epic journey 2017: albsteig

Another year, another trek. This one is with a twist… which is to trek from your front door.

In recent years the tourism in the midlands in my parents “backyard” has increased and the council has established a tourism board which then created hiking tracks and treks. One of them won an award (it’s got a waterfall and a castle … from before the US or AU have been invaded by the Brits) and a trek that goes along the ridge line of the midlands.

The trek is a good week’s worth of walking, B&Bs along the way and ends at the river Danube (which marks the Southern end of the midlands range) in the town of Tuttlingen.

Given the season, the weather forecast and the accessibility (in case something turns South), I decide on “less is more” and pack the small backpack. Which turns out to be a great idea.

Turns out that trekking your homeland is more exciting than you imagine. Exploring the country at a different pace reveals a lot of nature’s beauty … and puts in perspective why you roll the way you roll.

Enjoy whatever you get up to, just make sure it’s #Epic!

#Albsteig2017 #EpicJourney

Below you’ll find the diary and the gallery at the end.


Day 1: Bad Urach to Stahlecker Hof (19k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 2 of 200This one has an epic start… with a family brekkie in the heart of Bad Urach where the trek starts off. Which does translate into a late-ish start meaning there will be masses of tourists flocking the waterfall track and it will be the heat in the middle of the day.

Once I get past the top of the waterfall and reach the ridge line at the top of the midlands, the tourists become much thinner, only true hikers left. Trekking past glider air fields and vistas of home (just a little freaky). I arrive about 15:30pm (coffee & cake time for the locals) at Stahlecker Hof.

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This country café / restaurant turns out to be a real gem. Serving up chanterelle mushrooms as a side to steak and spätzle (our type of hand made pasta), all washed down with home made most (cider).

Day 2: Stahlecker Hof – Genkingen (20k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 42 of 200The second day is probably the highlight of the hole trek. Starting out early because it’s another hot day… lucky most of the walking is in the woods and in the shade. Walking along the ridge line of the mountains means you either descent into the valleys and up the other side (no shade there) or walk around the valley (much more to walk). Today starts with the latter, which is no issue as Lichtenstein castle is sitting on the other side of the valley. Something to walk towards. The views are awesome, only the tower is hoarded behind scaffolding, damn.

Albsteig (WordPress) - 51 of 200Next stop is the Nebelhöhle, a pretty large (800m walkable) cave system that you can walk into. This is awesome on a day as hot as this. The illumination in the cave is spectacular…

Then it’s back out in the heat for the final 5k into Genkingen, where the first stop is coffee & cake (pattern!). Eventually settling into the AirBnb. Now given it’s Monday and there is only one place in the village to eat, turns out these guys are not used to having customers. I eventually convince him to prepare “anything”, which turns out pretty tasty.

Day 3: Genkingen – Talheim (15k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 60 of 200Brekkie at the AirBnb is really awesome (think CWA). Today will be a short trek, so I procrastinate… lesson not learned, I end up walking in the heat. Mostly in shade, plenty of water and I wash my clothes every night, so not too bad.

The highlight of the day after 3k of walking the Roßberg tower with its great views. Later I get past the highest point in my native county (Bolberg, 880m). Early afternoon I arrive at the stop for the night. Way too early. Luckily the bus to town arrives 2mins later, I head into town for some coffee & cake, followed later by Spaghetti-Eis, which is vanilla ice cream through a potato press resembling spaghetti topped with strawberry coulis and white chocolate shavings. The best thing in the summer heat.

Another weird place for dinner. The Greek restaurant is the only option in town where the food is actually nice and fresh, but the place (or the aquarium in it) smells terrible. Weird.

Day 4: Talheim – Jungingen (18k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 96 of 200Today is going to be a good day with first sightings of Hohenzollern castle. But first I am starting in an open field, later into the forest before climbing back to the ridge line. The Dreifürstenstein marks the corner of 3 counties and at the smart time is an edge on the ridge with awesome vistas.

From there it’s an easy (but long) walk through juniper fields – Gin anybody? – into Jungingen. Note that the village on the other side is caller “Killer” (yes, it’s got a Post code). The most expensive place on the trek, but a proper hotel and good food. After washing, I head for coffee & cake…

Dinner is awesome and the food spectacular. 3 beers in and a hailstorm later, I realise I left the washing out… so trekking in wet merino tomorrow.

Day 5: Jungingen – Burgfelden (22k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 115 of 200Today is a long-ish trek and I start early-ish. Brekkie is as good as dinner the night before and once I get going the shirt tries quickly – thank you merino. The weather is still cool-ish from the storms the night before and not heating up as quickly… rain forecast for the day.

I make it to the “Zeller Horn” which is the viewpoint of Hohenzollern castle. The view is great, but not enjoyed for long, this is where the rain kicks in. This wouldn’t be too bad, except today there is a lot of trekking in the open and the strong winds make using the umbrella almost impossible. I don’t see much of where I am and just follow the GPS… first sign of relief is the track going back into the forest. Then it’s up and down valleys (gradient not helping – think slippery slope). Once I reach the open field again the rain stops, then the sun comes out by the time I reach the Böllat, a vista point just outside of the stop for the night.

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Backpack, jacket, brolly and everything else is spread out to dry in the sun. And I enjoy a good break. Turns out I was walking rather fast to get out of the weather. After some awesome photos (jump shot included), I head for … coffee & cake.

Accommodation is run by an Eastern European extended family, the rooms are part of where they live, the doors don’t lock properly and apparently I am the only guest. Bit freaky. By the end of my nap the place has filled, especially with hikers and food is awesome. – Funny how your prejudices get the better of you. – On a positive note, I manage to get boots and clothes inside before the storm kicks in.

Day 6: Burgfelden – Gosheim (32k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 163 of 200The last 2 days of the trek are quite long (32k today, 1,200m ascent), so early brekkie, which is quite busy at 7am, yet I manage to be one of the first ones out the door. Today traverses 2 valleys, a quarry and eventually reaches the highest point of the trek. With the long day ahead I am concerned about storms, but given the early start I arrive in the heat of the day with time to spare.

The views from Lemberg (1,015m), which is the highest point of the trek, are amazing… and still possible before the weather kicks in. The town of Gosheim doesn’t have much on offer, The 2 bakeries are closed for renovations, one of them has a sales stall outside which is sold out, the ice cream parlour is closed (“summer holidays”, really?!), so my options are limited to the towns discount supermarket, where I buy water (ran out), a Cornetto and some berries. Downing an apple, a punnet of raspberries and taking a punnet of red currant.

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Accommodation is a bit of a thing… the B&B is part of a butcher who also runs a restaurant (the only food option in town), actually also the only accommodation option in town… which is why he (the butcher) gets away with the rooms like the one I had. Imagine a room from the 60ies in red velvet, style pretty much as if it was rented out by the hour (well going by German TV). Due to the lack of options, I shower, wash and take a nap.

Eventually head for dinner, right in time before the big storm kicks in. The other trekkers arrive just as the thunderstorm hits and by then the place is full with locals and the butcher has run out of rooms.

Day 7: Gosheim – Tuttlingen (27k)

Albsteig (WordPress) - 186 of 200Final day of the trek starts with a climb – which isn’t too bad, it’s still cool-ish from the night’s storm… and once I am on the ridge, that’s it for the rest of the day. Pretty early on I pass one of the largest glider airfields in Germany, later the track moves away from the ridge and the sun is relentless.

After being chased by a dog and a GPS failure, I end up in the perfect shaded lunch spot and take an extended early lunch / snack (banana, apple & nuts). The last part of the trek is through the forest of the midlands and eventually descents into Tuttlingen. On which I slip for the first time on the trek… well today is laundry day 😉

Albsteig (WordPress) - 199 of 200Arriving early at the Danube bridge in Tuttlingen with 2 hours to spare until check-in opens… naturally the first stop is for Spaghetti-Eis. After a looong and refreshing (“cold”) shower and laundry, I head for the river bank with its lounge / café to put the legs up and kick back with a few beers.



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