Christian provided the last of the breakfasts we have got used to in Italy - fruit juice, lots of coffee, and a copious plate of cooked meats and cheese, to go with the bread rolls and jams and butter, etc. He speaks German, Italian and English, often in the same sentence, so had no problem in chatting Sue into the above picture outside Pension Maria before the sun hit it this morning.
We were on our way soon after 8.30, heading through shady woods on a lovely path after starting on an ugly quarry road, up to the village of Rabenstein, with its small but dominating church. On the way we passed more legend stories and much evidence of the landslides that frequently alter the shape of this valley. A huge lake was created by one of these landslides in 1401, and it wasn't until 1774 that the waters were dramatically released, leaving the valley roughly as it looks today.
There are also mines up here, claimed to be the highest in Europe, where over 60 different minerals were extracted during the workings that were active from the 13th century until 1967. They also featured a 27km conveyor-belt system - the longest of its type in the world.
After our last Italian coffees for a while, on the warm balcony of Gasthof Trausberg, we headed up above the tree line on the long ascent to Timmelsjoch, on the Austrian border. It was a magnificent walk up to that 2509 metre vantage point with what may have been our last view of the Dolomites for a while. We made just one error - we followed the cycle track by mistake for one km - we didn't meet any cyclists as they had reciprocated the error and were pushing their bikes awkwardly down the steep, rocky path that we should have been on.
On the way up we encountered the two German lads who are walking part of E5 in the same direction as us, and we met the thirty or so folk who were going in the 'correct' direction - mostly couples, plus a group of 17.
A large herd of goats (hundreds) approached seemingly menacingly as we tucked into our herrings in tomato sauce luncheon - in a lovely spot beside a babbling stream, next to a sign (pictured) that purported to claim that we were at the Austrian border (we weren't, unless Austria has recently recovered some ground). The residents didn't seem to care - they just crossed into Italy, hardly pausing to read the sign between munches.
An information tunnel at the summit told all about the building of the Timmelsjoch road, opened in 1968. But the pass is believed to have been used as a trade route for many centuries, long before there is any record of the better known Brenner Pass being so used.
We spent some time at the Timmelsjoch café, but finally gave up on any chance of being served, so relied on some fine Austrian spring water as rehydration fluid.
The scar of the road somewhat marred the fine Ostalalp backdrop as we descended towards Zwieselstein on a fine alpine path.
Once there, past some frantic hay making (the weather must be due to change), the DAV Talhütte was easily located, but we hadn't noticed Gillian's description as 'self-catering' until the guardian pointed to the kitchen and charged us just €30 for our room. So we finally used one of our box of carefully preserved tea bags, and found a nearby restaurant. It looks like being tea and chocolate for breakfast.
Alan R - no, it wasn't you, just a generic two stone overweight person dreamt up by Sue. Some of our friends would be pleased to be two stone overweight on your analysis. I can however think of one person who fits the description perfectly. He'll never realise, as these pages fall outside his literary criteria.
Alan, you do seem to attract some weather, but if it's any comfort we lose the daylight by 9.30 in these parts, and sunset in Zwieselstein was at 5.30 today!
Gillian - Christian, at Pension Maria, was a very friendly chap as mentioned above.
Jules - I may do a kit list when I get back. We do need to do one for those joining us on GR54 in September. Our spare clothes are minimal, we just wash things out most nights and let it dry overnight.
18 July 2012
19km in 8.5 hours with 1600m ascent
Other E5 walkers - 2 going our way, 30 coming from Zwieselstein
Flower of the Day - Sticky Primrose (on the Timmelsjoch summit)
Photos taken to date: Sue - 505; Martin - 985 (approximately the equivalent of 35 slide films!)
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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