Hiking through the decades

He was one of the first hiking guides ever in Saalfelden Leogang - and is still on the way. With pleasure. But there is one thing Edi sometimes doesn't quite understand.

A legend

"I'm still often on the road," says Edi Hammerschmid, not without pride. By "on the road" he means: In the mountains. Which one must add at this point immediately: Edi, one of the first hiking guides in the region, is 78. And still active. That's why people in Leogang know him. Or rather: everyone knows him. Edi enjoys that: "You can just feel the appreciation." Only once was it a bit of a nuisance: "I had a cast on my hand. Then I almost couldn't leave the house because I had to explain to everyone what had happened."

The important things

Edi trained as a hiking guide back in the 1980s. At that time, the trained mason began to work as a school caretaker, and hiking was quite easy to combine with the summer vacations and the overall quite free allocation of time. "There was an invitation from the tourism association," Edi recounts. "These were the first hiking guide training courses ever. Until then, the hotel owners simply went along themselves." First aid was the most important aspect of the training, he recalls. And that you could "read the weather." Dealing with guests, on the other hand, was something you had to have a feel for. Edi is easy to get along with. "That fits then also and one talks about God and the world." As a hiking guide, it was and is always important to him that the group is oriented to the slower ones: "The fast one can go slower, but the slow one can't go faster." Logical.

Giving free rein to the imagination

Edi is also very happy to be out and about with children - even if it is a little more difficult to find a common pace with a group of kids. "Then the faster ones are allowed to go a bit ahead. But as soon as a turn comes, I whistle or 'do the owl,' they have to stop. That works." He is always fascinated by the children's imagination and creativity. For example, when they build a miniature barn out of leaves and branches in the forest, and pine cones serve as cows. "The things children come up with. It's tremendous. That fascinates me."

There is no such thing as bad weather,...

The fact that hiking in Saalfelden Leogang is more popular today than ever comes as little surprise to Edi. "You don't need much: good shoes, a backpack and water." Simply hiking. By the way, Edi is on the road even when it rains. A highly recommendable experience, he says: "You experience nature in a completely different way and get totally different impressions. I always say anyway - regardless of the weather - that you can walk a path a thousand times and still always discover something new."

The stress stays at home

Edi has now been in the mountains with young and old for over three decades. He likes to listen to his guests, adapting to their different demands. There's only one thing Edi sometimes doesn't quite understand: "Some people already ask in the morning when we'll be back - because they still have something planned. They have stress even on vacation." But Edi also has a solution for "stress on vacation": "You just go off then. And then your head turns off - and you leave your cares behind."


Images: Florian Lechner