Exploring the Joy of Walking: A Slow Hiker’s Journey on the Johannesweg

The next two days, we still had to hike more than 40 km. Sigrid and I like to experience the joy of walking by feeling our feet on the ground, listening to the sounds of nature, talking with locals and exploring interesting sites. We are slow hikers and savor the moment. We also love to stay for a while in beautiful places, rest and read poetry. Our first resting place this day was a chapel on the Kammererberg.

Chapel on the Kammererberg

The chapel was decorated with birch trees and many fresh flowers, remnants from the festival of Fronleichnam (festival of Corpus Christi).

In chapels and shrines in the countryside, it is common to express the intimate love between mother and child. Every so often, the love between father and child is expressed by St. Joseph holding his son.

St. Joseph with Jesus

We enjoyed the beautiful view with the Alps slightly visible in the far distance.

We passed this interesting site called “Augenbründl”, springwater used for healing the eyes since ancient times. We not only washed our faces but also filled our water bottles with this fresh, cool water.

When we approached the Biobauernhof (organic farm) of the family Thauerböck, we were greeted by a nice couple working together beside a stack of wood. They were the senior owners of the farm producing different kinds of Schnaps (brandy). He invited us to visit his tasting place. It was a beautiful wooden gazebo. Pilgrims could enter and choose for a small fee the brandy they wanted to taste. Everything was honor based. I told him that I recently had celebrated my birthday. It turned out that we were born on the same day – May 29. We celebrated our birthdays with a free shot of Spelt brandy – delicious!

Sepp, Sigrid and I toasting to our birthdays with Schnaps. Sigrid and I were impressed by his philosophy and life style – he told us that he walks the Johannesweg at least once a year in one day. He starts the hike at 3am arrives at his home at 11 pm.

Some of many different kinds of brandies such as sage brandy and lavender brandy – used as “medicine”.

Sepp built benches and a swing on his property for the pilgrims to use. Harmony and peace, he said, are the most important things for him in life.

Nature was gifting us with many beautiful flowers.

Foxglove flowers

Another “Vierkanthof”, a one family farmhouse with a square courtyard.

In one of the front gardens, we saw Azalea bushes in full bloom

I always like to visit Austrian cemeteries. The people care for the graves and plant beautiful flowers. It is a very peaceful place. However, there is also a social pressure to keep the gravesite beautiful.

On our way, we often saw these “rock islands”, a space not used for agriculture because of the huge rocks laying on the ground.

The church in Königswiesen was originally built in the 12th century and modernized in the Gothic style in the 15th century.

Inside the Marienkirche (church dedicated to Mary)

A beautiful example of a late Gothic loop rib vault, imitating flowers.

After visiting another ruin, we arrived at the village of Pierbach, where we had started our pilgrimage. We spent the night in the nearby village called Bad Zell, enjoying the healing waters, saunas and other amenities in the hotel Lebensquell.

The ancient walls of Ruine Ruttgenstein

The smell of this abundant blooming rosebush was a metaphor for our entire pilgrimage – a gift of life.

Thank you, my dear friends, for walking with me the Johannesweg and enjoying the beauty of this pilgrimage.

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Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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