In early July after two weeks in Germany visiting Claudia’s family and friends, I was excited to go down to the Alps for some mountain time! Our first destination was the Karwendel range just north of Innsbruck, Austria. Over the course of 5 days, we hiked from west to east below the jagged spine of this range from the villages of Scharnitz to Pertisau, via the Karwendelhaus, Falkenhütte, Eng Alm, and Lamsenjochhaus. With reasonably short hiking days and not very steep trails, this was a perfect warm up trek to acclimate us to mountain trekking again for the first time this summer.
Six hours of train rides brought us from Freiburg to Mittenwald, the uber-quaint Bavarian village where we had stayed back in 2013 prior to climbing the Zugspitze. So in a way it felt like picking up where we had left off before — on that previous trip we had trekked through the Allgau and Lechtal ranges west of there, and now we would be trekking eastward.
The next day we started walking from the nearby village of Scharnitz, just over the border in Austria. A long but gentle forest road led to the Karwendhaus, spectacularly situated on the edge of a dramatic cliff overlooking the Karwendaltal valley. Coincidentally, shortly after arriving at the hut Claudia ran into four of her former classmates from her university days in Freiburg!
It started raining just as we arrived at the hut, but later in the evening everybody was thrilled to see the sunset light burst through the clouds in this spectacular display of light!
The next day we hiked further along the range to the Falkenhütte, located at another spectacular site underneath the massive vertical north face walls of the Karwendel.
If you haven’t noticed by now, the “huts” in the Alps are more like mountain hotels rather than simple cabins — with sleeping quarters, kitchens and dining rooms with menus to order from, beer (of course), washrooms, and sometimes even showers!
The rain moved in for good on our third day, and we decided to add an extra day to our itinerary to wait out the rain in the Eng Alm valley. This turned out to be a good decision as it did indeed rain all day and night long, and anyways the Eng Alm valley is a supremely beautiful and a worthy destination in its own right. Also, I had the best spaetzle (a Bavarian/Tyrolean speciality flour noodle dish) of my life so far there! Not just the normal kasespaetzle [cheese spaetzle] but with speck [ham] and mushrooms too. Delicious!
On day four, trusting the weather forecast we waited out the rain all morning in Eng Alm, and sure enough in the afternoon it cleared up a bit and then we hiked up to the Lamsenjochhaus, the final hut of our Karwendel tour.
I woke up early on the last morning and hiked up a nearby little peak to watch the sunrise, then we walked down the valley to the little touristy lakeside town of Pertisau, on the shores of Achinsee, where we rented a room and and rested a bit before catching the bus and train to our next trek the next day.