Friday, September 7, 2012

Into the Green

The fresh mountain air and green all around makes people happy. See proof below:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hiking and Carving

So Tirol is mountains, and mountains want to be climbed, or hiked at least. We did actually a lot of hiking (every other day was the deal we made with the kids). Ani and Pascal, although they wined at the start of every hike, did well and after a while they got into the swing of things. Or longest hike was almost 5 hours, and the hikes were always up the mountain.

On thing I found relaxing to do during the hike was to carve a walking stick. No elaborate carving here, just what they call whittling. I would carve off all the bark down to the fresh wood. It smelled nice the newly uncovered wood. After a while I would try and "fix" gashes in the stick, and the most ambitious I got was to carve the top of the stick all round so as to fit the hand better. Sounds dumb and boring, but I kind of liked it. Anika carved a stick of her own too (although not while hiking). Pascal got in a couple of whittles, but as he's only seven he still needs a little more supervision so as not to get hurt.

The other thing about hiking I noticed was why do people climb mountains. Out our hotel window we had a nice view of a mountain peak. In bed I could watch the clouds disappear and the mountain peak appear, or the clouds slowly wrap around the peak like pulling a blanket around your chin as you settle in to sleep. Watching this was fascinating, and these mountain peaks take on a certain life and personality. So if you lived here the thought of wanting, no needing, to climb to the top of these mountains would be as natural as wanting to swim in a lake on a hot day. It just seemed so obvious to me that I wanted to climb the mountain, that it seems unexplainable to think one would not. Any ways all this to explain why (Sir Hillary who climbed Mt. Everest?) who said the reason why we climb mountains is because they are there. What seems like a curious thought is really the most obvious thought that anyone would have. Cool.

Ani whittling.

Pascal with his stick.

Ani with her stick.

Papa with his stick.

At the beginning (thanks to a Seilbahn).

A mini glacier! Really slippery!

The mini glacier.

Everyone had his/her own backpack and proper hiking shoes.


Ani carving, Mama resting.

Pascal at a high mountain lake.

The Highest Mountain (depending where you stand)

So we took the Seilbahn up to the top of Zugspitze (the highest mountain in Germany). There are two Seilbahns to the top, one starts in Germany, the other in Austria. Go figure.... do you really need two Seilbahn maybe 20 minutes away from each other? It's like a mini space race between Germany and Austria.

Check out those ski trails on the green mountain below. Nice......

Above the clouds! At the bottom right you can see part of the last Seilbahn tower.

A chilly 7 celcius at the top,  a warm 28 Celcius at the bottom.

The Zugspitze is high (2900m), and in the summer does look like the moon. Nothing but rock at the top, not a single plant. Not a living thing except tons of tourists and these little black birds soaring about picking crumbs from "the highest Biergarten in Germany".

A blackbird waiting for crumbs from those who always need to eat in really high places.
Biergarten at a very high altitude.

It's cold up here!

There's the deadly Gipfelkreuz behind Ani.
It was bracing standing there on top of all that rock, above the clouds, in the cold high altitude air. Unfortunately there were so many tourists it was comical. And you couldn't actually walk around the mountain (without risking a deady fall) but had to stay in the building where the Seilbahn unloads its passengers. There are numerous viewing platforms, and slowly one could make your way from one to the other. It was so crowded in the passages, I thought I was on an U-bahn.

O.k. so you spent 40 euros to go to the "top of Germany" so you have to really go to the top, all the way, to the Gipfelkreuz. The Kreuz is just 30 meters away from the viewing platforms, but it's on some seriously steep rock, with deadly drops left and right. To get there you should have climbing gear, i.e. harness, etc. so you could rope yourself to the steel guide cable. The problem is you and another million Germans want to do this, climb the puny section of deadly steep rock so you too can say you have touched the "top of Germany". Sorry I just don't get this! It's like climbing to the top of mount Everest and finding a film crew and models making an automobile commercial. It just ruins the whole adventure of climbing to the highest point if everyone else is already there. And in addition I would not risk my life on such a section of deadly rock with such a crowd of people pushing and shoving their way up and down the rock. 

But don't get me wrong, it is splendidly beautiful up there above the clouds teatering on the rocky knife edge of this ridiculously gigantic piece of rock.