Seriously Uphill: Geigelstein

Here I go again, uphill on a holiday Tuesday! There is hardly anything more rewarding than a spontaneous free day in the middle of the week, with bright summer weather and beautiful mountains around. (Except for real travels, says a low voice in the back of my head, but I am willing to ignore it for some time more.)

Today’s pathfinder is Gunther again, one of the best hiking buddies to dive deep into nature.

Outgrowing Nature

All I have to do is get rid of half of my trousers and follow him uphill for mere 1.100m. And bear the sun that shines oh so bright. High noon gets its own, delicate meaning when you make it to the peak in the middle of the day, on heights that are too low for alpine frost, but get you closer to the sun nonetheless.

Destination ahead

Every so often, we cross flocks of cows that ignore most of Covid-19’s distance regulations. Now, isn’t it great to approach a vague fear of huge animals? It would be easy to get in touch, yet we try to respect their grounds when passing by with deep tribute even in closest nearness.

Don’t stand… don’t stand so… don’t stand so close to me…

Thanks to my inner impatience, I skip the idea of waiting for them to free the path, and instead count on the fact that they should be more experienced in hiker-encounters than I am in relation to cows. And, guess what? It works!

Leaving all others behind

Today’s peak is sort of a ridge with steep flanks on two sides, yet without being bothering. It offers enough space for a hand full of hikers and their peak snack (rewarding Gipfelsemmel), accompanied by a 360° lookout.

…then on top…

The view in all directions is splendid: mountains and valleys, blue skies and stretching sporties.

Stretching thoroughly defined Muscles

Despite the moderate height of 1.808m, the perspective from the backside of the cross is not less impressive. Only the yoga pose is still more of a trial than a success, but who talks about success when it is about inner balance?

When trying to Balance the Unbalanced

The way down offers an abbreviation that brings me closer to my inner demons (eeeekh, nature!). Thanks to the mixture of rain and warmth these days, any plant seems to reach twice its regular size, colouring parts of our bare arms and legs with red signs of nettles or whatever is part of this alpine jungle. Still, the short cut accelerates the way towards the Priener Hütte and after all I am fine with the blossoming beauty around.

Facets of Beauty

Eventually, another wonderful hike comes to its end as it comes with the outlook to further ones that will follow – great playground, these near mountains!

Nice Region
1.100m alt. difference14,5 km6:15hmostly harmless

Karspitze or: How to Hike on my own (without getting lost)

It is amazing how my surrounding knows me. As soon as I head South towards the Alps, my favourite radio station plays Kate Bush with something about “running up that hill”, causing a blurred picture half way between dreaming, driving and anticipating today’s hike.

“The Forest” (The Cure) would have been another suitable song…

In fact, today’s pathways are more grounded. I appear to be the first one finding my way uphill, even the cows are still dozy at 8:00 a.m. I enjoy the quiet atmosphere as I continue on forest paths towards the Karspitze.

Clean Shoes on Forest Paths in the lower part of the Route

Exceptionally, I try to find the peak all on my own, with the plan to continue walking until I find a place with a cross. I make my way with the tour description at hand, bright summer skies above and deep mud wherever I share the way with pasturing cattle. Blaming anyone for having missed the right path at the most unremarkable junction, it is for the cows and the slush: Instead of plodding through another wet meadow (hardly looking like it would lead anywhere further than the trough), I continue on the broad way and may have missed some more romantic passages.

Inviting enough

However, taking advantage of my fantastic sense of orientation, I realize in time that either way gets me up to the peak, proved just fifteen minutes later. With flowering meadows and a neat chapel, the place looks as romantic as possible, almost ending my inner chagrin about invisible junctions or lost tracks. Coming closer, the view opens up towards the cliff walls of “Zahmer Kaiser” and on some clouds that appear against all predictions.

…then the View enfolds: Zahmer Kaiser

Once more in this crazy overtourism-summer, I am alone on top of today’s hill. At least for 10 minutes, but still. The Karspitze is a minor peak with only 1.241m above sea level, attracting few tourists. I enjoy the peaceful place, chat a bit with other, rare hikers and then hop down half way for a stop at Wildbichlalm and their impressive coffee machine.

The World hangs crooked in it’s Hinges? No worries, I hold on to it in the most supportive Way!

With today’s short & easy tour, I find myself on the way back home already around noon. The hamlets between Aschau and Sachrang are named Berg, Bach, Stein, Wald and, even more precise, Außerwald and Innerwald (transl.: mountain, creek, stone, forest, added by outofforest and innerforest). Obviously, they have been established either with the most practical approach or by an impressive lack of inventiveness.

I will continue to compensate missing travels with spontaneous hikes this year. Later on, when regular tourists need to return to their homes and their offices, I might include Hector for some night-outs. It is so not-his-style, being parked at home all summer long…

500m alt. difference6 km< 3hharmless

Double Peak Tour: Feichteck and Karkopf

Dissolving Clouds

Years and years, I regarded myself being unsporting, yet happen to move quite a lot. Now my learning of the C-year is: I am sporty! A real tough athletic wonderwoman, running and climbing, swimming and dancing, skating and cycling and all the rest. Being locked down by a series of incidents, I missed the regular action much more than I would have guessed.

Back on Track => Yay to Sporty Challenges

Fortunately, this is about to change now. During the second hike of the year, I even carry the backpack on my own, just like a grown-up kid! Perfectly celebrated with a double peak tour in Chiemgau.

Totally Fine Carrying only his own Backpack: Gunther

Gunther, today’s hiking buddy, joins me for a decent tour towards Feichteck. The hiking paths are gentle and almost deserted as we make our way through an enchanted forest.

Nature is Brimming these Days

Eventually, we come to a halt at the tall and simple cross of the Feichteck peak. Despite high season and overtourism in our beloved Alps, we find ourselves alone up here, enjoying the view and some prepared Gipfelsemmel (author’s note: the translation “peak snack” is not entirely, but almost unlike the real, heartful meaning).

The huge Cross Ups the Mountain by 6 Metres

Having realized our full sports potential, we decide that one summit is hardly enough for us mountain pros. Consequently, we make a second stop on the Karkopf peak. Getting there includes a more interesting passage with an almost vertical climb that leads up on a ridge.

Up. Straight Up.

Once there, you better pause for a moment and enjoy the view that enfolds a few steps before the peak cross will be reached.

Between Feichteck and Karkopf

The Karkopf is a funny summit with a flat top, using a very individual cross to pretend being a serious peak. In fact, it rather seems like a mid-level picknick plateau, decorated with an extraterrestrial road sign.

The Road Sign gives Priority to Spacehips coming from Kuiper Belt

Our route is only about an inch away from the Hochries, a more famous hill with a comfortable cableway. From a distance, we witness piles of tourists up there, while we enjoy a mostly lonesome hike. The only living obstacles in our way are some cows. Due to their impressive size, we agree that mass wins and circle cautiously around the most splendid specimen.

Happy like Daisies

The tour ends with cake and coffee at the Doagl Alm and, of course, with smiling faces and happy feet.

850m altitude8,7 km4 hmostly harmless

The How-To: Camping, Vanlife and prepared Spontaneity

All those camping-rookies driven by Covid-19-isolation: amateurs! The crew = Hector & me, we have experienced years and years of recalcitrant bugs, overcrowded high season places, anonymous “get away!”-notes – but more than anything, we experienced the big freedom despite all.

Freedom, after all

The planning necessity is season-driven: Camping during school holidays = no big planning required, just hold on to the one and only reservation you have got. Once there, try not to move, you will only stumble over other tourists’ feet wherever you turn to. Using off-season months is different and rewards you with joyful preparation long before departure.

Preparation Pile

Best practice is a prepared tour-map: pre-collected options, filed in a cardboard folder, including GPS coordinates, hints and phone numbers. It minimizes the time spent starring on my cell-phone display and enables more hours on top of a surfboard, at the beach or with a glass of wine in my hand. The trick is to remain flexible enough to skip some/many/all plans and follow the sun or other campers’ recommendations.

The Tour-Map

My general preparation guidance is:

  • Get a book about the target region. Computer research is a good add-on, yet a book on the couch feels less like work and more like a holiday hobby. Deciding upon the region may be accompanied by some books like “Let’s Camp” (fort & glücklich, available for Germany and for Europe), presenting wonderful spots, accompanied by campsite information. Another favourite choice – especially across Southern Europe – is any travel book published by Michael Müller (culture, places, food and even camping, all covered). Start reading = start yearning.
  • Get a rough road map (often included in travel guides), collect probable destinations, sketch possible routes. I intend to move rather than stay in one place, yet I want to do sporty action, see interesting things and taste delicacies along my way. Throughout the years, Hector and me have developed a fine travel rhythm with stages of 200 – 400 km per day.
  • Spread ideas and expected highlights among friends. Most of Hector’s dream destinations allure others to come along, and thanks to my 2-bedroom-interior, they are very welcome.
  • Adjust timing, participants and action: check for festivals along the way and find the perfect match of expected weather, low season and friends to meet during the tour.

Once done, allow yourself to look forward to it. Find a remedy for this f**ing Covid-19 stuff and do not wait too long before you fulfill your travel dreams.

Finally: Bergtour / 1st Hiking 2020 / Heuberg

View from Heuberg towards Kitzstein

It does not take much in the sense of quantity to have a good time. But it takes high-quality friends!

Friendly, Mountain-Affine – Yet this Calf did not Offer to Pick Up my Backpack

My dear camping + hiking + action + good-time friend Barbara offers to take my hiking equipment in her backpack, leaving my (still injured) shoulders weightless. Of course, I strip the necessities of the tour down to an absolute minimum: water, sunscreen, lip balm, Brotzeit, a light jacket, an egg, salt (for the boiled egg), a short-sleeve shirt. Nothing fancy.

Barbara: Brave Girl

With all my former muscles being left behind some months ago, we aim for a relaxed tour: 600 m altitude, 9km (easy to extend with just one or two wrong turns) and a decent number of mountain pastures. Adding perfect weather and a peak with a picturesque cross, and here we go.

Heuberg Summit: Great to be Here

The smart part of today’s team (that would be Barbara) doubted that via ferrata or “interesting mountain challenges” of any kind would be the right thing as long as my movements count as slightly handicapped. Hence, we focus on nice paths with a bit of exposed rock around the ridge – just perfect for my longing for real mountain experience.

A Wonderfully Varied Tour

The friendly hikers we meet along the way comfirm implicitly that the old magnetism-rules are back in place. The good mood we carry with us is tells me something about sporty outdoor action and how much I had missed it.

Today’s Dream Team

Looking forward to further hikes during the summer of the strangest year! And who knows? Perhaps I will be able to carry my own backpack next time…

600m altitutde9 km3,5 hharmless (vertigo chances on the small ridge)

Another Micro Holiday

Good Karma is back! After some back and forth, misleading advice from the Staffelsee campsite and running against torrents of tourists, Hector jumps in the very last free spot between lake and Alps. Camping Riegsee turns out to be the most charming one: ripened sanitary rooms with the right focus (clean and proper rather than chic), friendly staff and relaxed guests. Any camper crossing by is smiling a hello to Hector and me while I sit around and inhale the view towards the mountains, Zugspitze included.

I invest 18,-€ and get lake view + electricity in return, added by a well-tempered lake and a 6 km bike tour when going to meet friends for barbecue. On my way, I spend further 2,60 € on delicious calories hidden in some ice cream at Murnau (both, the ice cream and the town are a clear recommendation to tourists and inhabitants!). As the evening drops in, I am back to normal, finally fixing my disrupted world view.

Talking about World View…

There is nothing better than combining holidays and friends, and as the evening settles, the barbecue conversation drifts towards the craziness of 2020 and all the Covid-19 impacts. Coming along with different points of view, I slightly change my perspective. Just a bit of a nudge towards an unknown angle is all it takes to get me back on track of positivism. Leaving political edicts behind that may either erect or break borders and limitations, I rather focus on freedom as a mindset and all the possibilities that start in our heads long before they result in exterior action. The elements of the shifted prospect are about skaling fundamental values, harmonizing well with the last sips we get out of the wine bottle – however, a more detailed excursus would only distract from campsite pictures, so let’s get back to being here and now on a holiday mission.

Sundown over Riegsee

With all the favourable spirit, I am rewarded with a splendid sundown when cycling back to Hector. The night is a short one, as I go to bed only after the fading light has turned into black night entirely. And, of course, I get up early enough to catch the last pink rays of sunlight around 5:30 am, spotting fresh glistening snow on the distant peak of the Zugspitze.

Then the next morning…

There is time for tea, breakfast, coffee and a swim in the lake before my micro holiday comes to its end. The tourist torrents take over for the next two months, leaving no place for spontaneous trips – or so it seems… Guess Hector and me have found our summer challenge, checking out alternative spots in the upcoming weeks.

On my way out of the water and onto new destinations, ideas and action! And who knows: perhaps I even learn to do better selfies…

FOMO and how to get out

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

I used to think that FOMO is an absurd tendency of people not possessing inner strength nor will. Now, with all others out there hiking or travelling (while I continuously witness the slow healing progress of my shoulder), I totally understand FOMO and the cruelty of Instagram. These days, I can hardly remember my last hike, let alone via ferrata or climbing excursion.

Back in 2019

The other side of the medal is the enormous appreciation of the smallest escapes as an outstanding event. A day off, good weather and the last off-season-week ahead? All I have to do is switch on Hector’s “baggage magnetism” (proved throughout the years) and get my stuff onboarded. Instantly, I am looking forward to a lake-escape and perhaps a bit of outdoor movement.

Das Blaue Land

Lucky me that I got friends living in a picturesque village close to a mountain lake, only a stone’s throw away from a peninsula-campsite. Surrounded by water (and resident campers??), I count on a relaxed day with holiday feeling plus the event of meeting friends. Then, perhaps during July, further destinations might come in sight, taking “my Hector is my Castle” in the most literal way.

July, maybe?

Hector is ready to roll and impatiently awaits the next departure – more to come in a few days only!

Insulted Hector

(English version below)

Bei Regen fällt es leichter. Das Arbeiten-statt-Reisen, genauso wie das Statische anstelle der Bewegung. Auch Hector guckt bei Regen weniger trotzig, eher resigniert. Weder meinen Bus noch mich täuscht der Sommerregen darüber hinweg, dass wir mehr unternehmen sollten, aber in diesem Jahr ist bekanntlich alles anders, nicht zuletzt meine sportliche Beweglichkeit. Anders ausgedrückt: Für meine Sport-Einzel-Verletzungen hätte ich mir kein besseres Jahr aussuchen können, soviel ist sicher. Fast genauso sicher ist jedoch die Erkenntnis, dass meine Work-Life-Balance wie eine wild gewordene Schaukel hin und her schwingt …

Mit dem Universum bin ich übereingekommen, dass 2020 nicht auf das biologische Alter angerechnet wird. Es zählt einfach nicht, genauso wenig wie es als Reisejahr ernst zu nehmen ist. Natürlich hoffe ich trotz allem, dass ein paar hübsche Alltagsfluchten möglich sein werden: unter der Woche in Richtung Berge, letzte freie Stellplätze an Sommer-Wochenenden (trotz Overtourism) und spontane Planung, so in etwa stelle ich mir das vor.

Hector stellt sich vor, dass er noch oft der Held der Nächte sein darf mit all seinen Luxus-Features. Ein eigenes Bad (auch wenn die Raumaufteilung nur in Kubik-Zentimetern gemessen werden kann), zwei Zimmer / Küche / Frühstücksraum sowie Lounge und Terrasse. All das sollte einladend genug sein für Übernachtungsplätze die so karg sind, dass sie von WoMo-Parzellen-Campern verschmäht werden.

Spätestens ab Herbst wird es dann spannend in Sachen 2021! Wie viel Zeit / Geld und Freiheit sind möglich, wie viel davon ausreichend wahrscheinlich? Ziehe ich die alten Pläne aus der Schublade oder schaffe ich nur gestückelte Touren (2020 gehäckselt, sozusagen)? Und wird Hector dann genauso fröhlich mitsingen wie die letzten Jahre – bevor wir unsere Reise-Unschuld verloren haben?

Ich hoffe (und glaube) das Beste!

Expected Outlook

Hector is insulted. While he aims for coincidental discoveries during our travels, I am back in working routine. Even the overtoursim-argument does not calm him down, he just stamps his front tyre in frustration. Guess I will need to think of micro-holiday escapes in order to balance work load vs. lightness and appease my wonderful van.

Meanwhile, I might have missed calm days during early June and most campsites are fully booked until end of September. Camping is the new holiday paradise for quite a few people these days, and I am not the kind that reserves months ago or stays for two weeks in one spot. Consequently, I will continue the tendency to look for simple overnight possibilities: Official camper parking spots, restaurant front yards and whatever else is out there.

Once more, I appreciate the choice of a camper van with integrated bath room. Even though it is tiny and can only be measured in cubic centimetres. I have water (heated – if required), I have a toilet and even the fridge works on gas (instead of electricity) when convinced by loud cursing or slight caresses on its front.

As of now, I find it hard to plan. Planning had been a kick in the ass lately. Yet, vague ideas in the back of my mind and a smile returning onto Hector’s front lights are counted as good achievements for today. Sure enough, more is up to come and new adventures may wait for us during summer!

Holiday on a Wednesday Evening: Sylvenstein

Even when your inner self is balanced as hell, you might appreciate an external impulse to get things going.

Creeping slowly out of my frustration hole about the disabled Grand Trip 2020, I suddenly hold a travel book in my hands: “Let’s Camp”, published by “fort & glücklich” – already the cover causes a little smile on my face. Flipping through the book, my travel lust gets more and more activated. First consequence is the decision to either work (find a job, earn money for serious travels in 2021 or later) or to use June for spontaneous trips across Germany. While in fact I hope for the money, a hidden part of me might like the latter.

The second consequence is that, almost unconsciously, I start packing up Hector. Bed and blankets, towels and fresh water, coffee, tea and wine. These days (mid May), you hardly find any reliable information about Bavarian camping possibilities. The only thing sure: campsites are closed. But what about official overnight-parkings and other alternatives?

I decide to try it out. Hector, of course, is eager to get out and play. On Wednesday (my favourite holiday-weekday), we head off and an hour later find our spot for the night: The camper parking at Sylvenstein Stausee is open for campers! A nice mixture of vans, RVs, cars with roof-tents and any other possible overnight shelter is dispersed under high trees. The lake shore is a 4-minutes-walk away from Hector’s spot and the sun keeps smiling from an almost cloudless sky.

Isn’t it so Worth it?!

I keep it low and lazy, enjoying the view across the lake towards the Alps while reading a book and munching peanut flips. This typical holiday feeling motivates me to unpack my folded bike and look for even more touristic pictures around the dam wall.

Lucky me that I can finally test my new bike storage. I will need to coat the inner carton walls with some smooth material, aiming to ease the packing + unpacking of my bike. All the rest is just perfect: the compartment within the van, the bike itself and the adoring comments from other campers. Funny that most travellers make such an effort with bike carriers behind their vans when it is so easy to change perspective, chose another kind of bike and just fold it wherever your car offers some cubic centimetres of space.

My Bike. My Lake. My Alps, my Nature. I might share some of it, though.

The evening develops quite pleasant as I sit together with a young couple from Osnabrück and two other single campers. We share wine and beer, chats and experiences. Oh, I really missed the normal life with random encounters and travel stories!

See how Hector upgrades the entire Sylvenstein Camper Parking, just by bringing in his Smile?!

B-Sides: No. 30

The finale of my sunrise series happens in the most comfortable way: The last spot I have chosen is the Eastern part of my appartment. I witness the change of colours in the sky for a full hour before I manage to catch the exact moment when the sun crosses the horizontal axis. I try to ignore the itching thought of ideal spring weather at my planned destinations (eg Bretagne) and focus on what I have instead. I have had 30 days in a row, all with perfect conditions for early morning runs and a maximum variety of sunups.