Most Charming, Easy Tour: Kranzhorn

Kranzhorn double-cross-peak

Based on my general interest in science, I am curious what will happen when inviting a Flachlandtiroler (hiking rookie from low-level-areas) to a hiking tour in the Alps. At the edge of the Alps, to be more precise.

Splendid Pictures: always an Option. As soon as I find Someone who volunteers to clean my Windshield…

My favourite hiking book “Zeit zum Wandern – Chiemgau” offers a blue tour with a real summit and wide views towards the main Alps. Viola is all up for it and we buzz with anticipation, hardly able to wait until sunrise to jump in the car and get going.

Kitsch meets Natural Beauty

We start easy on forest roads, passing by several pastures, all beneath one of those skies that exist only in the short transition from summer to autumn. The surrounding is charming and we appreciate the clear air and the pure feeling of being here.

Best to be done around 8:00 a.m.

We forget about time and place, yet it must have been merely an hour until we reach the Kranzhorn-Alm. We are just in time to jump out of the way as the delivery truck arrives, carrying the alp’s staff to their working place and fresh victuals to the kitchen. Generously, we grant them some time to prepare their hospitality and continue towards the summit.

Hiking is such a step-by-step-thing

The last section of the tour is a bit more challenging, at least with wet and slippery grounds added by stormy wind, blowing us apart (or trying to). But then it is great, leaning against the squalls and dancing with the storm or the cross or both.

#hikingthealps; Hiking the Alps, Chiemgau
Double Cross at Kranzhorn

Coming back to the scientific test of foreign visitors and how they react on height and rocks, it is stunning to witness the development. From the Westerwald to the Alps, all you need is something to hold on to. Then, all of a sudden, joy and lightness set in.

First

but then!

Having the peak all for ourselves, we enjoy the view as long as we bare the storm. The morning mist still covers the valleys while the alpine glaciers shimmer in the distance. It certainly differs from hiking routines in Pfalz, Taunus or Westerwald.

Hiking the Allps
Outlook

Eventually, we call it coffee time and get served with wonderful delicacies at the Kranzhorn-Alm.

Coffee in Sight

By the time when dozens of families + umpteen hikers shuffle in, we are already on our feet, ready for the descent.

This has been the most charming of the blue tours I have done lately and it is best to start it way ahead of regular hiking crowds.

350m altit. difference8 km< 3 hoursharmless
Viola, now hiking pro!

Black (tour) and White (snow): Gedererwand

Zwölferturm, Hiking the Alps
Summary: Foggy Forests, Interesting Trails, Rocks and Cliffs

Mid October, muddy and slippery grounds, unmarked paths and climbing elements. Sounds like a good way to spend a Sunday morning!

Chiemgau
Not the Hardest Part

Around 9:00 a.m., I start fresh and relaxed at Hintergschwendt. The appearance of the area suits the sound of “Hintergschwendt“: rural, with jingling cows and autumn leaves.

The Setting

Only a minor part of the ascent is easy and stable, most of it is either muddy-slippery or steep-stony-slippery. With the route sometimes hard to find, and, once found, hard to remain upright, it is perfect to leave work and daily life behind. What I need for the next hours is concentration, tracking instincts and top-of-the-hill hiking boots (check, check and check).

Hiking the Clouds

The weather is indecisive today, meandering between clouds, fog and sun. The tour via North/East to Gedererwand is not frequented, but creates an almost mystic atmosphere. The rough surfaces of the rocks along the way, the dark green and light brown of the autumn forest, it all fits perfectly in the scenery.

This is the path.
Really.

The pictures show the rocks when standing right in front. Yes, it is about getting up there in the most vertical way.

When I approach the announced climbing passage (easy, category I-II), it is interesting, but not difficult. All along the ascent, there are quite some sections where the hands may support the feet – reassuring me that such a black tour is exactly what I like best. Even more with dry grounds beneath and bright skies above, yet best practice beats best conditions.

Today’s Conditions

After 2,5 hours I make it to the summit of Gedererwand and – having outperformed a mid-sized hikers’ group – find the cross all deserted, waiting for the peak queen of the day.

#gedererwand
Gedererwand Peak

I use the privacy for a change into a dry t-shirt and patiently wait for my photographers to arrive.

#hikingthealps #gedererwand Hiking the Alps #chiemgau
Tadaa! (“Ich bin schon da!”, sagte der Igel)

A pause of 25 minutes is enough for Gipfelsemmel-Vesper, chats among hikers and for the sun to make it through the clouds. Right in front, the Kampenwand unveils with it’s famous silhouette. I can tell by the umpteen people I will pass by during my descent that it must be overcrowded despite the snow and the cold.

Kampenwand
Chiemgau. Kampenwand. Winterwonderland.

The ascent has taken slightly more time than planned, mostly due to the rough terrain. Now, the further I get on my descent, the more I can accelerate. The ways are harmless and in less then 1,5 hours, I am back at my starting point and wonder about the almost infinite rows of parked cars. Lucky me that I have such a propensity for interesting tours, sorting out the sneaker-strollers and lowland tourists along my way.

above, ahead, anice perspective
650m altit. difference7,7 km4 hourschallenging

Double Feature: Early Bird Weekend

High season, rising heat and me aiming for touristic highlights like mountains and castles – all solved with shortened nights and lack of sleep! It is a Saturday in mid August around 6:00 a.m., when I turn towards the Chiemgau (once more), getting me on today’s hiking route by 7 o’clock.

Getting Started in pure Morning Light

Heavy rain has wrecked quite some tracks and I am lucky that all of my route is still there – although parts of the paths look more of a creek these days.

Half Path, half Creek…

Today’s tour is perfect for a 30°C day, as I walk most of the time in shady forests. Obviously, higher powers are busy tidying up the woods, even though they still have quite a lot to do around here.

Disorder

…but then:

Tidied up! (Salinentreppe)

I pass by some mountain pastures in the first half of the hike, but miss the opportunity for a pause at the peak as there is none. Guess that is what the book means by offering a circular trip around the Schwarzenberg…

Beautiful nonetheless

The only significant view is towards the Chiemsee, blurred by a bit of haze, and up to the Gedererwand that will become a wonderful peak destination one fine day.

Gedererwand – yet to come

Having passed some lonesome hours in pure nature (= the Saturday hike), Sunday comes with the most touristic destination around: Disney’s Neuschwanstein! Founded by famous Ludwig Zwo (Ludwig II), a man of taste and beauty, just like Elvis Presley. Both have been addicted to sugar or similar white substance, grown up turning from a handsome young man to a heavier personality, inventing art of such a genius and beauty that it inspires generations long after. Neither modern rockabilly music would exist nor the worldwide brand of Disney World without these great men.

Based on profound knowledge of historic facts, Sabine and me are on our way to THE CASTLE on a wonderful morning in August.

… then on Sunday Morning…

Before the flat viewing of royal apartment rooms, we make our way up to the Marienbrücke. Although we have to share the tiny construction with a handful of foreigners, it is fantastic to be here early enough to spend hours and hours on the perfect picture before the regular masses of visitors make it out of their beds.

Marienbrücke, vice versa

The bridge crosses the Pöllatschlucht, a narrow gorge carved out of the rock. It would be a touristic highlight if not competing with Neuschwanstein, with Hohenschwangau castle and with the Alpsee right around the corner. Given the surrounding, it is like “See? Yes, check! Come on further.”

Pöllatschlucht

Finally, it is our turn to take a look at the artistically decorated rooms of castle Neuschwanstein. In former times, every five minutes a group of 60 (sixty!) persons had been guided up the stairs, through maids’ room, master bedroom, living room, up another set of stairs and into the singers’ hall. Most of the 25 minutes you probably had to wait for some overweight tourist from abroad to get his quantity up and going. Now, thanks to hygiene rules, we are a relaxed group of 10 with a charming young guide, leading us gently through the floors.

Up for Flat Viewing – So far away from the City, it cannot be extraordinarily Expensive, can it??

In the end, one of us considers the decorative swans, the gothic carvings, the myth and opera paintings and the design of the throne room exaggerated, deciding against the castle as a possible retreat for our pensioner community (an era expected for the distant future). At least, we can cross it off our list and keep our eyes open for other opportunities.

500m alt. difference12 km4hharmless
Castle: partly finishedhuge25 mintouristic

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

Hochplatte Hike

Es wird Zeit, die erfahrene Bergfreundin aus der glorreichen Nepal-Ära an die Seite zu holen für eine schöne Herbst-Tour: Die Hochplatte im Chiemgau soll es heute werden, und hinterrücks vorbei an allen Staus beamen wir uns in die Bergwelt.

Today’s destination is the peak of the Hochplatte and, together with my dear hiking buddy from Nepal, we fight our way around traffic jams and approach the Chiemgau.

Vor kurzem (2017/2018) war ich richtig gut am Berg: Kondition, Muskelkraft, alles da. Ich nehme an, dass solche Fähigkeiten nicht über Nacht verschwinden, also wird das heute ein entspannter Spaziergang. Wobei „über Nacht“ leicht geschönt ist – seit der Rückkehr aus Nepal kann ich die Bergtouren an einer Hand abzählen.

By now I got used to being a hiking pro: strength, general fitness, mountain skills – all set and proven by numerous tours back in 2017/2018. I assume that once you turn into a chamois, this is going to last forever. Or should I have exercised at least a bit throughout summer?

2019_10_13_A2a

Kaum überraschend ist das Schnaufen schon zu Beginn des sanften Anstiegs. Belohnt werden wir schon früh mit einer geradezu kitschigen Landschaft, aber ich halte mich zurück und jammere nur wenig.

As soon as the path rises up, I hand over the conversation to my hiking companion as she has definitely more breath left. However, I do not care too much about the strain: the beautiful landscape with picturesque facets rewards me despite of my lack of routine.

2019_10_13_C1a

Half-way up to the Hochplatte

Dort, wo es schon ordentlich steil wird, ist ein entscheidender Wegweiser dermaßen unauffällig angebracht, dass der Trampelpfad aller Irrläufer auffälliger ist als der richtige Weg. Zwei fragende Begegnungen später und 20 Minuten Umweg schnaufender stehen wir kurz vor dem finalen Gipfelanstieg – und das, obwohl wir noch mitten in der Vegetation sind. Typisch Herbsttour im Chiemgau: hier muss es nicht über 1.582 m hinaus gehen, auch in niederen Lagen lässt es sich anstrengend wandern.

Later the paths become steep and the signposts rare. The frequent usage of a dirt track makes it more appealing than the real route, and only when facing the unexpected gorge between us and the desired peak we realize the dead end that it is.

Dummerweise führt von der anderen Seite eine Seilbahn bis kurz unter den Gipfel, so dass es am Kreuz recht gedrängt zugeht. Sollen die doch alle gucken, ich versuche trotzdem einen Handstand!

Eventually, we make it to the top. With “top” being a moderate one. Yet, 1.582m height is enough to enjoy a 360° view on distant peaks, on the Chiemsee and on dozens of tourists that took the chair lift “Hochplattenbahn”.

2019_10_13_D12a

Even when you have reached the peak you still can be only half up to something

Der Blick von diesem mittelhohen Hügel ist umwerfend: Die Farben, der herbstliche Himmel, das Meer von Berggipfeln… Wie schön, dass meine Bergfreundin mich motiviert hat, auch die letzten anstrengenden Meter durchzuhalten.

Having the best company in my own entourage, I ignore all others. Meaning that I try to ignore their bewildered looks as I try to turn our world upside down. I really should work more focused on my handstand skills, gaining more aplomb for public shows like this. Anyway, the view into the open distracts me from further personal doubts.

2019_10_13_G1

If I were a painter, I would try to paint the longing for flying in thin air, moving along with the clouds, towards the sea of peaks

Der Abstieg belohnt uns mit zwei weiteren Highlights: Zunächst mit dem Blick hinterrücks auf die Kampenwand. Ich denke freudig zurück an die Bergtour mit Freunden bei der mir klar wurde, dass es kraxelig werden muss, damit ich trotz Anstiegs-Anstrengung Endorphine ausschütte.

The descent offers further highlights with the view on the spectacular Kampenwand where I once started to learn more about hillwalks and what makes them interesting: It is about climbing parts and choosing the right companions.

2019_10_13_J1

Say Hello to the Kampenwand

Schließlich folgt die Einkehr bei einer der urigsten Almen, die ich bisher erlebt habe. Nach Kaffee und Sonne und mit nunmehr bergab führenden Wegen ist auch das Schnaufen leiser geworden. Man sollte solche Ausflüge wirklich häufiger machen!

Finally, we settle down at one of the most rural alp-shacks I have been to. Coffee, sun and the change of direction (now: downhill) make me relax and enjoy our chat that meanders from job situations over to philosophy, people and further topics of interest (life, the universe and everything). What a wonderful day!

2019_10_13_K4a

Oberauerbrunst-Alm