The most beautiful view of the city always includes one thing: the unobstructed view of the Karwendel. Covering an area of 739 square kilometers, the Karwendel is Tyrol's largest protected area and Austria's largest nature park. Reason enough for a look behind the backdrop of the Nordkette
In conversation with Marina Hausberger
During my trip to the Hafelekar in the fall of 2021 in the course of the Nature Film Festival, I met Marina Hausberger. The likeable Tyrolean has been a ranger in the Karwendel Nature Park since 2014. She started with an internship, after which she was offered a permanent position as head of our volunteer platform Team Karwendel. Over the years, she has taken on more and more tasks in the nature park and is now employed for 30 hours throughout the year.
Marina, how does one actually become a ranger?
We all have a degree in the natural sciences. So mostly biology or geography. In addition, we are all certified mountain and nature guides
How would you describe your daily routine in summer?
There is actually no such thing as everyday life for me. Every day is different and that's what I like about my work. There are days when I sit at the PC and plan projects, answer emails, work on the website or do digital ranger work or public relations. Digital ranger work in particular is becoming more and more important as more and more people are getting info and ideas for recreation on platforms, social media or various blogs.
On other days, I'm out and about in the area doing landscape maintenance with our volunteers on the alpine pastures and biotopes, for example. Or I do classic ranger work like educating visitors, seeing where there are problems and how I can solve them, picking up trash, etc.
Which tours through the nature park do you lead, or do you specialize in something?
I do very few guided tours nowadays, because I am already very busy with the rest of my tasks. Now and then I do guided tours for schools or special tours for different groups. I haven't really specialized in anything, but if I had to categorize my expertise somewhere, it would be in our 101 alpine pastures in the protected area.
101 alpine pastures, wow! You wouldn't expect that at first glance. What do you like most about your job?
That every day is different and I can do something meaningful and positive with my work. Of course, working outdoors is also a big plus, although sometimes you wish you could go to the office to relax after a hard day..
What facts can you always surprise visitors with?
With very simple facts, such as the fact that the nature park has one of the highest densities of golden eagles in the entire Alpine arc. Or that when a drop of rain reaches the top of the Hafelekar, it takes 7 to 14 years for it to come out again at the spring as first-class drinking water.
What is there only in the Karwendel Nature Park and nowhere else?
There are very special habitats in the Karwendel, which may also exist elsewhere, but which are not as pronounced there as in the Karwendel Nature Park! See our beautiful maple soils or alpine wild rivers, rocky regions reminiscent of lunar landscapes, moor landscapes and oil shale deposits!
Fun facts about the wildlife in the Karwendel, what unusual animals, plants and lesser known peculiarities can be observed here?
Every time you visit the nature park you can discover something new. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open! For example, there are carnivorous plants in the nature park, such as the butterwort, or special orchids like the cabbage floret, which smell insanely good like vanilla chocolate.
The yellow lady's slipper can take up to 16 years to produce its first flower. A single sycamore is often home to about 60 other plant species that couldn't live without it....
And a very special grasshopper should also exist in the Karwendel...?
There are many different species of grasshoppers in the Karwendel, which need very special habitats that have become very rare in the Alps.
In the nature park, for example, we still have intact alpine wild rivers with their very special ecosystems and characteristics. Especially on the gravel banks of the wild rivers there are rare grasshoppers that simply cannot find a habitat elsewhere.
For example, there are small grasshoppers (Türks thorn grasshopper) that can feed under water, or flying grasshoppers (spotted snare grasshopper) that fly around with their strong red wings like small birds!
On our tour last fall, you told us about a special type of moss that only grows under very special conditions...
You probably mean the Rudolph's trumpet moss! This is a plant that can only grow in a very specific place, under very specific conditions. It grows only on the sycamore maple and there then only on the top of a branch that grows more or less horizontally and is at about two meters high. This moss exists, according to current knowledge, in larger quantities only in three places on earth: at the Großer Ahornboden in the Karwendel Nature Park, in Switzerland and in China!
Are there actually also products that are produced in the nature park?
There is a great cooperation with the two guys Max and Michi from AlpineSpirits. The two produce liqueur and syrup from collected mountain pine cones. The processed cones come exclusively from the nature park and are collected by hand. From each bottle sold, a certain portion of the profit flows back into nature conservation. This cooperation is a great example for us of how cooperation in the region can work and the liqueur is also marketed as an official nature park product.
Which family-friendly hike can you recommend in the Karwendel, which sporty day tour and where to go if you have 2-3 days? Gladly your personal recommendation and reference
As family-friendly hikes are certainly our great alpine pastures on the Nordkette to mention. Depending on how far you want to go, you can reach the Arzler Alm, the Umbrüggler Alm or the Höttinger Alm, you can enjoy culinary delights and always have a great view of Innsbruck and the Tux and Stubai Alps.
A very sporty day tour, which I also always do, would be the ascent of the Brandjoch from Innsbruck. Extremely casual is the view from up there in all directions. This tour can be shortened considerably by using the Innsbruck Nordkettenbahnen of course😊
If you have 2-3 days, then I would recommend a few stages of the Karwendel Höhenweg. From the Hafelekar to the Pfeishütte and then to the Bettelwurfhütte, perhaps even with an ascent of the Großer Bettelwurf and then down into the Halltal
Do you have a favorite season or a favorite place in the Karwendel?
My favorite season is winter. I love snow and cool temperatures and prefer to be out and about with my touring skis in the winter.
My favorite place in summer is probably Issanger in Halltal. There are few places with more species-rich and beautiful meadows at this altitude and in such spectacular surroundings. We have been taking care of the Issanger for a few years now, since there is no more grazing and mowing up there, the area would become wooded again and thus the species richness would decrease. We try to keep the Issanger open as much as possible by regular mowing to stop the natural succession.
Thank you for the exciting interview!
Off to the Karwendel: Ranger tours from Innsbruck
Every week in July, August and September there is the Discoverer Tour, which leads from the Hafelekar to the Pfeishütte and back. Here the participants learn all kinds of interesting things about life in the mountains of flora and fauna. These tours are led by numerous, competent nature park guides who work for the nature park on an independent basis.
Current dates & registration: Karwendel Nature Park, Anton Heufelder / email@example.com / Tel: +4366488446225
Tip: More hiking ideas on your own can be found here at innsbruck.info.
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Travel blogger & book author with a passion for hiking, wild herbs and alpine cuisine. #onlyinibk