Once upon a time using your legs as transport was considered a poor man’s choice, and you could be pegged a vagabond or hobo. Today it’s more a sign of the complete opposite. In a world where time is money, and spare time is in short supply, the experience of moving your legs and spending time outside is almost considered a privilege. To put one foot in front of the other is a basic skill most of us learn as children, but to use this skill to carry ourselves out in the nature can suddenly add a whole new aspect to this activity. The idea of walking for mere pleasure of it arose during end of the 18th century. It’s considered a natural outcome of the Romantic Movement’s view of the surroundings and nature itself.
The Alps are commonly known as a winter paradise, but one should not forget the Alps by summer. This is still the biggest mountain massif in Europe, and you’ll find people biking, climbing, running and hiking in these areas as soon as the snow is gone. The Germans even have their own expression for crossing the Alps; “Transalp”. Which means “Over the Alps”. This trip can be compared with the “Haute route” during winter times, and is a classic for mountain hikers and bikers. 20 liter pack on the back, 3-4 day’s stretches, and endless miles of nature waiting ahead. Traditionally this route starts in Germany, north in the Alps, stretching south towards Italy.
Photographer Hans Herbig wanted to find a new Transalp-route for hiking, starting in Garmisch in Germany, ending somewhere close to Meran, in South-Tirol. The goal was to hike as fast as possible, with as little luggage as possible. To keep him company, he recruited a cyclist, a PR specialist and a dental technician. Truth be told both the PR specialist and the dental technician might not be your average kind, of whom the first is an avid trail runner and the second finished “Iron Man” in sub 10 hours. Meet Martin Matthes, Marie Meixner and Olaf Fidorra. Together they finished 89 km, 6940 meters of ascent and 8841 meters of descent in a total of 24 hours and 20 minutes.
A rather detailed description of their trip will follow. Warning: the next paragraphs will contain a lot of German names of cabins, seas, mountains and places.
Day 1: 20 km / 3 hours and 20 minutes
Hans, the photographer and Olaf the dental technician/Iron Man started out from the city “Garmisch Partenkirchen”, following the river “Partnach” towards “Raintal”. Though time was of the essence they still made time for a cup of joe at the “Raintalanger” cabin before they continued on towards the first overnight lodging of the trip at a cabin called “Knorrhütten” .
Day 2: 24 km / 6 hours
The next morning the trip continued on setting the course towards Austria through «Gatterl» and «Erwalder Alm», where Martin the cyclist, now bikeless, joined the crew. They passed the beautiful “Seeben” lake here, and continued up the steep hills to the “Coburger” cabin. Passing another beautiful lake called the “Dragon Sea”, up to a small couloir named “Grünstein Scharte”, before the tracks finally started to lead a little downhill again to the “Lemberghaus” cabin, where they served a so-called «Kaiserschmarn» lunch, which is supposed to be a very satisfying meal. “We were recommended a special trail going down from this mountain called “the wild hunter’s trail”, so after gaining some strength we decided to hike up a small part to manage to get on the correct trail downwards to Mieming”, Hans the photographer recalls. After arriving in “Mieming”, the group was driven to the town of “Lusens” for a good night’s sleep, and to meet up with the final hiker: Marie the PR specialist and trail runner.
Day 3: 24 km / 7 hours
They started with hiking up to «Schafgrübler», a nice mountain top right below 3000 meters. A quick lunch at “Franz Senn” cabin before the trip continued on along the “Stubai High Trail” towards the “Regensburger” cabin. “We didn’t stop at this cabin, but took a slightly different approach to get to the “Ring”, a local place of myth in this area”, says Hans the photographer. Exactly what this myth is about is not common knowledge, but that the place is worth a visit was still agreed on. The quartette passed this and followed the trail until they got to «Midlaun Alm», where they could walk down to the village for the last overnight stop.
Day 4: 21 km / 8 hours
The last day started with the gondola going up to “The Top of Tirol” as they call it. From here they went down to the «Hildesheimer» cabin, through some exposed areas in high alpine terrain over the «Gamsplatz» ridge. A little bit down, a little bit up, and the group arrived by the beautiful «Timmler Schwarzsee»; a mountain near the black see, which is not really black at all, but rather shiny emerald green. Crossing another ridge, and then entering the final stage of the trip «Schneeberg”; a former mine, now a museum, where the trip was ended with an incredible dinner.
As you have probably figured out by now; a hiking trip in the Alps does not have to be primitive. It can be rather civilized. There are great cabins along the trails that offer proper food and “schnaps” to keep the motivation going. The advantage to civilized cabins is that it’s easy to travel lightweight. Two pair of undies, two pair of socks, a pair of shorts, a zip-off pant, a long sleeve shirt, T-shirt, a light shell jacket and an insulation piece is all you need according to this group. You don’t have to bring much water as long as you have a foldable cup to drink easily from the creeks. You don’t have to bring food, except maybe some emergency snacks, as you can refuel in the cabins along the way. You just have to hike.
A civilized hiking experience, but also a lightweight hiking experience.