When spring sends its first warm days and the last snow gives way to the sun, we finally want to go hiking again. Out into the wilderness and explore beautiful trails, find a sunny spot to sit on the way and stroll step by step through the beauty. Who actually cares for and maintains all these paths, one wonders from time to time. My search for answers leads me south of Innsbruck to Igls, where the city's most important trail builder does his work.
Michael Kozubowski is a true Igler and has been at home in the village since birth. Like all country children, he grows up outside in nature, back in the days before the Internet. He soon knows the small mountain village, the farmers and families, and the surrounding forests and waters like the back of his hand. As a young man, he was briefly drawn out into the world as a long-distance and bus driver, but he was soon back home. Since 2001 he has been working for the Innsbruck Tourist Board. There, from Rinn to Ellbögen, he takes care of all the bike trails, hiking trails, paths, signs, repairs and everything else that comes up. Mr. Kozubowski is such a man of the mark doer, that betrays already the bear-strong handshake. He doesn't have much time today, because there is always a lot of work to do. But we'll manage a short time," Michael smiles dutifully - country children are on first-name terms.
Always on the way
The village green does not do things by halves here. From the bus, you're just one step away from the green, a meticulously manicured golf lawn, and Michael drives the mighty mower himself, of course. But also excavators, buses, trucks and forklifts - he is a man with possibilities. Only in rainy weather does he devote himself to tedious office work; he much prefers to be out and about, somewhere "along the way," as they say in Tyrol. Five men with five pickup trucks take care of the trails in the region all year round at Innsbruck Tourism, actually a job without any breaks. Sometimes you're even glad of the rain," laughs the landscape manager, gazing thoughtfully into the clouds. Because there's also a lot of other work to be done. His son welded the noble photo frame on the village square, for example, and also the attractive cover for the base of the maypole. Sometimes Michael wakes up at night, has to write down an idea, and the next morning he implements it.
Michael is always working. Even when he's not actually working. That's not the definition of a job, but a tangible passion. He also likes to keep his eyes open for good ideas in his private life and in other hiking areas - keyword: fences. If you come across pastures in alpine pastures, you will sometimes find such ingenious gate systems that you simply stop in amazement. With stone, cable pull and lock fully automatic self-closing, because some hikers just like to leave everything open. Elsewhere, he has recently received a tip from a fabulous Sonnenplatzl - but completely without Bankl! So Michael immediately sets off himself: And truly, it's really beautiful here - and soon there's also a bench. By the way, only local companies are commissioned to carry out any special work - they know each other and they know the paths, which makes a lot of things easier. This also applies to the farmers, where many paths run across the plots of land in a very communal way. And again, the keyword is fences.
Every year a theater
As a guide, a lot is conveyed in this way. The cell phone often rings during our conversation, someone in the café is always saying hello, and Michael knows a lot to say with just a few words. It's spring, and the trail workers are in high season. "Whereby, we actually always have," Michael laughs and wipes a few photos across the display. The old panorama board at the rest area on the A13, theoretically even heated in the winter, but in practice of course constantly broken and now thankfully dismantled.
Pictures from the IOC Cycling World Championships, where the French marshal wanted to keep the Innsbruck flags out of the picture and Michael positioned them just a few meters away and even more visible on farmer's land a short phone call later. Or the five-ton boulder that lay in the middle of the hiking trail after an avalanche and could only be removed with the combined forces of farmers, the community, the military and Michael. The Zirbenweg on the (Patscher) Kofel is already a theater every year, the connoisseur lets me know.
The disappeared summit room
Michael's day's work is sometimes also a bit of detective work. Because if the counter on the Jochleitenweg counts 1,500 to 3,000 hikers a day, which one has removed the sign as a souvenir? Last year alone, 40 signs disappeared in the association area. Particularly popular was the „Gipfelstube“that was gone eight or nine times a year. Maybe that's why the Gipfelstube is no longer there today, because no one has found it, the trail manager muses. Or whether in the end also still another one has taken? In any case, Michael then set up a game camera at Heiligwasser and caught the same sign scoundrel in flagrante delicto.
Speaking of water: A spring with a fountain was recently drilled for the Kneipp facility - the overflow now fills the Kneipp basin. But it won't be filled until the second of May - otherwise so many children were always sick after the fun outdoor holiday. And you'd better not mess with parents there. Why does he love this back-breaking job anyway? Because the joy of others makes him so happy, like the chef who cooked simply beary! One last question, then he really has to get going again: What does he do when he really has time off, turns off his cell phone and can't be reached? Then he prefers to go sailing, he says. A vacation by the water, where there are no roads.
Photos: The cover image and the sunrise in this post were shot by Markus Mair on Patscherkofel. Bankl and Gipfelstube are memories from W9 Studios. The pictures of Michael are from the author and all others from Michael Kozubowski himself.
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A small "scribbler" with huge passions. Born, raised and refined in Tyrol. Loves to read and can cook almost as well as his grandma. At his happiest when out and about and searching for new horizons.