Last night's summit, Seekogel (2412m) looked most impressive as we passed below its northern flanks. Sue is pictured on the descent. Rain was forecast, and the sultry weather with gathering cloud supported that prediction. Not to worry, we were starting our fifth week 'on the trail' and our rain tally to date was a paltry 4 hours.
As we approached the track to Madau, two minibus taxis roared up and disgorged the day's first batch of E5ers. We passed them as they were being briefed by their guide on the highly technical ascent to Memmingerhütte (there is a metal bridge without a hand rail to cross) whilst rucksacks were loaded onto the goods lift.
Anyway, we continued down the quiet lane and Sue continued to find flowers, such as Alpine Bells, that we had not previously identified on this trip.
Beyond Madau we took the 'Hohenweg' to the north of the river, in preference to the E5 road walk. A couple of landslipped gullies were negotiated as the trail followed a lovely narrow path through horse fly woodland above the Madau gorge. Eventually we descended to the Mateiler Brücke, for fine views of the gorge (sadly the atmospheric condition of an impending monsoon prevented any good snapshots), which continued as we carried on down the minor road on its south bank.
After passing near to the village of Bach, we carried on to Stockach, where everything seemed shut apart from the excellent Pension Stockacherhof, a splendid turreted affair that welcomed us in for lunch as the skies blackened.
It was indeed a good lunch, though the businessmen who arrived in their hi-spec Mercs and conducted a business meeting next to our odorous bodies (the washrooms at Memmingerhütte are not conducive to getting clean) may not have been so impressed. However, they smiled as we adjusted our packing for the wet weather that had now arrived, and we set off into light rain.
Pleasant lanes led to Holzgau, a much more vibrant place than Stockach, with the prettiest Spar shop in the world. It was shut for lunch. Luckily all we needed was water, which was readily available from the village fountain.
A track led us up a gorge towards a huge waterfall, Simmswasserfall, named after a London businessman who at the turn of the 20th century spent much time hunting in the Tyrol. A long suspension bridge, possibly very new, is strung above the gorge, sadly too far above our path for a visit.
We'd been looking out for salamanders on Day 1, four weeks ago, when we left Avesa. We'd failed to spot them then, but now we came across one on the path above the waterfall. What a surprise!
As we approached the Roßgumpen Alpe café, much to our surprise the rain stopped. The monsoon was over! The sun came out, the air was clear, and we enjoyed perfect weather for most of the rest of the day's walk.
We decided to skip the fleshpot and continue, via a visit to another fine waterfall, towards our destination. It was a long, slow climb through beautiful scenery (pictured - middle) with very few people about. Obere Mädelejoch (1974m) is a fine spot. A large sign welcomed us to Germany and border post number 132, dated 1844, confirmed our position on the border between 'T' (Tyrol) and 'B' (Bundesrepublik). The only slight disappointment was that, looking ahead towards our route for the next few days, we could see mountains, but they all appeared to be lower than the point on which we now stood.
The weather started to look dodgy again so we hastened down to this massive hütte (pictured from our descent towards it) where we have beds numbered 7 and 8 in a dormitory of 36. The washroom is less than conducive to getting properly clean (lots of naked young Germans showing off their private parts) so certain jobs will have to wait until tomorrow's hotel!
On the other hand, the a la carte food served here is excellent.
The hütte seems full to its capacity of 290, and is rowdy, full of E5ers who have just walked the short distance from Oberstdorf, and they aren't yet tired. Judging by their physique, some of them may be a little quieter after tomorrow's walk up to Memmingerhütte!
This is our last night with the E5ers, as most start from Oberstdorf. Will we miss them? Readers should not be put off by my comments about them, it's probably much like the start of the Coast to Coast or West Highland Way trails, and the scenery, flora and wildlife are all great. But when I get back I will suggest some alternative routes that may avoid the worst of the crowds that we've encountered in just three places - here, Memmingerhütte, and Braunschweiger Hütte.
I should note that just before reaching the hütte we came across a marmot, five metres away on the path. I'll try to insert a link to a short video when we get home.
N/A due to technical problems who knows when this entry will become public.
28 July 2012
24km in 8.75 hours with 950m ascent
Flower of the Day - Burnt Orchid
Amphibian of the day - Salamander
Itinerary - http://www.topwalks.com/E5%20Route.html
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