After drinking some of the best coffee I've had in recent memory (hand ground by Felix, brewed in a shiny silver cafetiere, and finally dolloped with foam frothed in a French press) we made our way to the train station. At one of the station's bakeries, we stocked up on pastries and sandwiches to fuel our hike, then went to buy tickets at an automated kiosk.
Helen and Jordi met us while we stood in line behind a boatload of Japanese tourists trying to figure out how to work the machine. Once we had our tickets, all six of us hopped on a train bound for Tegernsee. The popular lake village at the foot of the Bavarian "pre-alps" would be the start of our hike.
The train was chock full of people headed out to enjoy the mountains during their holiday. I'm sure there are non-sporty people in Germany, but it seems like everyone we see here is kitted out in hiking, climbing, or mountain biking gear! The train station crowd in particular, was a sea of people modeling The North Face, Jack Wolfskin, Ibex, Icebreaker and other well known outdoorsy brands.
The train was so packed that the only seats left were a handful in first class. So, we made ourselves at home in them, hoping nobody would mind. Nobody did. Tyler and I were SO glad we didn't have our bikes with us; it would have been a nightmare! The sporty holiday goers had all crammed the cargo area with their bikes until there was literally no more space for anything. They exceeded the train's allotted twelve bike limit by a good fifty.
Because of this, about ten minutes into our forty minute ride, a voice came blasting over the loudspeaker declaring that the police were coming to evacuate the train, or at least some of the bikers. The train came to a halt and we waited for about half an hour while many disgruntled cyclists filed outside.
Felix and Nadine cracked inside jokes with us about "NO BIKES"; our train story now well-known among our new group of friends. Eventually we got rolling and finished up the short ride to Tegernsee. From there, we took a bus to the start of our hike.
We decided early on that Tyler would be the designated photo-taker for day. I don't like it when the camera bounces around on me as I climb, and if one of is going to fall, it will most likely be me. So, I took our backpack and acted played sherpa instead. While I carefully navigated the rocks, making sure not to trip on some outcropping, Tyler hopped around, running back and forth like a mountain goat, snapping all of these beautiful photos. Thank you Tyler, they are gorgeous!
This is one of my favorites. We're all setting off, led by Felix who had chosen the route.
While we were hiking, I thought about how different a person I am now. Before we left on this trip, I had gone camping only three or four times in my life, and was not an outdoorsy person at all. I didn't really like exerting myself too much, either. And now, here I was, climbing yet another mountain and loving it. Pretty cool!
As we walked, groups formed. Sometimes the guys up front, and the women a few meters behind.
Occasionally, Helen or I would speed up a bit.
Tyler and Felix would frequently stop to wait for Nadine and me.
Jordi and Tyler frequently left the path, climbing up off-road "shortcuts" to the trail ahead:
We climbed higher and higher into the mountains.
Soon Tegernsee was far below us, a brilliant aqua puddle against a green landscape.
After several hours of hiking, we reached a mountain hut that served food and drinks. From there it was thirty minutes to the top! We needed to re-fuel before the final push, so we sat in the sun and ordered food. I had the speckknudelsuppe mit knudle (speck soup with a dumpling), and Tyler and I shared this gigantic "Radler," half beer and half lemonade. Radler really means cyclist, and the drink is named as such because hopefully after drinking one, you can still cycle home!
After eating and resting for a bit, we carried on to the top. The final bit was a muddy trek through slushy snow, the last vestiges of mountaintop storms. There were plenty of flowers, though, including this traditional one, an Enzian (thanks to Ingrid for helping us identify it!). Its roots are used to make schnapps!
The view from near the top was stunning. It reminded Tyler and I of our hike up Helvellyn, in the Lake District (somehow, over a year ago!). As usual, Tyler wanted to get as close to the edge as possible. I followed along, snapping a photo of him against the vast mountainous landscape.
Just a bit further on was the top. We were victorious, and exchanged high-fives and "Berg-Heil"s, which means, "Hail to the Mountain."
A friendly and camera-savvy hiker took a group shot for us. First here:
…and then here:
Then, we began our hike down, taking a different route than we had on the way up. Most of it was beautiful.
Until the very end when we walked (carefully tip-toed) down the steepest hill I have ever descended on foot. We dropped three hundred meters over just one kilometer to reach the road! As we made our way down, Nadine and I no longer enjoying ourselves, we encountered some cows. That was a nice distraction, but it was hard to ignore our toes jammed up against the front of our shoes. It felt a bit like our toenails would fall off. No fun at all. Tyler waited behind several times so he could gallop down the hill without leaving us behind, zig zagging his way down at breakneck speeds to catch up again.
At long last, we reached the bottom. There, we rested at the bus stop, exhausted, before making our way to the train station. We all bought popsicles, and piled into the train, thankful to be off our feet for an hour or so.