These notes are a brief summary of 7 days walking in the Tyrol near Seefeld. The weather was very kind, being mostly cool, clear and sunny. Ideal for mountain views, in fact. Adrian got to play with his new toy (the Nikon D50) and the boys got to fool around building arches and taking stereo pairs.
We arrived mid-afternoon from Munich in comfortable time for a walk up the hill above the village. Mösern is set right on the edge of the main Inn valley, and the Inntaler Hof is the last building in the village, so has splendid views over the valley. As you will see from the later pictures, there was definitely some weather on the way in from the west.
|Inn valley from Inntaler Hof.|
These were quite common on the hill just above the village - the path up through the Stations of the Cross (signposted Kalvarienberg) is a good place to find them!
|Evening light over the valley. Visibility was still quite reasonable - this was taken with the lens at 135mm so the mountains are a fair way away.|
|Sundog with church. Sundogs are usually a good indicator of incoming weather, as they form in hexagonal plates of ice typical of the cirrus cloud on the leading edges of weather fronts.|
|Incoming weather. The same scene a few minutes later. Really just an excuse to play with the exposure-lock on the camera!|
These are nominally edible, but tasted rather bland so better left alone!
Lots of these on the lower slopes around the Brunschkopf.
|Spider on thistle. More fun with the camera, really!|
|Hohe Munde viewpoint. Don't be tempted to try and climb this one - it looks best from a distance and seems adept at pulling down the clouds.|
|Brunschkopf diorama. What you see is almost what you get. This is a very accessible viewpoint, and well worth the walk up from the hotel.|
Nice to see, as it is quite a rarity in the UK and a good indicator of old woodland where you do find it.
|Cricket. Taken at 300mm with an exposure time of 1/200th so there must have been plenty of light.|
Not too sure about this one - it could have been a Birds Nest orchid but we don't really think it was. Pity.
|Grass of Parnassus
Another favourite plant from back home, growing in the soggier patches around the hillside.
At breakfast it was raining quite hard, but by the time we set off it was mostly just dripping from the trees. We took a slightly deviant route here (easy and recommended) going over the shoulder of Hohe Munde to the Rauthhütte and on up as far as the Zugspitzeblick which has a splendid view over the upper Gaistal and is a perfect lunch stop. On the way down it really did rain, but had cleared nicely in time to take some dramatic shots of the little church opposite the Hotel Xander as we arrived.
The only one of these we saw - and it was so dark under the trees that the camera resorted to flash!
|Six-leaved Herb Paris.
Definitely an aberrant - at least it got the flower right!
|Gaistal from Hohe Munde. The Wetterstein ridge is doing a great job ripping a hole in the cloud, but not for much longer!|
|Zugspitzeblick from near Rauthhütte. No, you can't see the Zugspitze in this picture, but you can probably guess where it must be.|
Down by the riverbank on the way to the Xander. Parasitic on pine roots.
Note the kink in the style. We also saw P. media with straight styles, but not where there was enough light for a decent picture.
|Arriving Kirchplatzl. The mountains have come out again, and as always after rain, the light is particularly clear.|
|Kirchplatzl. Just as well the camera is digital - this kind of light is a great film-waster as you keep trying to fool with the exposure to get it to look like the real thing.|
|Hotel Xander - balcony view. All very pastoral and restful, but note that storm about to launch itself from the Wetterstein in the background!|
Yes, that really is snow all over Hohe Munde and its pals. Never mind, we reckoned on it melting by the time we had hiked up the track to Wangalm, and had our eye on the summit of the Gehrenspitze if the clouds stayed away. As it happens, we timed it about right, taking on the path up through the last of the snow. By the time we came down, most of the snow had gone, which made keeping your feet a lot easier.
|Snow on Hohe Munde.|
|Ahrnspitze from Xander. This is just to complete the balcony views - the boys had the east-facing room!|
|Above Wangalm. If you are collecting points for a hat-badge, do call at the Wangalm hut which is worth 18 and get the stamp on your map!|
|Wetterstein ridge with snow. Still quite snowy up here, with some decent drifts behind the rocks.|
|Hohe Munde from Wangalm.|
|Wangalm viewpoint. Just a nice place to hang around and take pictures!|
|Gehrenspitze from Scharnitzjoch. This is a superb viewpoint (even better in stereo) - probably rather better than the summit. But you have to get to the top, don't you!|
|Meadow above Scharnitzjoch. Wet snow on a 30deg grassy slope is quite tricky to walk on.|
|Followed by Sheep. Poor deluded creatures were hoping to get fed, I suppose. They gave up on us a few minutes later.|
|Xander from above. Let's test the lens - this was looking quite small by now!|
|Wetterstein wall from Gehrenspitze.|
|Leutaschtal from Gehrenspitze. The next hotel (the HubertusHof) is tucked right into the far corner of the valley here.|
|Alpine Chough. Clearly regards humans as a useful source of crumbs, unless it was just waiting to pick our bones clean as we slid to our doom on the way down.|
|Wetterstein Hütte from Wangalm. The hut only scores 6 hat-points but get its Stempl on the way down (as well as some excellent ApfelStrudel) - if you made the summit you deserve it!|
|Wetterstein wall later the same day. Now where has all that snow gone?|
|A cow with a view. Nothing like a bit of cud-chewing foreground to get the photographer interested!|
|View back from Wetterstein Hütte.|
Definitely a loafing day - we ignored the walking notes and just ambled down the riverbank for a days skimming practice and waterworks construction.
|Skimmers at work.|
|Butterfly on finger. This is an Erebia species, either Scotch argus or a close relative.|
|Half-arch with feet. This one was still there 3 days later - I wonder if we have started a local 'tradition' of arch-construction?|
|Double arch with canals. The pièce de résistance of the day’s labours, but less robust than the half-arch.|
|Hubertus Hof from road.|
|Dilation breccia in 2D. One for the geologists!|
|Cycling to Germany. Off go the intrepid cyclists on borrowed steeds. They actually got quite a long way, but failed to pick up all the available map stamps en route.|
|Evening view from Puital. While the family went off on the bikes, Adrian hiked up the hill to Puital for a few late evening photo-opportunities.|
|Puital wall looking North.|
|Gehrenspitze at sunset. What a convenient small cloud that was!|
|Scharnitzjoch at sunset.|
The Gehrenspitze was worth about 3 nutcase points - this little hike was definitely at the upper end of the nutcase scale (but worth it). Not recommended unless you are feeling very fit, know you have all day, and trust the grips on your boots on the way down. However it is well worth investigating the lower and middle sections of the Bergleintal even if you don't make the Stempl at the hut.
|Resting butterfly, probably a Clossiana species, either pearl-bordered fritillary or small pearl-bordered fritillary.|
|Bergleintal - looking up-valley. Things got a lot steeper and barer from here on up.|
|Alpenrose in crevice.|
|Saxifrage in crevice.|
|Scree crossing. This looks fairly hairy, but actually all the scree was really angular and quite well locked. We were very careful to keep our feet on the path, though.|
|Richard at the German border. The last few hundred metres were quite tough, but here we are at the border fence.|
|Meillerhütte arrival. Time to pause for a bite to eat and collect a 20-point Stempl (2372m).|
|View down from hut. You can just see the path across the scree in the lower left corner.|
|Moss Campion (probably).|
|Karst crossing. After a short section of roped path, this was simple enough to follow. The landscape was pretty amazing - totally bare at first glance but with lots of alpines hidden in the grykes.|
|Approaching the path down. And beginning to wonder just how steep it was going to be!|
Gentiana brachyphylla (probably subsp. favrati)
|Looking back to the Meillerhütte. From here, it is quite hard to believe that there is a path!|
|Bergleintal from the Söller pass.|
|Starting down from Söller. With a lot of care - as always the 'down' part was the hardest.|
|Looking down into Puital. At least we knew exactly how long it would take from the meadow, as Adrian had timed it the previous evening. Even so, we weren't hanging about on the last bit - no-one wanted to miss supper!|
Another gentle amble - we did this one in (walking) sandals! We made it in time to enjoy the 5-o'clock bell on the eminence just in front of the hotel.
Just the one little patch of these, but they were rather special.
I am having second thoughts about this, and now think it might be cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea).
|Peace bell at five.|
Meadows with various knapweeds, thistles, vetches, bedstraw etc. Various yellow composites including one like a fleabane and another like a corn marigold but with bigger flowers. Scabious that I assume was Tyrolean (S. vestina) that also grew in woods. In woods interesting mixture of lime-lovers and acid (calcareous schist??? - more likely a thin weathered/leached layer on top of the lime, which is very hard so not porous) including 2 cow-wheats, tormentil, bilberry, bearberry?, ling, harebell or a close relative, a nice little group of dark red helleborine (Epipactis atrorubens) near Mösern and a few broad-lvd E. helleborine (mostly only in bud). At least two other campanula spp., one very small, bright blue, probably C. pusilla, and C. rapunculoides; one or two plants with bigger flowers that might have been C. persicifolia.
Woodland: almost exclusively pine and spruce, though there were areas of beech (interestingly almost no other broadleaves - even birch was in short supply), with a rich 'herb layer' including lily-of-the-valley leaves and masses of what I think were May lily Maianthemum bifolium leaves and berries. Herb paris was common, including specimens with 5 or even 6 leaves, though the flower parts were always in fours. Scabious of at least 2 sorts (Tyrolean and devilsbit I think). Patches of fragrant orchids in clearings, usually near small streams, along with seeding spotted orchids, probably Dactylorchis fuchsii. Dark red helleborines common everywhere, often in large groups, especially at lower levels, and broad-leaved helleborine also widespread. One group of half a dozen or so plants of red helleborine Cephalanthera rubra near the Wildmoossee.
Woodland edge/scrubby woodland had numerous exciting species, including red-berried elder Sambucus racemosa, stone bramble Rubus saxatilis and wolfsbane Aconitum vulparia a little higher up. Most exciting of all was martagon lily Lilium martagon, only seen once. One patch of brownish parasitic flowers that I hoped might be birdsnest orchid but I think were some kind of broomrape, and the superficially similar Dutchman's pipe Monotropa hypopitys.
Up in the mountains avens Dryas octopetala in full flower and hairy alpenrose Rhododendron hirsutum making a wonderful show. Yellow mountain saxifrage Saxifraga aizoides on slightly damper bits. A few gentians mostly on barish rock (not as many as I expected; probably Gentiana brachyphylla subsp. favrati since it was definitely limestone), moss campion, various small saxifrages and white poppies up at the Meilerhütte. These were probably Alpine poppies despite the fact the book says 1200-2000m and the hütte is 2372m. Also a mouse-ear (Cerastium sp.) with large white flowers. We were hoping to find edelweiss but did not [Richard tells me it is only really common at about 2700m which these mountains do not reach]. In amongst the rocks at around the 2000m mark all sorts of small cushions of classic "alpine" plants, but mostly not flowering - suspect rock jasmines or similar. In a fairly narrow altitude belt at c.2100m tiny yellow violets presumably Viola biflora (though they only seemed to have singleton flowers).
I don't know whether it was something to do with the time of year, but there were remarkably few birds about, even in the forest. I was hoping to see griffon vultures or even eagles, but no luck; even buzzards were uncommon. The only really exciting species was Alpine chough. As well as the freindly individual at the Gehrenspitze summit there was a flock of at least 100, making a very strange chirrupping call. There were also ravens about which we heard on various occasions but I only saw two. We heard a flock of crossbills, and I saw one medium-sized greyish bird in the pine forest that might have been a wryneck.
Just a few of the stereo pairs Richard took which really make the slopes stand out!
Snow on the lower slopes of the Wetterstein wall, seen from the meadow above Wangalm.
View towards Gehrenspitz walking up from Scharnitzjoch.
Snow and rocks in the foreground, looking down vertically into Puital.
Pictures by Adrian, Gill and Richard Smith © Copyright 2005