Zugspitze + Eibsee

I am sucker for a mountain view, and water. Rivers, lakes, oceans, streams – you name it. Southern Bavaria (and Austrian Tirol just across the border) are in rich in both.

This was my third visit to Zugspitze. Twice I had been in March, when the mountain was covered in ice and views shrouded by fog and blowing snow. But in July the views are much prettier. It was still cold (though not ‘blowing snowstorm’ cold, so that was a plus), and there was still fog, but when the wind would blow just right, there were peek-a-boo views of the the Eibsee below – be still my heart.

Zugspitze is the highest point in the Bavarian Alps. You can reach it from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a city on the German side of the border, or Ehrwald, on the Austrian side. At the top there is excellent skiing (or so I have been told), food, hiking trails (most are via ferrata), and, of course, many spectacular view points. To get to the top you can take a single cable car from the Austrian side (did this the first time), a cogwheel train from down most of the way up, followed by a short gondola to the top (did this the second time), or a cable car straight from next to the Eibsee to the top (which is what we did this time around).

In July there was not just skiing happening. Lots of clouds, and views of the mountain surface, minus it’s usual snowy exterior. I waited for 45 minutes in the cold watching the wind blow by while Josh and Vanessa enjoyed their glühwein. Ray was missing in action – once again forgoing the tourist right for a hike of his choosing (this this in the Höellentalklamm – a gorge hike full of waterfalls, bridges and tunnels). Once upon a time, before the EU was a thing, there was a border crossing from Germany to Austria. You had to get your passport stamped moving from one country to another. The border crossing remains, though no longer staffed of course. After 45 minutes of waiting and accepting that my wishing it so does not control the weather, we went down a small gondola to the glacier just below the peak, to enjoy some lunch before descending back down to the base of the mountain to meet up with Ray. It was only on the way down did the clouds begin to clear and Eibsee come into view.

Once we got back to the base the mountain we had time to walk around a small corner of the lake. The colours are stunning, and there was a small bridge I wanted to get to with hopes of capture the beautiful colours of the lake with the mountain towering over. Mom and Dad decided to take in the views from a lakeside bench, and Vanessa, Josh, Ray and I began our short walk. The greens of the lake were beyond what I could imagine. The perfectly maintained trail followed the shoreline away from the mountain and around the edge, for about 10 – 15 minutes until the bridge appeared. We spent a solid 30 minutes here taking photos. Every once in a while other visitors would stop by on their walk around the lake, and then continue on their way, leaving us to enjoy the views in peace. If we had 1.5 hours to spare we would have been able to walk the whole loop as well, but we had groceries to pick up and an AirBnB to check into later that afternoon, so we enjoyed what we could. Just as we were walking back the wind started to pick up, quickly changing the greens of the lake to the moody blues that come with a wind storm, and by the time we reached the parking lot it began to downpour, so much that I was drenched by the time I made it to the car.

I have a plan to return to the region in the future. I’d like to rent a little camper van and drive through the mountain and lake regions of Germany and Austria, photographing every shade of green I can find while Ray summits peaks and successfully navigates the trails. I can guarantee when that time comes, we will be visiting Eibsee again.

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