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Garmisch-Partenkirchen 4 Nov 2004GP - Bayern Hs - Längenfeld - Hoch Alm - Kreuzjoch - Bayern Hs - GP
  5 Nov 2004Garmisch-P - Partnachklamm - Eckbauer - Wamberg - Garmisch-P
 6 Nov 2004Ettal - Ettaler Mandl - Manndlköpfe - Laberjochhaus - Oberammergau - Ettal
 7 Nov 2004GP - St Anton - Daxkapelle - Farchant "View" at point 1120m - GP
Harz Mountains23 Oct 2004Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg
Mittenwald 8 Oct 2004Mittenwald - Brunnensteinsteig - Mittenwald
 9 Oct 2004Mittenwald - Grünkopf - Ferchensee - Lautersee - Mittenwald
 10 Oct 2004Mittenwald - Riedbergscharte - Leutaschklamm - Gletscherschliff - M'wald
Hersbrucker Alb10 Sept 2004Hersbruck - Arzberg Turm - Hersbruck
Harz mountains28 Aug 2004Schierke - Brocken - Schierke
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4th November 2004: Garmish Partenkirchen to Längenfeld and return
Start/finish at Garmisch-Partenkirchen 707m
Highest point reached was Längenfeld "summit", circa 1920m
Round distance circa 30 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 1500m
Total time from start to finish of just under 8hrs 30 mins
Weather mild and sunny

The early October trip to Mittenwald had provided so much enjoyment that a final trip for the year into the same area was soon planned. Risky to hope for decent hiking weather early in November, and partly because of that a hotel was booked at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. That famous German ski town, (host of the 1936 Winter Olympics), was 200m lower than Mittenwald and had a good number of lower level hiking routes if very snowy weather stopped access to the higher levels.

Thusday November 4th saw me set out before 08.00 and in light cloud with the sun some time away from climbing above the surrounding mountains a route through the town under the Alpspitze and other high local mountains, (right), soon entered meadow land and well made forest roads. walking map

4th November hike continued

4th November 2004: Garmish Partenkirchen to Längenfeld and return continued

The plan was to hike to the Osterfelderkopf at over 2000m, using the mainly good quality forest tracks via Bayern House, (Photo right: a gasthof with fully equipped bedrooms at 1258m), then past the Hausberg at 1320m. In increasingly good weather I had superb views back down to Garmisch and over many of the surrounding mountains. I was certainly lucky with the weather. The main hiking season had ended, and the snows had not arrived. Snows that would transform this area into a skiing paradise, with many ski lifts being passed. But for today the route, gentle in grade at times, (Photo lower right), was quiet, just a few other hikers enjoying what was generally felt to be the last good day of the year before forecast bad weather arrived.

After a couple of short breaks for water, and a longer break near to Kreuzalm a mini summit on the track was reached just after passing Kreuzech Hs. After short downhill stretch a junction in the paths was reached under the Alpspitze, and I continued to follow the signs to Osterfelderkopf. With hindsght, and a little more time checking my Kompass 1:30000 map, (no. 790, ISBN 3-85491-581-0), I would maybe have taken the lower route to the Hochalm, rather than the steeper route that climbed a rougher track.

4th November hike continued

Bayern House The Track Ahead

4th Nov 2004: Garmish-P - Längenfeld and return cont.
Wank Mountain Above  Wank (1780m) in front of Hoher Fricken (1940m) and Krottenkopf (2086m). Right  Kreuzalm 1600m, and Alpspitze 2628m.
                              4th Nov hike continued
Kreuzalm Alpspitze and signs

4th November 2004: Garmish Partenkirchen to Längenfeld and return cont.
Kramerspitz Left and set back is Hirschbühel 1935m. Centre Kramerspitz 1985m, just right of that and below is a "mini" summit at 1833m on the Kramersteig. Right is the Katzenkopf summit, 1817m. Photo from near Kreuzalm.
4th Nov hike continued

4th November 2004: Garmish Partenkirchen to Längenfeld and return cont.
Osterfelderkopf Path End
The steeper track would have been fine except for a signpost to a path direct to Osterfelderkopf over the Längenfeld. I followed two others up this route which rose 180m before ending with a view of the cable car station on the top of the Ostefelder Kopfe, (Left). But our mini summit ended in a sheer drop overlooking a small gorge!, (Right). So back I went and re-joined the track to Hochalm at the bottom of the Längenfeld. That rose gently to another summit overlooking the Hochalm some way below. That hutte became my furthest point reached, as time was starting to run out. It was November after all!
4th November hike continued

4th November 2004: Garmish Partenkirchen to Längenfeld and return cont.
Hochalm Kreuzjoch Kreuzjoch summit cross Kreuzjoch
The Hochlam, (top left), was my turn round point, but I did have enough time on my return to Garmisch to take the steep track up from the Kreuzalm to the Kreuzjoch summit, 1719m, (right and below left).
4th November hike continued

4th November 2004: Garmish Partenkirchen to Längenfeld and return cont.
Längenfeld A quick lunch on the summit, and then back to Garmisch still over 1000m below. Pausing at the Kreuzalm to look back up at the Längenfeld, and the "summit" of the meadow that had got me so near, yet so far from the Osterfelderkopf in a quite outstanding mountain hiking area.
5th November hike

5th November: Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Partnachklamm - Eckbauer - Wamberg - Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Start/finish at Garmisch-Partenkirchen 707m
Highest point reached was Eckbauer summit, 1237m
Round distance circa 20 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 550m
Total time from start to finish of 5hrs 50 mins
Weather cool, wet, with fog above circa 900m
The previous day's long hike had taken a lot of energy, so a "rest day" hike was planned for November 5th. Also in mind was the fact that I was joining the Munich Wanderers on the 6th for what could well be quite a hard day, so energy conservation was quite important. Especially as on the 4th I had, by a very long way, ascended more in a day than ever before.

The local weather forecast had proved accurate, and setting out just around 08.00 saw approaching cloud that soon started to produce quite heavy rain. So full wet weather gear including overtrousers was the order of the day. The chosen route to the top of the Eckbauer started along some pleasant meadows South West of Garmisch-Partenkirchen station, heading past the Olympic Skistadium and towards the popular Partnachklamm, (Partnach River Gorge), past a superb shrine at the side of a meadow, (right).

The very steep gorge sides didn't let too much light in on such a dull day, and it was necessary to grope through the various very dark tunnels that the path next to the river followed. But all was worth such an experience, just leaving the thought as to what it must all look like in the depth of winter!
5th November hike continued

5th November: Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Partnachklamm - Eckbauer - Wamberg - Garmisch-Partenkirchen cont
Partnachklamm Partnachklamm
Two views inside the spectacular Partnachklamm.
5th November hike continued

5th November: Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Partnachklamm - Eckbauer - Wamberg - Garmisch-Partenkirchen cont
The well marked path left the Partnachklamm and soon turned left up a steep and mainly stepped path on the side of the Eckbauer mountain. Before long that came out into the open by a very small village where a tarmac road was joined for a short while. But soon the way to the summit was signposted back into the forest and the upward climb continued on a good quality mountain path.

Before long the trees gave way to open air, and out of the fog and rain the Eckbauer House, (closed in November), came into view. With nothing to stop for I continued past the cable car station, (in operation), over the summit and started on the continuing good quality track down the other side. As it was a "rest day" hike it seemed sensible to head back to Gamisch-Partenkirchen via Wamberg village, rather than dropping down a few more metres and then climbing up to the 1302 metre summit of the Wamberg mountain summit.
Village Houses
Signs on the summitTop: A few farm houses perched on the side of the Eckbauer.

Right:  The good surface of the pathway leading to the summit.

Left Fog shrouded pathsigns near the summit of the Eckbauer.
Path up the Eckbauer

5th November hike continued

5th November: Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Partnachklamm - Eckbauer - Wamberg - Garmisch-Partenkirchen cont

The track down was steep, even though it was also a farm track, so progress over the slippery leaves was slow. Plans to drop below the cloudbase before a lunch stop were abandoned when a suitably sheltered log under a tree provided sufficient shelter from the elements to allow a shirt change, a quick attempt at drying out a little, and a much needed lunch. All the while while listening to the noise of the bells around the farm animals' necks clanging away from various directions in the fog. Quite magical noises on a day when very few other hikers had been seen since leaving the Partnachklamm.

Lunch over, the downhill hike continued, soon into the village of Wamberg where the single Gasthof had closed for November, so no hot soup! Back into open country the descent went on, including down a rugged farm track up which a very large wheeled farm 4 x 4 was slowly climbing. Then the grade for me eased and a section though a small wood gave a splendid last look at Autumn colours with an almost full covering of leaves over the track and grassy banks. But all too soon the lovely surroundings gave way to the edge of Partenkirchen, and a quite long walk back through the town in heavy rain before my hotel opposite the railway station was reached. For me a very enjoyable hike as I love being out in such weather on my own! But a hike that promises superb views if undertaken in clearer weather.

Autumn Leaves

6th November hike

6th November: Etta l- Ettaler Mandl - Manndlköpfe - Laberjochhaus - Oberammergau - Ettal
Start/finish at Ettal 877m
Highest point reached was Laberjochhaus at 1680m
Round distance circa 16 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 1050m
Total time from start to finish of 7hrs 50 mins
Weather cold and foggy

November 7th was to be quite an historic day for me: my first ever hike with an organised group, as most of my hiking is on my own. But internet searching had found the Munich Wanderers a few months ago, and visits to their excellent web site had singled them out as a well organised and sensibly run group. So I was delighted to see that they were organising a hike during the period I was staying at Germsich-Partenkirchen, and one starting only a short distance away, from Ettal, one village away from Oberammagau which is world famous for the Pashion Play enacted there every ten years. The hike was planned just to climb from Ettal, next to the famous Kloster, (photo right), up to the 1633m high Ettaler Mandl and back. The last part of the climb to the top of the large rock that forms the summit is up a steep rock climb with a secured chain to help. A "Klettersteig" as such climbs are called in Germany, and something I certainly wanted to attempt, but most certainly not on my own for obvious safety reasons.

So promptly at 07.50 the 9606 bus left from just outside my hotel, depositing me on time at Ettal 25 minutes later, just as a local Gasthof opened, allowing a hot cup of coffee on what was to be a cold and foggy day.
6th November hike

6th November: Ettal - Ettaler Mandl - Manndlköpfe - Laberjochhaus - Oberammergau - Ettal continued
Before long Sharon Page our leader arrived, followed by eight others who made up a very international group who lived around München. England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden and Denmark were represented as we set off on the easy start. That easy nature changed abruptly when we reached the mountain path, which provided an unrelenting steep climb through an increasingly cold and slippery forest. The average age of the others was around 20 years younger than me, and I suspect the average weight was probably nearly 30 kgs less! And they were all fit. So I was slower, but from time to time they were kind enough to wait to allow me to catch up. They were ahead when I reached the Klettersteig to the summit, and the last of them, apart from Sharon who was with me, were disappearing into the mist on the first part of the rock climb, (right). I should really have taken ten minutes rest, but instead decided to go up the Klettersteig immediately, and that was my undoing. I have never climbed rocks before, but Sharon followed me up giving me an instant lesson, starting with "always have three points of grip". Which seemed very sensible as I got up the first part and then negotiated the turn and climbed further. But just after the half way mark I was on a near vertical section, and did not have any energy left. A rest before starting would have helped. So I came back down, annoyed that I hadn't completed the climb, but happy that I had at least had my first experience of Klettersteig. Most such sections do need proper harnesses plus a full Klettersteig "brake", but that to the top of Ettaler Mandl is regularly climbed by those with sufficient experience, (and stamina!), without such equipment as it is fairly short. Ettal Manndl Klettersteig
6th November hike continued

6th November: Ettal - Ettaler Mandl - Manndlköpfe - Laberjochhaus - Oberammergau - Ettal continued
A quick lunch by the rocks, (top), as the Laberjochhaus was reported shut, and we continued our hike. Sharon decided to extend it by more than a little, heading via the Laberjochhaus, over the Laber, down the steep route to Oberammergau, then back to Ettal. The weather was foggy and colder, but there were some good ups and downs to keep us warm, but not as warm as the inside of the Laberjochhaus which to our delight was open! So hot drinks and good fun was had, (lower), before Sharon's 14.00 departure deadline for a cold and by now icy hike down the mountain. Of the two routes on offer it was no surprise to see this experienced group of mountain hikers unhesitatingly head straight for that with the "nur für Gebeüte" sign, (only for experienced). That mountain path gave a superb two hour descent, to the edge of Oberammergau. In freezing fog and mist, with hoar frost on the initially sparse vegertation, and a light wind sometimes blowing ice crystals across our way there were some really great, and for me at least, very challenging sections. The best being going over a lovely exposed ridge: my first. All too soon we were at the bottom of the path and some care was needed to get us back onto a marked track as route signs at the end of the steep descent were not present, as indeed they hadn't been for most of the way down. From there back to Ettal was straightforward, but did include close to a 100m ascent as we used the forest "Höher weg" route, rather than the side of the road. Arrival back at Ettal was as darkness descended and conveniently for me about 8 minutes before my bus back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Just time to thank the others for their patience with me during what was one of the most exhilerating and rewarding days I have ever experienced. So very many thanks indeed to the Munich Wanderers.

                              7th November hike
Waiting at the Ettal Manndl Klettersteig Fun in the Laberjochhaus

7th November: Garmisch-Partenkirchen - St Anton - Daxkapelle - Farchant "View" at point 1120m - Garmisch-P
Start/finish at Garmisch-Partenkirchen 707m
Highest point reached was point 1120m
Round distance circa 10 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 410m
Total time from start to finish of just under 2hrs 50 mins
Weather cold and wet turning to snow

After a hard but very fulfilling hike on the Saturday the plan was to use the forest road to the Esterberg Hutte, and return via the summit of the Wank Mountain. It was raining hard as the route went east through Partenkirchen, towards the St Anton Church, (right). The forest road was a little steeper than anticipated but once warmed up a reasonable pace was maintained until a stop by the Daxkapelle, (below). Daxkapelle
St Anton
At that point the rain turned to snow and the going got slippery as I don't use walking poles, (soon to be rectified), and had no other means of increasing my grip.
7th November Hike continued

7th November: Garmisch-Partenkirchen - St Anton - Daxkapelle - Farchant "View" at point 1120m - Garmisch-P
But I continued for a while, passing a steep path up from Farchant, eventually reaching a point where in good weather there would be an undoubted good view back down to that village and the mountains behind it. The snow was falling heavily and I was increasingly concerned about my lack of preparedness for such conditions should it continue all day, (it did!), and decided that common sense should prevail. So I aborted at this point, on what would in good weather be a very scenic walk through a "half valley" surrounded by a number of good sized mountains. One to go back and do again for the whole distance. So ended a quite superb 4 days of hiking in an area that provides a very wide variety of challenges amongst outstanding mountain scenery. Path signs
Snow on the Wank
7th November Hike continued

7th November: Garmisch-P - St Anton - Daxkapelle - Farchant "View" at point 1120m - Garmisch-P
Hiking Notice
23rd October Hike

Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg

Start/finish at Ilsenburg railway Station: 240m
Highest point, Brocken Summit: 1142m
Round distance circa 28 kms
Vertical altitude gain: 902m
Total time from start to finish: 6 hrs 40 minutes
Sunny spells below 700m. Sev gales, fog, rain above 800m.

This trip to Gemany should have seen me travelling from Neumünster and through Hamburg behind a great German Railways Museum express passenger steam railway locomotive! But the trip was cancelled as insufficient people had booked on the train. My flights to Hamburg from Heathrow, booked very early to get the lowest pice from Lufthansa, had been arranged to cope with that eventuality. So sufficient time was available to travel to and from Hannover where the City IBIS hotel was a suitable base for the two night stay. An early rise on Saturday 23rd October saw the 06.32 train deposit me on Ilsenburg station platform at 08.25 on a windy and bright day. But the red sunrise seen on the train ride down had warned me that all may not be well higher up the route to the Brocken, and that was most certainly to prove the case.

So the desire expressed on my August trip to the Brocken to try out more of the hiking routes had been met far earlier than expected.
The excellent KV plan 1:25000 map "Der Brocken" (ISBN 3-89641-532-8, and widely available in local newsagents etc in the Harz region), shows all the hiking routes in the Nationalpark Hochharz, and identified that the railway through Ilsenburg ran along the 240m contour line. And a 902m height gain to Brocken summit would do me very nicely!
23rd October hike continued

Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg continued

Some slight errors in the map close to the railway station were easily overcome as a route just West of South was the only way to join the road that headed into the Ilsetal, (Ilse river valley), and after wandering through the small and pleasant town the road entered a steep gorge with the fast flowing small river in it. A typical German "starting point" for the many very well signposted walks, (photo left), from here signalled a footpath right next to the river that was a pleasant alternative to the still surfaced road that ran through into the Ilsetal. A little further along the road was a good sized and well laid out free car park specifically for those wanting to drive to the area and then hike. There are many of these marked on "Der Brocken" map, but not all are free.

The path was a pleasant way to walk up the Ilsetal, and the nearby forest road soon became unsurfaced, but with a very smooth finish, over which an infrequent bus service runs to a couple of Gasthofs on, or to the left of the lower part of Brocken trail. Frequently placed placards showing paintings and descriptions of the local wildlife, as well as an occasional hut for shelter: not needed yet as the weather was still pleasant while the path gradually steepened. The route was very well marked, and on the few places where signs were not shown it was obvious that the path next to the river was the one to follow.

Walking signs
23rd October hike continued

Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg continued

By now the path was getting steeper, and with a few boulders to walk over, but it lead past the lovely Ilsefälle: the Ilse waterfalls, a highlight on this particular hike to the Brocken. This is not one large waterfall, more a collection of small falls spread out over quite a distance. It was certainly a good reason for a pause to enjoy the sight and sound of the rushing water on what was still a pleasant Autumn day, well sheltered from the strong wind that could be heard roaring through the trees above the gorge.

A good few kms from the start of the hike, the path and forest road combined again and emerged from the Ilsetal into more open country. The path to the Brocken headed away from the forest road and climbed at a gentle grade over a few more rocks and boulders. Far ahead there were just rolling clouds and fog obscuring the Brocken, whose summit was still around 650m higher than I had already reached. Typical weather for the mountain that does not boast a good visibility record!

         23rd October hike continued

Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg continued
Brocken shrouded in cloud Path to the Brocken A well marked path
Left: The path up to the cloud shrouded Brocken at the end of the Ilsetal. Right: Not too steep, a few boulders to walk over, but usually very well signposted.
23rd October hike continued

Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg continued
The path soon lead to more good quality forest tracks, and at about the 650m level light rain stated to fall, and I stopped to put on my very lightweight overtrousers: a wise decision indeed! At around the 750m the path turned almost due South onto the final track to the summit. This is made of concrete slabs and may well be a left over from the cold war days when the Russians laid it to get tracked vehicles to their "listening post" at the top of the mountain. The grade was now steep and the weather worsened all the time. It was still just possble to look back down onto the Eckerstausee, (top right), but passing the last of the small huts the path climbed above the cloud base and in a savagely strong wind and with heavy rain visibility dropped to around 50m.
Looking down to the Eckerstausee
There were few others on the hike up: more were seen later. But a good number who may have gone up by train kept emerging from the fog on their way down. The steep track passed markers at 900m and 1000m and went over the railway just before 1100m. Then in the gloom the outline of some buildings appeared, which I walked around to get to the summit rocks. Subsequent Brocken weather data for that day showed gusts of 70 -74 mph, (112 - 119 km/h), or between Severe Storm force 11 and Hurricane force 12 on the Beaufort Scale. No wonder I had great difficulty standing up trying to get to the exposed summit! It took a minute to force myself up against the rocks to get stable enough to take a "summit photo", and then I immediately retraced my steps away from the savage weather. Shelter on the Brocken Brocken Summit
23rd October hike continued

Ilsenburg - Brocken - Ilsenburg continued
Twenty minutes down, the track came out below the cloud base into much better weather, and before long a half an hour break allowed a shirt change and a picnic lunch. Continuing down I enjoyed the Ilsefälle again, (below), but all too soon I was back at Ilsenburg station in time for my train back to Hannover.
8th October hike

Mittenwald to the Brunnensteinsteig
Start/finish at Pension Alpenhof Mittenwald, circa 912m
Highest point, 2050m on the Brunnensteinsteig: 100 m below Tiroler Hutte
Round distance circa 20 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 1140m
Total time from start to finish of 8 hrs 15 mins
Weather warm and sunny

This October weekend was originally planned for steam railway locomotive event in Thuringen, but the event was cancelled. I had felt the event was at risk and had booked my flight to München some weeks earlier, giving me an alternative of some hill and mountain walking in the Bavarian Alp region.

I had chosen Mittwenwald as the best place to stay as from my Internet research I had found the best details of available hikes there. Hikes which would be at the very limit of my current fitness and expertise levels. I had "trained" for my three days at Mittenwald by repeatedly walking up and down the steepest 80 m height rise of the local North Downs on a steep gulley of loose stones. Around ten days before arriving in Germany I had visited that gulley three days in succession and climbed a total of 1600m. Tiring and boring at times, especially as I am still far from fit and still way above a proper weight. But it did at least give me an idea of my capabilities when planning hikes at Mittenwald.
Brunnensteinsspitze from Mittenwald
The twins peaks of Rotwandlspitze and Brunnensteinspitze tower above Mittwenwald
My physical preparation was matched by equipment preparation. New Scarpa Manta boots had been walked in after my faithful Zamberlan boots had started to come apart when walking the Brocken in August. Berghaus "activity" trousers and a lightweight base layer top, a Berghaus "Cornice" waterproof jacket along with one of their "Freeflow" rucksacks for supplies. These included 4 litres of water in Sigg bottles , (I need vast amounts when hiking), some energy bars and a small amount of other food, a spare base layer shirt and warm top, towel plus first aid kit, phone, camera, compass and a whistle. I was using the 1:25000 Alpenvereinskarte nr 5/1 of the Karwendelgebirge: full of detail and probably more than I needed for this hike.
8 October hike continued

Mittenwald to the Brunnensteinsteig continued

The weather looked like it could be good as I left the very pleasant Pension Alpenhof just after 08.00 hrs, and walked South through the small town and over the Isarbrücke where the path to the Brunnesteinhutte and Spitze were first signposted. My target for the day was to at least reach the Hutte and then continue up along the Brunnsteinsteig for a while: this latter part shown as a difficult hike on the useful Mittenwald web site. The path was on a surfaced farm road for a while, under the main road and via the Hoffeld farms before a left turn onto the track that plunged into the forest.
pathway to Brunnensteinhutte Brunnensteinhutte
Here the ascent started on quite good quality forest paths, (photo above left), which zig zagged their way up the mountain. A small gulley was crossed early on, and then the path rose at a steady but not too steep rate with some parts with fewer trees giving superb views back down, and across to the magnificent Arnspitze and Wettersteingerbige mountains. In about 2 hrs 10 mins from the Pension, and 1hr 50 mins from the Isarbrücke the path left the forest right by the Brunnsteinhutte, (1523m and photo above right): on what was now a wonderfully sunny day.

A mineral water purchased from the Hutte, (due to shut for the winter on Oct 15th) also got me the news that the weather was to be good all day and that the Tiroler Hutte was open where two people had stayed overnight. So far I had seen no other walkers, aparty from someone from the Brunnensteinhutte who was maybe going up to man the Tiroler Hutte. Indeed I saw only three other walkers all the time I was above the mid point Hutte, and that was when I was well on my way back down.
8 October hike continued

Mittenwald to the Brunnensteinsteig continued
Now the pathway got more difficult, but the views just kept improving! The zig zagging continued through much lower vegetation and a number of quite rocky parts had to be walked over, (photo right), Approaching one and a half hours above the Hutte the path reached the edge of a massive rockslidewhere the trail first climbed parrallel to the edge on loose stones, (photo far right) and then turned away across some rocky terrain that needed me to take care to feel secure of my footholds. Red paint splashes marked the way across the rocks because the path was not distinct here, as there were now quite large gaps between the sparser vegetation.
The Brunnensteinsteig The Brunnensteinsteig
I knew from my research that there were some ropes and wires near the top of the climb to help across some of the more difficult parts: but I was concentrating so much on getting secure footholds that I missed the first of these which went across the top of a steep rocky section. So I spent 20 minutes scambling across the face of the rocks and then climbing back up to the path! The enormous effort I needed for that signalled the fact that I was reaching my fitness limit and after about another 30 minutes of slow progress across almost barren rock and stony terrain, and with the summit ridge a tantalising 100 metres above I decided to call a halt to proceedings. Time to briefly enjoy the spectacular view across the valley before retracing my steps but always on the path this way, and back to the Brunnensteinhutte. The tables outside were well filled with many who had walked up through the forest for bier and food, but there was still room for me to enjoy a superb bowl of gulash soup and a chat with the Hutte Keeper, before taking the pleasant walk back to Mittenwald.
8 October hike continued

Mittenwald to the Brunnensteinsteig continued
View from the Brunnensteinsteig From high up on the Brunnensteinsteig the view across the valley to the Grosse Arnspitze, (nearer), and the Wettersteingebirge is outstanding.
8 October hike continued

Mittenwald to the Brunnensteinsteig continued
The route up the Brunnensteinsteig
A view of the zig zag Brunnensteinsteig taken from the Grunkopf. It was frustrating to have got above all the vegetation but not to the summits.
Looking down on the Brunnensteinhutte
Pausing on the way back down, just above the Brunnensteinhutte which can be just seen 1/3 way up the photo near the right.
8 October hike continued

Mittenwald to the Brunnensteinsteig continued
Rotwandlspitze and Brunnensteinspitze from near the Brunnensteinhutte An afternoon view from near the Hutte of Rotwandlspitze and Brunnensteinspitze. I will return to reach those summits!
9th October hike

Mittenwald - Grünkopf - Ferchensee - Lautersee
Start/finish at Pension Alpenhof, circa 912m
Highest point, summit of Grünkopf, 1587m
Round distance circa 15 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 730m
Total time from start to finish of 6 hrs
Rain, heavy showers and sunny spells. Cool.

Heavy rain was the weather at the start of a planned "roundtrip" hike, starting at the Pension Alpenhof. Using the 1:25000 Alpenvereinskarte for this area it was fairly easy to follow the right roads to leave Mittenwald facing in the correct direction to ascend the Grünkopf, a fairly small tree covered mountain, but one that still figures on the Mittenwald list of difficult hikes. It wasn't that well signed to start with and some stops were needed to carefully consult the map, a practice that became harder as my various cleaning handkerchiefs soon got soaked keeping both my forehead and reading glasses dry! The ascent started on the edge of the town, mainly on surfaced roads at first, and then after more careful map examination a small forest track was followed. That met more tracks but signposting and map reading ensured the right direction was followed. At the point where the last track intersection occured there was some confusion, and I did climb a fair bit and then return downhill to use compass and map to ensure I was heading in the right direction!
The Grünkopf seen from near the Brunnensteinhutte The Grünkopf seen from near the Brunnensteinhutte on October 8th
9th October hike continued

Mittenwald - Grünkopf - Ferchensee - Lautersee continued
Getting back onto the path I had already started to climb once it soon became clear from the red and white markings and the fairly steep zig zag path that this was the track leading West to the Grünkopf summit. The forest was not always dense and sometimes gave increasingly good views especially as the rain became replaced by sunny spells. The track was generally quite good, (photo right), although there were a number of places where I had to use hands as well as feet to climb up some small rocky sections. The gradient was fairly consistent at a moderate steepness and water stops were required several times. Nearer the top the path had some easier grades and some way under three hours after leaving my Pension I reached the "summit" cross.

Path up the Grünkopf

Grünkopf summit cross
The cross wasn't actually at the summit, as a small opening box placed by a tree with a stamp for those who want to record their achievement and a visitors book was at the actual peak a few metres away. The weather allowed some pleasant views over Mittenwald and down to the Hoher Kranzberg, and also time to check the route down the other side of the Grünkopf and on towards the Ferchensee. That showed the contour lines slightly further apart than on the climb up from Mittenwald. That was however a bit deceptive as quite of lot of the Westerly descent comprised some quite easy sections of forest track, followed by short steep sections sometimes including rocky parts that I needed to clamber down using hands as well as feet.
9 October hike continued

Mittenwald - Grünkopf - Ferchensee - Lautersee continued
Hoher Kranzberg The view from the Grünkopf
down to the green summit of the Hoher Kranzberg, (1391m).
Mittenwald The top of the Grünkopf gives a very good view over Mittenwald and
the surrounding mountains.

9 October hike continued

Mittenwald - Grünkopf - Ferchensee - Lautersee continued
Heavy rain returned for the descent making the rock sections slippery, so care was needed. As the descent ended more dense forest was reached, and I missed the track that went directly down to the Ferchensee. But I was happy with occasional views of the lake through the forest following the easy track which ran almost due East at around 1100m. Then a short descent to an unsurfaced road by a sheltered bus stop conveniently placed for a chance to change shirts, dry out and eat a lunch!.

The good and well marked track then led on down to the lovely Lautersee, before climbed slightly and then dropping down into a by now sunny Mittenwald.
Lautersee The lovely Lautersee with the Karwendelgebirge behind.
10 October hike

Mittenwald - Riedbergscharte - Leutaschklamm - Gletscherschliff
Start/finish at Pension Alpenhof: 912m
Highest point, track under the Schartenkopf, circa 1500m
Round distance circa 12 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 610m
Total time from start to finish of 6 hrs
Cool, dull, fog and mist above 1100m

Heavy overnight rain left a legacy of a dull, misty and foggy day above about 1100m. With a quite difficult route plans were changed slightly to ascend only to around 1500m on the trail to the Grosse Arnspitze, and then return on that track before using a slightly different low level path to enjoy another of Mittenwald's major attractions. Walking through Mittenwald the route crossed the Isarbrücke and went down towards Scharnitz on the West side of the river for a while. The signpost for the right turn towards the Arnspitze trail by a farm building was set back to the right of the unsurfaced road and out of site from the road.
Schartenkopf seen from high up the Brunnensteinsteig The Schartenkopf seen from high up the Brunnensteinsteig, with the inset photo showing it as a small peak on the long track up to the Grosse Arnspitze
The 1:25000 Karwendelgebirge Alpenvereinskarte soon found me the track and the ascent started on easy farm roads until these were left for the much more difficult path through dense forest. I had assumed the "difficult"status for this path was just for the last 200m climb on loose rocks to the Grosse Arnspitze summit, but I soon found the small part of the route I was using was far from an easy hike for me. In damp and dull Autumn conditions it was the hardest of my 3 days at Mittenwald.
10th October hike continued

Mittenwald - Riedbergscharte - Leutaschklamm - Gletscherschliff continued
The track itself was no steeper than would be expected for such a route, and zig zagged quite a lot. But in many places the whole forest floor was covered in leaves making it difficult at times to see where the track went. Red paint spashes on trees and rocks did mark the path, so care was taken when the path was not clearly visible to ensure I could see a marking. The track was also slippery, and there were a number of short steep rocky parts, (lower photo), that needed hands and feet as I did not feel too confident in the slippery conditions just to try and walk up them. There were also a number of quite steep drops away from the pathway: but none were sheer drops and most with trees and bushes growing on them. It was also quite dirty work as at least one fallen tree meant a crawl underneath on the muddy forest floor! Progress was quite slow with stops to check where the next red paint marks were so it took over 2 3/4 hours from my Pension to reach the 1500m level where a small and un-signposted path came in from under the Schartenkopf which, despite a quick search, (including on the map), did not seem to have path to it's summit. The main path was however signed in both directions, (above): only the second signpost I had seen since joining the track at the forest entrance.

The slowish climb had left me with surplus energy so I started the short descent to where the path comes in from Austria at the Riedbergscharte with a view to ascending for at least another hour or two. But the weather showed no signs of improving, the path was very slippery and my lack of knowledge about the local weather and the path ahead soon decided me to stay with my plan and return from here. The prospect of being on such a slippery and at times difficult to find path in even worse weather if heavy rain started was not a sensible option, (very heavy rain did indeed start falling in the afternoon). The return to the decent farm track a long way below was as hard as the ascent, and I did slip over twice in the tricky conditions. Only after nearly 4 hours did I see any other walkers, just three people, one ascending quite fast!
One of the few signs I saw
Rocky parts of the trail
10th October hike continued

Mittenwald - Riedbergscharte - Leutaschklamm - Gletscherschliff continued
A bench seat at the entrance to the forest path and next to the farm track allowed some attempt at drying and a shirt change, plus lunch. The farm track was busy and more than one small group of walkers in imaculate walking clothes gave my very dishevelled and dirty condition a sideways glance of disapproval. But the hike had been envigorating to say the least, but when I return to go much higher it will be on a sunny, dry summers day before the leaves start falling!

From there I took the farm track down to the specacular Gletscherscliff at the end of the Leutaschklamm, (right).
The Glescherschliff
10th October hike continued

Mittenwald - Riedbergscharte - Leutaschklamm - Gletscherschliff continued
Leutaschklamm The end of the Leutaschklamm,
near the Gletscherschcliff
Leutascherklamm Leutaschklamm A shrine and the 23m high water fall. Both in the Leutaschklamm Leutascherklamm Looking through the Leutaschklamm towards the Gletscherschcliff
10th September hike hike

Hersbruck to Arzberg Turm
Start/finish at Hersbruck (rechts Peg) circa 345m
Highest point reached was Arzberg Turm 612m + 25m = 637m, (top of tower)
Round distance circa 10 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 300m
Total time from start to finish of 3 hrs
Weather warm and sunny

My visits to Germany to travel behind main line steam locos continued into early Autumn with a trip to Nürnberg. I arrived on Thursday evening for the Saturday Museum train to Heilbronn as I wanted to meet the staff in the German Railways Museum who help me with my trips. After a pleasant dinner on Thursday evening with Anna, a lady I deal with over the Internet, I met her again in the Museum the next day. Arrangements were made for me to return at 17.00 hrs as one of the other staff members, Antje, would drive me out to the loco depot at Gostenhof, where the locomotive for our Saturday train was due to arrive at 18.00.
Alzberg Turm Pleasant farmland overlooked by the Arzberg
So leaving the Musuem in the morning at 11.00 I had a few hours to catch a train into the Franchonian Hills and find a suitable hill to walk to! I had bought a Kompass 1:50000 map at a Nürnberg station bookshop, and it hadn't taken long to decide the Arzberg would be a good hill. At over 600 metres it was one of the highest in the area, and was quite near to Hersbruck station: an important consideration as I didn't have a great deal of time before my appointment back in Nürnberg. It was a warm September day, and with 2 litres of water and some rolls bought at the station I caught a fast train to Hersbruck, allowing me to wander downhill through the small town and over the Pegnitz river. The map helped me through the town and onto the track that headed to the Arzberg, soon getting into pleasant farming country.Arzberg
Hersbruck to Arzberg Turm continued

Hersbruck to Arzberg Turm continued
The track was part metalled and good until right into the forest on the Arzberg, where it became a forest track for loggers, sometimes a bit rough, but mainly good. I struggled a bit on the climb as I had been suffering badly from a very heavy cold for a few days, and my system was full of Paracetomol! But the sweat did me good and I felt better as I neared the top. The path to and on the Arzberg was hardly marked with signs at all: unusual for Germany. But my map was fine until into the forest, when it was not that accurate. At one forest path "junction", not shown on my map, I took a left turn instead of continuing straight on as the left path went uphill steeper! I followed that for a while until it started to descend, which left me with no choice but to climb towards what seemed to be the highest point within view, which coincided with a slight clearing in the forest. That was a correct decision as emerging from the forest into the clearing I had reached the top of the Arzberg. Several picnic benches, and a massive 25 m high stone tower that was locked with a notice that the key could be obtained in Hersbruck!

Right: The Arzberg Turm. Below: Hersbruck from the top of Arzberg Turm

Alzberg Turm
Hersbruck With no panaoramic view from the picnic benches I resigned myself to lunch within the forest, but had hardly sat down when an elderley German couple arrived on the correct path from Hersbruck holding a key to the tower! Amazing luck as I walked to the top of the tower and enjoyed a quite outstanding view of the Franconian Hills on a superbly clear and sunny day. With my evening appointment back in Nürnberg I could not stay long, and so thanked the couple, then hurried back down the tower and through the forest. I chose a bench overlooking farmland and in bright sunshine for a twenty minute lunch break, before continuing down to Hersbruck and the train back to Nürnberg. A very rewarding walk that nicely filled in the middle part of the day between my various appointments.
            Hersbruck to Arzberg Turm concluded

Hersbruck to Arzberg Turm continued
Franchonaian Hills
The view looking South East from the top of the Arzberg Turm
28th August hike

28th August 2004. Schierke to Brocken and return

Start/finish at Schierke Railway Station 685m
Highest point reached was Brocken Summit 1142m
Round distance 15 kms
Vertical altitude gain of 457m
Total time from start to finish of just under 3 hrs 40 minutes
Weather cool with some light rain

August 28th was no different from much of the European summer for 2004. So dull, cool and at times wet weather greeeted me as I left the train at Schierke, the last station before the steam hauled train started the last part of it's climb to Brocken station at 1125m, just below the summit. The Brocken is the highest mountain in central Germany's Harz mountains and one closed to visitors for 28 years as it was on the border between East and West. For those years it was occupied by Russian troops with military installations at the summit. But when the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989 the mountain became a major attraction for walkers from all over Europe. The metre gauge railway, which had never fully closed, was rebuilt, and now operates up to twelve trains a day to the summit station behind powerful 2-10-2 tank steam locos. And using the railway or walking are the only ways to get to the top, with the possible exception of a few horse drawn carriages sometimes seen on the service road to the top. That road is reserved strictly for those with genuine business on the mountain. There are a number of hiking routes from lower down, but these merge into three as the Nature Reserve which surrounds the top part of the Brocken is reached. That reserve is out of bounds to all visitors, so the three hiking routes must not be left. The Nature Reserve was created after 1989 as it was land that had been virtually untouched by man for the 28 years of the Russian occupation.

                  28th August hike continued
Schierke station name 99 7232 climbs away from Schierke
Top: Starting point was the path just behind the station name. Lower: 99 7232 heads the train I left at Schierke through the Brocken forest.

Schierke to Brocken continued

From Schierke station the path, (called the bahnparallelweg), runs next to the railway line for more than 5 kilometres, allowing steam railway enthusiasts like myself to enjoy the sight and sound of the powerful steam locomotives working hard as they climb to the Brocken. The initial couple of kms of the well signposted path had deteriorated a little from my last walk here a few years ago, but by the time the old tobbogan run was passed it was back into very good order.
BahnparallelwegThe Boulder Trail
A lot of water was running off the Brocken and a few small streams ran across the route. At Eckerloch 5kms from Schierke the railway leaves the path to follow a steady 1/30 grade circular route to the top. Not so for walkers as the grade gets quite steep in a change from the gentle, steady climb from Schierke. The terrain also changes as the next 800 metres or so see a climb from around 860m to 1020m over a mixture of small boulders and rocks with small sections of wooden slatted walkways. It was approaching the start of this section that I overhauled a group of walkers: the only others I encountered going in this direction until I was near to the summit. The "boulder train" as I call it, (real name "Eckerlochstieg"), had also become a small mountain stream in many parts, with a lot of wet sections to walk through. Decent walking boots were an absolute must!

Top: Parts of the intial track are very good, but from Eckerloch there is a climb of 160m in 800 metres over wet boulders and rocks with small slatted wood sections. Right: The boulder trail continues up through the forest.
Boulder trail through forest
28th August hike continued

Schierke to Brocken continued

The top of the boulder trail is not the end of the steeper walking, but it is the end of any rough terrain as the tarmac service road is joined on exiting the forest. After a short distance on the road the railway is crossed. That has not only taken a very much longer route to this point, but is crossed by the road as it climbs to the Brocken station by way of a complete final circle around the mountain. At the same time the very popular and busy Torfhaus Trail is joined: a route that on my walk saw the usual large number of people coming up from the higher starting points near to Torfhaus. The weather at this point was becoming typical for the Brocken, and by the time I reached the summit visibility was very limited indeed. So there was no reason to linger, and after ten minutes I set off to re-trace my steps back to Schierke.
Brocken Top
Brocken nameView from BrockenA quicker descent except on the boulders where care was needed on wet surfaces, then a brief stop before Schierke as the weather improved. Before long I was at the station in time to go up to the summit again: this time on the railway, hauled by one of the steam tank locos. Clearer weather at the top allowed a photo looking back to Wernigerode.
A very worthwhile hike in an area where, despite the small number of tracks actually leading to the summit, there are still very many starting points from lower down to enjoy a repeat experience hopefully before too long.
28th August hike concluded

Schierke to Brocken continued
Wernigerode Loco ShedWernigerode Loco Shed

But it was the steam locos, (above at Wernigerode Loco Shed), that attracted me to the Harz mountains in the first place. My first visit here was in 1979 when the area was behind the "Iron Curtain", and it is great to come back time and time again over recent years without any of the restrictions on either walking or train travelling that applied in communist days.

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