Trekking and Camping in Ehrwald, Austria

We have been trying to plan this since ever, 2 dear friends living in Nurnberg and me in Stuttgart. But each time we failed to find the perfect weekend. The idea was simple, get lost in Austria, hike one of its mysterious mountains and camping in its breath-taking nature. Then we found it, we found the perfect weekend! On July 8th I drove to Nurnberg and met them, agreed on some trip details and bought the needed food and water for the 2-day trip.

Saturday morning, direction Ehrwald, Austria. We dropped the car in Munich and we continued 2 hours with the train to the closest point to Eibsee (lake), our start point. The plan was to take the bus from there to the lake, which is 6 km far away from the station. As we planned a quite long trek, we wanted to start it as early as possible, because the trail is marked “hard” on outdooractive. That 13-hour bus never came. After waiting 30 minutes, we decided for the fastest solution in order not to lose time: hitchhiking. We were 3 people with 3 big backpacks, so we had a quite little chance to find somebody to pick us up. 20 minutes later, it worked! A cool driving-alone guy decided to finally stop and he drove us to our start point. Thanks stranger!

The lake, Eibsee, is simply paradisiac, situated between Germany and Austria with a view on Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain with XXXm, it has got some magic tiny islands in the middle with azur-colored water around them. A combination we never saw in Europe before. We were supposed to hike around the lake and take a forest path which goes through a mountain up and then down till it reaches a train stop. The plan was to be there at 16:19 to catch the train to Ehrwald, the original start point. We were too excited and amazed with the views around, that we lost too much time chilling and taking pics. In the end, we had to hike XX km in 1 hour and we got surprised with an unexpected elevation of 900 m. The time became too tight, we gave our best to climb the uphill after the lake and we basically ran on the downhill leading to the station. It was quite complicated with the heavy backpacks and we had to be careful with the narrow mountain way. We did our best, but we missed the train. Maybe we were too optimistic estimating the overall time of the trail, but we were 4 minutes too late.

We were supposed to start climbing the Hoher Gang of the Ehrwalder Alm (a high mountain) around 5 pm. It is a 3-hour hike. Sunset was around 9:15 pm. We had no other options anymore except the fastest one: hitchhiking again! It was a 9-km distance to go. It took us a while this time. Nobody wanted to stop because it is a country-border area. So we had to be more convincing. We wrote down our destination with a lips marker of Meriem on the tent setup guide of Riadh. The very primitive and spontaneous but efficient solution convinced a guy and his girlfriend to help us, but they were driving the opposite direction. They stopped anyway, made a U-turn and came back. Seeing the surprise on our faces, they explained to us that they just were there and decided to drive us back anyway because we looked “hopeless”. So it worked!

We talked about any and everything until we got lost with their truck because we lost concentration for a while. After some tries we found the right and they dropped us off there, in Ehrwald. It was almost 6 pm. We stood there, at the bottom of the mountain, looking at the top, we were not sure anymore if we were gonna make it before sunset. But we were dreaming about that lake we saw in the internet: the Sebensee, a 1600-meter high lake with a sparkling water. That was where we should spend the night and the morning. So motivation didn’t get lost.

The most difficult part of the trail started a couple of kilometers later: The Hoher Gang of the Ehrwalder Alm. It’s a crazy way which goes 1400 meters high 2 kilometers long. So you can imagine the elevation. It was even harder with our backpacks and camping stuff. Some parts of the way were impossible to climb without a metal chains fixed at the rocks. We also had to watch our steps. We turned back so many time to admire the view of the huge mountain chain behind us completely drown in the ornage sunset shines. A lifetime view.  We had to walk through narrow rocky ways for hours, where a high wall is on the right, and a deep hafhouf on the left…

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It was already 9pm. 15 minutes before sunset, we were still climbing and climbing. The top never seemed to get closer. We got exhausted. Dark started to settle down, we were losing hope and stress started to show up. 10 minutes after sunset we saw the top getting relay closer. We reached it, finally. But we were so disappointed when we saw what’s there: forest, more rocks and no lake. At some time, we thought we were lost. Of course there was no network, we were in the middle of nowhere. Even the GPS signal was almost unavailable because of the surrounding mountains. We were looking for a small spot where to camp because we thought we would never make it in time but we kept walking anyway. It was so rocky and the forest was quite heavy. Suddenly we saw it! We saw the Sebensee Lake. We ran, got adrenaline in the veins again and were amazed of the view… It’s just indescribable. It took us another while to agree on a good camping spot. In the end we were setting up our tents in the dark basically. But we made it, around 10 pm.

The rush is over. Tents are set. So we sat for a little time to breath and check our poor feet and shoulders. Then we pulled out our dinner. We were not that efficient with food so we brought a lot of bread, Harissa and some conserve we grabbed in a hurry at the super market. We were amazed by the sky. How magic it was, how shiny the stars were. Time for long-exposure pics 🙂

Exhausted from the 24km way, we could not find the sleep anymore by midnight. So each one of us got in his tent and sneaked inside the sleeping bag, trying to realize where we actually were. Sleeping at 1600 m altitude, in front of a calm lake between the mountains in the middle of nowhere. It was one of my best night sleeps ever. We woke up around 7am. The sun was already up but still behind the mountains. I will never forget that moment when coming out from my tent and seeing for the first time where we were in a full daylight. I will never forget that place…

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Time for breakfast. We sat on the grass. Some small and pure water drops that got stuck between some tiny leaves were sparkling because of the sunshine. It was so calm. There was only our talks and the bird songs. We tried to swim in the lake. But the water was freezing, although it was summer. We never wanted to leave that place, but it was already 10 am and we still have another 20 km to hike. The first 3 ones have an elevation of 600 m. So we made ourselves on the way. As we got higher than the lake, the view got even way better. We basically stopped each 10 meters to enjoy it and take some pics. But we were supposed to find another lake by 1900 meters so we hurried out of motivation to see it.

It took us one hour and a half to reach it. We were really slow. High elevation, still exhausted from yesterday and above all the pain we felt in our feet. The way started to get really rocky and trees became scarce because of the altitude. The second lake, XXX, was so different, so blue, so dark and so deep. What a feeling you get while contemplating it. And that view between the 2 lakes is still engraved in my mind: In front of you the dark XXX Lake, and 300 meters down there the Sebensee Lake with its azure edges and behind both of them the XXX mountain chain. What a place…

It was 1pm already and we were still stuck in this beautiful spot. It was Sunday and we were supposed to take the train back to Munich around 5pm. We took a look at the huge mountain in font of, which we still have to climb: The hinteres Tajatörl. It was so high, we saw some people at the top who were so tiny, basically like ants. Riadh said we will never make it in time to finish the trek and catch the train. We didn’t know what to do. We were disappointed because we felt that we failed. Riadh said he is out. His foot hurt too much. He said to us he will just go back down and follow a tiny cars road by the Sebensee Lake which leads to a teleferic that goes down back to the station. It was harder for Meriem and me to accept this failure and not make it till the end. We decided to split and meet later at the station before the train leaves. It was a hard decision to make. But we were “almost” there. We continued forward. 20 minutes later it started to get harder and it was only then we totally lost hope in making this in time. On the way back we saw another way which seems to go down back to the Sebensee Lake. We didn’t wanna take the same way back to we chose to try it. It was another bad decision. That quickly started to get dangerous and then we didn’t see any path anymore. We lost hope again and we decided to go back to the original way back. Riadh was then 1 hour in front of us. We had to hurry to reach the train. Our feet were screaming all the way down until we reached the teleferic. We found Riadh finally and we told him how stupid it was to split. We were driven by excitement and adrenaline. But that was that time somehow behind the logic….

We could make it back to the station 15 minutes before the train comes. We sat on the ground in a small shadow spot and we looked ruthless but so happy. What an adventure! What a trail! What a night and what a morning… But enough with words. Here is a video I could create for the whole trip so that you guys can see what I was talking about the whole time…. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

About the author: Achraf

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