Hiking in the Alps

As my time in Munich nears its end, I’m trying to get through my bucket list. It’s a bit too late for intense sledding in the mountains, but it’s just the right season for hiking! My fellow Fulbrighter Eric agreed to go with me, so we packed up lots of food and water and took the train to the tiny town of Griesen, right along the Austrian border. We walked around the Nudelwald (literally “noodle forest”) and hopped a freeway to get to the trailhead. We planned to conquer Frieder, a 2050-meter mountain in the Bavarian Alps.

My hiking guidebook listed Frieder as a medium-difficulty hike, which should take 6.3 hours. Eric might have been able to do it in that time if he’d been hiking alone, but it took me (somewhat out of shape, but an experienced hiker) 8 hours. We ascended 1410 meters from our starting point, scrambled over steep and rocky paths, and even crossed patches of ice. The hikers we passed all wore serious boots and carried trekking poles. (We owned neither.) By the time we reached the bottom—just in time to catch the train back to Munich—I could hardly walk. A shower and a tick removal operation later, I was sound asleep.

But while this hike was far too ambitious, it was also gorgeous. We spotted lots of wildlife, including a mountain goat, a family of deer, and several types of birds. We were able to take in great views of the neighboring mountains, lakes, and cliffs. Alpine flowers are also very pretty (and brightly colored). Climbing Frieder was absolutely worth it—but I’m still picking an “easy” hike next time!

P.S. Bonus points go to the old men staying in the hiking hut we passed on the way up who offered us schnapps and beer. But I can’t even imagine attempting the rest of the ascent (let alone the descent!) tipsy.

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