fix the log, the first part of the handrail had been restored successfully.
the rain got more intense and we had to use a hoe a few times to chop steps into the steep, slippery path between working on the handrail. after about 2 hours, we were done with repairing the handrail.
luckily, the weather had gotten better again, so we grabbed spar varnish in red and white, a sledge hammer as well as a chainsaw and started a 20 minute hike upwards to a meadow. orientation in the fog would be a problem here, since the marking on the trees had already faded out too much and the posts with marking were too far away from each other. so we started enhancing the situation. Nikos and Peter added posts and cut away some branches to reveal the paint marking, Otto and I refreshed the spar varnish on the trees.
path maintenance at the Schneealm: Nikos is mowing the lawn in the mountains
Nikos mowing the lawn in the mountains ;)

path maintenance at the Schneealm: using a brushcutter to uncover poles with marking
uncovering poles with a brushcutter

after this, we took a short break and then proceeded to the last place of action of the day, a path further down the mountain. we followed the path by foot, added posts with marking and cut away the grass around all posts.
when we reached the car again, we packed all equipment into the trunk and headed back down to the valley, where we ended the day at the Altenbergerhof.
 
although I was tired after two days of work, I was very happy that I decided to take part in this project! especially the hard work on sunday was great, because you could see the results directly afterwards. I was able to learn a lot and I was not aware of all the work that needs to be put into maintaining a safe network of paths.
my goal is to keep participating in these missions to learn enough so that I can contribute on my own in an area near to my home one day.
 
-> info on path maintenance and volunteering at the Alpenverein website
-> German version of the article on powderguide.com

Unterwegs mit dem Wegeteam des Alpenvereins

Stephanie Jagl-Posch hammering on a peg with hiking path signage to fixate it

Ich bin Mitglied des Wegeteams vom Gebirgsverein St. Pölten und arbeite auf freiwilliger Basis bei der Erhaltung von Wegen mit. Die Tätigkeiten beinhalten beispielsweise das Auffrischen oder neu Anbringen von Wegmarkierungen, das Freischneiden von Wegen oder das Wiederherstellen von Wegen nach Unwetterereignissen.

Für PowderGuide habe ich 2016 von meinem ersten Wochenende, bei dem ich auf der Schneealm als Wegewartin eingeschult wurde, berichtet.

https://powderguide.com/nc/magazin/abenteuerreisen/artikel/story-unterwegs-mit-dem-wegeteam-des-alpenvereins.html

an ode to the great outdoors.

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today i went on a little solo hiking mission on my beloved muckenkogel. the muckenkogel is a mellow mountain in lower austria, just a 30 minute drive from my home, which offers 4 different routes to the summit from one starting point and a few more from other points in the valley. the muckenkogel is only a bit over 1200 meters high, still you will have to master 900 meters altitude difference when you start your hike in the valley. all these facts make the muckenkogel a perfect mountain for me to work on my endurance. other than that, it’s also really beautiful there, thus i want to sing an ode to the great outdoors (not odors… post-hike odors are not ode-worthy in my book).
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the summit of the muckenkogel in the upper middle of the picture.
hiking is not a badass activity. it’s not glamorous, neither is it very exciting. still, i get excited on a regular basis when i’m hiking and this emotional high is due to the wonderful feeling that being in nature gives me.
i love to take in the vibrant colors of the sky, the plants, the rocks, the animals. when i’m inside a coniferous forest and i inhale the wonderful smell of a warm forest floor covered by needles from the trees it feels like a short holiday for my brain. watching butterflies twirl around in the air delightens me. and discovering a lizard or a beautiful bird is natures version of a surprise egg to me.
these sensations, combined with the physical demand of walking uphill and downhill, make hiking one of my favourite past-time activities.
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waterfall number 1 of 5.
and just so you know: science has just proven that being inside a forest is beneficial for our health (which we had already assumed before, hadn’t we? ;)). it reduces stress and the terpenes that plants emission to communicate with each other increase the power of our immune system.
we should all go for as much hikes as possible!
 
 
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found a broken glass bottle in the forest and picked up the shattered pieces.
please don’t leave glass in the woods, it can cause a fire!

 
 
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(the great odors)