Crossing the Alps – Day Three

„What on earth were we thinking?“ – a question we had been asking ourselves a lot that day and if you want to know why exactly then you just have to read on and you will understand:

Hiking Day 3 – 11/9/17

Memminger Hut (2242 m) – Zams

I don’t think my legs and feet have ever disliked me more than today and I’m surprised they are still willing to walk after what I put them through – a 7-hour-descent. Now you will probably say that walking downhill is easy peasy and a piece of cake compared to walking uphill. It. Is. Not! At least not for seven hours straight. But we are going to get to that later.

After we had gone to bed last night I found it hard to fall asleep. I dozed off and woke up again a couple of times. At midnight I went to the bathroom, looked out the window and excitement rushed through me. I ran straight back into our dormitory, „Philipp, I can’t help it. I’m going outside. The sky is clear and there are stars and I will just regret it forever if I’m not going now.“ A muffled response told me that he’d understood so I grabbed my tripod, camera and a lens, threw some more layers over my leggings and shirt, and went outside through the heavy wooden front doors.

The night greeted me with a rush of cold air and finally I came face to face with the mighty peaks of the Austrian Alps which had been concealed from us until then, lit up by the moon hanging in a clear, star-strewn sky. Needless to say that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

An hour I spent out there, taking it all in with my camera and my own two eyes, hardly realizing how cold my fingertips were getting and not thinking about how tired I would probably be in the morning.

But the latter never happened. You might have noticed that whenever gorgeous scenes pop up in front of me there’s no holding back as there’s too much to be excited about. This morning gave me loads to be all stoked about and being sleepy simply doesn’t go with a morning like that.

The sky was a beautiful blue and the rising sun tinged the mountains in a gorgeous light, coloring them in shades of orange, yellow and purple. That’s exactly how I want my hikes to start! There’s no better motivation than amazing views.

Like yesterday our day started with a steep ascent only this time we had these stunning views to keep us company. It didn’t make hiking uphill less exhausting though. But to be fair, breathing does get a lot more difficult when you’re running around at altitudes that high. We were now at over 2,200 and still had about 400 meters to go until we got to the Seescharte, the highest point we’d reach today.

Starting to walk we passed yesterday’s lake again, acting once more as a perfect mirror for the surrounding mountains. From there we turned right and headed towards steep and rocky walls that were rising in front of us.

Philipp fell right back into what he called the ‚Messner-mode‘ with me trying to keep up with him. „Don’t stop,“ he said to me. „If you stop it’ll only be harder to start walking again.“ He was probably right but I just had to catch my breath so many times. At first I did it under the pretense of wanting to look at the landscape but when the landscape around us didn’t change much I couldn’t pretend any longer.

The last bit was a real goat’s track and we had to employ our arms as well as our legs to help us reach 2,600 meters. I really don’t know how people with short legs manage some parts of the track because there are rocks you have to walk over that even a long-legged person like me had trouble with.

All the exhaustion is forgotten though when you reach the top and get to see what lies beyond the ridge – even more so when your boyfriend is handing you some chocolate.

From where we were standing we could see as far as the Ötztal Alps which are part of the E5 track as well. Looking back it was amazing to see how far we’d come, looking ahead was daunting as it put into perspective how much further we would still need to go.

After taking a breather up there we were ready (or were we?) to tackle our descent into the village of Zams. If I had known it would be the hardest stage of today (it was indeed the hardest part of the whole 6-day-track) I probably would have prolonged our break.

Now there’s nothing much to say about seven hours of walking down only that my knees started screaming for help at some point. It’s moments like that where I wish I had a horse to carry me down the mountain. Or a dragon. Unfortunately neither was at hand so we had to just see it through.

Slowly, step by step we made our way down – over rocks and small boulders, through mud, past waterfalls and mountain streams and in front of us the valley slowly started to open up. Down below we could see a little hut and, both very hungry, were even more eager to get it all over with. Only when we arrived at the hut it was empty. The only thing guiding us towards food was a sign saying we’d have to walk 45 more minutes to satisfy our hunger. My stomach was protesting already but on we went.

At some point we looked back and could make out the way we had just come down „This is madness,“ exclaimed Philipp. „We are mad!“ That pretty much sums it all up.

Reaching the serviced hut we treated ourselves to a completely overpriced but good ol’ „Brotzeit“ (that’s Bavarian and means ‚snack‘ – it’s very rustic and includes buttered pieces of bread with sliced cheese or ham) accompanied by a cold Radler beer. It definitely gave us a bit more power to attack the last bit of todays hike: another three hours of walking downhill! You can probably already tell how wonderful that must have been!

Sore and tired we finally reached Zams, desperate to take off our hiking boots and get rid off our backpacks which by now felt like they weighed 30kg.

We are now sitting in our airbnb room, freshly showered (first time after we started our hike which made it feel like the best shower I’ve ever had) and ready to fall back onto the many pillows in our cosy bed.

That was day three of hiking the E5 – and what a day it was. But we are now halfway through our alpine adventure! If you haven’t read about our second day in the Alps, head over here.

And as usual, here are some more impressions:

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