We leave Monte Santa Caterina/Katharinaberg (1,245 m) and climb partly along the road and partly on a trail up towards Unterperfl farm (1,417 m). From there, we continue to climb firstly along a paved pathway and then along the steep trail no. 10 until we arrive at a fence. Shortly after passing the fence we take the right fork in the path.
Staying more or less on the level, we arrive at Hühnerspiel farm (1,906 m), which is long abandoned and is falling to wrack and ruin before our very eyes. However, it is a good example of the extreme conditions under which mountain farmers who were still growing grain at the start of our century were forced to live. Some of the internal doors that are covered in graffiti and mysterious drawings have been removed for safekeeping (at the request of this author); they are a further, puzzling testimony of the period which I refer to as the “Wooden Age”. Just behind the farm, and slightly higher up, is a small boulder (stela) in which a number of cup-marks are etched.
We continue along the slightly rising trail to Matzlaun (2,023 m) and straight after that we reach Obermairalm Mountain Hut (2,095 m). At this point, it is not only the imposing landscape that is impressive but also the buildings in this farmstead whose core have been traced back to the 14th Century. Crudely hewn beams, corners that are certainly not 90°, tiny windows and even the way the rooms are divided up: together, they suggest that many elements stem from the original building structures.
Obermairalm is still in use today, though now only in summer as seasonal mountain pastures (see Interesting facts A7). There are however plans for a revised and comprehensive use of the pastures, and we sincerely hope that the necessary expertise and sensitivity will be brought into play.
The trail continues on the level to Dickeralm Mountain Hut where we take a rest before walking on down to Dickhof farm (1,709 m), already clearly in sight. On the opposite slope of the valley we can see the isolated Saxalbhof farm that is still in operation today even though it isn’t accessible by road. Above it there are a number of small buildings, at different heights. These Alpine huts that belong to the farm are intended to make the most efficient use of the pastures thanks to the staggered arrangement of the huts, given that the pastures used to be the most important source of income for the mountain farms.
Our return walk continues on trail no. 10 and after a short descent we see a stone with a very nice cup-mark, just below the trail. Continuing on down through the larch forest we come to Linthof farm (1,464 m), a popular excursion and rest destination. Beside the playground there is an enormous boulder (stela) with a number of cup-marks linked by gutters. There is a somewhat isolated elevation below the farm, Gruabbichl, that is a perfect viewing point. We descend further to Patleidhof farm and walk for a while along the road towards Naturns, and then take a right turn (signposted) to Unterstell farm (1,282 m). We take the gondola lift from here and arrive in a few minutes down in Naturns, near the power plant that is supplied with water from Vernagt lake. We then return to Schnalstal Valley by regular bus.