Gone Hiking: The Watzmann Part 1

After our relaxing afternoon on the Königsee, we started our hike up to our accommodation for the night. We had decided to break up our hike into two parts, as I thought that going straight for the house at 1900 meters might not be the best idea. It was my birthday and I’d slack off if I wanted to. 

Our route started right at the Königsee, and took us up the hill to the Kürointhütte, at 1420 meters. On the internet, we had found that the path took about two hours. It was five o’clock at that point, so we figured we were in good shape. While walking to where we needed to start, we spotted a sign that said that it was actually three and a half hours to the Kürointhütte. Well, Scheiß. If that was true, we would maaaaaaaaybe be there by dark. But we already had places reserved at two houses for the next two days (and rumor has it that they will track you down if you don’t show), and so we figured we’d better get our asses moving. We started off by going up the hill next to what I think is a bobsled run next to the lake…

It doesn’t look like much from there, but after all the fish/beer/Käsespätzle of the previous days, it was rough. At the top of the run, we left the paved road and climbed straight up (or so it felt) on a smaller, rocky path. A few people were coming down as we were going up, and they were basically running. It was steep.

We huffed and puffed our way up the hill, while possibly causing rifts to form in some relationships on the way. How? I was dying, and so BV carried my backpack for me. He thought he was getting the stink eye from some of the guys who were on their way down. Whatever, down is so much easier than up. Sort of. 

After about 30-40 minutes we got a quick view of the lake where we had started…

This photo stop led to the following conversation… 
~Heather: “Hey BV, how far down would you say that is?”
~BV: “I don’t know, maybe 100… 150. Not so much.”
~H: “Seriously? 30 minutes and legs on fire and only 100 meters? I’m going to die before we get to the house. There’s no freakin’ way.”

 Maybe I was a little over-dramatic, it happens. It certainly wasn’t the first time I uttered those words over the course of the next two days, but when you’re looking at an 800-meter gain in a couple of hours (that’s about 2600 feet for those of you playing the Imperial game), it was a bit disheartening to think we’d only gone a fraction of the distance. I started to wonder why I hadn’t opted for a spa for my birthday, while we plunged ahead.
Somehow we actually passed another couple at some point on the road, which gave us some motivation. Like, “well we just passed them so now we have to stay ahead.” Competition is good. Sometimes. There wasn’t much to distract us during this part of the hike… it was mostly up, up, up, and oh yeah – UP. The path went straight through the forest so not a whole lot of scenery in the first hour and half. But here are a couple of reasonably nice pictures….
 

After the Giant Climb, we stopped for a granola bar and breathing break. At the top of the hill, we continued on a somewhat flatter gravel road, before the trail turned into a cow path along the top of the hill. Guarding the spot where the trail turned? A 6-foot tall tree stump with a wooden carving of eagles having sex on top. Why didn’t I take a picture? Because I’m a moron, and was so confused by what I was seeing that I wasn’t functioning. Also at that point we were being followed by a horde of rabid cowflies. Fun fact: in the absence of cows, the flies will eat you. They are a frequent menace in the mountains, and most of the remainder of the hike was spent vigorously swatting. Luckily the path was rocky at this point, but mostly flat so at least I had more energy to swing my button-down shirt around my head in an attempt to blow them away. It was semi-successful, but it was also dinner time and we were clearly the main course. We knew the Kürointhütte was close though, so we pressed on. Weather was also moving in, making us move a little faster…

Shortly afterwards, we arrived at the house. We clocked in at a cool two hours and fifteen minutes, and felt pretty good about it considering the sign at the bottom of the hill had said more than three hours were needed. Take that lying signs! (Note: this would not be the first time I called the signs liars.)

The Kürointhütte is listed on the Deutscher Alpenverein (German Alpine Club) search website, but it’s actually a private house. This means it’s a little bit more expensive, but also a bit more comfortable. There were a few buildings around, including a training facility for police or the army – I’m kind of fuzzy on that detail. The Hütte itself has two outbuildings, one with more restrooms and one for staff. There’s also a tiny chapel, and a larger building for student groups. 

Technically this picture is from the following morning, but since my camera is at my house and I am not, that’s what you get. 

As I said, the Hütte, is private and so a bit more expensive. That meant that we paid a bit over €40 for our room (which was private), with breakfast and dinner included. Dinner was a turkey ragout that I couldn’t even come close to finishing, with a side salad and a lemon ice dessert. Everything was very good, and we didn’t even mind moving inside when the storm covered the mountain in clouds. It was a very cozy atmosphere with people chatting about their hikes, and the girls that worked there gossiping away over their wine. 

Curiously, all the girls who worked there spoke great English… not necessarily what I expect in the mountains. One of them spoke no German, although I couldn’t quite pinpoint where she was from. It was really interesting to listen to them, but in my slightly weird/antisocial desire for people to not know I’m American sometimes (a lot), I didn’t inquire further as to what the story was there. Apparently the one who spoke no German came out and chatted with BV while I was hunting for a restroom, so I guess someone overheard us speaking English. Thwarted! 

Last call in the mountains is ten o’clock, so we finished our beers and headed up to our room. At first we thought we were in small rooms downstairs that slept 6-8 people, but we had a really sweet room upstairs. Bonus: there was another bathroom upstairs AND a free shower with HOT water. Again, not something that happens in the mountains. It was super cozy and lovely though, even if the cowbells from the pasture don’t sleep when you want to!

Part of our room

Upstairs at the Hütte
Part of the restaurant, set up for breakfast

With cowbells ringing in our ears, we drifted off to a hard-earned sleep, content in the knowledge that we only had 500 more meters to go in the morning….  

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3 thoughts on “Gone Hiking: The Watzmann Part 1

  1. A 6-foot tall tree stump with a wooden carving of eagles having sex on top and you didn't take picture??!! You grab your camera and hike back on up that mountain right now young lady! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Gone Hiking: Untersberg, Austria | Heather Goes to Deutschland

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