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.
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).
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.
No explanation available. Except, perhaps, for the pictures and the scenery.
Hard to tell why I go up to the top, then down, then up again. Sweating, sometimes swearing, either alone or in company. Knowing that hiking the Alps always leads to good company. Those who share the same wacky lust for mountain paths are always good for a little chat here or a tour-recommendation there, mostly likeable.
Starting smart and early, I make my way over the ridge towards the Brecherspitz at 9:00 a.m. Far from being the first, I find myself surrounded by a group of 60-something-guys and a cloud of flying ants. The latter can be beaten successfully by an overdose of citronella spray.
My Gipfelsemmel is accentuated by an Alpine concert. As Bergfex as can be, one of the mountain enthusiasts stands up and starts yodeling, leaving me stunned with goose bumps on my arms. Never had I guessed that yodeling can sound so sweet and charming! What comes next is a heartful song, again with the uttermost talent and just perfect on this exposed peak, high above the civilized world.
No further motivation needed for my douple peak challenge! Leaving about 50% of the peak’s height behind, I reach the Obere Firstalm at 10:00 a.m. Too early for lunch, but a good time for the second part of the tour.
Despite the 28° C reached by now, I head up for the Bodenschneid, sole peak with view on all 3 lakes around: Tegernsee, Schliersee, Spitzingsee.
I have been here before, fortunately. This time, I am exhausted, paying few attention to the outlook. I rather try to sit in the tiny shadow thrown by the peak’s cross, regaining forces for the second descent.
Only yesterday, it seemed reasonable to add the Bodenschneid to the Brecherspitz-tour, facing the fact that 500-something-meters altitude difference are way below my possibilities. Now I wonder when and in which state I will reach the Obere Firstalm, aiming for shadow even more than for a light meal.
Thanks to my boundless fitness, it takes less than an hour to get down to the Alm. The terrace offers enough space for tourists and hikers, topped by great service and Bavarian food. From here on, the forest roads back to the Spitzingsattel/parking can be done effortless, even better with intensified gravity (food, did I mention the Bavarian food?!).
Finally, I am happy to count around 880 m altitude difference, two summits and 4,5 hours of joyful action.
The early bird gets the summit! During my second cup of coffee, I watch the sun enfold a midsized light show and start to prepare today’s hike.
Weeks of rain have kept me away from the Alps far too long. Consequence is one of the light-blue tours of my preferred hiking book, presented as a 3 hours-walk up to the Kreuzbergalm.
School holidays meet one of the rare sunny days, resulting in high traffic density. Yet, I reach the Schliersee region at 6:30 a.m.without the slightest delay. When I start my walk at 7:05, I hope that I will reach the peak before my body realizes that I have skipped breakfast (time over food quantity, I’d say).
I beat the expected time (1:50h) significantly when settling down at the peak at a quarter past eight. The scenery is lovely, with the Wendelstein in the East, Baumgartenschneid in the South and the grey, stony walls of the Karwendel peaks in the West.
The Kreuzbergalm is a perfect match in the rural surrounding. It is a pity that I am too little too early for the offered delicacies.
Smart girl that I am, I have taken along the mediocre trial of home-made cinnamon buns, knowing that anything tastes delicious in the thin air of a high peak. About 500 kcal later, I have regained enough energy for a selfie before a super-speed descent back to Schliersee.
415m altit. difference
Four weeks later, the déjà-vu. Today with a friend and the Kreuzbergalm open for guests. And with confiding, happy cows. We (the cow and me) come to the same conclusion: All worth it.
Later today, I will pity not to have put a bikini in my backpack… The landscape, the torrent and the entire tour turn out just lovely. All of it begins with Götz, the organizing hiking master of the day.
We start at Wallgau and follow forest roads in the general direction of the Finanzbachklamm. The charming gorge lays down at our feet, or so it seems when the dirt road eventually approaches it’s edge.
Once stepped in the network of hiking paths around Krün / Wallgau, you can choose any kind of route suiting the mood of the day. Götz, all up for his mission of the detection of Kaiserschmarrn, makes it clear that a hike without mountain tavern is not among given options. Consequently, we head for the Finzalm = today’s destination.
The Alm is pretty and offers whatever you want – except for Kaiserschmarrn, that is. At least one of us is happy and all head-over-heels for coffee and a light meal. The other one takes it with nature-given dignity.
The chalet is surrounded by a landscape that has emerged directly from a kitschy fairy-tale book. Of course, I am a rational person, but while my companion is busy with a piece of Kirschstreusel-cake, I secretly watch out for unicorns, just in case…
Before we follow the Finzbach-gorge back to Wallgau, we step down into the valley with happy cows and a mystic current.
In such a charming surrounding, I wonder if it guarantees eternal youth once you dive into the shimmering water. Perhaps I will come back for a trial when I grow up…
Returning to the car takes some time due to all the specialties that are to be admired along the way. The gorge of the Finzbach, a natural cave beneath a giant rock formation, and the fairy-tale path with figures and stories right at the end of the tour.
In the end, we may not have resolved the mystery of the handful of young men and why (or where-to) they carry umpteen crates of beer, but we have enjoyed a wonderful hike.
A real peak, standing sole and prominent, that is what the Teufelsstättkopf is like. I start at Unterammergau, leave alone the gorge of Schleifmühlenklamm (tempest destroyed the path) and find a slow, steady pace.
Forest roads lead up with significant gradient, with the outcome of uncounted short breathers for the low-level-superspeed-tourists. When a lovely chapel hits the way, it is by far more welcome for a respiration pause than for its inner or outer beauty.
I keep to my constant snail-speed and enjoy the surrounding.
Once the Pürschling-Haus is left behind, the ways finally turn into diverse hiking paths. I accelerate when the peak gets in sight – based on the rock walls, the final passage might be of the interesting kind.
The last meters are indeed worth the entire hike, topped by the stylish cross and the exposed inches around.
Once settled down with my Gipfelsemmel, I soak in the view. Pictures hardly get a glimpse of the impression you witness when seated high above almost everything: the path 40m below, the valley down in 800m or the Alps’ peaks showing up in a few km distance.
Before I turn downwards, I try to imitate the shape of the peak’s cross. The outcome is slightly hilarious, but still I strike the pose despite limited space.
What a week! The pre-holiday-days get by just fine. Finally, summer settles in. Last working days are accompanied by multifaceted sports: Climbing with a friend I have not seen in 15 months. The first mountainbike tour since 2017. And now: the via ferrata challenge.
The Hausbachfall Klettersteig in Reit im Winkl is always a good option: interesting enough when it comes to the C/D climbing sections, not too long and easy to reach. If not for the misleading navi and three blocked roads, that is.
While some people fear to fall, I think a via ferrata is quite a simple thing: you can hardly get lost, holding on to the steel ropes and cliffy walls. Hence, I consider it more harmless than black hikes – best is a combination of both, anyway.
After a mere hour, the fun is over. Despite some bottleneck passages, waiting for others to find their way, my arms and muscles feel fresh as a daisy, thanks to my personal fitness trainer. With a little help from my friends, I managed to keep up the routine of sporty action with at least 5 hours per week, and now it starts to pay dividends.
This being said and done, I feel prepared for new detections with the foreseen exploration of foreign countries, distant islands and unknown vineyards.
Eight days of anticipation lie ahead of me. Hector rolls back and forth, restless and full of expectation. Still, 8 days are fine for mountain action before we head for the sea.
Weeks of rain have left the clouds white and empty, hence I put on my new hiking shoes and get going. I love the Chiemgau with its relaxed villages, and the friendly man I meet along the way proves me right. Meditation-like, calm and steady he takes care of his vegetable patch, greeting friendly while continuing his work. Yes, those who live here seem pleased with life and right they are.
Easy paths through forest and alps lead me towards Hufnagelalm and Hefteralm, the latter being open for starving hikers. It is one of those harmless circuit tours with happy cows, sheep, goat, dozens of families – but no summit. Over-motivated outdoor fans might combine the Rachlalm and/or Hefteralm with a walk up to Hochplatte, although you might be tempted for yet another pasture stop-over at the Oberauerbrunst-Alm. Given the variety of alps, the Chiemgau region could advertise for gourmet summits and relish hikes.
In south-eastern direction lies the prominent peak of Hochgern. Been there, done that – but strange enough that by end of May even mountains below 2.000m still glisten with snow.
After a sunny break (spring-like feeling, yet with three layers of Merino wool), I am filled up with fresh energy, food and coffe, and hop down towards Grassau. Later that day, when I try to combine hiking + jogging appointments on the very same day, I will learn about the improvement possibilities in my personal fitness. But before that, I get back to my starting point and feel hell of a hiking girl in super-speed shoes!