A Good Fight with Mother Nature is Something no Money can Buy

A glorious morning in the Bavarian Alps (Tegernseer Hütte).

A glorious morning in the Bavarian Alps (Close to Tegernsee).

One week ago, the annual old boys gathering with people from Woodpeckers home town was due again.

As we were going to meet at lake Tegernsee close to Munich, Woodpecker and one guy who lives here too decided to prolong the gathering by an extra night on a hut close to the lake, a ca. 3 hrs / 1.000 height meter hike up on to mountain top.

The hut was assumed to be pretty booked but the week before our trip a huge autumn storm hit Germany. So one day prior to our departure the landlord called me up and strongly recommended not to go, as +1 meter of fresh snow had fallen in the mountains, with a lot of wind to produce snowdrifts, the ways not cleared and the storm still raging outside.

Well, if you ever fought your way uphill through the mountains in 1 meter of fresh snow you know that this is not quite an easy task.

However, the next day was calm, the mountains glazing in the sun (so the webcam told me) and after a second call to the landlord and a check for the avalanche situation we decided to start anyway. We rented out a couple of snow-shoes for the flatter first half of the hike, and packed avalanche shovels, snow trousers and all the other winter gear plus enough schnapps for the steep upper half.

Sunset.

Sunset.

The first part was easy-going through a fairy tale snow-white and untouched winter forest, crisp air and nobody else walking around. The snow-shoes served us well and soon we reached a hut half-way up.
That was where the real fun started. The inclination got too steep now to use the snow shoes efficiently and the snow was so soft that they were sinking in anyway.
So the only way was to bulldoze our way up, sinking in up to the hips with every step, with snow everywhere, taking turns every 50 meters. Fortunately we were good on time, and a jigger of booze every half an hour gave additional energy. 🙂

Woodpecker did some similar (although shorter) tours before, but again and again it is amazing to feel special atmosphere and the quietness of the snow-covered mountains. It is also fascination to observe the different textures snow on a mountain face can have. From soft powder to sticky, from unstable to compressed by the wind, or with a hard icy surface that makes you hope it can hold your step until you break in and have to fight your boots out from below the ice cap.

And it is always amazing to feel your senses and your body absolutely awake and at maximum alertness once they feel a challenge is more real than the ones they encounter in their daily office routine or in front of a computer game.

The night creeping in...

The night creeping in…

Your mind feels the thrill once it notices you will not make it during sunlight, your body chemistry reacts once the shadow of the night creeps in, when the temperature starts to drop quickly, and the wind catches up icy closer to the top with your muscular energy level going to reserve. You perception gets sharper than you think possible when you look out for a weather change, for signs of avalanche danger or for the optimal route through the hillside. No small noise or crackling sound goes un-noticed, every small change in the tone of distant howling wind is recognised. In other words: You can barely feel more alive.

Obviously all of this was not actually dangerous and I would not have done it if it was, but still, the hike was a challenge and far out of the typical comfort zone of us modern humans.

But that is the point:

The true reward, the kick of mountain happiness comes only if you have a prolonged moment of suffering on your way up.

A moment where you curse it all and wish you would have stayed at home on the sofa. This moment then is followed by complete emptiness of the brain, where you just fight on step by step. And only then you will be rewarded later by an overwhelming flow of happiness once you reach the top. Something all the flip-flop cable car riders will never experience.

Every mountaineer, every climber and generally every sportsman will confirm.

And what a reward we got! Reaching the hut when the last bit of the twilight faded with a last look on the mountain range of the Alps under the stars. Finding ourselves the only guests in a normally very crowded hut. Drying in front of the cracking fire, a good Bavarian beer and some hearty food at hand.

And at the break of dawn this view:

Sunrise, 6:50 in the morning. For some reason, no alarm clock needed, the body clock woke us up in time.

Sunrise, 6:50 in the morning. For some reason, no alarm clock needed, the body clock woke us up in time.

 

Boy, this was a good tour.

Something no money ever can buy.

Any similar experience to share? Let us know!

 

Cheers,

Woodpecker

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Beer gardens – the Best Invention ever Made in Bavaria!

The Isar close to Pullach. Quite a nature feeling and only a jump away from the city center.

The Isar close to Pullach with Großhesseloher Bridge. Quite a nature feeling and only a jump away from the city center of Munich.

After a bit of moody time the last weeks, probably caused by thinking too much about such boring things as a career, this day was a great one.

Today, the Woodpecker family decided to have an excursion to one of the loveliest sides of Munich (if you are a nature lover):

The river Isar.

We took public transport up to the Zoo, but instead of joining the queue there to cram in with thousands that visit the Zoo on a weekend (instead of doing this on a weekday when it is relaxed and easy), we saved 20 EUR entrance and strolled slowly south on the banks of the river.

It was the first trip with the kids riding on their own bikes (while we old chaps were walking), thus speed was fortunately significantly above the typical 1 km/h.

We had a couple of picnics on our way and build a deluxe channel and a great dam in one of the pebble banks of the river. Boy, the water still is cold. But ah! Father and Son fun at its best! Nothing that money can ever buy you.

You can bring all your food (or even a grill), put your beer in the crystal clear water for cooling and enjoy a surprisingly nature feeling, only a few kilometers away from the city center. You can also go mountain biking in the slopes next to the river and some people even do kayaking or drive on large rafts made from wood and with a beer barrel and a band on board (no joke!).

The final of the tour was very obvious, if you are living in Bavaria:

A Bavarian Beergarden.

For those less familiar with Bavaria:

The best invention here is the Bavarian Beergarden.

Because a law from centuries ago states that in any beer garden in Bavaria you are allowed to bring your own food and only have to pay for the beer (and other drinks). Plus, they are often in marvelous settings under century old trees, as was our goal: the “Waldwirtschaft” in Pullach, in a fantastic location high on the bank of the Isar valley.

View to the left: Kids are happy.

View to the left: Kids are happy…

As most beer gardens, this one offers a kids playground, parents sit with their food and beer right next to that and can enjoy the sun.

And in this particular beer garden, a special feature is added: They have renowned jazz bands playing for free and live almost all over the years!
A very special atmosphere, and highly recommended, should you be in town (Link to Beergarden Waldwirtschaft).
Way back we took the suburban train that stops close by.

View to the right: Jazz music for free!

…View to the right: Jazz music for free!

We felt like eating out today and enjoyed the fantastic spare ribs they offer next to our beers, but if you bring your own food, this whole day trip would have costed you only 20 EUR for a family of four (2 x 5 EUR return trip sub & train, kids are free + 2 x 4 EUR beers + 2 x 1 EUR ice cream for the kids – no chance to be more frugal on the latter one 😉 ).

Cheers,

Woodpecker

 

A great Winters Day in the Mountains – The perfect Happiness Booster

Some good local food on a mountain hut tops every 3* restaurant you can imagine.

Some good local food on a mountain hut tops every 3*** restaurant you can imagine.

This weekend the Woodpecker family + grandparents in law spent a perfect day doing a sledge tour in the nearby Alps.

We started in the typical grey winter mist hanging over Munich since 6 weeks now and went to a little lake calledSpitzingsee, about 1100m above sea level, where the magic of the winter mountains was waiting for us:

Dark blue skies without the slightest cloud, a bright sun, very cold, clean and crisp air in the lungs, a bit of mystic for on the frozen lake and the trees and all the landscape covered with fresh fluffy snow that is creaking under your shoes.
Simply fantastic! Continue reading