Its raining – like cats and dogs, here in Southern Germany…. so what does the trained German / Kiwi Hiker do? Go for a hike – in that rain… to a narrow gorge that has even more water cascading down the sides…..
Needless to say I pushed my lovely Line7 waterproof gear to the limit and beyond… so much so that 3 layers of clothing where literally dripping at the end of the 3.5 hr hike and even my camera bag that had a protective coat over it did not escape the water…
However – that has been one of the best short hikes I have ever done . In Summer they get around 60.000 people through this gorge (it is only open in the summer months) so going on a rainy day is actually a good call …
I arrived in Hammersbach near Garmisch Partenkirchen in Southern Bavaria yesterday – after a rather long and sometimes frightening drive through thunderstorms and torrential rain. That same rain caused most of the rivers here in the Alpine Region to swell and sadly one person lost his life yesterday in Garmisch Partenkirchen as he was swept away in one of those swollen Rivers.
The forecast looked bleak and I had planned a hike through the Höllentalklamm but on arrival the lady at the reception told me it might not be possible due to the weather.
However, this morning, still raining, I asked another person at reception and he said ‘should be no problem to get through, as it is a deep gorge and if I am not too concerned about getting wet and cold I should give it a go.’
Suitably dressed in waterproof overcoat and trousers and my trusted hiking boots and with the camera bag equipped with a rain cover, off I went. The signs (and brochures) say it’s about an hour to the entrance of the gorge and one has to climb around 300 m in height during that time.
The hike started off pleasantly enough, along the river and through a lovely green forest but soon that flat walk turned into a rather steep hike that zigzagged its way up the hill-side with the river fading below.
Quickly it dawned on me, what I knew well before, I am not as fit as used to be or thought I was, and it felt like an eternity of going uphill until I reached a crossroad, with a sign saying another 40 min to go… I had only been walking for 15 min but it did feel like hours (well my lungs and legs at least felt that way). So on and up I went – until at last I could see the little entrance hut. Perched on the steep hill-side with a high waterfall on the other side of the valley I wondered how did the people, who collect the money and serve some basic food, get up there themselves…surely they would not have to hike up there each and every day? But when I asked, that is exactly what they told me they are doing.
Right about now I noticed that my so-called water proof jacket was anything but – most likely because I forgot to give it another coat of waterproofing spray after I washed it a few days earlier as the trousers did not have that issue. However I figured I am wet anyway and did not come all this way to turn around because I am feeling a bit cold… so I paid my EUR5 entrance and on I went.
Note: If you want to do this hike (like I did both ways) you need to keep your entrance ticket or will have to pay again!
What can I say, this is one of the best short and intense hikes I have ever done. Maybe because I was virtually alone, I only met one other person throughout the gorge. Or maybe because it is absolutely stunning and spectacular. But mostly because the rain made it extra special.
I literally walked through water the whole time. It was running from the sheer cliffs and through cracks, it was running in the river next to the walkway and it collected in little pools that where around ankle-deep in places. Water everywhere and then there was snow – what was left of the last winter.
Glad that I wore my proper high hiking boots I pressed on, I did try to take my DSLR camera out of the bag twice but even though Nikon says they are weather sealed I just did not trust this so mostly it stayed in the backpack. Little did I know that the back of said backpack is not waterproof – so ended up being soaking wet inside and out and now it is drying on the floor…. luckily the camera is fine but it did have me worried for a short while.
As a result most photos are taken with my trusted Samsung S7 and even though they are not the best photos I hope they give you a glimpse of what I experienced. I also have taken some short videos and hope to post those soon too. Please excuse the poor quality of some of the photos!
Points to note: Be prepared, do not bring an umbrella even if it rains – it is of no use to you in the Gorge. Bring an extra layer of clothing and proper ankle high hiking boots! As I made my way back I cam across a family that made their way up the hill and the two young men with them did only wear shorts, normal shoes and umbrellas – so not just in NZ do idiots go to the mountains…