Yesterday was probably the coldest day so far, and we didn’t hike all that much. It wasn’t the actual temperatures that made it tough, but the wind and yet another storm front coming through, which caused our stroll to be a bit on the cold side. We didn’t care a whole lot, it was a day off and soon we decided to stretch our legs a bit and visit Mother Nature. The trail was skirting around Lily Lake and soon was beginning to climb. Just a little ways in, the first rain drop came, but still we continued on. Along the way, we passed several A-frame cabins that were already boarded up for the winter. If needed, they would provide shelter and keep us dry. The clouds soon became more ominous looking and at one point the rain was moving in to the left of us. Rain clouds were pushed by the high winds and were clashing against the granite walls. It would be miserable to get wet in the cold winds and we decided to head back. I love to hike in the rain, but not when it is cold and windy, it surely makes for bone chilling conditions with the best chances of getting sick, if this is what you’re after. I was lucky enough to hike in the rain this summer and it was very peaceful and serene as the light drizzle fell. Not so much yesterday, but I’m glad we still managed to escape.
The wind was picking up at Ice Kapelle and there was a chill in the air that could be felt to the bone. That, and the combination of snow, the little run off streams and the dripping water added to the overall cold conditions. It was time to say our goodbyes and head for cover. We made our way back over the majority of the dried up riverbed, along boulders and faint signs of a trail that was mostly washed away along steep ravines. The boulders were challenging in spots, but still a better option than to slip and slide off the mountain in a not so planned descent. I have to admit I always have a bit of a phobia about that, as well as being buried alive by snow. I never had anything like this happen and I’m not sure where that fear is coming from. Maybe the hunch of a feeling from a past life or maybe intuition that all of these things are very possible when I’m out there. Perhaps it is exactly that, that is keeping me safe. The fear and respect to be cautious and not take things for granted. After a good distance away from the Ice Cave, the winds softened and the air didn’t feel as cold anymore. We spotted the perfect boulder for a picnic and this time I wouldn’t have to awkwardly jump off this one, like I had to from the one coming up the trail. The rock was flat on top and the perfect size. People were still coming up the trail even though it was getting late. There was no doubt in my mind that we would not make it back down to the boat ramp any other time than to take the very last run back to Schönau. The last boat would depart at 6PM and it wasn’t a surprise that this one would call our name. We always stayed until the very end, soaking up every moment, every bit of daylight and this time was no different.
Sitting atop the rock, the Ice Cave was to the left of us and you could easily make out the opening of the cave with it’s dark background. Mysterious and cold, it saw visitors come and go, throughout the years and the seasons of time. To the right of us was the riverbed that had widened now, and the woods that would engulf the trail on the way back down. Straight ahead was a sheer cliff outcropping of granite and with certainty it was where the rocks from the riverbed must have came from at some point. Slowly, it was eroding away and causing a variety of landslides, elevating the grounds of water, while reshaping the landscape. We sat in silence and ate, looking around until I spotted something a short distance down the trail from us. At first sight it appeared to be another person who had found their own spot on a boulder, but wait….no, that was no person, no way. I had a feeling of what it was and the excitement started to rise. Still, I had to zoom in with the camera to confirm my theory. Low and behold I was right and the so called person was actually a Chamois. And then there was another on a nearby rock and all of a sudden we spotted two more climbing on the sheer rock face as if it was no big deal. They sure made it look easy and you could feel dizzy just by watching, wondering how they could even get good enough hoofage (haha… footage and I made up a new word) in order to not fall off the mountain. Perhaps, we had been surrounded by these beautiful animals the whole time, without noticing until now. Of course it added to our experience and wildlife always does. Somehow the trip felt complete now, it had been worth it to tackle the switchbacks and the moments of “Are we there yet”. Besides the unexpected Ice Cave, we also were bestowed with the unexpected visit of the Chamois. Eventually, we bit farewell to these amazing climbers and continued downwards on the trail. If we wanted to catch that last boat back, we had to move it. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if we didn’t made it, were people ever left behind before? Sure they had been, but of course we did make it back in time and spotted many more Chamois on the way. Aware of their presence, I was lucky enough to see them high on the mountainsides. Some alone, while others were grazing together and travelled as a herd. Life was good and I was grateful for the opportunity of being allowed to see such wonder.
We stayed as long as possible at “Eis Kapelle” and one of the surprises on our way back down was the bench that I had noticed during our ascend. It was occupied and we had to pass it without lingering to take in the view. Now empty, I think it was even better as before and it allowed us to gaze upon one last look. We knew what was lying behind the bend of the jagged path, and that would continue to climb towards the ridge, surpassing various cliffs and boulders. It was the perfect spot to pause, and burn this picture into the memory of all adventures far, near and dear.
We left the boat at St. Bartholomä, and started exploring along the banks of the Königssee. A small barn structure offered plenty of souvenirs from around the area, along with hiking maps, post cards and posters. Passing the beautiful church with it’s unique construction and red steeples, I’m surprised now, that we didn’t go inside and walked right passed it. Not a even for a quick peek. I’m not sure why, but I guess we were just so happy to be outside, to enjoy the scenery and the mountains, that being inside never even crossed our minds. Steep, the peaks were rising straight up into the sky, with sheer cliffs, wild and unique in their own way. This could not be confined inside the walls of some chapel, even though this one would have been worth the stop and it was a pretty famous one. The area wasn’t over crowded, but enough people walked around everywhere, scouring mostly along the shore. For the most part it was quiet and people in Germany in general keep to themselves, while being respectful to others, their space and the overall surroundings. Still, it felt a little touristy to me and I wanted to get away from the crowds. Call me crazy, or socially awkward, when it comes to recharging my batteries, but in addition to seeking silence, I often feel the need for solitude as well, and that includes not seeing another person. It’s the empath in me and I don’t want to be distracted from the sound of the wind and nature talking to me. I don’t want to be interrupted or worry my thoughts about what somebody else is doing around me. When all distractions are eliminated, it is then that true peace sets in and I can become still. It’s bliss at it’s best.
I checked a few signs along the main trail and suggested the approximate two mile hike to Eis Kapelle. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we decided to give it a try, and maybe it would lead off the beaten path. The trail was fairly wide and leading us through a forested area of which we almost turned around. A walk in the thick woods was not on the agenda for today, but I’m glad I insisted to go a little further. We should see if I’d be still glad about this later. The forests are different in Germany and I love to see the variety of trees, the moss covered grounds, the mushrooms that peak through the ground cover and the Fairytale feel that never seems to fail me when I’m surrounded by this magic.
The wide trail ended at a dried up rocky riverbed. Looking to the right, a narrow path continued to a small footbridge that would cross the raging river during snowmelt. I could vividly imagine the glacial, turquoise green waters rushing down from high above, covering rock and riverbed and transforming the landscape with the changing seasons. On the other side of the bridge was a tiny chapel at the base of the mountain. From there, the trail began to ascend. “Sure, why not, we’re here already, might as well keep going and check it out.”
The trail was climbing in good old switchback fashion, and I don’t think it ever stopped. “Are we there yet?” I was in decent shape in regards to the RA, but started to feel some discomfort and a clumsiness that came from not being a 100% steady on my feet. At times I am the cause by overcompensating to avoid the pain, which is just another form of evil. I’m not sure which one is worse, but I pushed on and I was going to make it to wherever this trail would lead me. A big part of the trail was winding through the woods and was exactly what we had tried to avoid before as we were seeking wide open, unobstructed views. The funny part was, that the views were completely covered, but something was different. As if we sniffed out a reward at the end of the tunnel, we continued what had become a mission to make it to the end. There was no way of turning around now, despite whatever feelings and thoughts their might have been and might have been something on the lines like “Ok, this better be worth it.” Hahaha…(minus the laugh)
Eventually, what seemed like switchback galore, the trail opened up to reveal the steep mountainsides of the bowl we were surrounded by. A small bench with a view offered a nice picnic spot and a moment of rest, but it was occupied. On we went, forward, in search of what we had no idea of and now over sections of a trail that was hardly a trail anymore. Washed out, a bit dangerous in parts, mind you I’m still not that steady and sure footed, I find myself missing my hiking stick, which is safe and sound tugged away in the US, for extra support. We spotted a boulder just a short distance off the trail and decide to take a break and have a snack. It’s a bit of a challenge to get up there, but I’m determined to conquer this “ruling rock” with no thought wasted on the theory that “What goes up, most come down”. It would only present an even bigger challenge for me as I can’t jump down onto my sore ankle and feel stuck atop of the boulder I so eagerly scaled. I finally make it and get away with a scratch, I survived, barely….but I did. A few people here and there continue to come down the narrow trail and once again the adrenaline kicks in of having made it this far. No turning back and there would be no unfinished business here. I can and I will do this.
Finally in the distance I see it, the sheer cliff and the narrow ribbon of a waterfall. At the base of it is what appears to be a Glacier and what looks like the end of our destination. “Ok, so this is our reward for all of our hard work and for all of the switchbacks. I can live with that.”The trail is pretty much gone by now as we traverse over rocks and boulder, inching closer to the end goal. At one point the glacier takes on a new form as we realize that it actually is an Ice Cave. Now I’m even more intrigued and it’s for sure not every day that you see an Ice Cave. I’m already visualizing pictures inside the cave, although I’m not sure if and how far I will go in it, but it’s fun at this point and I am blessed with yet another burst of energy. Ha…
Needless to say I made it and the sight and proportions of this cave was a pretty neat sight to see. We explored the area around the cave, but we didn’t venture too far inside. Water was dripping from the ceiling of the cave and although it has probably been there for many years, I still didn’t trust it all that much. Plus the temperatures were much cooler up here in the higher elevation and I wasn’t going to get sick by catching a cold with the potentially wet clothing/gear. Without the cover of the woods and being exposed in the wide open, the wind was more noticeable and it would have been miserable if our clothing got wet. As always, we stayed for awhile, took our pictures and marveled in the beauty of this sight. A few more people came and went, but for the most part we had our Ice Palace all to ourselves.
Little did I know that we had another surprise in store during our upcoming descent.
Boat docking at the banks of St. Bartholomä. These boats were converted to run on electricity to not disturb the beauty and clarity of the lake. You can choose between two different tours and I have unfinished business for the next time I will visit. The plan is to take the tour passed St. Bartholomä, hike up and away and spent some time with an overnight stay at a hut above the lake. Can you imagine? Perhaps you hear an alphorn in the distance while you’re emerged in local traditions and customs. Visit green pastures with jagged peaks rising straight up into the sky. You might spot the local wildlife of ibexes and marmots, while listening to cowsbells in the distance. The hills are alive and now I got myself homesick just before work.
Have a great weekend ❤️
Germany was forecasted for a golden October. A rather mild month with warmer than usual temperatures and a gradual transition into winter. The foliage was beautiful while I was there, but didn’t fully peek yet.
My mind has travelled back to the pictures in my mind many times since my return, wondering how everything has progressed and how it might look like now. Today on my day off I’m taking time to venture in search of my golden October, some solitude and a feeling of peace that is filled with moments of being still and wonder.