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Hiking in the Bavarian Alps

by Tara

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.

Bikes on the Train

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.

Felix, Helen, Nadine & Jordi Hiking

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!

Tara Hiking

As we walked, groups formed. Sometimes the guys up front, and the women a few meters behind.

Jordi & Felix Hiking

Occasionally, Helen or I would speed up a bit.

Helen Hiking

Tyler and Felix would frequently stop to wait for Nadine and me.

Nadine & Tara Hiking Felix & Nadine

Jordi and Tyler frequently left the path, climbing up off-road "shortcuts" to the trail ahead:

Jordi Hiking

We climbed higher and higher into the mountains.


Soon Tegernsee was far below us, a brilliant aqua puddle against a green landscape.

Nadine Hiking Near Tegernsee Blue Mountain Flower

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!

Specksuppe mit Knodle Tara Drinking a Liter of Radler (half lemonade half beer)

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.

German Mountain View Tyler in the German Mountains

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."

Helen in the Mountains Mountain Climbers Mountain Climbers

A friendly and camera-savvy hiker took a group shot for us. First here:

Group Shot

…and then here:

Group Shot by Cross

Then, we began our hike down, taking a different route than we had on the way up. Most of it was beautiful.

Mountain Flowers German Mountain View German Mountain Landscape Nadine & Tara Walking Down the Mountain Tara Hiking Nadine & Felix

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.

Cow Encounter Steep Hill to the Road

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.

The Road Home
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beautiful pictures! we always found it was shockingly difficult to hike after being so used to cycling. Looks like you guys did really well!
Posted by Sarah on May 29th, 2010 at 8:12 AM
Seconding the pictures comment. It looks like you have some downtime in Munich. I dream of those trails you two are on. Will you go to Garmisch?
Posted by martin on May 29th, 2010 at 6:45 PM
It's nice to know that you enjoy Munich. The blue flower is called Enzian. It is as famous as Edelweiss, which won't be found that easy. Have fun!
Posted by Ingrid on May 30th, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Thankfully all the cardiovascular health carries over to other activities. It feels so strange being sore in all kinds of different places the following day.


If we had "more time" we'd do a fully proper tour of Germany, including Garmisch. It is, unfortunately, too far south (the wrong direction). We're in Rothenburg now though, which is proving to be really cool.


Thanks! We'll update our photo and keep our eyes peeled for any Edelweiss on our next hike. We miss you guys!
Posted by Tyler on May 31st, 2010 at 3:45 AM