I decided to take some time off, hiking along the Alps from Munich via Austria to Italy.
Preparations Alpine Crossing
This one has been on my bucket list for quite some time. And after a crazy COVID year, some family stuff and starting a new job, it just felt like the right timing.
Since I am regularly doing longer outdoor, mountaineering or bike tours, I did not do any additional fitness training beforehand. I already did several long-distance hikes during the past months, long bike rides, many skiing and snowshoeing tours during winter, went up to the Zugspitze – I felt fit and ready. BUT, if you have never done anything similar, you definitely need to prepare your body. Long day trips with a heavy backpack, alpine terrain, generally have a good fitness. Although this route has only two or three difficult sections and the rest is rather medium – depending on your choice of routes – don’t underestimate it.
Pack light, especially when you do the tour individually with no baggage transfers and stuff. Only take what you REALLY need and be prepared for all weather conditions. My backpack weighed between 10 and 11 kg including 2 liters of water and it was alright. On my earlier hikes I used a similar weight to just get used to it. Below you see my packing list.
Since I was leaving during those severe rain storms, I was wearing my rain gear on the first two days. All in all, I needed to wash one pair of pants, but generally it worked out pretty well.
A little tip: use packing systems. They make your life so much easier.
Now, let’s start with the good stuff – the actual tour.
Alpine Crossing Diary
I created my own route and sometimes chose different paths and trails. Some changes were made due to the weather, others because a special tour was on my bucket list and it could be easily integrated within the actual route. This is something you will notice beforehand. There are different routes and stages for almost any fitness level. You can even book organized tours with baggage transfer.
I myself wanted to do it alone. To practice mindfulness, refuel my energy and find my inner balance again. So, here we go.
Stage I – Munich to Kreuth
If you like, you can even start the tour in Munich. 😎 Is it worth it? Nah, not really. From Holzkirchen to Gmund maybe, but only if you have never been there. However, if you wanna start with a bike tour as a warm-up, then this one isn’t bad.
Usually, the tour from Gmund to Kreuth would be a very nice and relaxing scenery to get ready for the tour. Very easy, gorgeous views and ideal to get yourself into the mood. Well, due to the severe flooding and the storm damages, it was a little downer in the beginning.
Why was I doing this again? Binge watching Netflix, Prime Video or Disney or reading a good book in front of my fireplace would be so nice right now.
I wanted to go farther, but thunder & lightning forced me to rest. ⛈⛰
Accommodation tip: Pop Up Lodge Kreuth; simple, quiet, peaceful & very cordial stuff.
Going to bed early, falling asleep to some audio book.
Stage II – Kreuth to Achenkirch
Since the Wolfsschlucht was not accessible due to the flooding, I took the regular medium route. There is also a supposedly easier third option which takes about four hours to the Blaubergalm.
5 am: too early to think or talk
BUT: The guy from my accommodation put a smile on my face 😌 They even had my favorite cake: marble cake. Special thanks to the Pop-Up lodge Wildbath Kreuth for so much kindness. 💗🙏🏽 It’s always the little things.
After 1.5 hours: Man, this sucks. The route was trickier than usual, the weather: foggy and more rain. Shall I stop, go back down and take the bus?
Then the sun came out, my sign to keep going ☀️ Till the bitter end. The ascent has some steeper passages, but they are manageable. Some parts were blocked by the storm, but I could climb over them. You should definitely also make a short detour to the Schildenstein. It is worth it.
Also, special thanks to the folks from the Blaubergalm. Thank you for the coffee and a friendly chat. When doing the alpine crossing alone, you cherish these moments even more. 🙏🏽🇦🇹
Due to more rain and thunderstorms I stayed at a nice little guest house, hosted by an elderly couple. Once again, I was welcomed with so much kindness. I don’t need much. If it hadn’t been raining like crazy, I would have slept outside. But I am so grateful & thankful for all the cordial gestures I have received so far. 💗🙏🏽🤗
Stage III: Hiking along Achensee Lake
Got woken up by another heavy rain shower & thunderstorm early in the morning. 😴 I really need more sleep 🛌 Today’s weather forecast: fog, rain, thunderstorm, 16-19 degrees celsius. But I am positive it will clear up ☀️
The elderly couple greeted me with a warm smile and a lovely breakfast. 😌🇦🇹 And guess what: no more rain, the sun was coming out ☀️
Today’s tour: along Achensee lake. VERY easy, kind of a recovery tour. In the morning I still had this energy high from the last tour. It felt like going for a walk. Though I wished I had my mountain bike with me. Man, this would have been an awesome ride. 🚴🏼♀️ In the afternoon my feet were burning and I decided to call it a day. Later that day I felt pure bliss. Too exhausted to think of anything, too exhausted to check any messages, my mind was at ease. I simply rested and experienced pure mindfulness.
Special tip: if you have time and are fit, make a detour to the Dalfazer Waterfall. 💦 It is worth it.
I fell asleep pretty early. – My accommodation isn’t worth mentioning. It was crap. Sleeping outdoors in my bivouac was a better choice.
Generally, for your accommodation I strongly recommend mountain huts, camping or a guest house. It’s part of the whole experience. 😌 BUT: Pick one part of the route where you spoil yourself. 🥰
Stage IV: Zillertal
My feet had recovered and I felt completely zen. 😌 Guess, the healing power of the mountains has kicked in. ⛰ The official route is pretty straight forward from the Spieljoch to Hochfuegen. Well, since I am a huge fan of the Zillertal region, I spent an extra day over there and did a few detours, for example to the Kellerjoch Mountain Hut.
It is just so breathtakingly beautiful and since the sun was out, why not enjoying yourself.
6:45: I was a real sleepy head this morning. Everything was slower. Still didn’t sleep through the night, but that was okay. I had a feeling that today was going to be all chill. ⛰☀️💦
Started the day with some Yoga & stretching before breakfast and arrived at the Zillertal region pretty early, going for a hike. Glad I brought my binoculars with me so that I could do some animal watching.
In Fuegen I spoiled myself: my life, my body, my treat. 💗 I went for a 45-minute swim at my accommodation to revitalize my body and use different muscle groups. Afterwards I used the sauna and the steam bath including a nice salt peeling. That felt soooo good.
This night I slept like a baby. 😴🙏🏽 Special thanks to the very cordial stuff at Hotel Elisabeth. They have several guests doing the alpine crossing throughout the year and can accommodate to all your needs. Thank you for the lunch package 😌🙏🏽🇦🇹
Stage V: Hochfuegen, Rauhenkopf & Melchboden
This was insane. I had the idea to combine two stages: getting to Hochfuegen and at the same day to Mayrhofen. ⛰🤘🏽 That was probably the toughest route, since I combined different sections and stages. But since I was well rested, I managed it.
It started with marmots, mountain goats 🐐 and cool climbing sections and ended with severe thunder storms and hail. 🙈
It was a 3.5 hour hike to Hochfuegen, not particularly difficult. Though at some parts, I wished, I had my bike with me. AGAIN 😅🚴🏼♀️
Then another 5 hours almost entirely along the official route. At first I hesitated, even took a detour with public transportation. But then my ambition kicked in, I went back and did it. The ascent was tougher than anticipated. I admit, I underestimated it a bit. But luckily I didn’t need my headlight or my bivouac and thank you Mr. Weatherman for waiting with the thunderstorm and hail shower that arrived later on.
Would I combine these two routes again? Definitely not. 🙈 But I don’t regret it either. 😌⛰ Especially with the many tourists along this tour. I admit, for me, it was a bit too crowded on this stage.
Generally, it is possible to combine different stages and make individual adjustments. Now that I have done this alpine crossing route, I surely would make some minor changes along this whole tour, trying to avoid as many tourists as possible. 😅 It seems to be pretty popular for organized hiking tours with baggage transfer. My special tip: always start early, if possible shortly after sunrise, to avoid crowds. Or do a sunset tour and sleep at a mountain hut. ⛰ 🛖 That is something I preferred 😌 Or sleep underneath the stars ✨ with your bivouac. 🥰 Alright, the latter is pretty difficult this „summer“.🙈 🌧
I arrived in Mayrhofen pretty tired and wet, but very happy. 😌 The hut where I was supposed to stay was closed down due to the severe storm. Thus, I made some adjustments and went to the Gasthof Zillertal. Who cares about the additional miles. 😂 A typical laid-back surfer & backpacker hostel focusing on sustainability. 💚 Clean, great location, mountain view.⛰ What more do you need?🤘🏽
Two Grand Finales: Pfitzscherjochhaus & South Tyrol in Northern Italy
Due to the pandemic craziness and an increase in cases, I changed my final destination to a beautiful waterfall near Sterzing, near the valley of St. Jacob. I wanted to avoid these tourist crowds in Sterzing, although I did walk further down to get a view of the town, but didn’t wanna stay overnight. Furthermore, I felt so zen and chill that I just didn’t wanna end my tour walking down some concrete road – that is not my interpretation of a meditative endurance hike. Thus, I rather chose a calm nature spot. This was my grand finale and my most favorite scenery along this tour. ⛰ 🇮🇹 😌
„Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.“
5:20: getting up was tough, very tough. 😴 I used horse balm for my whole body, was too tired for some stretching or morning yoga 🧘♀️ It was literally the final countdown. But too early to talk, needed my sunglasses. For the first two hours my body was more like a robot doing what needed to be done to reach the first stop: Schlegeisspeicher with views of its glacier.
A little tip. If you have enough time, also go to the mountain hut Olperer Hütte. It is so worth it. 🥰
Now this was my favorite part of the tour so far, walking up to the Lavitz Alm and from there to the Pfitscherjochhaus. The views were so beautiful that at one point I had happy tears in my eyes. Also, you had several opportunities to refill your drinking water. On that tour I drank more than 3 liters.
Hello Italy. 🤘🏽🇮🇹 What better way to celebrate the border crossing than ordering a Spaghetti Bolognese at the Pfitscherjochhaus 🍝 I love this place. Thank you so much for the great hospitality. I will be back soon.
After a short break I went a little further along the Pfitztal and found a nice view spot. It was time to celebrate – I reached my final destination. ⛰🇦🇹💚🇮🇹🥾Well, maybe I will celebrate the next day after some rest and sleep. 🤣 Seriously, everything hurt and I was too tired to do anything. 😴
BTW: From here you can go to lake Garda, another five days or so. But this is something for another chapter. 🙂
The morning after
Holy cannoli 🙈 This explains A LOT 🤣 And yes, my feet were burning, I definitely needed a professional foot care and just wanted to rest.
127.8 k (accumulated)
4,417 ⬆️ (accumulated)
3,946 ⬇️ (accumulated)
5:30 a.m.: What day is it? Boy, it felt like I had such a long deep sleep phase. 😌 Did this really happen? Did I finish my planned tour? Did I really walk all this? 🥾 Are my feet🦶still working? Today I inhaled the beautiful air & nature around me ⛰ and cherished all my memories. Still needed some time to digest it all – daydreaming with a smile on my face. 🙏🏽
But you know what? I really missed my bike. Cannot wait to take my pretty grasshopper on a little recovery ride. The emphasis is on recovery. 😅🚴🏼♀️
My personal tips for an alpine crossing
- Get in shape and build up a solid fitness being able to hike for 6-8 hours with a heavier backpack
- Hike, hike and hike throughout the year ⛰
- Don’t wear or use new clothes, shoes and gear
- You need good hiking / mountain boots 🥾 and a backpack that works for you – if you are not sure, have it fitted by your sports or outdoor expert
- Pack light – rather wash some clothes than bringing along too much stuff. Most backpacking experts have lived by the rule of thumb of 30%, or one third, of the hiker’s body weight as a standard weight limit to caution potential hikers (Ray, 2009). This is still pretty heavy! I used all my stuff, but wouldn’t carry more than 12kg, including water. Try to calculate a MAXIMUM of 8-10 kg.
- Take excellent care of your feet and only wear hiking socks made of merino wool 🧦
- Prevention is key to a pain free journey. For your feet I recommend to use marigold ointment EVERY evening after a tour and use Heel Blister Bandages every day on your pressure points and on those spots where you developed calluses. Also, use horse balm after every tour on your body, including shoulders, upper and lower back, hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet. This way you will prevent muscle aches and soreness. And one last thing, tape the areas where you are sensitive. I for example sometimes tape my knees, hip or lower back for more stability.
- Prepare the route according to your own needs. If you wanna spend an extra day somewhere like I did, go for it. If you wanna combine stages or shorten one, do it. I did a mix of different routes and stages and have zero regrets. The most important thing is for you to enjoy it, feel happy and all zen.
- Have a plan B ready for every route. It could be weather conditions, or you don’t feel well, just about any unseen circumstance. Prepare an alternative, just in case not everything is coming along according to your plan. I would calculate with 7-10 days.
- Go at your own pace, don’t overdo it and ignore overly ambitious tips or comments. Your body, your pace, your rules.
- EAT! I know the feeling when you lose your appetite during or after long endurance hikes. But be careful. Especially for the difficult sections, you need it for your strength. Eat healthy and take care of your body.
- And the last thing: Have fun! 💗🤘🏽⛰
It is a great opportunity to get away from it all and at the same time an exercise in endurance and perseverance, both mentally and physically.
Would I do it again? This exact same route probably not, though I found some awesome tours I added to my bucket list. 😌 But it was an exciting and wonderful experience: meditative, pure medicine even. 💚 Yes, there were ups and downs, even pretty tough moments, but this is all part of the experience – just be open to it.
These endurance hikes simply put you out in nature, out in the great outdoors, where your everyday life completely fades into the background and your only cares become the weather forecast, water sources along your route and the upcoming mountain views . ⛰ If you are up to it, you will test your limits, reflect on things and get a hole new perspective. Pure mindfulness. 🙏🏽
And my first hot shower felt like seventh heaven, especially since I didn’t have one for 2 days – yep, can happen out in the great outdoors. A quick wash at the river sometimes has to do it.
I haven’t had a coffee ever since and only crave healthy stuff. Guess, the body cleanse was a nice side effect. Yep, everything feels good. 😌☀️ But now I need to catch up on some sleep. 🥱