GERMAN HILL AND MOUNTAIN HIKES

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Bavarian Alps: Ammergebirge
Ziegelspitz23 June 2005Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal
Laberjoch24 June 2005Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal
Scharfkopf, Farchant25 June 2005Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
Grubenkopf26 June 2005Farchant - Grubenkopf - Farchant
Mittleres Hornle 27 June 2005Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau
Key to route descriptions
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal
Start at Ettal am Berg 869m, finish at Kloster Ettal 877m
Highest point reached was 1719m, summit of Ziegelspitz.
Round distance circa 12 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 920 m
Total time from start to finish of 6hrs 45 mins
Weather was hot and sunny, some cloud later
I booked this trip soon after my May visit to Bavaria hoping to get a few more days mountain hiking before the summer heat started. That was important as I do not like high temperatures: zero degrees centigrade is comfortable, anything above that starts to become a problem for me! So it was with some concern a few days before my trip that a heat wave descended over Northern Europe, and was forecast to continue for the duration of my five planned hiking. That meant some last minute changes, including an earlier start on the first day when I caught the 07.10 RVO 9606 bus from just outside of my excellent Hotel-Gasthof Alter-Wirt in Farchant, three kms North of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was already warm as I left the bus just after 07.30 at Ettal am Berg, on the 869m high Ettaler Sattel. Etaller Sattel Sign to Notkarspitze
I had covered all exposed skin surfaces with factor 30 suncream, and had loaded my rucksack with 5 litres of water. Also in my rucsac were three packs of Isotronic powder, (to dilute in my water), specifically designed for hot weather hiking. But I did not know if that would be sufficient to get me to my goal of the summit of the Notkarspitze, signposted at the start of a forest road.
23rd June hike continued














23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
Ettaler Sattel track Forest track to Ochensitz
There was soon a sharp turn and a summit in the gently climbing forest road, at which point a narrower road departed to the right. Then, almost immediately, another right turn as the forest track up to Ochsensitz, Ziegelspitz and Notkarspitze headed into the forest. This track was a typical mountain route: quite steep with plenty of zig-zags running over tree routes and stones and small rocks. But it was in shade which even at this fairly early hour was a very welcome relief!
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
Track up to Ochsensitz Ochensitz summit
As height was gained the forest thinned and there were some steep sections of track to negotiate, before a small unsignposted path lead off on the right to the Ochsensitz summit, (1515m): the first peak on what was by now a quite broad ridge.
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
Laberjoch and Ettal seen from Ochsensitz summit A heat haze was developing, but there was still a great view North from the Ochsensitz summit towards the Labersteig, Laberjoch, Ettaler Mandl and in the valley, Ettal with the famous Kloster Ettal.
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
Wettersteingebirge, Alpspitze, Zugspitze and  Krammerspitze seen from Ochsensitz summit Looking South from the 1515m peak of the Ochsensitz it was just possible to pick out the Wettersteingebirge, Alpspitze and Zugspitze in the hazy distance. Nearer, and to the right are the Kramerspitze and the less high Königstand.
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
Ziegelspitz from Ochsensitz Track to Ziegelspitz from Ochsensitz
The short break on the summit of the Ochsensitz was welcome before rejoining the main track, which descended before the climb to the Ziegelspitz, (left). The track was through dwarf pines and steep and stony at times, (right). I was making significant inroads into my five litre water supply: I had decided it better to keep drinking and avoid dehydration, (and possible heat exhaustion, something I am prone too), and risk an early turnround, rather than continue all the way to the Notkarspitze regardless.
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
View from Ziegelspitz Summit
But I certainly had sufficient water to reach the summit cross of the Ziegelspitz at 1713m, with great views North towards the Laberberg and the Ettaler Mandl.
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
View from Ziegelspitz Summit towards Notkarspitze My break on Ziegelspitz as the clouds built up for a short time, had me review the route to the Notkarspitze, (summit, right of center above). It was clear I had insufficient water to reach that summit, let alone return as well! Whilst a little dissapointed to turn back I was still happy that in conditions alien to me I had managed to reach two summits.
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23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
View from Ziegelspitz Summit towards Brünstlkreuz Before heading back down I had time to view the Brünstlkopf and the ridge that leads West from it, along with the various tracks that can clearly be seen. All good future hikes for me I hope!
23rd June hike continued














23rd June 2005: Ettal - Ochsensitz - Ziegelspitz - Ettal cont.
Schartenkopf and Laberjoch I stopped for lunch in the shade of the forest on my descent and learned another lesson in the hot condiitons. The meat in my roll had "gone off" and my banana had "melted"! So I ate a dry roll and a partly melted energy bar washed down with Istonic drink. My water supply ran out as I strolled into Ettal, where more water was purchased before catching the 14.28 RVO 9606 bus back to Farchant. Subsequent weather records showed the valley temperature was above 30 degrees, which would have been lower on the mountains but still uncomfortably hot for me. Nevertheless a great days hiking.
24th June hike














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal
Start at Oberammergau, circa 850m; finish at Kloster Ettal 877m
Highest point reached was 1686m, summit of Laberjoch.
Round distance circa 12 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 950m
Total time from start to finish of 6hrs 50 mins
Weather was hot/very hot and sunny

I had wanted to climb from Oberammergau over the Schartenkopf ridge to the Laberjoch summit, (right), ever since I had descended the route in November 2004 on the Munich Wanderers hike from Ettal. That had gone via Ettaler Mandl and Laberjochhaus to Oberammeragu and back to Ettal. We came down the Labersteig in freezing fog and though it was enjoyable over the rough and steep terrain it would have been better to have seen where we were hiking! So now in June, and during a spell of sunny and fairly clear weather, I grabbed the chance of doing the route. The previous day's hike to Ziegelspitz had taught me lessons, and I had taken considerable steps to make sure I was properly re-hydrated. More Isotronic drinks back at my Gasthof during the evening, and waking regularly during the night to drink more water had seen me rise on June 24th feeling fine.
Laberberg
I decided to take six litres of water in my rucksac, and to carry another 0.75 litre onto the 07.10 RVO 9606 bus that I took into Oberammergau from Farchant. That to be drunk before the serious hiking started on what was to be the hottest day of my trip, with valley temperatues of over 31 degrees recorded by early afternoon. Rolls were replaced with a tube of Pringles crisps, along with my Isotonic drink powders, glucose tablets and my usual "emergency rations" of energy bars.
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24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Start of Path to Laber Alm Start of Labersteig from Laber Alm
The bus dropped me in Oberammergau shortly after 07.30 and I took some care to make sure I was heading towards the right track. I knew the start of the track up through the forest to the Laber Alm was not that easy to find, but from the November hike of last year I knew roughly where it was. Thankfully my memory was correct and I found the start of the steep zig zagging track, (left), and was soon on the climb. It took a while to get to the Laber Alm, where the signpost indicated the direction of the "nur für geubte", (only for experienced), Labersteig route up over the Schartenkopf to the Laberjoch. The heat of the day was already apparent here, but the extra water I had lugged up the climb was now proving useful.
24th June hike continued














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Labersteig Labersteig
The track was fairly easy to start with, before coming to a section where a gulley had partially collapsed over the route, (left), and then as the track got rockier and steeper, one of a few sections where light scrambling was needed to keep ascending.
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24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Labersteig View from Labersteig to Oberammergau
The steep rocky climb continued, with a lovely view back down to Oberammergau and Unterammergau.
24th June hike continued














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Labersteig looking down on Ettal
The track soon climbed into the sun, and turned sharply to the left up the side of the by now very rocky ridge.
24th June hike continued














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Labersteig looking down on Ettal
With plenty of water and time I was in no hurry, and kept pausing to enjoy the wonderful views: here down to Ettal.
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24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Labersteig ridge
Looking back on the first part of the ridge I had already climbed on the way up to the Schartenkopf.
24th June hike continued














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued

There were some very steep drops away from the narrow ridge, and at this location, (right), considerable care was needed in climbing up the steep track immediately above an almost sheer rock wall that fell away steeply beneath. I clearly remembered descending this part in thick freezing fog last November, taking a lot of care as I wondered then if there was steep drop beneath me. Now I knew!

It was just on from here that I encountered the trickiest part of the climb, where the track had almost completely subsided, (more so than when I descended it last November I think). A log had been placed parallel with the track on one side of the subsidence and a wire rope was hanging the other side against a small rock wall. I found it best to ease my way across that part by keeping my balance with Leki trekking poles pushed into the quite long log as I passed it. I wonder what happens when the very small remaining part of the track at this point, (no wider than one of my large hiking boots), eventually falls away.

As can be imagined it was not somewhere where I felt comfortable stopping to get my camera out of my rucksac to take a photograph!
Labersteig ridge
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24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
Notkarspitze from the Labersteig ridge I did stop and get my camera out a short distance further on as there was a great view of the broader ridge up from Ochsensitz and Ziegelspitz to the Notkarspitze summit.
24th June hike continued














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
The steep ridge climb ended at the summit of the Schartenkopf, (1635m), which does not have a cross on it. Then the track dropped steeply down and undulated it's way across the top of the Laberberg as the entire mountain is called, before eventually climbing up to the Laberjoch, (1685m and summit cross right), and the top station of the cable car up from Oberammergau which is combined with the Laberjochhaus, (below). Only two other hikers had passed me on the Labersteig, but I did expect on a hot and sunny June Friday the cable car would have brought more people to the summit than were there.

Laberjochhaus
Laberjoch summit cross
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24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued
View from Laberjochhaus to Ettaler Mandl Distant views from the summit were very hazy, but that over the continuing undulating onward route was good, with the unusual rock formation of the Ettaler Mandl standing out clearly.
24th June hike continued














24th June 2005: Oberammergau - Labersteig - Schartenkopf - Laberjoch - Ettal continued

The track from the summit was a straight forward mountain route, with an interesting arch provided by a fallen tree. After a sharp drop and some more ascent the real downhill part started near the Ettaler Mandl. At first in forest it was soon in the sun and very hot and quite uncomfortable. But at least I had plenty of water. More by luck than judgement I arrived back at Koster Ettal with a view up to the Schartenkopf, (below), just five minutes before the 14.28 RVO bus back to Farchant. Tired back at my Gasthof I was nevertheless very happy with the day's hike that had met all my expectations.

Track down from Laberjochhaus
Labersteig from Kloster Ettal
25th June hike














25th June 2005: Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
Start/Finish at Farchant, circa 670m
Highest point reached was 1380m, summit of Scharfkopf.
Round distance circa 12 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 720m
Total time from start to finish of 5hrs 20 mins
Weather was hot and sunny
My plan was for a definite rest day on the Saturday to recover from the undoubted effects of hiking in hot conditions. But the weather forecast for Saturday was good, and hinted at some rain on Sunday and Monday, so I decided I would use the sunny weather while I could. Another fairly early start seemed appropriate on a hike direct from Farchant: this was to the Scharfkopf, a forested mountain overlooking the village, and whose large summit cross was frequently seen glinting in the summer sun. The distance to the top in kms was not far and this followed my policy for the entire trip of partially countering the high temperatures by not attempting hikes involving long distance walking. It made more sense to me to use whatever water I could carry to get me up mountains, rather than use it walking towards them!

From the Gasthof I headed West to the base of the mountain after passing through meadows with a view to my destination, (right). The route was to be mainly on forest tracks, with short sections along forest roads that were in place to assist access in what was mainly commercial woodland. As would be expected for a hike up a local mountain there were also plenty of signposts.
Scharfkopf, Farchant
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25th June 2005: Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
Forest track to Scharfkopf, Farchant Forest track to Scharfkopf, Farchant
The route was normal mountain paths with some rocky parts, with stone cairns adding to signposts to mark the way.
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25th June 2005: Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
Wettersteingebirge, Alpspitze and Krammerspitze from forest track to Scharfkopf, Farchant A wonderful view from well up the climb to the Scharfkopf. The Wettersteingebirge, Alpspitze, and nearer from the centre to the right the Königstand and Krammerspitze
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25th June 2005: Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
It was a mainly easy route apart from where a new "logging track" had removed the track! But after walking a few hundred metres up that track the summit route was found to the right. The only difficult section was where the track turned back on itself underneath the summit. It then passed along a very narrow ledge just wide enough for one person to walk along, with a very steep grassy drop to the East side. The track was covered in dead grass and would have been very slippery in wet conditions. But today was dry and I was soon completing the final few zig zags to the top of the climb. Another track was met and then the summit cross came into view. Apart from just a couple of small undulations the track up had been a continuous climb and virtually all in very welcome shade. There was an open space around the cross, along with a bench which was a very welcome place to sit while I changed shirts, dried off and enjoyed a late breakfast of Pringles crisps, energy bar and Isontronic drink. The weather was still superb, and the view over Farchant, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and surrounding mountains even better! Summit cross of Scharfkopf, Farchant
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25th June 2005: Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Burgrain from the Summit of Scharfkopf, Farchant Burgrain, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the green Eckbauer and Hausberg mountains with the Wettersteingebirge behind.
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25th June 2005: Farchant - Scharfkopf - Farchant
Farchant from the Summit of Scharfkopf, Farchant A last look down from the summit onto Farchant, and then a gentle stroll downhill though the forest that was still largely in shade. My early finish to the day allowed a pleasant lunch to be taken in the gardens of my Gasthof, before the promised rain, accompanied by a thunderstorm arrived.
26th June hike














26th June 2005: Farchant - Grubenkopf - Farchant
Start/Finish at Farchant, circa 670m
Highest point reached was 967m, summit of Grubenkopf.
Round distance circa 10 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 400 m
Total time from start to finish of 3hrs 30 mins
Weather was warm and sunny

I did take almost a full rest day on the Sunday, having the luxury of a Gasthof breakast then a stroll around and up to the top of a small hill, "Grubenkkopf", that overlooked the village, (right). It was humid and very wet underfoot on the hill, but the circular route I took passed a lovely shrine and later gave some great views.
Path near Farchant
Grubenkopf from Farchant
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26th June 2005: Farchant - Grubenkopf - Farchant continued
Brünstlkreuz The path from Farchant to Burgrain soon met a gravel forest road that climbed gently up the South side of the Grubenkopf, and then undulated as it passed a meadow with a great view of the Brünstlkreuz and the ridge that leads on from there. I turned right here continuing on the forest road around the West side of the hill I was climbing.
26th June hike continued














26th June 2005: Farchant - Grubenkopf - Farchant continued
Sign to Grubenkopf Grubenkopf fence
Heading around the West side of the Grubenkopf I came across the little used and very wet and rough forest road that went to near the summit. The only sign I saw anywhere was here, but using an alternative spelling! I had noticed a high fence around the hill and half expected my route to become barred. But the route came to a section that had been opened up. Examination of a notice on that part showed the whole of the top of the Grubenkopf was shut in winter to aid the local wildlife.
26th June hike continued














26th June 2005: Farchant - Grubenkopf - Farchant continued
Brünstlkreuz, Notkarspitze and Ziegelspitz from the Grubenkopf The rough track ended by a couple of indistinct and wet uphill tracks. I went up the first to what seemed to be the summit, and then came down and went up the second to another "peak" just to make sure! From there was a good view to the Brünstlkreuz, with the Notkarspitze and Ziegelspitz behind. Under attack from vast numbers of flies I quickly retraced my steps to the main forest road which climbed before a very rough and quite steep forest road went towards Farchant. I rejoined the track used the previous day from the Schartkopf to get back to the valley floor having completed a complete circle around the Grubenkopf.
27th June hike














27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau
Start/Finish at Unterammergau, circa 850m
Highest point was 1496m, summit of Mittleres Hornle.
Round distance circa 10 kms
Vertical altitude gain of circa 650m
Total time from start to finish of 5hrs 30 mins
Weather was warm and sunny, some cloud later

After a rest day on Sunday, (my hike that day had been short), I hoped to end the trip with a hike to Brünstlkreuz: a mountain in view from Farchant and from my gasthof room balcony! It entailed a height gain over 1000m on another very warm day with heavy showers forecast. But I decided I would have problems carrying enough water to be sure of getting to the kreuz: and the hike would become very hard if heavy rain forced me to wear coat and overtrousers. I had with me the excellent "Walking in the Bavarian Alps" pocket book by Grant Bourne and Sabine Kröner-Bourne, (ISBN 1-85284-229-6), that included a walk from Bad Kohlgrub over the three Hörnle peaks to Unterammergau. So I decided to hike from Unterammergau to the Mittleres Hörnle via a fairly gentle route that passed near the top of the cable car from Bad Kohlgrub and also past a hutte.

The RVO bus got me to Oberamergau but not a connecting train, so a phone call quickly got me taxi which left me at the hikers car park below the Kapelle North of Unterammergau.
Unterammergau Kapelle
27th June hike continued











27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau continued
The plan for a leisurely hike came to a sudden end just at the point where the slightly climbing forest road went into the shade of the trees! A notice told me that the route was closed and the alternative was a track I had seen on the map that went steeply straight up the side of the Mittleres Hörnle: and mainly without any shade from an already hot sun. But being out in the open did have some consolation as the lower part of the meadow was adorned with lovely late Spring flowers. Path sign on Mittleres Hörnle route
Alpine fowers on path to Mittleres Hörnle 27th June hike continued











27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau continued
Path to Mittleres Hörnle Path to Mittleres Hörnle
The alternative track started on a reasonable forest road, and the actual track up the mountain could easily have been missed as it headed off to the left, (above left). The route climbed steeply through meadows, again with lovely displays of Alpine flowers. The lessons of the earlier hikes in hot weather had meant I was carrying a lot of water, and with only a 650m height gain planned I was able to satisfy a growing thirst frequently as I climbed up in the very warm temperatures.
27th June hike continued











27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau continued
View from Mittleres Hörnle to Unterammergau The views got a bit hazy as the day progressed, but not enough to spoil the look back down onto Unterammergau and the surrounding mountains. The track I was on joined an unmarked forest road, and even though the narrow track continued it was obviously a lot less used, so I decided, (correctly), that the forest road was the route to the summit!
27th June hike continued











27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau continued
The forest road continued for a while before it came to an end, replaced by a narrow forest track. That went over a style on a fence that was in place presumably to keep animals in the right area, (I think the first style I have ever seen in the German mountains), then across a meadow where the track was just about on the level and back into some tall trees. More shade from the sticky heat, and very welcome indeed! Exiting the trees over a grassy area I could soon see the summit cross on the Mittleres Höhnle summit: a very welcome sight on my fifth day of hiking in the lovely Ammergerbirge area.

The priority on reaching the summit was to have another drink or two, (only water I can promise), dry off with a towel, change shirts and a late breakfast of Pringles crisps and an energy bar! Then to take the regulation summit cross photos. A telephone call home was also welcomed by my wife Bobbie who tolerates my rather eccentric German excursions better than most wives would do!
Mittleres Hörnle summit cross
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27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau continued
View from Mittleres Hörnle to Vorderes Hörnle Build up of clouds over Mittleres Hörnle
Left is the Vorderes Hörnle, and right a rather ominous build up of clouds that made me decide not to try for any more summits, but head back down in case the forecast thunder storms arrived early.
27th June hike continued











27th June 2005: Unterammergau - Mittleres Hornle - Unterammergau continued
Mittleres Hörnle from Unterammergau The hike back down was uneventful, and I stopped just past the hikers car park for lunch. Looking back the Hinteres Hörnle was just visible, in the background above, about one third of the way in from the right hand side. The 14.04 RVO bus from Unterammeragau got me back to Farchant at the end of five superb days of hiking in the Ammergebirge. What for me were high temperatures had restricted me less than I had expected during the climb to Ziegelspitz on the first day: but I had to make sure I kept myself properly hydrated all the time, and that included waking up a several times at night to drink more water. There are plenty of excellent hikes in the area, either direct from Farchant, or by using the excellent RVO bus service. And the Hotel-Gasthof Alt-Wirt was a superb base for my stay: a comfortable room, excellent food and bier and very friendly staff.
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Key to Route Descriptions
Throughout this web site I have tried to adopt a consistent approach to the way I show the summarised hike details in the blue text table shown at the start of each hike. Below is an explanation of how the various parts of that text table are arrived at.

Start and Finish
The main locations, usually a village or nearest village, from where the hike is started and ended. The altitude of the start and finish taken by comparing my exact starting point with the appropriate contour line or printed height from the relevant Topographische Kart 1:25000, Bayersisches Landesvermessungsamt München map.

Round distance in kms
The total distance actually hiked. Includes any "excursions" off the main route. The kms shown are a very broad estimate only. I have yet to find a way of getting anything like an accurate distance for my hikes even using the 1:25000 maps. Frequent zig zags and height gains and undulations are the main problems to deal with!

Vertical altitude gain
Not the height difference between the starting point and the highest point reached. It is an estimate of the total metres I have ascended during the hike. It will include all significant undulations and all "excursions" off the main route. Using the detailed 1:25000 maps as above, it is possible with a little care and effort to get quite close to an accurate figure.

Total time from start to finish
Time from my gasthof back to my gasthof after the hike if no public transport is involved. Or from leaving a bus stop or railway station and back to a bus stop or railway station at the end of the hike. Includes all breaks. My ascent rate is slow, never more than about 300 metres per hour, so most other people would complete the hikes quicker. I often complete a hike with no stop lasting longer than a few minutes, but picnic stops and visits to huttes taking longer than that will be mentioned in the text.

Weather
A broad description of the weather conditions during that hike. Any temperatures usually taken from the nearest weather recording site that I can find, (done on my return to England), or from local TV reports.
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