This is a list of our walks and hiking in the Bavarian alps.
This was our first try, we loosely followed an itinerary of the gapa website. Going off-track a bit, we crossed the Eiserne Brücke, literally discovering the Partnachklamm (since we didn't know of it). This became obvious from this point onward we would return endlessly to GaPa.
Via Esterbergalm and Gamshütte, another gapa itinerary. This one was more ambitious, 15km. Alejandro even came with two pairs of trousers. We made a lengthy stop at the Esterbergalm where we had an assortment of pressack (tr). This route offers a lot of different panorama—especially as we started at the top of the Wank with a cable-car—which is one of the particularity of the Prealps: sharp and white mountains sitting on a flat and green valley.
Alexander, Elena & Alejandro, with the Zugspitze in background.
In Red on the map.
This was the first hiking designed entirely on our own, with the assistance of our GPS device. This was a marvellous walk which brought us off the crowded trails for part of the road. It was not very long (10km) but was our toughest hiking to date, with about a thousand meters ascension (and down again). We say mating the Tegelberg as—not following a pre-designed road, but going through our own itinerary with the aid of our GPS device for the first time—we were not fully convinced of the feasibility of the whole expedition. We kept in mind all the time we might have to return through whatever we had walked through so far. However we managed to go till the end and the tension of whether we would make it turned it into a genuine adventure.
In Blue on the map.
It was our second self-made itinerary with our GPS device but this one turned out to be very touristic, with a lot of people treading on the mountain ridge. However, not being part of the regularly advertised routes in mainstream touristic destinations, it was exclusively internal tourism, which makes it less nerve-racking. A strange character at the top, half crazy, half polyglot, even asked us how we came to know about this place. He had started the conversation asking for something which, as words were materializing in his broken Spanish, became chocolate, prompting me to notice that we had saved one piece for Alejandro which he hadn't eaten... to the sudden and complete embarrassment of our friend who had understood right away that the other fellow was using this euphemism for drugs, I was thus inviting Alejandro to spare some with him.
It is a very nice walk which has two features of extraordinary interest:
In the beginning of the prealps, not too violent a climb although I had programmed various "shortcuts" (a word our team came to fear) through smaller tracks crossing the woods at a much steeper angle and on sometimes not readily identified trails. Alejandro MA who is an expert hiker reassured everybody with his spotting of panels, marks on threes, spots on stones of various colours, which, as he explained, were telling us about the length. Still most of the crew preferred to follow the gentle wide road which, however, was also much longer. We managed to reprogram on the fly and could still achieve our two goals: pass by the local Biergarten and reach the top of the Blomberg. All the way down was through the woods which was a pleasant . The most notable of this walk, other than being the one with the largest number of participants, was the contrast between the foggy foot of the mountain and the sunny top.
There are moors in Bavaria. We love moors, so of course we programmed them as part of our hiking in the Prealps, where they belong, unravelling their typical carpet of reddish moos as a footstep for the mountains. We had in particular a moving view of the Herzogstand, now familiar from our previous hiking. The moor area is large but most walks circle it around, and unless you venture off track, you won't see but wetlands, which are nice, but the moors are what make this area really special. It is difficult to capture their magic atmosphere in pictures, where they appear as dull brownish wild grass. You have to be there, to feel their smell, their wet perspiration, their spongy texture. Our walk was only a small fraction in this eerie décor. The rest was shared between a variety of panorama, a sample of which is featured below. Noteworthy was the contrast between woods covered by a thick layer of crimson foliage and others, also with their naked trees, but vacuum-cleaned of their dead leaves.
Another walk nearby a lake, the Tegernsee, a real beauty with a genuine sense of Alpine atmosphere, unlike the Starnbergsee which is usually advocated as the unique Bavarian scenery. The Starnbergsee is however too big and mountains are too far to make it something more than a swimming attraction for the Müncheners, who get an S-bahn line down to there. The smaller lakes closer to the Alps provide the real magic combination. The Tegernsee is one of them. The walk in the mountains is perfect as it alternates between wild woods with gigantic broken trees, and clear areas that provide changing views of the lake and the Alps. The Riederstein with its chapel bursting out of the woods is also a striking sight.
Tom is a keen outdoor enthusiast, so when he came to visit us to solve some rate equations, a week-end expedition in the Alps was high in our agenda. Sadly, weather forecast was poor, so we ruled out a long hiking at the last minute and decided for a short walk in some place we already knew. We returned to the Tegernsee, our last Alpine trip, to reach the Riderstein, which we only had seen from below. We spent much time in a local Bavarian restaurant waiting for the rain to calm down, which it did right when we decided to give up. Fog kept concealing most of the mountains around the lake but past the first layer, the little church standing alone on her rocky outcrop revealed herself at once. When we finally reached it, it snowed, and it stopped just as we started to go back again.
This was our first excursion of the year. Although we try very much to go to the Alps whenever possible, it is seldom possible. We planned a short itinerary and thankfully so as there was still too much snow to progress along the intended paths. We reached spots of stunning beauty, however, as they had not been visited since the last snow apart from occasional animal prints, and we could walk in glittery snow for a long time. We stumbled upon Hohenwaldeck's ruin, which we didn't know about. The ruin itself has little interest at least if you are unaware of its history (you can read it here), but the viewpoint on the lake is worth the hike. On our way back to Garching, we visited Weyarn, a stage of the Camino de Santiago. There was a statue there standing on a cenotaph for the WWs, which was particularly striking, capturing the innocent candour of these Bavarian soldiers who were sent to their death far from their yellow baroque churches with their green onion domes.
The wallberg is literally the wall erect behind the Tegernsee. The Tegernsee is one of our favourite Bavarian lake, so we return often. But the Wallberg looks so imposing, it took us some time to even think walking it up. It is reachable by cable car but one can also get pretty close by car through a road with an obscure history (it was started under Nazi rule after a failed coup in Austria—Die Wallbergstraße mit dem Schweiß der Legionäre gepflastert. one can read somewhere) There is a nice view of a chapel sitting between the Wallberg and the Setzberg, behind. We initially planed to reach the Risserkogel too, which one accesses walking along a gorgeous ridge, but the snow foiled our attempt.
There are stunning gorges in Bavaria. We went to see the ones of Partnach and Leutasch. The former is opened all-year round and access is secured (it used to be left opened before but now there is a locked door and entry is paying; if you access it by the back, and go all the way back again, you don't have to pay). The Leutasch is opened only in summer. Most of the circuit is free (parking is 5€) except the bit that goes to the cascade, which is 2€. Overall, if you have to decide between the two, the Leutasch provides a better experience but might be more difficult of access.
More pictures can be found in Elena's parents visit (2012).
The Partnachklamm is a spot we put on our list of places to go since we stumbled upon them while crossing the river through the Eiserne Brücke. It was our first hike back in October (2011) and one that left much impressions. Looking up at this bridge from below, you get this feeling of the evil eye of a beast looking down at the little people longing the tumultuous and cold waters rushing down the gorge. In this foggy and humid atmosphere, with the water dripping abundantly making the dark walls look like they are crying, you really feel out of the green and joyful Bavaria for a while. Would the Partnachklamm be a corridor to hell when it is free of tourists?
Familiar sights from our first hike.
More pictures can be found in Elena's parents visit (2012).
Although it is allegedly smaller, the Leutaschklamm is on the other hand much more majestic and impressive. It is actually in Austria (at the very border with Germany) and you reach it from Mittenwald by heading to Leutasch, out of the country. We ended the day at Lautersee, back in Bavaria. The place is extremely quiet as cars are forbidden except for guests of the hotels. The lake was the centre of much action, however, with fishes, probably carps, hunting mosquitoes by gracefully distorting their bodies flung into the air.
With Inma still on the other side.
The Schachenshaus stands by the Schachenschloß, king Ludwig II's mountain refuge. We walked from Garmisch's olympic stadium, the closest point we found. We started a bit late in the day (after noon) because of poor traffic and an already late start from Garching. As a result, on the way back, night was getting close. We took a shortcut through the woods, which went all right till the path we followed died in the Ferchenbach river, which separated us from the main road without a bridge to cross over. It was raining and already on the dark side of the afternoon, so the decision to walk through the river was not an entirely obvious one. Completely wet till over the knees but happy, we still had to cross the Partnachklamm by then in pitch dark to complete this adventurous hike.
The old good ski jumping ramps from our first hike.
As the weather is still excellent by this time of the year, we keep going to high mountains, this time the Kreuzspitze (2185m) in preparation of our return to smaller spots of the Ammergau Alps (we'd like to try other high peaks there too, especially the Daniel). This hike is excellent as it varies between woods (splendid in autumn), small stones, middle stones, big stones and stones commensurable with the mountain itself. There is a bit of (easy) climbing involved, but the marking is excellent. It's not too advised if your vertigo is easily tickled, as you spend most of the time hung at the flank of a mountain on paths which often are no more than red splashes of paint scattered around, and when you have a thick carpet of round rocks below your feet, you really feel you could transform yourself into erosion.
On our way down, by chance, we met Kathrin and Martin on their way up (K.~is a researcher at the WSI and M. we met there for the first time). They were so fast they had time to finish the ascension and catch us again once they bounced off the top.
We had spotted the marvellous Ettal Abbey (Kloster Ettal) on the way and decided we'd stop there on the return. The door of the church was opened and it was an intimidating feeling to stand there in this dark, desert and baroque atmosphere, mildly fearing that the dome, overly decorated with fresco, would fall down. We had a taste of the local beers and liqueur in the restaurant in front, all from the monks.
This was an easy (technically) but long hike, mainly in the woods—which is however how it should be in Autumn—and with a precious view on both the Austrian mountains on one side and on the Isar valley on the other side. The mountains in this area where the pre-Alps grow into the Alps were like a bouquet of varied specimens. Below, zooms on three interesting cases are highlighted, varying both in shapes, texture and colours.
On the other side, a view of where the Isar is born.
First excursion of 2013, on one of the mountains overseeing the Benedictine monastery of Ettal. There was still a lot of snow past 1200m of altitude and, ironically, mainly patches covering the trail, forcing us to take tricky detours around to the despair of Elena who made a point of zealously avoiding to trod over anything white, on the account that a precipice could hide below, even in the most improbable geometry.
in a tribute to Brancaleone~.
A small hike, as there was little time, as part of the social event of our semiconductor cluster expansion colleague from Bremen, who visited us for a couple of days. Bad Wiessee (spa of the west lake) is on the western part of our favourite Bavarian lake, the Tegernsee. The village is known to historians for the Night of the Long Knives on 30 June (1934), where the SA was dissolved, with Hitler personally conducting the operation and ordering at least one execution on the spot.
Although a small loop, via the Wiesbauer and the Freihaus, with dinner on the Seepromenade, we still had time to repeat a large portion of our itinerary as we missed the first stop, getting as high as possible on the Zwergelberg without getting into the forest (and loosing the view). The Riederstein is a bit far but can be seen from a coin-operated telescope (that is in fact, free).
The biergarten from our 7th hike perched high on a patch free of forest.
An excursion during intense working sessions with Carlos on $N$-photon lasing, but deep down in the Alps, in the Brauneck mountain range, and an intense one, of the full-day caliber (we went up with the Bahn, without which little help, we wouldn't have made it). The Alps here are gorgeous while easy to hike. They are known as the "house moutain" of Lenggries, the city in the valley of the Isar that is the first properly surrounded by mountains. We brought our Yorkshire friend Tizon who happily experienced his first hiking experience, not fearing the height nor the distance (over three times as big for him as he kept going back and forth between the head and tail of our little group).
Elena's family—parents and uncles—visited us in August (2013) and we spent three days in one of the most popular destination of upper Bavaria, nearby our beloved Ettal cloister, at Oberammergau, of Passion fame. Day one was devoted to the highlight of this area: the Kofel.
Not for Tizon who was at ease everywhere.
On the next day, after ascending the Kofel, most people didn't feel like climbing the Laber—the nearby mountain—and went up with the Bergbahn instead. I went up with Guille, Omar and Tizon and we all met at the restaurant up there, before getting down to the Soilersee, which implied, at the general dismay, going up again (towards the Ettaler Manndl). I tried to climb the latter peak but it was too stiff and time too little, so we carried on towards Ettal, where we could catch a bus back to Oberammergau's camping.
On the third day, virtually everybody opposed the idea of climbing still another mountain. Elena finally gathered enough courage to join me (and Tizon, who didn't have a say but would have voted in favor if he could have anyway). The initial plan was that we would cross the mountain behind the Kofel and join the others at Linderhof. Due to the lack of Internet connectivity, we were not as careful with weather as we usually are when planning a hike, and the sunny afternoon turned into a menacing stormy one at some point in the evening, which prompted us to turn back given that the hike was not an especially easy one (even a dangerous one under water). For this reason, we could never see King Ludwig's famous palace, which was one of our objectives when exploring this area (but Elena's rest of the family did, and we enjoyed a rainy walk in the woods).
It would take a whole life to even start to know the Oberammergau region, the valley circled by mountains that all seem to dwarf each others, that an inconspicuous river of icy waters visits everyday for the first time, rolling over river rocks that the sun caresses with the same frozen light as winter. Raising the eyes towards the Kofel, a feeling grasps the evening stroller of an eternity that decided to pause here as it was passing by.