The pine forest and farewell
We started our last day as we used to – by filling the bellies with delicious breakfast and with fun energizer.
After that we met our two guides. We were given our equipment for one of our last hikes in the area: statistics spreadsheets and GPS for each team. After short introduction we moved out of the resort up the road to the small pine forest – or more of a pine trees area.
At the entrance to the forest we discussed briefly the conflict of interest between nature protection and the inhabitants of the valleys strongly relaying on tourism. Farmers and landowners, struggling for centuries to stay in the area, making it their home, improved their quality of life after the ski tourism boom. That might be the reason why they don’t understand or don’t want to acknowledge that making ski trails, installing cable cars and other similar interferences are negatively impacting the nature around.
The tourism itself came with a price. For some locals it meant no days off and very little to no personal life – tourists came all over the year, holidays or not, even during Christmas and they wanted to be hosted properly for the price. It was not that often that some villagers slept in the cellars because bedrooms and living rooms were intended for the guests.
After the discussion we moved further into up, into the forest. The pine trees here are few centuries old – up to 400-500 years. In the middle ages the settlers used to cut down the trees to build huts and use the wood for other purposes, which made the valleys prone to avalanches. Because of that in between 19th and 20th century people started to plant the trees back in order to protect themselves and the nature.
The trees we encountered were pines and spruces. Mostly pines though – they are resistant to frost but at the same time need a lot of sunlight. They tend to die easily when in the shadow for longer period of time. We learned that they usually grow up to 2500 meters in the mountains and one of the worst natural enemy is fungus attacking the young saplings after winter, when the climate is still damp after the snow melts.
After we got this information we did the terrain analysis regarding the state of the trees in the area. It took us an hour and a half to estimate how many young trees were in good condition and how many of them were damaged – either by natural causes but apparently mostly because of human activity (cut by skis or for the purpose of building cable car installation, etc.).
When we finished the analysis we said goodbye to our lovely guides and had a moment of break. Then we went to the fireplace, where we were supposed to have a BBQ. In this lovely area just near the waterfall we were given a task to write a letter to selves – which we are all waiting forward to receiving in near future! Everyone had a chance to write down informations, knowledge, feelings and emotions we had at the moment. Beautiful way to maintain the memories of days past.
The BBQ itself took place back at the resort. After eating we had fun and oh-so-frustrating exercise of putting the thin stick on the floor by whole team and then another moment to share our thoughts by writing on each others backs what we wanted to share.
The busy day and the night ended with a goodbye party which bonded us even more after all those days spent together. Unfortunately the night wasn’t long enough, as it tends to be when necessary, and after a short nap we had very, very early breakfast and went to Innsbruck, where we all departed to our homes (some of us faster and some of us not at all).
This was the end of fantastic, emotional experience full of knowledge. The Tyrol region showed us its brightest side. Yes, it has its own problems, for sure: the conflict of interest, ever present natural hazards or negative impact of human activity. But it also has one of the most indescribable, calm aura; unique beauty, culture and still sort of wild nature, where people and wildlife can live in harmony. A place with a soul indeed.
Paweł Budzisz (Poland)