Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label E5. Show all posts
Showing posts with label E5. Show all posts

Monday, 6 August 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 29 - Arbon (398m) to Constance (395m)

Rain splattered against the shutters as we rose for yet another lavish breakfast. At the time it looked as if our 'walking in rain' statistic could more than double today, but by the time we set off at 6.45 it was our five litre drum of suntan cream that needed to be wrung out.

It proved to be quite a long stroll to Constance, mostly on lakeside walking paths. A very popular separate cycle track runs either next to or slightly inland from the walking route, conveniently separating us from the cyclists for most of the day.

Views ranged from the beech lined woodland (we passed through an arboretum at one point) that has often featured on this trip, to inland villages across the lakeside railway line, and beyond well manicured gardens and regimental moorings for sailing boats (pictured) to distant peaks glistening in the sun.

We tried in vain to identify the high ridge we traversed a few days ago before descending to Lingenau, but never mind, the day was stunningly clear with fine views across the lake and back to the mountains.

Lunch was enjoyed at one of the many campsite restaurants dotted beside the lake. Then, at 2pm, a large black cloud suddenly formed, stopping us in our tracks outside a conveniently placed café when it decided to dump its contents. It would have been annoying to have received a soaking for the final two hours of the walk, but thankfully, when we looked up from our empty glasses half an hour later all was well with the world and the risk of sunburn was higher than that of a drenching.

We pushed on past a second 'Seedorf' to Kreuzlingen, our final objective, Constance (Konstanz) never being mentioned on the signage as it is back over the German border. Good news for us as prices are cheaper in Germany.

A millennium tower at Kreuzlingen afforded views over the lake, back to the mountains, and onwards to the pleasant town of Constance (pictured).

We slowly shed the lakeside cyclists and joined the day trippers in this pleasant town. Our central hotel overlooks the lake (beyond the railway station) and is situated above a McDonalds. Not much further away, however, is Hafen Halle, the restaurant recommended by Nick. And very good it was too. Thanks Nick.

It was a lovely evening on which to finish, with the late light drawing one's eyes towards the Imperia, the voluptuous rotating oriental lady at the mouth of the harbour, erected in 1993 to commemorate the religious unification brought about by the Council of Constance that took place between 1414 and 1418.

There will be more on this trip in due course - index, gear notes, slideshows, etc, but that's all for now as we set off on what we hope will be an uneventful journey home.

Comments:

Patrick - thanks for your comment, I've enjoyed making the postings despite the dodgy keyboard. Sorry if they were a bit wordy at times, but that's the nature of the beast.
I suspect there need to be a lot more sales of Gillian's book before Cicerone would consider a second edition, and the route variations and adjustments are not really rocket science to achieve. The main constraints are the areas covered by the Kompass strip maps, and the alpine ability and confidence of those seeking alternatives.

Gillian - your book (pictured) proved a welcome and informative companion. Thanks for the inspiration for walking this excellent route.

Alan R - we'll bring a bigger box of washing powder next time, and all the wringing has ruined my socks!

Gibson - thanks, and I hope the weather's good up your way.

Gayle - we love the Alps, but the walking season is short so the trips just have to be crammed in...

Kate - we are glad you enjoyed some camping. Some statistics from our walk are below - it was about the distance from your house to Edinburgh and back, plus a vertical ascent (not all at once) from your house to beyond the centre of Manchester.

Everyone else - thanks again for your comments, they have entertained us throughout the trip.

Data:
5 August 2012

28km in 8 hours with 50m ascent

Cumulative on the 29 stages of E5: 535km with 27,000 metres ascent

Cumulative on the 37 day trip: approx 600km with 31,500 metres ascent

Total hours walking in rain on entire trip: 5 hours

Flower of the Day - Teasel - one of numerous lowland meadow flowers seen on the last stage of the journey, and a taste for what we'll find at home.

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Sunday, 5 August 2012

E5 in reverse - End of Phase 5 - End of Trek

Here we are in Constance, in the sun as usual, after a successful five weeks and two days on or near the E5. A great trip. Today's report will follow.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

E5 in reverse - Day 28 - Rheineck (399m) to Arbon (398m)

Winding down? It didn't really feel like it! With no proper break for two weeks, and in temperatures consistently approaching 30C, the journey remains quite hard work.

After breakfast with Markus, he dropped us off at Rheineck on another warm, sunny morning.

Thanks Markus for looking after us and ferrying us around, and thanks Wolfie and Jutta for letting us stay in your flat.

"Have you used your compass?" Markus had asked. He'd been surprised by how often we had used it, usually for 'comfort' that we were heading in the right direction. We should have used it to navigate out of Rheineck. Instead, we rambled around the old town and then headed off along the obvious road. It wasn't until a sign notified us of our entry into the village of Thal that we realised we'd taken the wrong road.

Never mind, pleasant footpaths guided us through the village to a steep set of steps that rose over 100 metres through vineyards to gain the narrow ridge that we should have ambled up from Buriet.

Horse flies hastened us on our way. I would have thought the Swiss countryside agency would have eliminated them! Good views from this low ridge (pictured both ways) showed off the pretty Swiss countryside and the expansive vista of Lake Constance to good effect on this sunny day.

The residents could be accused of being lazy here. Lawns were being mown, but there wasn't a person in sight. They use automowers, huge mouse like gadgets that wander around a lawn, cutting it, and turning when they sense they have reached the edge. (Coming soon to B&Q, or are they already there?)

Easy lanes and paths wended their way to Goldach, where a handy corner shop provided the ingredients for an al fresco lunch on a nearby bench by a paddling pool sort of fountain. A couple entertained us by washing their Scotty dog by way of a ball game in the water.

Easy paths then led us past greenhouses full of tomatoes and cucumbers, and through orchards brimming with ripening apples, plums and peaches, and rows of harvested cherry trees.

Several narrow gauge railway lines were crossed today. They reminded me of the wonderful model railway that I used to take the children to at Carnforth.

Black kites soared overhead - we saw lots of birds of prey today. Some cyclists passed, and we heard murmurings about E5, which gets no mention on the walking signs hereabouts (pictured, bottom).

The lakeside at Arbon was a busy spot, with cliques of grebes and mallards vying with black-headed gulls for the best positions on the lake.

After an ice cream interlude our B&B, Garni Sonnenhof, was located and Sue was despatched to collect provisions for dinner whilst I recovered from the trauma of impersonating an overweight pensioner for yet another day.

Dinner was by the lakeside on a bench (we used a few today) and was an excellent alternative to a pricey Swiss meal.

We dashed back just before the rain hit, and in time to watch GB athletes win three athletic golds in the olympics, where the local coverage seems to have moved from German fencers to Swiss triathletes.

Oh dear! We finish tomorrow!

Comments:

Only spam. I've deleted it. Remember - don't click on any link inserted in a comment unless you are confident that it is bona fide.

Data:
4 August 2012
14km in 5 hours with 300m ascent
Flower of the Day - Narcissus-flowered Anemone (from the Lechtal holiday, since alpine flowers aren't in evidence down here at 400 metres)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Saturday, 4 August 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 27 - Dornbirn (450m) to Rheineck (399m)

How often do we walk 24km in a day, with zero ascent. I can't remember the last time, or indeed whether it has ever happened. But it did today. The steepest climb we've had was the stairs to Wolfgang and Jutta's first floor flat!

The day started well for us - breakfast with Markus at a nice bakery in town. Markus is exceedingly camera shy, so Sue's pose with her Austrian pin-up has had to be adjusted, as the pin-up took fright, and with a look of panic insisted on being behind the camera, not in front of it. (See top picture - I couldn't even fix it to get his reflection!)

We were then deposited at a bridge over Dornbirn Ache, one of many rivers that accompany the Rhine in dumping their contents into nearby Bodensee (Lake Constance). That lake then feeds the mighty Rhine on its journey to the North Sea.

We had hoped that Markus could join us for a day on the trail, but he had to take Silke to a Swiss railway station to start her journey to Lischana Hütte in the Engadine, where she will be cooking for the visitors for the next couple of months, and then he had to go to work, and also resolve a technical problem involving fuel.

Despite an overnight storm, the atmosphere was sultry, with rain in the air, but not enough for waterproofs. It was evaporating on landing.

A pleasant stroll took us through woodland inhabited by Dornbirn's fitness fanatics before crossing a bridge and entering open countryside leading to the northern fringe of Lustenau. On Schwatzer Ried a farmer ploughing his field had attracted a colony of storks, and large birds of prey floated overhead, whilst long-tailed tits and a variety of warblers fussed in the trackside trees. Sue is pictured en route near here. We were annoyed to have left our binoculars behind today - our loads had been culled, just for one day, given that we would be returning to Wolfie's flat.

An interesting covered bridge had been passed en route, and now a new bridge under construction over the Rhine caused a minor detour from our planned route. But we soon found a somewhat overgrown path beside the Rhine that led eventually to a bridge across the river, where we rejoined the (not waymarked) E4 and E5 routes.

Whilst there was little evidence of the path being used as a walking route, it's clearly a popular cycling route, as we discovered for the rest of the day's walk. But first we ambled into the village of Fußach and enjoyed lunch on a long bench under the church eaves, whilst it decided whether or not to rain.

The sun scored a decisive victory, resulting in further diminution of our increasingly meagre stocks of sun tan cream.

We then entered a nature reserve that runs to beyond Rohrspitz, where a campsite café provided welcome cold drinks. The view from here forms today's bottom picture.

It was hot and humid again today, and as yesterday care was needed at times to avoid picking up melting tar from the soft surfaces.

A call to Markus gave a slightly ambitious ETA at Rheineck, so the pace was stepped up for the last few kilometres alongside Lake Constance and then south along a pleasant lane to the bridge into Switzerland and on to Rheineck station, where Markus lay in wait to whisk us back to Wolfie's flat and later join us for beer and pizza.

Comments:

Dot - the hard days are over. We are entering the 'ice cream' phase of the trip - the home run...

Data:
3 August 2012
24km in 7.5 hours with minimal ascent
Flower of the Day - Great Burnet

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Friday, 3 August 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 26 - Lingenau (685m) to Dornbirn (450m)

A fine day in the Vorarlberg, if rather hot.

Overnight road noise and mossies at the Adler were more than compensated by its fine breakfast. We took our time, so it was 9.30 before we set off on our scenic walk to Dornbirn.

Gently downhill through pristine farmland, past an aviary where Sue attracted wolf whistles and I set off a barking dog. Through mixed woodland with buzzards and long eared deer, and down to the River Bregenzerach that flows down the gorge from Egg.

The bridge we planned to use was closed due to forestry work. There was no sign of any work going on but we played safe, taking a detour along the lovely riverside path towards Langanegg, passing far underneath a road bridge spanning the gorge, before doubling back to Müselbach by 11am.

Sadly no venue for elevenses was spotted so we continued on up the drippy hill, with fine views back over our recent route (pictured, top), to Kaltenbrunnen for an hour's break. They were busy with mountain bikers and holidaymakers, but we were quite happy to laze in the shade of trees whilst waiting for our rosti. When it arrived it was a top notch offering.

Leaving Kaltenbrunnen at 1pm, we soon gained Lorena Pass and our first of today's many views of Lake Constance. Heading onwards to Bödele we gradually paid our farewells to the higher alpine peaks of recent days and settled for hazy views of nearer, albeit dramatic looking, hills and villages (pictured, bottom) above Lake Constance, and of the town and lake as we finally descended to Dornbirn.

We were met at 5pm by a Lazy Austrian camera shy pin-up (aka Markus) who whisked us a few metres to Wolfie and Jutta's flat, which they have kindly lent us for a couple of nights. Hopefully they are enjoying their Tyrolean holiday and won't be worrying too much about our wrecking their home!

A quick turnaround then saw us returning up the hill for ice cream and fruit with most of the rest of Markus's family, including Silke, with whom he completed the TGO Challenge in 2011.

Then it was back down to Dornbirn's beating heart (really, it was) for an excellent Austrian chicken dish and some fine beer from one of Markus's sponsors, the local brewery, who are in the process of labelling three million of their bottles with information about one of Markus's environmental campaigns.

Comments:

Alan R - apologies for the error, we just saw Rebecca in the olympics - we should have realised we were on the German countryfile channel when the sheepdog trials came on after the fencing, and we know that isn't an olympic sport!
I can just picture you fumbling with your tablet in a plastic bag on an LDWA walk!

Nick - I don't remember anything vertiginous either. Perhaps a read of our diary from 1980 will reveal more...

Anonymous - some food for thought there. Certainly worth considering photographing important documents on a separate memory card.

Data:
2 August 2012
21km in 7.5 hours with 1000m ascent
Flower of the Day - Giant Bellflower, lots of it!

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Thursday, 2 August 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 25 - Staufner Haus (1600m) to Lingenau (685m)

Another tough day.

We enjoyed a leisurely start after chatting to Timo and Lydia and their children, eventually leaving Staufner Haus after 9am. It's a great place, and it was lovely to be somewhere where folk were enjoying the ambience rather than rushing off at the crack of dawn.

We chose to ignore the E5 route, and despite later rejoining the route marked on our map, we saw no evidence of E5 signage or walkers today. The weather was perfect, if rather hot, so we felt compelled to continue our stroll along the 24km knife edge switchback of a ridge that we started along yesterday. I'm pictured on it.

'Nur fur geubte' (only for experts) signs told us that care would be needed on the final stage to Hochhäderich. We soon encountered Alexander and his nine year old son Oscar. If they could do it, so could we. It was easy enough in the warm, dry, calm conditions, with plentiful wires to grab on the more vertiginous sections.

Alexander told us over 300 alpine peaks can be seen from this ridge. We believed him, the views were stupendous on this clear day.

We disturbed a black grouse as we stumbled over tree roots that blunt the knife edge in places, and we passed a man who was taking panoramic pictures of the area using special equipment on a tripod above Falkenhütte. Sue posed under the blue sky that accompanied us all day at the 1581 metre summit of Falkenköpfe (picture). Sadly we won't be that high again until September.

Views towards Bodensee (Lake Constance) improved as we moved west along hot wires fastened to hot rocks resembling badly mixed concrete in texture, past border posts indicating that we were walking along the German border with the Austrian region of Voralberg, and the brilliantly clear mountain vista to the south remained with us.

The restaurant at Hochhäderich was closed - Wednesday is their day off - but their cool crate of drinks and an honesty box was most welcome. We'd already savoured our tuna salads and chocolate at the final summit just above the restaurant.

Alex and Oscar had been telling others about our exploits, and we seemed to be greeted not by the usual 'Hallo' or 'Grûß Gott', but by 'Respect', which in North American terms may be the equivalent of 'Awesome'!

The descent to the valley via Lochalpe (pictured, bottom) was steep but easy, with eagles or buzzards, and constant 'dripping' caused by temperatures in the low 30's Centigrade the only real distractions. Hittisau was soon reached and we thought we were nearly home.

We weren't!

The route through the woods past the 994 metre summit of Rotenberg was well signed at first but lacked a crucial indicator at a left fork, sending us circling on up the hill when we missed the turn. Then, having relocated the path, we found that it took us on a pretty comprehensive tour of the woods, past 14 information boards, going all the way past the Voralberg village of Lingenau before finally giving way and depositing us in the village centre.

Hay making in this pristine alpine farmland scenery was in strident progress, and tractor dodging became our main concern on the final stages of the descent.

Gästhaus Adler, where Frank, a Dutchman, speaks very good English, provided beers and an excellent meal, though Sue's eloquent request for 'boiling water' (for tea) was unfortunately misinterpreted as bubbly water - she should have asked for teewasser!

Later we were joined by an Austrian pin-up and cartography expert who kindly produced a 1:25,000 scale map and a route through the Voralberg for tomorrow, as the E5 route suffers from a massive cop out in this lovely area, by taking the bus to Bregenz.

Comments:

Alan R - erudite as ever, but the 'olympic' comments are completely over our head. In three viewings of about 5 minutes maximum we've seen Rebecca win a bronze and two German fencers ... fencing, I think. Just think yourself lucky that Sue wasn't wearing her turquoise jacket(she has a complete wardrobe) or using her Yorkshire tea bags!

Anonymous - it's always good to hear from you. The tablet idea may be a good one, but how robust/heavy/waterproof are they? I'd already thought of using the camera to store images of emails etc relating to B+B and hotel bookings as we haven't really needed the pieces of paper we brought along.
I've never really had a biro problem since few of our trips (if any!) are at zero gravity!

Nightbird - great to hear from you too. Shouldn't you be soaking up the sun somewhere?!

Jules - your comments are flooding in as I write, and are always appreciated. After the annoying technical problems it's nice to return to normality.

Alan S - we hope you are ok.

Data:
1 August 2012
18km in 8 hours with 800m ascent
Number of E5ers seen today: 0
Flower of the Day - Fox and Cubs (lots in the woodland along the ridge)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 24 - Gunzesried (889m) to Staufner Haus (1600m)

Possibly the toughest day yet, starting with an 800 metre climb to a long ridge that Sue has likened to a knife edge version of the South Glen Shiel ridge, with fewer summits (five) but bigger drops (250 metres between each summit). And the Scottish ridge doesn't have a scary 20 metre ladder to negotiate!

We've arrived at what appears to be the northern edge of the Alps. There's a great sense of satisfaction in having walked right through this wonderfully varied range of mountains. Today's ridge gave immense views back to the Allgauer Alps that we've recently passed through, and beyond them to the Lechtaler peaks. The most prominent mountain in the huge vista was Zugspitze, but in the far distance there was a further panorama of snow covered peaks.

However, to our north, the plains of Bavaria confirmed that our mountain days were nearly over.

It's interesting that our most challenging day should be in the 'foothills' between 1500 and 2000 metres, where a path is feasible over a long knife-edge roller coaster of a ridge, whereas such a route is rarely feasible for any length in the higher alps, though we did find one on day 1 of our Lechtal holiday, and others earlier in the trip.

Frau Beck, Annie, was a lovely lady in her 80's. She provided this morning's breakfast whilst we admired skiing trophies won by her three sons from the 1970's to the 1990's. They had taken part in several winter olympics.

The bustling village of Gunzesried, with its ancient tractors, had abruptly quietened at dusk, and was still silent when we set off along the E5 path at 8.30. It was already warm, so our 800 metre ascent to the first summit on the long ridge, Steineberg (1661m), was fairly laborious, especially as we were fully laden with water and lunch supplies. We did however enjoy an unexpected drinks break at Vorder Krumbach Alpe farm (1332m).

People coming this way should note the presence of a 20 metre ladder a little to the east of the summit of Steineberg. It's not quite vertical, and it has a hand rail, but be warned. We followed some children up it. Beyond Steineberg, four more main summits and several minor ones await those who want to traverse all the way to Staufner Haus. There are a number of wires to assist we of nervous disposition, but in poor weather the ridge is probably best left to the cows that graze on it and the hawks and choughs that use it as a sort of nursery. There is an excellent alternative valley route. We were fortunate to enjoy perfect, if rather' drippy' weather.

There were quite a few folk on the ridge. It has numerous escape routes so can be used for shorter walks than ours. As we progressed, our final destination, Lake Constance, slowly came into view. The flora on the ridge is wonderful at this time of year, with butterfly orchids, clovers, saxifrages and gentians all flourishing. In the early wooded sections nutcrackers, their beaks crammed with goodies, seemed to be everywhere.

We reached Staufner Haus at 5pm and expected to be in a dormitory, but we aren't complaining about our twin room for €28. It's very cosy.

A hefty rehydration session, plus a good meal soon followed, and after watching a golden sunset over Lake Constance, we enjoyed our final reward for the hard day - an early night.

Today's pictures:
Top - on the knife edge ridge
Middle - descending to Staufner Haus
Bottom - rehydration fluid in the sun drenched mountain hut

Comments:

None since the technical problems. Perhaps everyone is on holiday, watching the Olympics, or simply bored to death.

Data:
31 July 2012 (what a fantastic way to spend July)
16km in 8.5 hours with 1850m ascent
Number of E5ers seen today: 10 to 20 on the ridge (good for them), and several in the hut
Flower of the Day - Great Masterwort (exercising its dominance today)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 23 - Oberstdorf (814m) to Gunzesried (889m)

A semi rest day.

We savoured a lie in, then the most delicious breakfast of the trip so far, featuring smoked salmon, scrambled egg with bacon, boiled eggs with caviar, a fine selection of cheeses and cold meats, sundry jams and different types of bread, etc. We stuffed ourselves in preparation for the day ahead, replenished our dwindling funds, and dragged ourselves away from the pleasant town of Oberstdorf at 10am.

Within minutes we were on a delightful woodland track (top picture) that doubles as a cycle route all the way to Sonthofen, 15km away.

What a contrast to the past few days! This morning we ambled slowly along the pleasant, flat track near the Trettach river. Cyclists and day walkers passed by, and we paused for a while in an area where red squirrels were feeding out of children's hands. The collared doves were almost as tame, and blackcaps and willow tits flitted around expectantly.

This was after we had passed the confluence of three rivers, the Stillach, Trettach and the Breitbach, which join to form the Iller, which flows north to join the Danube at Ulm. A sculpture of three converging nymphs marks the point of the confluence.

After just three hours we reached the Bavarian town of Sonthofen. Like Oberstdorf the lovely old part of the town is pedestrianised. We spent a couple of hours there, firstly in Tourist Information where I spent some time deleting unwanted messages from our webmail as the in box was full, then we enjoyed cokes and hot baguettes outside a café, before heading to a supermarket to buy our lunches for the next two days, as it looks as if hostelries are sparse.

The signposted E5 route to Gunzesreid appears to follow roads, whilst Gillian in her book suggests a 30 minute bus ride. We weren't in a hurry. We didn't want to arrive at our B&B too early. Our strip map, Kompass map 120, shows a more direct cross country route using minor roads and footpaths. So we followed that route, meeting nobody.

It was a delightful 6km, which took an hour and a half. We were baffled as to why anyone would prefer a road walk, or indeed a bus ride. As we gained height, views to the Iller valley and the Allgauer Alps beyond opened up (pictured, second image) behind us in increasingly sunny weather.

The path passed through farmland reminiscent of my visit to Zug (was that really two years ago?), with small guest houses bedecked with flowers, and ancient tractors carrying churns and small children. This is a cheese making area. We hadn't seen a weather forecast for a while, but hay cutting was in progress - better than a weather forecast in our book, and a good omen for the next few days. Hüttenberg came and went, as did the smell of muck spreading. Little used footpaths drew us through beech woods with nuthatches, until Gunzesried came into view (pictured, third image) - a pretty village in a natural bowl.

We have a spacious low ceilinged panelled room in Frau Beck's rambling old house, where we spent some time enjoying tea on the balcony before dealing with the usual chores (washing selves and clothes) then heading across the road to Gasthaus Goldenes Kreuz for a really excellent infusion of Bavarian specialities.

The bottom image was taken from the 'tea balcony' towards the village church, next to which is a tall pole decorated with painted wooden depictions of village life, at the very top of which is a small fir tree.

Tonight we have the fluffiest duvets we've ever seen, so perhaps it's a shame that it's rather warm.

Comments:

Gayle - thanks for your help in sorting out the postings. As regards your deleted comment, we get bread, ham, cheese and jam for breakfast in the mountain huts. I put a bit of each in my butty, but Sue just uses the jam and cheese.

Data:
30 July 2012
22km in 6.5 hours with 250m ascent
Number of E5ers seen today: 0
Flower of the Day - Touch-me-not (found in alpine as well as UK woodland and uncultivated places)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Monday, 30 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 22 - Kemptnerhütte (1846m) to Oberstdorf (814m)

Although the light in the matratzenlager went on at 6am, people were slower to move than the previous night, so it was well after 7am before we went down for a well organised breakfast with no queuing. Memmingerhütte could learn a lot from this place.

Some German girls from near Cologne, students who we met over dinner last night, were munching massive cheese sandwiches outside. We usually meet people over dinner - the previous night it was an older Dutch couple, whose English was very limited compared with that of the German girls.

There had been rain in the night, and soon after we set off down the hill that leads into the snow choked Sperrbachtobel gully, the skies darkened threateningly. So we took one look back to the high summits of the Allgauer Alps (pictured, and there is much more here than E5), donned our waterproofs, and headed down the thin footpath beside the spectacular gully. For a while the rain was torrential and care was needed on the slippery path. A surprising number of people were descending - perhaps having just spent the night at Kemptnerhütte, or perhaps returning from peak bagging, or the Heilbronerweg, which looks an excellent route.

After the best part of an hour the rain eased and the sun came out, so our good weather statistics didn't take too much of a bashing.

Luckily we met very few of the day's E5ers on the narrow path that led eventually to a lovely woodland track before a lane leading to the Spielmannsau hotel and restaurant. We enjoyed an expensive coffee whilst watching a motley group of over 20 E5ers disembark from taxis and assemble for a roll call from one of their guides. Their other guide, rather worryingly, was carrying a large ice axe. We had to wonder whether he had been here before.

Although we have another week on the E5, this was the last of the E5 crowds, (we think) as the German tour companies seem to start their trips from Spielmannsau, which they mistakenly call 'Oberstdorf'. (Well, perhaps that's a little harsh, as they may meet up in Oberstdorf.)

We spent the rest of the morning strolling down lovely woodland paths that were being well used by holidaymakers, before wandering into Oberstdorf, a pleasant alpine town with a huge ski jump, at around noon.

Oberstdorf (pictured) seems to us a bit like Germany's rather larger equivalent of Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy.

An easy day!

Lunch was taken at great leisure under the canopy of Stehcafé, from where we could watch the next torrential bombardment from above at close hand but without risk of wetness.

Then it was off to beat the next shower and find the Kurparkhotel. Sure enough - there it was, in the middle of Kurpark, by the church in the centre of town. After five nights in mountain huts it was a great pleasure to enjoy a hot shower, and soon all our clothes were washed as well. Sadly the odour from our socks has been a little more difficult to dispel than the dirt that was on them.

While Sue was doing the washing I was trying without success to sort out the blog posting problem. I'd have preferred the manual labour of doing the washing.

Later, we adjourned for pizza and zabaglione at a restaurant close enough to be able to nip back in the rain without getting too wet.

Even later, many exchanges took place with Gayle, who identified the problem behind the rejection of my postings and kindly uploaded some of them by a different means. Then overnight on Sunday/Monday Google seemed to recover from their technical problem with mail2blogger functionality and some of the postings were duplicated. More would have been duplicated if I hadn't 'lost' Lechtal Day 3, but since the following day (21) has now been published I may as well try to upload day 22 from the phone and leave the missing day until I find or rewrite it!

Thanks again to Gayle for the help provided last night.

Data:
29 July 2012
12km in 4 hours with 100m ascent
Cumulative on E5 to date - 392km, 22,750m ascent
Cumulative other (on holiday from E5) - 69km, 4,400m ascent
Time spent walking in rain - 5 hours
Flower of the Day - Streptopus (in the woods below the Sperrbachtobel gully)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Sunday, 29 July 2012

E5 in reverse - End of Phase 4

We are now enjoying a brief rest in Oberstdorf after a fairly energetic seven days.

The gemischter Brotzeitbrett (pictured) that we enjoyed for lunch set us up for a very lazy afternoon!

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

E5 in reverse - Day 21 - Memmingerhütte (2242m) to Kemptnerhütte (1846m)

After a reasonable sleep in our full dormitory for 15 (thankfully the windows stayed open), and after queuing for some time for breakfast (everyone got up at the same time - it's hard not to do that), we were on our way again along the E5 route by 7.45.

Last night's summit, Seekogel (2412m) looked most impressive as we passed below its northern flanks. Sue is pictured on the descent. Rain was forecast, and the sultry weather with gathering cloud supported that prediction. Not to worry, we were starting our fifth week 'on the trail' and our rain tally to date was a paltry 4 hours.

As we approached the track to Madau, two minibus taxis roared up and disgorged the day's first batch of E5ers. We passed them as they were being briefed by their guide on the highly technical ascent to Memmingerhütte (there is a metal bridge without a hand rail to cross) whilst rucksacks were loaded onto the goods lift.

Anyway, we continued down the quiet lane and Sue continued to find flowers, such as Alpine Bells, that we had not previously identified on this trip.

Beyond Madau we took the 'Hohenweg' to the north of the river, in preference to the E5 road walk. A couple of landslipped gullies were negotiated as the trail followed a lovely narrow path through horse fly woodland above the Madau gorge. Eventually we descended to the Mateiler Brücke, for fine views of the gorge (sadly the atmospheric condition of an impending monsoon prevented any good snapshots), which continued as we carried on down the minor road on its south bank.

After passing near to the village of Bach, we carried on to Stockach, where everything seemed shut apart from the excellent Pension Stockacherhof, a splendid turreted affair that welcomed us in for lunch as the skies blackened.

It was indeed a good lunch, though the businessmen who arrived in their hi-spec Mercs and conducted a business meeting next to our odorous bodies (the washrooms at Memmingerhütte are not conducive to getting clean) may not have been so impressed. However, they smiled as we adjusted our packing for the wet weather that had now arrived, and we set off into light rain.

Pleasant lanes led to Holzgau, a much more vibrant place than Stockach, with the prettiest Spar shop in the world. It was shut for lunch. Luckily all we needed was water, which was readily available from the village fountain.

A track led us up a gorge towards a huge waterfall, Simmswasserfall, named after a London businessman who at the turn of the 20th century spent much time hunting in the Tyrol. A long suspension bridge, possibly very new, is strung above the gorge, sadly too far above our path for a visit.

We'd been looking out for salamanders on Day 1, four weeks ago, when we left Avesa. We'd failed to spot them then, but now we came across one on the path above the waterfall. What a surprise!

As we approached the Roßgumpen Alpe café, much to our surprise the rain stopped. The monsoon was over! The sun came out, the air was clear, and we enjoyed perfect weather for most of the rest of the day's walk.

We decided to skip the fleshpot and continue, via a visit to another fine waterfall, towards our destination. It was a long, slow climb through beautiful scenery (pictured - middle) with very few people about. Obere Mädelejoch (1974m) is a fine spot. A large sign welcomed us to Germany and border post number 132, dated 1844, confirmed our position on the border between 'T' (Tyrol) and 'B' (Bundesrepublik). The only slight disappointment was that, looking ahead towards our route for the next few days, we could see mountains, but they all appeared to be lower than the point on which we now stood.

The weather started to look dodgy again so we hastened down to this massive hütte (pictured from our descent towards it) where we have beds numbered 7 and 8 in a dormitory of 36. The washroom is less than conducive to getting properly clean (lots of naked young Germans showing off their private parts) so certain jobs will have to wait until tomorrow's hotel!

On the other hand, the a la carte food served here is excellent.

The hütte seems full to its capacity of 290, and is rowdy, full of E5ers who have just walked the short distance from Oberstdorf, and they aren't yet tired. Judging by their physique, some of them may be a little quieter after tomorrow's walk up to Memmingerhütte!

This is our last night with the E5ers, as most start from Oberstdorf. Will we miss them? Readers should not be put off by my comments about them, it's probably much like the start of the Coast to Coast or West Highland Way trails, and the scenery, flora and wildlife are all great. But when I get back I will suggest some alternative routes that may avoid the worst of the crowds that we've encountered in just three places - here, Memmingerhütte, and Braunschweiger Hütte.

I should note that just before reaching the hütte we came across a marmot, five metres away on the path. I'll try to insert a link to a short video when we get home.

Comments:

N/A due to technical problems who knows when this entry will become public.

Data:
28 July 2012
24km in 8.75 hours with 950m ascent
Flower of the Day - Burnt Orchid
Amphibian of the day - Salamander

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

On Holiday in the Lechtaler Alpen - Day 3 Hanauer Hütte (1920m) to Memmingerhütte (2242m)

We woke to a perfect 'blue sky' day (the early morning view from our bedroom window is pictured), and were soon up and enjoying breakfast with Heiko.

Whilst others headed to the valley and onwards to home, we had the pleasure of following the cow track back to Memmingerhütte to resume the E5 route. 'Cow track' because the shepherds use it - otherwise known as path 621. The 15km day posed no technical difficulties other than a shaley scramble to get round some late snow. Sue is pictured by a shepherd's hut on the ascent from Hanauer, in scenery typical of this three day interlude.

It was more of the same - similar to the previous two days - a wonderful undulating high level path through an alpine garden with stunning mountain views. Nobody else was going our way, though we did meet ten or so folk during the course of the day, one of whom told us that 10,000 people walk E5 each year (presumably just the Oberstdorf to Bolzano or Merano section). If that is true, not all stay at Memmingerhütte, if Manuel's estimate of 9,000 bed nights is accurate.

I wonder how many walk the West Highland Way?

Some highlights of today were the fascinating geological twists and turns in the rock formations, magnificent cirques that we contoured around in between crossing over three mountain passes, huge erratics lying on lumpy glacial moraine, the wonderful flora as always (moss campion is pictured), whistling marmots and attentive wheatears.

We paused on the final col before the short descent to the more manic environment of Memmingerhütte, where we now have spaces in a row of seven in the huge matratzenlager (dormitory with mattresses) and this time we've bagged a space at a table inside the hut. Not that it looks like raining, but we don't really want to repeat Tuesday's experience, memorable though it was.

Who knows when this posting will appear - I seem to be blighted by technical problems at present, hopefully just due to weak phone signals in the mountains, but perhaps more serious. Today we've been deep in the mountains with only a momentary signal when Alex's comment came through. Yesterday's postings from Hanauer are marked as successful, but I have my doubts!

Comments:

Alex - great to hear from you. We trust everyone had a good trip home. We can provide some better quality images after we get home on 6 August.

Later - a quick trip up Seekogel, the hut's resident hill, gave great views but no solution to the technical problems.

Data:
27 July 2012
15km in 7.75 hours with 1700m ascent
Plus 1km up and down Seekogel, with another 200m ascent
Cumulative for Lechtaler 'holiday': 33km with 3550 metres ascent
Flower of the Day - Large-flowered Leopardsbane (in colourful patches on the rocky terrain)

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Dremel-Spitze (2733m) from Hanauer Hütte (1920m)

Here's a view from tonight's dinner table. We arrived through the 2434 metre gap to the right of the mountain. The small white blemish is the moon.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Technical Problems

Hello, I am up to date with postings, some of which have been resent. They are getting the Blackberry tick, but they aren't getting through to the blog. I'm getting the following email from Google's 'Mail Delivery Subsystem':

"This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

THIS IS A WARNING MESSAGE ONLY.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO RESEND YOUR MESSAGE.

Delivery to the following recipient has been delayed:

'Outdoor Activities'

Message will be retried for 2 more day(s)"

So this is an experiment to see whether the posting works. If it does I will resend the rejected postings, so they may appear several times. Sorry for that if it happens.

Martin

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Friday, 27 July 2012

On Holiday in the Lechtaler Alpen - Day 2 Württemberger Haus (2220m) to Hanauer Hütte (1920m)

A fabulous mountain day which exhausts my (albeit limited) vocabulary of superlatives. I'd thought of returning to this area many a time but somehow never got round to it. I'm so glad I didn't spot the E5 alternative mentioned a couple of days ago, or we may not have taken this option.

We woke after a good sleep amongst folk who understand the etiquette of life in a mountain hut. Breakfast was provided on a plate so large that we could each make a ham, cheese and jam sandwich for lunch out of what we couldn't eat.

By 8.15 we were ready to go, after friendly exchanges with others who had spent the night at the hut. Brigitt and Marieke were taking the sporting 631 route to Madau, whilst Alex and Konrad were heading down the scenic descent to Zams. Work loomed for them all.

Nobody else appeared to be heading in our direction. We were continuing along the magnificent path 601, which also doubles as the European E4 route, which doesn't seem to be as popular as E5. A rising path with fine views back to the hut and yesterday's descent route (pictured), led to some steep ground over which we knew some children had arrived yesterday. Nevertheless, this path was not for wimps! By nine-o'clock we'd risen 250 metres to Gebäud-Jochl and were in admiration of those children, who probably managed the loose scree above vertiginous drops better than I did. It was a lovely calm, sunny summer's day, though, and I enjoyed the challenge. Sue of course romped it.

Beyond the jochl, from where Steinseehütte was visible in the distance, a lovely contouring path led past snow finches and marmots, with myriads of gentians, orchids and a whole range of other alpine flowers, providing bright splashes of colour to complement the fine rock scenery.

We spotted someone behind us. A man with a staff. He passed, and we followed him up to the next 'col', 2400 metre Roßkarscharte, again over some vaguely technical ground, aided in places by steel wires.

After the breathtakingly steep climb we were rewarded with breathtakingly wide views to the eastern Lechtal peaks and Steinseehütte a few hundred metres below us.

By now we had made a new friend - Heiko, from Cologne - on holiday here, wandering the hills for a few days before taking his elderly parents home. He is of course pictured with Sue on Roßkarscharte, in one of several images gained during exchanges of cameras in this scenic spot.

Whilst Heiko went on ahead, we took our time to enjoy the belvedere to Steinseehütte, via a vertiginous passage through a narrow band of rock, which we eventually reached at 11.45. Schiwassers (raspberry flavoured water) in the sun provided the perfect rehydration fluid.

We lingered a while. After all, we were on holiday, the weather was perfect, and a pretty yellow signpost informed us that today's destination was only two and a half hours away.

Eventually we left Heiko to dry his washing and after looking back to our route down from the narrow band of rock (pictured - we arrived via the lowest point on the horizon) we headed off past fine looking Haflingers to cross into a valley to the north, via what is now known as Vord. Dremelscharte. (My old map says 'Westl Dremelscharte.)

After climbing about 250 metres we stopped for lunch - the butties made a welcome change from tuna salad. Steinsee glittered in the sun below us, with a fine mountain backdrop.

Then it was a steep ascent to the scharte, aided for the final 100 metres of ascent by the longest wire of the trip. I hauled myself up whilst Sue tried to use the rocks, some of which she sent in my direction. It was very loose, but not difficult. The top revealed yet more vistas, and a couple descending from a side route that's not on my map. We saw virtually nobody other than them and Heiko and a couple ascending Roßkarscharte today.

Hanauer Hütte lay in bright sunlight over 500 metres below us, thankfully over easy ground, Dolomitic in character. We spent the final hour of the day's walk descending to the jingle of cow bells, with black redstarts being agitated by gliding ravens.

Reaching Hanauer Hütte at 2.45, we really needed to wash ourselves and our clothes, the limited opportunities for such formalities having been ignored since leaving Zams three days ago. There was some puzzlement when we said we had booked, but production of an email seemed to help matters. We were allocated to room number 6, which we hoped wouldn't be a camp bed in the winter room.

Beer and tea respectively were needed to fuel us for the chores. Others arrived and disappeared to claim their beds, so we did the same. I couldn't really believe my eyes when I opened the door to room 6. Bunk beds (2), a sink with hot and cold water, a power point! Sadly no en-suite, but what could we expect for €11 each! Absolutely brilliant - this 1896 hut has been superbly refurbished and has moved well into the 21st century. We even got chicken for dinner.

Comments:

Alan R - thanks for the HTC offer but I plan to stay with the Orange devil I know. My contract has expired so I can renegotiate. Samsung is the current favourite.
And you know very well from your huge number of followers that many people value your postings on gear etc!

Data:
26 July 2012
10km in 6.5 hours with 1000m ascent
Flower of the Day - Alpine Butterwort

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Thursday, 26 July 2012

On Holiday in the Lechtaler Alpen - Day 1 Memmingerhütte (2242m) to Württemberger Haus (2220m)

Despite its imperfections we got to quite like Memmingerhütte, especially when treated to extra coffee after breakfast by Manuel. We'd slept well, benefiting from an open window above our mattresses. Andi, our friend from Mainz, wasn't so lucky, on his camp bed in the winter room.

Manuel told us the hut gets 9000 visitors in the three and a half month summer season, of which he reckons about 100 are English.

We set off after the E5 throngs, with just Andi and two girls behind us. Soon we were pausing to admire a herd of ibex whose passage across the path had been thwarted by the E5 hordes. We were going back up to the narrow defile of Seescharte, from where we had descended in yesterday's lovely afternoon weather. Today, low cloud blighted the view, though the weather was clearer to the east of the pass.

Here we encountered Jason, a New Zealander who had been staying at Memmingerhütte. Hello Jason, do feel free to contact us for trip advice.

We soon turned off for Württemberger Haus along path 601. It was signposted as 2.5 hours away, but it took us three hours. This was old ground for me. Re-reading our diary from 18 July 1980 may be interesting!

Today's conditions, despite the cloud, which remained above us, were fairly benign. First a lovely belvedere path across a huge scree slope, then some easy scrambling (walking poles stashed) to a col and a minor summit at around 2600 metres on the Großberg ridge. Sue is pictured near here with the contouring path just visible high above her head.

The route continued over a knife edge ridge reminiscent of Snowdon's Crib Goch. Quite exposed at times but never particularly difficult, albeit the most 'technical' section of our trip to date, and aided with fixed wires at one point. Eventually a second summit with a small cross was reached, from near where we could look back to the first summit and watch the two girls happily celebrate their safe arrival there.

Continuing towards Württemberger Haus over more of the same, we took a turn to the left along another knife edge before descending over easy ground before a trickier rock band, then across some steep snow before the gentle 'run in' to the hut on another lovely route across scree.

Something of a nuisance was the light rain that started when we were half way down the rock band and not in a position to don waterproofs. Never mind, we soon got them on, the rain stopped, and by the time we had interrupted a flock of snow finches and reached the hut at 1pm we were pretty much dry again. The two girls, Marieke and Brigitt, from Eindhoven, arrived soon afterwards.

Since then we've been ensconced in the hut, watching some less than pleasant weather outside, on what was supposed to be the best day of the week.

During this time a historical foray revealed the entry in the 1980 visitors book (extract pictured, I have an image of the whole page) that confirms that together with Nick, David (he really didn't have a fixed abode in those days), Ruaridh and Colin, I was in the first group to make it over to Memmingerhütte in 1980, as late as 18 July, and so far as I can remember it was a bit snowier then. I seem to recall Rudolf, from Vienna, giving up because he couldn't find the red marks on the rocks that indicate the route. It was our first visit to the Alps; red marks meant little to us. Having covered the same ground today it seems miraculous that we managed it. It must have been terrifying, though I don't recall it as such. We did after all have ice axes. And massive loads. A bit like the couple with the dog that were amongst the eleven people we met on the path today.

How do you remember it, Nick?

Alex and Konrad, from Memminger (the town, not the hut) joined us and B+M for the afternoon and evening. Happily, the common language is English. Thanks for that, everyone.

The bottom image shows Sue with today's friends - from L to R, Konrad, Alex, Sue, Brigitt and Marieke.

All in all a memorable and nostalgic day in the mountains.

Comments:

Jules - thanks, weather is now lovely again and the huttes are fine, actually.

Alan R - you'll be interested to hear that the Saucony Hattoris have become objects of desire!

Data:
25 July 2012
7km in 4.5 hours with 650m ascent
Rain whilst walking to date: 4 hours
Flower of the Day - Round-leaved Pennycress

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 20 - Zams (775m) to Memmingerhütte (2242m)

(Based on Sue's diary entry)

We enjoyed a leisurely start to a hard day. Breakfast at 8am, a quick supermarket visit, and we were on our way, under blue skies, in shorts and t-shirts.

The only flat section of today's walk was on the other side of the Inn river after crossing the motorway. Soon we were climbing and dripping, on the path that skirted the cliff where someone was already climbing, high on the rocks above us.

Beyond a memorial to Alois Bogner (5/11/1862), red and dark red helleborines lined the path, which dipped in and out of the shade of pines, past lizards and backpackers. The path was exposed, high on the walls of Zammer Loch, a narrow ravine where far below the river cut through. (Apparently 'loch' means 'hole' in these parts.)

Surefootedness was required due to the long drops to our left. The trees clinging to the steep sides wouldn't have broken a fall.

Eventually the path entered less precipitous woodland and we reached a wide green pasture, with tall purple monkshood. Haflinger horses were grazing, and a small cabin shortly before the side path to Württemberger Haus was serving drinks and luxurious plates of food. We'd met a group of 26 leaving the cabin but by the time we arrived another group of 20 had taken all the tables.

But huge glasses of Apfelschorle were produced quickly for us. In view of the heat, it was most welcome.

A huge number of people were met on today's route. E5 starters from Oberstdorf on Sunday. Soon after leaving the cabin we met another large group, this time with large dogs - what was going on? During the course of the day we must have met over 200 people. Another couple were going in our direction.

Beyond the burning heat outside the cabin, rickety wooden bridges crossed the river a couple of times, and the gradient for a while, on a path bordered with round-leaved wintergreens, was less steep.

Lunch was a quick tuna salad and chocolate in the shade of some pines. The path followed the river as the trees turned to shrubs and the views in this high valley became more impressive. Just before the gradient steepened again, a yellow bears-ear primrose shone out from below a bush, and pink primroses grew nearby. From here the going was steep and hot, but the flowers were an excellent distraction. From the alpenrose zone there were zones of other flowers - kidney vetch, the yellow primrose, trumpet gentians, then alpine pennycress, purple pansies, rock jasmine and snowbells as we neared the top of the pass, Seescharte, at 2599 metres. It was a narrow cleft, with a new and beautiful view (pictured), down to some small lakes and the Memmingerhütte, with a fine mountain backdrop.

The descent to the hut was steep and narrow, particularly next to a stream, and the final flat stretch across a green meadow and past a small lake was a relief.

Memmingerhütte has about 140 beds, and it was very busy. Manuel spoke good English and showed us two our sleeping place - two 'overflow' mattresses on the floor in the large matratzenlager, but separate to everyone else. It was strange but it worked well.

Others were less fortunate - camp beds in the winter room, mattresses in the basement, etc. Nobody is turned away.

Rehydration was achieved with a litre of teewasser.

The evening was sociable but also strange. The dining room was full, so we sat outside, but grey clouds were building and it began to rain. We managed our soup, and part of our goulasch, spätzle and salad, before thunder and lightning and heavy rain started. This was unfortunate as there was no room for us in the hut. We adjourned to the porch, where we finished our meals on our knees, much to the amusement of others.

When the rain turned to hail the porch was bombarded, so we moved further inside, where our dessert eventually caught up with us. It was washed down with beer, whilst in conversation with new friends from Holland, Edwin and Gertjan (pictured). They were camping nearby and had been walking some interesting paths.

With folk heading to bed around 9pm, we were able to sit at a table for a while before adjourning to our mattresses in time for lights out at 10pm.

Comments:

Alan R - so what should the replacement be? HTC? Samsung? Nokia? i?

Gayle - thanks for your sympathy. I'm still struggling with the space bar but have improved my technique!

Data:
24 July 2012
13km in 7 hours with 1850m ascent
Flower of the Day - Bears-ear Primrose

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

E5 in reverse - Day 19 - Braunschweiger Hütte to Zams - the reconstructed text

Here's a reconstruction of what was previously inadvertently deleted.

Braunschweiger Hütte, reached via a steep pull past whistling marmots, attentive black redstarts and bright yellow dwarf eyebright, followed by a slithery descent in mist, had hardly been visible the previous night.

Now it was a glorious morning, and in the manner of such places we had breakfasted - basic but adequate, with the lowest score to date - and were 'on the road' again by 7.15am, leaving the 'alpinistes' to their training and peak bagging.

Braunschweiger Hütte - a large, impersonal place, full of groups on Alpine training courses. But curiously not an ice axe or crampon in sight. We got chatting to a friendly German family who were on E5 with their children, but sadly it was a very brief encounter as we were soon moved to the other side of the room. Our companions for the evening there were an elderly German mountain guide and his two clients. We had little in common.

English voices. Sue investigates. A group from Cambridge on an Alpine skills course. Their rope work homework arrives. Sue leaves them to it.

Two toilets for each sex, in a nicely refurbished hut accommodating 120. Adequate supplies of food, but they had run out of toilet paper.

Our first hazard (apart from the toilets) was black ice, not a problem for us, but those ascending to Pitztaler Jöchl would need to be very careful. It was a lovely descent, with fine views across the cloudy valley to the Kaunergrat. A clucking ring ouzel followed us for part of the way. The route led over unnecessary stemples and past the foot of a waterfall, to a seilbahn used by the hütte to transport supplies, and by alpinistes and E5ers to transport their bags.

Down at Mittelberg, lorries were delivering gondolas for a new cableway. This explained why a road had been driven through a glacier below the Braunschweiger Hütte. Perhaps the Upper Pitztal is being developed for skiers, no doubt with mechanised links to the Ötztal ski areas.

Talking of mechanised links, the E5 route marked on our strip map shows it running down the road from Mittelberg to Wenns with a bus next to it. We caught the 9am bus and enjoyed a 50 minute ride, 750 metres down the valley. Had my research been better, we could have chosen an alternative high level route via Kaunergrathütte, Verpeilhütte and Piller, picking up the normal route three or four days later at Galflunhütte on the way to Zams.

After struggling to find Wenns' enclave of coffee shops recommended by Gillian, we were pointed by a local to 'the only one' - Pitztaler Hof. I'm sure there must be more!

Refreshed, and re-supplied, we set off up some easily rising tracks, tarmaced for a while, with fine views back to Wenns and the lower Ötztal. Black redstarts and pied flycatchers watched as we admired the mountain views beyond the flower laden hutted meadows (pictured).

Lunch was taken just below Larcheralm, then we enjoyed coke and cake at Galflunhütte before heading through marshy ground with bistort and cotton grass.

A thrutchy but brief ascent then deposited us, a good 1500 metres above Wenns, on the summit of Glanderspitz (2512m), on the Venet ridge. The going was much like an English Lake District ridge, but the views were massive. High mountains in a 360 degree sweep, beyond deep valleys over 2000 metres below us.

We signed the visitors book and discovered that the Cambridge pair, Adam and Jane, had passed through just five days earlier, on that wonderfully clear day when we crossed into Austria.

Reluctantly, we headed along the ridge and slowly down to the Krahberg cable-car, which whisked us 1450 metres down to Zams for no charge. This is the E5 route marked on our map and is our last planned mechanical aid of the trip apart from some ferrying around Dornbirn and the journey home.

The 'phone's GPS soon located Haus Kurz, where Rosemarie provided a good value B&B.

We enjoyed an excellent meal at Post Gasthof Gemse, built in 1726 but latterly home to the Haueis family. Hermann's proudly displayed awards relating to Haflinger horses date from 1927 to 1992.

The day closed with pleasant valley vistas on a perfectly calm and clear evening.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 19 - Braunschweiger Hütte (2759m) to Zams (775m)

Sadly, today's carefully crafted entry was inadvertently deleted just as it was being sent, so a briefer version will follow later.

In the meantime, here are the pictures:
Top - descending from Braunschweiger Hütte
Middle - above Wenns
Bottom - on the Venet ridge

It was another great day in perfect weather.

Comments:

JJ - we hope you enjoyed your walk.

Data:
23 July 2012
18km in 8.5 hours with 1650m ascent, plus a 50 minute bus ride and a 10 minute cable-car ride
Flower of the Day - Frog Orchid

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Sunday, 22 July 2012

E5 in reverse - Day 18 - Sölden (1500m) to Braunschweiger Hütte (2759m)

After our most agreeable holiday in Sölden, we enjoyed another of Erika's (sorry, spelt wrong yesterday) breakfasts and headed off to the cable-car that would deposit us at the 'Mittelstation' (2175 metres) soon after 10am.

There was no hurry, the forecast was for the weather to improve during the day. We woke to drizzle, which stopped when we set off from Haus Wiesenblick. The cable-car delivered us into a cloud, which kindly dispersed upon our arrival. We had soon rejoined the E5 belvedere path to Rettenbachalm, where we enjoyed timely elevenses. The cloud that had followed us down from there on Thursday now parted before us as we ascended back up the E5 route.

The road up to the Rettenbachferner glacier was free of traffic - closed from 9am until 2pm to allow cyclists complete freedom on the road. Not many cyclists seemed to be taking advantage, but those who were seemed to be enjoying themselves.

After strolling on up to the end of the road, which finished near the chapel pictured (top), at a huge car park occupied by a single vehicle, an alfresco lunch in the sunshine was taken whilst watching a couple of walkers struggle to find the route down from Pitztaler Jöchl. Our final few hundred metres of ascent had succumbed to overnight snow.

Anyway, it didn't produce any difficulties in ascent, and by 2pm we had reached the crux of the E5 route - 2995 metre Pitztaler Jöchl.

We had fine views back into the Ötztal (pictured) despite some distant cloud.

The way ahead, also pictured, was less certain. A slithery path led along an alpine ridge walk at around 3000 metres in fresh snow. We were grateful for a few wires. After reaching a junction on the ridge the difficulties subsided and a lovely mountain path led down to this large alpine hut.

It was only 3pm - a short day.

The place is pretty full, but the cloud is slowly clearing, so our hopes for tomorrow are high.

Comments:

Gayle and JJ - where we are now seems so far from the hissing of summer lawns that we could be on another planet. We hope you both get some good walks in the sunshine, and sorry JJ, we can't join you tomorrow.

Data:
22 July 2012
9km in 5 hours with 1000m ascent
Flower of the Day - Dwarf Eyebright

Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html

[The phone. Has developed an. Annoying keyboard problem involving the space bar, so typing is. Proving to. Be very time consuming. Future. Entries. May be rather shorter!]

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

countercounter