Day 13 – 15 Tannheim (Austria)
We left Oberstdorf early on Monday morning, not really sure where we would end up! At some point we crossed over into Austria, so I stopped, coughed up the required €8.50 for the vignette, that is a charge for all foreign vehicles on Austrian roads…(Why don’t we do that in the UK, a nice little earner to help improve our road system). We then started to climb up into the Tyrol, through a series of hairpins, great fun for me…
We were heading to Ruete, our plan was to stop briefly, have a few pics in Austria for the album, then swing north to Fussen. That plan dissipated as we climbed to a height of about a 1000 metres and the vista of the glorious Tannheim Valley opened up in front of us.
We spotted a campsite on the mountainside, directly below the Einstein Peak and after a conversation with Caroline at Camping Alpenwelt we decided we would have three nights here
The site is fairly small, quiet and well equipped. We bagged a south facing pitch at the top of the site…well happy!
We spent the afternoon on a stroll down to the main town of Tannheim. Just a 30 minute walk away. Through the small alpine hamlets, pasture land, then into the clean, beautifully designed town.
During the walk I’d been taking note of the peak that dominated the skyline above our campsite; Gilpfel Einstein, at 1860m it was a chance to bag a decent peak by British standards, and with great weather and a fairly well-defined track with just a hint of scrambling, well within our capabilities.
The Assault on Gipfel Einstein
Next morning, we were on our way fairly sharpish, I wanted to get up on top by lunchtime. Initially the approach was through a forest track, that climbed, and climbed and climbed! It took about an hour to get to the point where the terrain changed, the path became narrower, steeper, more rocky, this was the start of the grafting stage.
As we climbed, we came across a memorial fixed to a tree. A loose translation below:
The Way to God is Over the Mountain
The Host of the Shepherds Hut
For you God, you created us, and our heart is restless, till it rests in you.
We were now 2/3rds of the way to the top and the Other Half was requiring that tender, nurturing encouragement, that ex-British Army NCO’s are famous for. I like to call it “The velvet fist in an iron glove”. I went through the A-Z of “Encouragement Tips for Sadists. By now she hated me, it wasn’t only the heat of the sun burning into my back as we climbed. Oh by the way! did I mention the wasp sting? Little blighter crawled up the inside leg of my Borat style shorts and stung me on the inner thigh, I’m sure I caught the glimmer of a slight smile on the face of the Other Half, through my tear-filled eyes. You might think this was my Karma moment?, oh no, this was to come later!
During this stage of what we will now call “The Epic Struggle”, we’d been overtaken by about 4 groups of German/Austrian couples and a couple of old geezers cheerily making their way to the summit. I had sort of hoped they might be gone by the time we reached the peak, but no such luck, with our last scramble tottering precariously between victory on one side, and a substantial period of falling on the other, we made it! Bless the locals, they must have had a discussion about us, as they sportingly raised a resounding cheer as our sunburnt heads and one x knackered poodle appeared over the final precipice! Gipfel Einstein was ours!
We stayed on the summit, long enough to savour the views, give the Mutts his dinner and rehydrate ourselves. We then commenced the walk down. No Problemo you might think? Now it’s been a long running saga between me and the other half about the state of my boots, well the soles actually, which are almost worn flat in places! I’d been whinging for the best part of 12 months that I needed a new pair. If the truth be told, I’m to tight to fork out on a new pair, and she won’t encourage me to buy new ones, so stalemate!…Mistake No 1.
You guessed it, about 15 minutes into the descent, I was happily skipping from rock to stone, interspersed with steep gravel tracks, when my world suddenly took on a new aspect, as I found myself defying gravity(but not in a good way) as my feet seemed to leave the ground on their own accord…..snap, nano-sec thought…”this is going to hurt“. Somehow I turned over mid-flight and crashed to the floor, pretty much unable to break my fall, very conscious that my forehead was just about to smash into the rock…..Now a few weeks ago, I managed to crowd source a new Tilly Hat for my birthday, basically I blagged a couple of friends and family to chip in for it. It’s my pride and joy! So, as my head closed in on the aforementioned rock, I’m sure sub-consciously I was thinking…”Tilly Hat/Forehead/Blood/Avoid and as such, managed to put the brakes on my neck muscles. All I felt (from this part of the body)was the front peak softly resting between the rock and my forehead. This dear friends was only part of my Karma moment!
I managed to get to my feet, light-headed and a little sore on the knees, with a cut hand, and with “gentle encouragement” from the Other Half staggered to a nearby tree for shade and to sort out my ailments. As I plonked myself down, I dumped my daysac on the ground…Mistake No 2.
I watched in horror as my daysac, suddenly rolled down the steep bank I was perched above. Faster and faster it rolled. This bag contained my wallet, camera and the crucial van keys. Mutts our wonder-dog, dutifully chased the bag, at one point I even fancifully thought he might grab it, and return it to his master, like always happens in the Lassie films. No chance, after a few seconds, and with a hop and a skip, he lost interest in that game and returned to me looking for bloody treats! Then in my ear I heard these comforting words “Off you go pet!” as the OtherHalf made it clear this was my mess, and I was WAS going to have to get us out of it. So with bleeding hand, grazed knees, stung inner thigh and bruised pride, I descended down the steep bank for about 100ms, where I recovered the daysac, that had fortunately caught in some bushes, before falling any further. I was knackered, sore and ready to go home!
After that, I lost my appetite for alpine walking, and returned to the campsite, looking like a bloodied survivor from “The Last of the Alamo.” Meanwhile the Mutts and the Other Half, strolled in like true alpine warriors…..like they were born to climb!
Later today, we are strolling to a nearby hotel, where rumour has it, you can see Germany’s highest mountain the Zugspitze from the restaurant balcony! Now that’s my sort of Alpine trekking!
Tomorrow we head to Fussen, and the castle made famous in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang… Schloss Neuschwanstein.
That is all.