Today's a bit different than what I've experienced so far. Besides Iceland, the majority of what I've been posting has been substantially urban. Cities, graffiti, skylines, and cathedrals with a few old castles and some greenery sprinkled in. Ah, but today. Today is Zugspitze day. The first of many mountains to climb and amazing views to take in.
*This post will be updated after the hike as well; just a head's up*
The route for my ascent is HERE. From everything that I've read, it can take anywhere from 6-10 hours to climb up and 6-8 for the descent. I'll be leaving in about 20 minutes (7:30 am) as it's just now getting light enough TO leave. Obviously I don't have any photographs of my own yet of where I'm going, but HERE is a link to a 360 view from near the summit.
*To the left, you'll see the route that I actually took. I think that it's fairly close if not identical to the one that I planned to take. It wasn't bad for the first ~12 miles, and then just absolutely sucked for the remaining 3.
*To the right is a link to my flickr account where you can view the 360 photos taken during the hike.
So you know how I planned to leave within 20 minutes this morning? Around 7:30? Yeah, breakfast took precedence and I ended up leaving closer to 8:30. Which left me with less time to get to the summit before a) it was too late to return the way I came or b) the cable car that could take me back down would have already made its last run. Either way, I would have been screwed.
The funny part? I made it with plenty of time. The first 12 miles went by like a breeze (~4 hours). There were some inclines, but they were mixed in and varied enough that it was to say the least, easy. Then, abruptly, the trail went for a sudden climb and didn't stop. For 3 miles and 3,000 ft of elevation! It was at that point that I realized what toll the walking distance had taken on my legs (it also didn't help that the climb seemed endless). Luckily, there were a few huts built into the mountain-side along the way, so I was able to rest for a brief moment while I refilled my water bottle before continuing on. The remaining 3 miles took an exhausting 3.2 hours. Up fairly steep cliff sides, through snow, and constantly along trails of loose rocks. All to end near the base of the summit where you just have a nearly vertical climb up. For something that many trail sites review as "easy" where anyone can do it, it's ridiculously arduous and testing.
On to the summit... Ahh, the summit. A place where tourists take a cable-car to the top and enjoy the view rather than doing a single step of hiking. A place where people look at you strangely because of your sweat-drenched shirt and flushed skin. A place where the same tourists climb outside to take a picture next to the flag at the very peak. I could go on, but my point is, it's an extremely strange place. Granted the view is amazing, but the whole experience feels cheapened by all of the visitors in their fancy clothes and dress shoes that are staring out of the window that you climbed and hiked so far to see.
With that in mind, after the hike, and the fact that it was now just shy of 4 pm, I wasn't about to make a 7 hour return hike back to my hostel, so I took the cable car & train. Yes, the same cable car/train that was returning all of the now-content and well fed (and semi drunk as there was an Oktoberfest celebration at the summit) tourists back to their patiently waiting cars. With my clothes now almost pungent sweat smell to my rock-scraped boots and hands, I stuck out like a sore thumb. For a ride that only covered a distance of roughly 10 miles, it took over an hour. An hour which, if I'm being honest, I slept most of as I was completely exhausted and in desperate need of a bed.
I guess I can end it there, as after the train ride, I went to the store for groceries, went back to the hostel, and passed out on my mattress within minutes. The end lol.
***pictures from hike are below (click on them for larger versions); 360 photos are above and to the right**