This week has been all about the Bavarian Alpine Road, since my last blog we have been mostly adventuring in the mountains; first stop Schiedegger to see the waterfalls, they were much nicer than those at Triberg, less touristy for one but also massive drops into large caves, much like a shampoo advert, still all fenced off but nice to see. I was a bit hobbly since my fall at the last waterfall seems to have hurt my ankle. Had a confusing time re-fuelling with diesel and LPG for the appliances as the adapters were all different and the LPG pump worked in a totally different way to back home but got a hand and back on the road.
The Oberjoch Pass is a beautiful twisty road that climbs 1000ft in 106 bends, now I am not a great fan of heights, the gondola at Fort Bill scares me and the one at Glencoe is just silly in my opinion, so teetering on twisty roads, high up in the mountains with massive drops to the sides is just insanity, beautiful, stunning, insanity.
Waking in Wertach I was dying to ride my bike so we headed to Tourist info to get the lowdown on the local riding, heeding the warnings of “very rooty” and reassuring them we had good mountain bikes we set off for the anticipated flat and ‘roady’ mountian bike ride. The route was a nice one, taking in some stunning scenery of mountains, snow, bright green meadows and lakes of clear, crisp, snowmelt water. Flat though, it was not, the trail was mostly on roads and farm tracks but was very hilly, in a nice, challenging way, one section even took us through the woods and over some singletrack with roots and mud, that was exhilarating, if only I could find a whole trail like that! We finished the ride with a lap of the big lake where we saw lots of signs of beaver life, but no beavers.
Arriving in Füssen in the late afternoon we had a stroll along the streets and enjoyed the town in the afternoon sun, it was packed, the busiest place we have been to so far, lots of people enjoying the Easter weekend. Tried asking in bike shops about trails and had a very complicated four-way conversation with an Italian shop owner who spoke little German and no English and his teenager translator son who spoke German fluently but no English! In the end we deciphered that there are trails in the mountains somewhere but you kinda need to know where to look and the locals don’t like to share that info, so no biking here, but with two castles to visit we had enough to keep us out of mischief. Füssen has two castles, very close to one another, for reasons I have yet to understand, the yellow one was first then when that kings son became king he built the more elaborate, Disney-esque, white castle for himself. They are both lovely and it’s a nice day out to visit them both along with the lake, we didn’t go inside as it was too crowded to be enjoyable and too nice a day to be indoors, even in a fairytale castle.
We rolled into Garmisch Partenkirchen in late afternoon so had a wander about the centre but most shops were closed, it is another ski resort town a bit like Füssen but bigger and without the fancy castle contest. Early start the next day to get the cog-wheel train that links to the cable car to go to the top of the slopes and the highest peak in Germany. Yep, this trip is really challenging my fear of heights! The train snakes through a few small ski resorts before climbing in a tunnel for the last part of the trip up the mountain. There we left the train and took the cable car right up to the top, it was fairly foggy but we could still see hundreds of mountain peaks and it was absolutely stunning and worth every ounce of fear getting there. After a stroll into the Austrian side we went back down in a different, longer cable car (argh!!) and rejoined the train further down. A few stops on the train and we were off again for another cable car ride, this time to see the Alpspix (?) massive crossed platform that sticks out over the edge of a mountain, right out, so you walk out to nothing, over the edge, to a glass thing at the end. The floor is metal but not solid, so yeah, there you are, standing on air, off the edge of a mountain, 4000ft in the air. And I did it, I have never been so scared in my life but I did it, I even went out alone and got Julie to take photos to prove it, I DID IT! Before we came on the trip I couldn’t do the aerial assault course at my cousins 12th birthday, and yet I managed, somehow, to stand on a bloomin’ ledge 4000ft in the sky, ok, so it was totally foggy so I was in a cloud and could see nothing, but hey, I did it!
Tatzelwurm, apparently a mythical fire breathing beast, looks a bit dragon-y to me. There’s a big hotel here and it’s mobbed, we found a quiet car park behind it and had a wander, lots of Tatzelwurms and some waterfalls, the best ones yet, powerful, loud and clear. Had some van-scran and settled in for the night before a walk the next day that turned out to be an epic adventure. The map said it was 5km to the destination lookout point and there were options of blue (easy) or red (Medium) so we chose red and set off, knowing the mountain biking trails we were expecting more of a walk in the park than the amazing day out that ensued. The walk started fine, up the fire road into the trees before we got a bit lost in a snowy field before we realised the trail had doubled back on itself behind us and we were back on track. Now it was a steep, rocky, rooty singletrack path, it was a challenge for both of us, it required both hands and feet in parts just to get up tree-root steps, I felt like a hobbit. Upwards we went, often unsure if we were still on track, then we would spy the flag icon that reassured us we were fine, just the trail was a bit nuts. Then we got to a rocky bit, steep, rocky bit, steep and narrow, like 4 inches narrow, and high, it was very high, so much so that there was a metal rope attached to the cliff-edge wall to hold on and stop you falling the 30ft or so to the bottom. Fear of heights, what fear of heights?! Well, I wasn’t going back and we were near the top, so through gritted teeth I did it, shaking like a leaf, but alive, the views around the next corner were amazing, well worth it, so on we went. A few corners later and Julie turned back to me… “you’re not going to like this next bit”… the next bit, it transpired, was a 12” wide metal platform and another metal-rope-handrail across a chasm! The alternative was to go back and I actually had no idea how to get down the bit we came up, so, again, in spite of my brain saying NO! I did it, I walked across the silly bit of metal and lived to tell the tale. The views from the lookout place were every bit as good as expected and we were going to return via the easier blue route, so happy days, though at 2.5 hours to get there it is certainly not the claimed 5kms so I need to look it up and see how far we walked.
The return route turned out to be a 3.5 hour epic through 4ft snow, 4 waterfall crossings, a few mountain lodgings and took what felt like forever, but it was stunning for the entire journey and it was t-shirt weather so despite my now sore feet I am glad we did it. I have faced my fears so much in the last week I am starting to feel invincible, well maybe not, but I am certainly less of a mega-wuss about heights than I was 3 weeks ago at Madison’s birthday!
Today has been a lovely sunny day so washing and relaxing was the order of the day, tomorrow we will complete the Bavarian Alps drive and begin our journey onwards to Austria and Hungary.
So this blog has taken hours to upload, patchy internet is slow and I’d rather be outside right now, so if you’re enjoying this blog I’d really appreciate if you would share it so I get more readers and it makes my hours worthwhile! Thanks for reading, until next time, happy trails!!