December… Approaching Christmas and Lockdown threats, skies are grey and the mood… is splendid once we reach Spitzingsee, where rain turns into snow.
First ski-tour this winter for me, first ski-tour ever for the wise sister. Just great to be out here, surrounded by other crazy outdoor freaks and happy with fresh snow beneath our skis!
Facts of the tour: internet data results into 365 m altitude difference. But why trust anonymous internet sites when you can ask foreign guys at the Jagahüttn? “…must be around 1.600-1.700 m, black and challenging tour, great achievement!”
The first winter hike of the year always comes as a surprise. This November weekend 2021 offers autumn sun and almost perfect conditions – if not for the out-of-the-blue white stuff all around Spitzingsee.
Of course, I arrive at Spitzingsattel in light hiking shoes and summer clothing. What else to expect on a bright, sunny day?! Yet, my summer shoes work pleasingly well on icy ground, making me start the tour light-hearted. And without realizing the wrong direction I take right from the parking lot.
The forest path of the first passage is well marked and supposed to be my retour. Still, it brings me closer to my desired destination, the Jägerkamp-peak. It’s cross becomes visible as soon as I leave the forest behind and approach the Schönfeldhütte. There even is a sign towards a vague direction “Jägerkamp: 1h”. Half an hour later, after some back and forth trials, I realize: a) that I have reached a point only 5 minutes away from the Alm. And, b), that landmarks or painted dots (signposts) are buried under 30 cm of finest fresh snow.
I look around and spot a handful other hikers. Each one seems to face the same dilemma: looking for the right way towards the summit, losing time over time in the snow.
Eventually, it is the temptation of food and coffee offered by Schönfeldhütte (open in all seasons) that makes me abbreviate today’s hike. I make a mental note for the Jägerkamp becoming an upcoming target, then hop down to the Alm.
I share a table in the sun with a gentle guy from Slovakia and he shares his knowledge about the right way to the Jägerkamp (turns out that I have been wrong all along). For the time being, I have no regrets: 2,5 hours in beautiful surrounding, with rays of sun and sparkling white snow – peak or no peak, I have a wonderful time with probably the last hike of the year.
Another hike with another friend. Who would have guessed (not me, certainly) that I would manage to meet sports buddies rather than bar / culture / other friends? Especially when being back in the “Super-Working-Trap”: Eleven months mark an overwhelming lean period between the last holiday and the next, even worse as travelling has lost some of its lightness for an undefined period of time.
Typical for October, temperatures vary from frozen to t-shirt-warmth, depending upon sun and southern vs. northern flanks. The length of today’s tour, instead, depends upon orientation and rare road signs. We manage to sort out the first half just right, or at least most of it. Forest roads, paths and rare outlooks keep us busy and uphill for a bit less than two hours, until we almost stumble out of the woods and over the peak’s cross. Far from being the most impressive peak of the Alps, the Staffel’s cross is almost hilariously huge.
The way down starts promising and mostly sunny. About half way down, an unmarked crossing lurs us into a deviation of a mere 5 km before we get back to our starting point. Hence, we get a bit more sun and walking distance than foreseen by the easy tour, summing up 14 instead of the planned 9 km. Still, it has been a nice and easy hike and before we leave the Jachenau valley, we ensure to fill up precious calories in the cafés along the way.
The wrong turn right at the start leads to a tour that is not entirely, but almost, unlike the planned one. But, lucky girl that I am, the unexpected variance of a hike is a win: all sunny and with fantastic views between Wildem Kaiser and Zahmen Kaiser.
For maximum training effects, I carry all the via ferrata stuff along the way: snaphooks, helmet and all other safety equipment. It weighs about umpteen pounds or a ton or close to. Aiming to lighten my backpack, I have left the hiking sticks down at the parking, something that seemed a good idea about an hour ago. With the steep paths up and the stony paths down, they would have been quite useful along the way, but with the given facts, I still have the option to ignore aching knees or tired muscles.
The only complaint – if any – is about the Stripsenjochhaus. Somewhere between Feldberg and Wiesensattel, I start dreaming of Austrian food. I even visualize how I will stretch out my legs with a cup of coffee and glutenfree cake. Truth is that the crew of Stripsenjochhaus has decided to close down early this year, and there is no such thing as a cook awaiting hungry guests.
After all, flexibility is a matter of planning. Having parked Hector at Griesner Alm (closed as well, of course), means that it only takes 20 minutes to Camping Steinplatte with it’s approved qualities: friendly service, hot showers and a solid restaurant.
Later that evening I resume that Covid19 has changed my habits: The money I have spent previously for bars, clubs, concerts and theater now flows into sporty activities and camping. Either way, there is more to life than just work or lockdown.
Another weekend brings sun and warmth, at least during daytime. No wonder that Hector talks me into another trip towards the Alps, this time even abroad. We detect Camping Steinplatte, a likely campsite with premium lavatories and relaxed atmosphere.
Caused by maximum spontaneity, I have left a couple of things behind. Such as the hiking map of the region, and also Fred, my expedition sleeping bag (rescue from the cold down to -42°C). Fortunately, the cold is a mild one this night and the two summer blankets are enough to keep it cozy and warm.
Saturday morning starts promising. Turning on Hector’s heating enables me to get used to the expected summer temperatures. Besides, it feels incredibly luxury. I am well aware that others might starve in the cold while I enjoy comfy breakfast with homemade coffee and a humming gas heating.
The rest of the day is fun and joy and mountains: Hector takes the toll road under his tires, all up to Steinplatte-parking. Along the way, he proves once more that he is a veritable Rennsau (formula 1-like-moving-item). At 9:05 a.m., I start my walk towards Stallenalm, then Grünwaldalm and then finally to the beginning of the via ferrata Schuastagangl-Steig.
After the easy-peasy hikes and via ferrata trials of the past, today’s route is a good one. Interesting, even. And despite few others being either ahead of me or behind, I do neither hear nor see anyone during the entire steel rope section. I have the entire challenge all for myself.
Given the solitude as well as my general, very rational mindset, I leave out the detour marked with “difficult, really difficult” and rather continue straight forward on the original route.
Once having stepped into the via ferrata, it becomes as simple and pure as can be: just follow the steel ropes, mostly in a vertical direction. The view gets more and more spectacular while I forget entirely to think about work, to-do-lists or other duties. The klicks of the snap-hooks and the search for good grip in the rocky wall, that is all that counts here and now.
Hardly an hour later, I come to a point where I try and try and re-try for what seems endless (about 5 minutes), sorting out how to get over a tricky passage. Pausing and thinking about the best approach makes me realize that I am really hungry by now. I hope that the peak is not far anymore, and lose focus with a couple of braincells that start dreaming of a well-prepared summit-snack…
Seven minutes later, I am there. All it takes is a bit of body tension: A step to the right, a slight swing to the left, then a pull from the arms and a push from the left toes and there I am, up on the Steinplatte.
The scattered hikers around ask me why I radiate with exuberant happiness. Seems like my joy is visible, including the sun, the view, the tour and the challenge. Or, more probable, the sensation of finally getting my peak snack.
Walking down is the relaxed part, even hilarious. Not because of the moaning children or oversized parents carried up by the cableway. Not even because of the asphalted ways and the obtrusive visibility of ski lifts and snow cannons. It is due to the “Triassic Park” and it’s papier mâché objects – and due to the fact that they pretend to talk to their audience.
Eventually, I make it down to the Stallenalm for a final cup of coffee before I head back home. The tour kept me busy and focused for less than three hours, yet the holiday feeling of the weekend will stay for a little while.
But as for the hour, feels like I’m reaching for the peak of sours… They say, holidays will come and go, and when it hits you, you know it happened. Something inexplicable and undiscovered, something in the shades that I can take into the light… And something kind of silly I can find a meaning in and wake up to at night – some pretty sight.
[Inspired by Stray Colors / Whiskey Sour and with fantastic view on the Brecherspitz]
We count the 15th year of alumni encounters, the big revival of the best controlling team ever. This time, we come together on top of the Pfänder.
The tough ones go up and enjoy the physical challenge. The rest will join later, wasting not a single drop of sweat when using the cable car.
The simple path leads up through shady forest with wonderful views over the Bodensee every now and then. After all, we reach the Pfänder peak after 1:15h, all easy and stressless.
Waiting for the rest of the team is the hard part. We linger around the peak’s cross as long as we can, then settle down on the terrace and start to celebrate our yearly reunion.
Eventually, the other colleagues make it, and we can start discussing professional topics. Strange enough, whenever I bring up the question of the partial reflexion of photons on H2O molecules, no vivid exchange enfolds…
With the squeeze of delayed arrival and the upcoming evening agenda, we take a final picture and start our descent in time.
The main part of our meeting takes place at Ravensburg – a cute, still a bit boring city, about half an hour from the lake’s shore. Lucky us, the restaurant scene has added Syrlin Speisenwelt with the wonderful Kostbar just recently. Food and wine are excellent and the mood is as good as ever. Five thirty-somethings share professional and personal interest as well as a certain sense for enjoyment. If only they had a Glitzerkeller or Stereobar in Ravensburg, that would bring us back to early years…
In the end, we are safe and – relatively – early back at the hotel. The good thing of a closed-down downtown and an obstructive barkeeper is the reasonable, low level of alcohol (a big “Thank you!” goes to Kai, the non-profit guy from the Aurum-Bar).
Hector und ich, das ist eine dieser ganz großen Liebesgeschichten. Über innere Werte, äußeren Glanz und die seltene Kombination von Freiheit und Geborgenheit.
Seit nunmehr 8 Jahren rollen wir grundsätzlich zu selten und zu wenig durch Europa, ständig gelobt einer von uns Besserung, immer wieder schaffen wir es und sind – beglückt. Glück, selbstgemacht, nur durch Einsteigen & Losfahren.
Zuletzt in Südtirol, als ganz München in einer 11°-Dauerregen-Depression versank und wir auf der Südseite des Brenners die Sonne einfingen. Und nun am Sylvensteinsee, auf dem rudimentär einfachen und gerade deshalb so schönen Nachtparkplatz.
Nur 75 Minuten von zu Hause sucht sich mein Lieblingsbus ein schattiges Plätzchen unter den Bäumen. Dass der Parkscheinautomat nur Bargeld nimmt – geschenkt. Dass sich eine von zwei Insassen im Restaurant irrt – ein Gewinn! Wer ahnt denn, dass es wenige Meter neben dem Gasthaus „Jäger vom Fall“ auch noch ein Gasthaus „Faller Hof“ gibt. Am Ende stellt sich heraus, dass wir bestens versorgt sind. Für Yoga am Seeufer bleibt zwar keine Zeit mehr, aber den kitschigsten aller Sonnenuntergänge zelebrieren wir ausgiebig.
Der Sylvenstein-Stellplatz ist perfekt für einen spontanen Urlaubsabend. Einsam gelegen, umgeben vom Fjord-artigen Stausee und dunklen Wäldern – jenseits der Natur gibt es hier nicht viel. Eine eher mittelmäßige Toilette und zwei (2!) Gasthäuser. Keine Gartenzwerge, keine Dauercamper, keine Hecken-Parzellen – stattdessen einen prächtigen Sternenhimmel, dort, wo sich die Bäume lichten.
Nach dem Essen ergeben sich die Handgriffe von allein: Einer packt die Weinflasche ein, die andere zwei Becher, und fünf Minuten später sitzen wir am Seeufer mit Blick nach Westen. Das Licht, die Landschaft, der Mond, ein lautlos vorbeiziehendes Ruderboot – es braucht keine angehäuften, weltlichen Güter, um das zu genießen. Nur einen Campingbus.
Am nächsten Morgen wird es um 6 Uhr langsam hell. Schnell Zähne putzen, Espresso kochen, und los geht es zur anderen Seite der Landzunge. Sonnenaufgang, Nebelschwaden und ein Wald, wie ihn Bob Ross nicht schöner hätte malen können, begleiten uns durch unseren Kaffee.
Am Ende sind wir um 8:30h zurück im Alltag. Mit einer guten Portion Glückserlebnis in den Knochen und einem immer einsatzbereiten Bus vor der Tür.
Hector and me, it is one of those rare love stories. When shimmering silver lack meets inner qualities, with the power to combine my home-sweet-home with the air of freedom.
Common sense is that the relation travel vs. work is not yet optimized. Yet, whenever Hector hits the road, anything but a wide smile on my face is just impossible.
Recently, the South side of the Alps has been the perfect micro-holiday for a weekend. Now, it is about a holiday evening with nothing more – or less – than a wonderful sundown in stunning nature.
A mere 75 minutes from home, Hector settles in for the night on my favourite camper parking Sylvenstein. Pushing positive karma, I help out a foreign guy with the coins he needs for the overnight-parking ticket. This being set, we sneak in the restaurant around the corner right in time before they close the kitchen. It is only during our delicious dinner when we realize that we are not seated at “Jäger vom Fall”, but rather at “Faller Hof”. Who would have guessed that a five-souls-village may count more than one restaurant…
Thanks to early dinner, our timing is perfect for today’s sunset. Beside the lack of fancy gadgets, one of the best aspects of this camper parking is the location: Alps, the dammed Isar-river and the Sylvenstein lake, all surrounded by dark forests in a Bob Ross-painted style. Sounds kitschy – and proved just right.
Useless to look for reasonable activities around here. Best you can do is find yourself a tree trunk at the shore, perhaps accompanied with a glass of wine and a camera. Wait and see and enjoy: The light. The landscape. The moon. The stars. No need for expensive toys or posh outfits – a camper at your side is all it takes.
The next morning repeats the show, now with focus to the East. Wafts of mist add a mystic touch to the scenery while the rest is very much same, same, but different. When we reach the bottom of our coffee cups, it is time to turn our backs to the wonderful micro holiday and get back to work.
Hector is through with it: parked eternally, enduring rain and cold and never-ever used for spontaneous trips. For the 4th time in a row, 11°C and liters of rain cross my camping plans.
Solution: Change the destination!
2h 45 are all it takes. Before the night settles in, we unpack the mountain bikes, get out the chairs and the table and enjoy outdoor dinner with a bit of wine and much of a view.
Other than Munich, the next morning in Klausen starts with blue skies, warm sun and a blocked bathroom door. The detail with the door is a bit disturbing. Not that I need Hector’s tiny bathroom when situated on a comfy campsite, but almost everything is stored in there: toothbrush, MTB equipment, sunscreen.
While others may face anything as boring as simple breakfast, we have a challenge ahead: analyze the function of Hector’s lockers, try to dismantle the blocking padlock, try and try and try to open this stubborn door. A half cup of coffee later, a final, frustrated slam at the door does the trick and it clicks open. The entire crew is happy to see me head off for the lavatory, toothbrush at hand.
Plan of the day is a MTB tour from Klausen to Brixen. While the landscape is pretty and the weather just fine, I realize that today’s company is sort of a tour guide for the vertical.
We come from steep via very steep to incredibly steep gradient. Sweating and swearing, I push my bike uphill. I learn the hard way that a 19% slope is beyond cycling… My smile may have become a bit forced along the way, but at least I look sporty as hell.
In Feldthurns (Velturno), we use the inviting Gartencafé Tonig Bar for a break. Afterwards, the upcoming 20km of the tour are a piece of cake: passing by the castle, then down on serpentine roads, and finally following the river until we reach Klausen.
The rest of the day is sunny, relaxed and full of wonderful food. Life can be sweet on a holiday weekend!
After a gourmet evening at Walther von der Vogelweide, we are up for another day at Klausen. Hector agrees to wait on the bus parking while the rest of us walks up to the Sabiona Monastery and the Chapel of Mercy (Lady Chapel).
Once more, the paths are steep and uneven. Still, it is so much easier without pushing the bike! Eventually, we arrive at the convent and enter the Church of the Holy Cross.
Huge wall paintings and the general atmosphere of the church are a surprise and a contrast to the fortress character of the area.
By Sunday afternoon, we have checked all of Klausen’s highlights: the bike & the hike part, several restaurants, a bit of wine here and a bit of ice-cream there, the camping and the monastery. Hence, we tether up the sun to Hector’s hitch and go back to German weather.
Sometimes the few-lines-tour-description does not come close to the sensation along the way. What sounds like a medium tour for a relaxed Saturday turns out a 3-peak-cross-over-hike.
Unsurprisingly, Gunther is the hiking buddy of the day – whenever he joins, unforeseen summits (such as Ochsensitz or Ziegelspitze) come along. Fortunately, I am not easy to convince and keep to my expectation that the next peak in sight must be today’s destination of a summit.
First in a row is the Ochsensitz, passed by casually when taking the right path at an unmarked fork.
It is only when we reach the Ziegelspitze cross that I have to admit: nice here, but not Notkarspitze. It is a pity, but then it is a good place for a snack with a view just the same.
We leave Ziegelspitze behind, appreciating the multifaceted paths, getting more and more of an open view on the surrounding landscape. The hilly landscape with ups and downs and ridges, to be more precise. It dawns on me that we need to conquer it all: the saddle we are on, the mountain we see ahead to the left, and then all the way up to the more distant peak straight ahead. It must be around here when Gunther drops a word about being happy that I have proposed the tour, meaning that I cannot blame him for the efforts we face.
Eventually, we get there. Once settled down with a Gipfelsemmel, I regain forces quickly. Full of energy, new plans come up. Let’s take the most steep way down! We are young, we are strong, we can ignore the skeptical thoughts of the others. Before we leave, it is time to get back to handstand skills. Obviously, you should exercise every now and then if aiming for a vertical form…
The way down is the most steep descent of all tours so far. In the end, I clench my teeth while I feel every nerve in my feet, every movement in my knees and every inch of altitude that we lose. Three minutes later, we are there: The Ettaler Mühle welcomes us with coffee, cold beverages and a rural choice of food.
The last passage back to the parking is nothing less than the ultimate proof of fitness: 3:05h up + 2:10h down have not brought us down. We beat the proposed 45 minutes by far, heading back to the car in a mere 25 minutes. Guess I have become a mountain-speed-snail after all.