About a week and a half ago, before Old Man Winter officially descended upon Germany, there was a gorgeous weekend. That meant hiking!
I went hiking in the Bavarian Alps, near the Austrian border. From the closest town, it was about a half-hour walk to the beginning of the trail.
We started walking up a steep hill into the woods. Half-way up was a lake, full of freezing cold snowmelt water. We kept going and then finally the ground flattened out a bit. The trees were starting to thin out and I could see the massive stone wall that I was supposed to be going up.
When I was told that there was even more mountain above that to hike up, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” These Germans aren’t kidding about their hiking.
As ascent number two began up the rockier, steeper part of the mountain, the sun creeped behind the clouds growing just below the top of the rock wall… Wait, clouds? Below the top?
Once you get that high up, clouds become fog. Cold fog. Not only that, but the air thins out a lot. Needless to say, I was getting a bit demotivated, especially because I could not breathe well, nor could I see very far ahead of me.
We got to the top of the rock wall and sat down for a rest. We started to walk a bit further, and suddenly, the fog began to clear. Looking back, I could see the town far, far away in the valley. I also realized that we were above the tree-line, meaning that the air was so thin that the trees would not even grow up there.
In leiu of trees, there were mountain goats running around. I immeadiately thought of Twin, and her obsession with the “horny goats” at Slieve League last year.
Where we ended up in the end is called Kirchdach Sattel or Kirchdach Saddle. The elevation (which I read from the trail marker thing) is 1,919 meters (6,296 feet) above sea level. The elevation at Hinterstein (where we parked) is about 880 meters (2,887 feet). According to my calculations, I climed about 1,039 meters (3,409 feet) in one day. Oh, did I hurt the next morning.
Apart from the weather clearing up providing sweeping views, I had another surprise at the top: the border. The highest point that we went to actually had a marker for the border with Austria! It was pretty neat to face one side and see only Germany but turn around to see just Austria.
That’s my tale about the first time I hiked above the tree line, also known as, “my first real hike.”