Today is a day without skis. Instead, we have a hike along a mountain trail to a distant monastery and a downhill track for the sleds slithering down the mountainside.
The deep Stubai Valley begins under the huge three-thousand Schaufelspitze mountain and stretches several dozen kilometers to the suburbs of Innsbruck. One of the last towns before the capital of Tyrol is Mieders. We turn there and after a few minutes we drive up to the lower station of the Serlesbahn. We quickly borrow two pairs of sledges and jump into the gondola, to the top station which is 1566 meters above sea level. In the Tatra Mountains, we would be somewhere in Hala Gąsienicowa, already over the upper border of the forest. But here, more to the south, gentle hills are still covered with fir-spruce forest.
A 6.5 km long toboggan run starts right at the cable car station. We will take it later. And for now, we are going along the ridge of the hill for a two-kilometer walk to the XV-century monastery of Maria Waldrast.
The history of this sanctuary reminds Polish holy place, Święta Lipka. Just like on the border of Warmia, the local boy saw the image of the Mother of the Savior in the branches of the tree. And a church was erected there, with the statue famous for mercy in it.
We are walking slowly down a narrow path trodden in deep snow. We pass skiers on ski-tours on the way. Ski-tours have over a hundred years of tradition. Famous Polish artists from the beginning of XX century, Mariusz Zaruski and Mieczysław Karłowicz – pioneers of skiing in the Tatras – took winter walks trips on similar equipment.
We look around with interest on the right and left. A high forest rustles around us. Here and there, the meadows covered with a thick layer of snow glistening white. And when we look up, we will see rock walls of two-and-a-half thousand meters. On the beautiful route, passing travelers greet us with their cheerful: Grüß Gott! Chruczek is delighted to walk among the resinous forests, sun and snow. He loves his sledges, which he comfortably rides, pretending to be Santa Claus.