My wife and I have been hiking the Eifelsteig during our two+ weeks of vacation this autumn. It is a 314 kilometer hike, quiet ambitious, done in 15 days, thus more than 20 kilometers on eight of these days, and some altitude to manage – up to 700 m sometimes.
We started in Aachen on Saturday, September 12th, and reached Trier at the river Mosel on Sunday, September 27th.
Weather was quiet mixed these days, some rainy or very cloudy days, but we also got some nice sunny days and moments. We slept in a cloister two times and in a castle one time, and overall there have been many great moments to remember. This is the sort of vacation we really like.
My full set of photos is here on flickr.
Highlights have been Aachen of course with the incredible Cathedral,

the beautiful city of Monschau,

the "Three-Mills-Waterfall",

the trail along river Lieser,

and finally Trier, among many others.


Two weeks of hiking in the Dolomites

I am back from a 2-week-vacation in the Dolomites, South Tyrol, Italy, and after handling all my e-mails ( less than 300, not bad ) today I find some time to blog about this:

Die Tofana und die Tunnel des Lagazuoi
"Die Tofana und die Tunnel des Lagazuoi"

We (my wife and me) stayed in Colfosco,  located in South Tyrol between the Sella and Puez mountains, in a small family owned hotel, with very friendly people, very clean rooms and very good food.

In the first week we did five hikes with a group of people and two mountain guides, one of them Hans Kammerlander, famous for climbing almost all 8000m peaks, now finishing his Seven Second Summits project and also for his ski descents of Nanga Parbat and Mount Everest. The second guide was an interesting character a well: besides being a good mountain guide he also was a great cittern player and singer. And believe it or not: he always carried his cittern with him on top of all the mountains we climbed.

Among the hikes during week 1 was the highest mountain I climbed so far: the Tofane di Rozes ( 3225 m ). Supposed to be a technically easy but of course strenuous hike it turned out to be more difficult due to some snow and ice we encountered starting at an altitude of about 2.800 m. Nevertheless, we made it to the summit and safely back down.

After week 1 the group was leaving and my wife and I stayed there for an additional week and some more hikes we did on our own, including the climb to the Lagazuoi (2775 m), a neighbor peak of the  Tofane di Rozes.

German readers can enjoy a more detailed travel report in my external German blog here.

All the others might want to check out some of my photos I have published on flickr here.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

How much we know …

Into the white wild
"Into the white wild"

I have been on snowshoe-hiking vacation for the past 2 weeks. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in the Wildschönau in Austria, not far away from Kufstein. Photos from the awesome trip and hikes we made can be found in my flickr account.

The hotel publishes a little morning news paper every day and one day they had a nice quote in there I like to share here:

"Only a few know how much you need to know to know how less you know"

From the "Fliegende Blätter", a humorous-satiric magazine, published in Munich between 1845 and 1944.

Back from the Saar-Hunsrück Climb …

I have been on vacation for three weeks and spent the first two weeks hiking the Saar-Hunsrück Climb, a famous German log-distance trail, together with my wife.

Die Saar-Schleife
"Die Saar-Schleife"

We started at the Saar loop in Mettlach and did the hike to Idar Oberstein, a German city famous for gemstones and their church built right away into the rocks. We came by several lakes, castles, leftovers of old Roman and Celtic buildings and walls, climbed over rocks, crossed swamp land ( using comfortable board walks ), hiked along the border between Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate.  We continued the hike to Trier, the oldest city in Germany with the oldest German bridge, crossing the river Moselle River. In total we hiked about 225 kilometer in 12 days. The trail is very nice and a bit challenging here and there, leaves comfortable pathes quiet often and climbs over various little mountains so that it really deserves to be called a “climb” in the context of a Mittelgebirge, not the alps of course. It avoides villages most of the time and leads through forest and moor landscapes.

We carried everything we needed for 2 weeks with us in our back packs, thus together with some food and water we ended up with roughly 10 kilogram on our backs. We stayed in little hotels or taverns over night and did not book anything in advance; sometimes when we had made the plan for the day in the morning and knew we would get into an area with only a few beds we called in advance to ensure we would get a room at our planned destination.

Felsenkirche, gesehen von unserem Zimmer in der Schloßschenke
"Felsenkirche, gesehen von unserem Zimmer in der Schloßschenke"

It has been an awesome experience to “survive” with only a back pack, a few clothes and a minimalistic “beauty case”, without any car, computer and TV for 2 weeks, often without knowing where we would end up at the end of the day, to travel free like a bird from one place to the next only as far as our feet would get us. Of course we have had our credit cards and mobile phones with us Wink. Weather was nice most of the time with 3 rainy days

A detailed report will appear in my German blog these days. My photos are on flickr and a slideshow would appear below if WordPress would support iframes. Anyway, you can launch one from here.

Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

Again: back from snowshoe hiking

My wife and I have been snowshoe hiking last week ( a detailed report is here in my German blog ), this time with the German Alpine Club in Austria in the Zugspitze area.

Auf dem Weg zum Höllkopf
"Auf dem Weg zum Höllkopf"

We stayed in a nice hotel in Lermoos. After we have had heavy snow falls in Germany and Austria recently the last week before we arrived weather changed to become pretty warm and snow had been melting away in the valleys, nevertheless we still found sufficient snow at an altitude starting with 1.500 m, thus we could do 5 nice hikes climbing between 400 and 800 meters to mountains above 2.000 m. We were lead by a nice mountain guide who not only gave us a lot of useful hints and tips how to do snowshoe hiking right and even manage steep ascents and descents, but who also provided some basic training how to use avalanche transceiver to rescue people hit by an avalanche.

Our first tour was an easy one along the border between Austria (Tyrol) and Bavaria (Germany). The second one was on top of a mountain called Upps – opposite to the Zugspitze. For this one we had to carry our snowshoes on the back for the first half of the climb and descent later on, but used them to get to and back from the summit. Tour 3 started at the Ehrwalder Alm and we hiked towards the Wetterstein mountain and the Gattl, nevertheless it became too warm throughout the day and snow too wet so that we had to abort the hike before we reached the target.

Blick von der Zugspitze
"Blick von der Zugspitze"

Tour 4 was the highlight of the week, the hike started at the mountain station of the Biberwier chair-lift and we climbed the Höllkopf ( “Hell’s Head” ), then did a steep descent into the Hell’s Valley until we reached the Lehnberghaus. Only disadvantage of that tour: it took us quiet long to find a Glass-Beer-Shop. After our hike down into the valley we had to walk for another view kilometers before we reached a hotel where we could enjoy our Weizenbier on their sunny patio while waiting for our taxi to get us back to Lermoos.

Tour 5 was supposed to get us up to the Coburger Hütte and then around the mountain “Vorderer Tajakopf”, but we only reached lake Seebensee since snow conditions were bad due to a night too warm and avalanche risk too high for doing the steep ascent to the Coburger Hütte. Also changing weather conditions had been forcasted and thus we returned earlier – a good decision by our mountain guide since at 03:00 pm mountains suddenly disappeared in between clouds and it started to rain.

On Saturday my wife and I were supposed to travel back home but since weather conditions had improved already we first did a cable car ride on the top of Germany – the Zugspitze – and enjoyed a breathtaking view across the snow covered alps – an unforgettable experience !

Looking for day hike recommendations in New Zealand …

OK, folks, we are in the process of planning a 3.5-week-trip to New Zealand.

We plan to explore the North and South island and since we love hiking I would love if you could come up with some good hiking recommendations here in my blog as a comment to this posting.

What good day hikes can you recommend in New Zealand ? Can be anything from a 2 hour to an 8 hour walk, or even a 2- or 3-day hike with over-night stay in a cottage or hotel; we don’t plan to do any camping out there with a tent.

Please let me know your ideas and experiences, hikes you have done already are heard about, links to good sites describing those hikes or book recommendations.

Conquering the Alps in 26 days

A few folks might have noticed that it has been quiet on my blog during the last 4-5 weeks or that I have been away from work for a long time now.

I have been on another long vacation trip again and this time around I have had some aggressive plans for my vacation: to hike from Munich to Venice and conquering the Alps within 26 days.

Starting our hike on the Marien Square in Munich
"Starting our hike on the Marien Square in Munich"

On Sunday, September 10th, 09:00 am, a group of 14 people met on the Marien Square in Munich to start this hike. 7 of them planed to do the entire 4-week-hike, among them; my wife and I. The first hike out of Munich, following the river Isar was right away the longest one: 36 kilometer. At the end of day 1 and on day 2 I already felt quiet exhausted with burning feet and legs and could not really imagine to continue hiking for the next 25 days to reach Venice. I never have done a 4-week-hike before and 4 weeks seem to be a real long time when doing something really unusual. Thus I continued my hikes from day to day, just focusing on small achievements ( reaching the destination of that particular day ) instead of the big goal to make it over the Alps. What I was hoping for finally became reality: to get used to hiking every day, sleeping in a different cottage each night, living out of my backpack. No computer, no mobile, no TV, just sometimes being happy to have some dry socks and a shirt in the evening and to get a good warm meal and a place to sleep.

It has been a little adventure for my wife and me, full of great experiences and breathtaking views, but also sometimes coming with these moments of worry  and suffer more or less in one or the other form. I actually was lucky that my feet collaborated quiet well being in hiking boots for up to 9 hours a day. Others had much more trouble, and one man from the group trying to do the 4-week-hike had to give up after one week because of his bloody feet.

26 days later, after hiking 405 kilometers and climbing a total altitude difference of 20.900 meters (2.36 times Mount Everest ), walking 162 hours in total and 6.2 hours in average each day without a single rest day,  hiking in rain for 2 full and around three half days ( that means overall we have been very lucky regarding weather conditions ), climbing on a 3.152 meter summit ( the Piz Boe ) and hiking through snow, we reached Tarzo in the Italian lowlands. The Alps were lying behind us. This was the end of the hike and a train took us the remaining 70 kilometers to Venice.

From the 1024 photos I have taken during the tour I have uploaded a few already into this flickr set and plan to add more later on. I plan to blog in much more detail on a day-by-day base about the tour in my German blog “Axel unterwegs…” – thus if you understand German and are interested in more details watch out for updates on this blog.