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Bavarian Alps, Berlin Marathon, Austria

 
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Arizonaheat
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Joined: 04 Jan 2003
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Location: Mesa, AZ

PostPosted: 10/11/2009, 9:11 pm    Post subject: Bavarian Alps, Berlin Marathon, Austria Reply to topic Reply with quote

Recently returned from Germany, trekking in the Bavarian Alps, popping over the Austrian border for a visit to Salzburg and running the Berlin Marathon.

The Berchtesgaden countryside was home base for five days of awe inspiring trekking despite the weather that was encountered the first three days. Berchtesgaden is located in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, not far from the Austrian border. The Germans tout it as the most beautiful and picturesque area of all Germany. Home to Lake Konigssee, said to be the most beautiful lake in all of Germany if not all of Europe. Hitler was so struck with the beauty of the area he built his famous Eagles Nest retreat, high atop a mountain so he could take in the stunning views.

Traveled to Berchtesgaden via Germanys well oiled rail system, boarding the train at the Frankfurt airport, traveling to Munich at a top speed of 250 KPH then switched trains and it was off to Berchtesgaden. The clouds were hanging low upon arrival cloaking any hint that the Alps existed. The clouds persisted for the first three days, coupled with intermittent drizzle and rain and snow was even encountered on a trek up Germanyís second highest peak, Watzman. Hope was dwindling that a glimpse of the beauty that lay under the veil of clouds would ever grace my eyes. Never the less my enthusiasm wasnít dampened and trekking went on as planned.

The first major trek was up the second highest peak in Germany, Watzman. Mentioning intentions of summiting Watzman to locals, conjured up words of discouragement, warnings as to its difficulty, looks of disbelief and nervous laughter, especially considering the weather. Basically they looked at the idea as being crazy, saying ďno, no you donít want to do the Watzman, youíll die up there. My mindset was Iím not giving up before trying, give it a go and make oneís own decision and turn back if things get to dicey. Several people die up there every year, several people die in the Grand Canyon every year and that does not discourage me.

The trek was absolutely awesome despite limited visibility the whole day. Challenges? Yes. Like steep, it will dish out steep keeping you on the balls of your feet a good portion of the ascent. Exposure is a factor and there was stretch that was cabled, though in my opinion the cables were more of a hindrance than a help and the well placed naturally occurring hand and foot holds were better utilized. If it would have been clear to where the exposure was visible for more than a hundred feet down, maybe I would have thought differently of the cables. A couple of inches of fresh snow were encountered at the higher elevations. Regrets being that taking in the views was not possible, visibility on clears days is said to be over 100 miles in all directions and some of the best views in all the Alps.

The trail signs are very interesting using hours or minutes to the destination instead of kilometers. The trails are also color coded like a ski run; blue, green, red and black, with black being most difficult.

The fourth day started with a layer of fog indicating that the weather was going to clear. The beauty of the area was unveiled slowly, piece by piece causing visual overload. The beauty that lay hidden for three days was mind numbing, the colors so vibrant and saturated they didnít seem real.
One of the goals of the trekking journey was to spot some Ibex.

Speaking with locals and wildlife biologist from Berchtesgaden National Park the odds of this happening were slim to none. They usually inhabit only the highest elevations and are normally spotted in the Austrian portion of the Alps. On the fifth day the Nature Spirits handed out a rare experience that people who have trekked for 50 years in the Alps have never seen. Shortly after making the high summit of the Schonefield it was face to face with a record size Ibex who was definitely the dominate one. Five others soon showed up and apparently it was breeding season just like it is for the elk around here now. A challenge ensued between two males and a one hour photo session ensued, despite the fact my long lens was not with me. I got extremely close to the dominate male without causing excitement, at least on the Ibexís behalf, I was excited beyond words.

Soon it was back on the train and off to Berlin. Berlin was awesome in its own right. The history and the architecture are both amazing. Went on an historical walking tour and was blown away with information. Forty thousand plus of us ran the marathon and twenty thousand plus did the speed skating marathon the day before. After doing about three marathons of trekking most of it climbing I wasnít sure my legs had it in them for the real thing. So much for taking it easy the week before the race. Time was 4:22 for anyone that is curious.

I loved Germany and in many ways they put us as Americans to shame by walking the walk instead of just talking the talk, especially on the conservation side of things.

Few photos in the gallery.
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gpsjoe





Joined: 01 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: 10/12/2009, 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

What a great trip. Awesome pictures. The Ibex shots are unbelievable. Should get those published somewhere.
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tibber





Joined: 16 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: 10/12/2009, 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Ditto on those Ibex photos, WOW!!!!!!
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ChefTIO





Joined: 19 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: 10/12/2009, 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Incredible pictures, great story, envious of the experience.
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Davis2001R6





Joined: 12 Dec 2003
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PostPosted: 10/13/2009, 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Nice Kent, it is definitely a different world over here. Even better in some ways. Wish you would have looked me up over here, would have loved to meet up with you in the Alps. Berchtesgaden is a 4 hour drive for me on a good day. Amazing pictures Kent, now I'm jealous that you have done as much hiking as I have here. Congrats on another Marathon as well!

-TIM-
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desertgirl





Joined: 19 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: 10/14/2009, 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Applause
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Hikngrl
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Joined: 27 May 2003
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PostPosted: 10/16/2009, 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Wow Heat! Awesome! So cool that you had such an opportunity! It would appear that you made great use of your time while there! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful.... that's all I can say...
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pfredricks





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PostPosted: 10/16/2009, 7:12 pm    Post subject: Germany Reply to topic Reply with quote

I'm glad you enjoyed the Germany experience as well. It is an awesome place and I have missed it ever since I left (both times). Great Photos, expecially of the Ibex. WOW, stunning again!
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Arizonaheat
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Joined: 04 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: 10/19/2009, 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments.

Tim, I thought of you before I went and almost every day when I was there.

Had no idea you were only four hours away.

My plans were kind of seat of the pants and I did alter them, skipping some things and staying longer in Berchtesgaden. You definitley would love the area if you get a chance.
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