Sledging in Germany – a serious sport.

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The hut, right before Brünnstein.

Couple of weeks back a friend organized a sledding hike. I had seen Germans walking around with their sledges before, both in the city and in the mountains so I knew that this was an established sport here and not only an activity for kinds. I did not quite understand it thought, and it did seem funny watching adults sledding down a hill. Nevertheless I was ready to try it out!

The hike went to Brünnsteinhaus: – walking up,sledding down.
Ascent: Brünnsteinhaus lies on 1360m and the climb up is 750hm. So an easy and nice hike for winter.

Time: We used ca  2:45h up and 0:45h down. But you can for sure be faster down. Some of the people there really knew what they were dong and were very fast the way down.

Getting there: Take the Meridian to Oberaudorf (direction Kufstein).
If the conditions are ok you could also do the peak: Brünnstein (1619) – another 45-60 minutes. We did the mistake of having a beer on the hut first and after that we just got too lazy, but I saw people doing the peak so it is a possibility, depending on how much snow there is.

The nice thing is that Brünnsteinhaus hut is open also during winter and  you can rent sledges at the hut (5€). I would always recommend to call the hut in advance and ask about the conditions and to make sure that there is enough snow to sledge down. They told us that they had about 60 sledges so unless you are in a very big group you should be able to get a sledge.

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20170219-brunnsteinhaus-kathrin-26Oh man how much fun this was!! On our way up we saw some rather old sledge riders :). They all had such a smile on their faces and their eyes were shining from joy. It really seemed that they had found back to their inner child. Never the less they made me a bit scared, when I saw how fast they were going!

So the excitement was big when we got our sledges and were about to try this out. In the beginning the sledge went crazy fast. I tried to control the speed, but it was almost impossible. So I just drove out from the track into the snow to stop. Then, luckily Elias told me to use my whole feet to break and that made a huge difference! Therefore my tip nr 1: use the whole feet to slow down, not only the heal.

The rest of the way down I was more or less able to control the speed  except in one of the turns where I almost hit a tree 😀 😀 Luckily I jumped of my sledge just in time.

In conclusion I can highly recommend this for everybody, but I would not put any kids on these sledges. They pick up speed extremely fast and you can really injure yourself – as the title says – this is a serious sport! 

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At the end of your ride you just leave the sledge on the roadside, so convenient !
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The view from the hut – can’t complain!

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My first snowshoe hike + camping in the mountains during winter.

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After the less successful ski-touring trip couple of weeks back I needed a successful adventure! I just felt the itch for doing something new more and more. Now it was the time. I knew right a way what I wanted to do. I have been thinking about sleeping in the mountains during winter for some time now, but somehow we have kept it to rather simple day hikes instead. Considering that last winter we did not even hike and considered winter just a skiing season we have really moved our limits. I have now realized that It is very nice to hike in the winter and it is a complete different experience from any other time of the year.

The perhaps hardest part of planning this hike was finding a perfect destination. We needed a peak that was accessible with public transport, that was not too crowded, that we had not hiked before and that was “hard” enough for a long day hike. Another thing we needed to consider was the avalanche risk and we needed a destination where it was easy to rent snowshoes (We were to late to rent something from DAV in Munich, but if you plan a head this is the best and cheapest option). Finding a such a destination was not easy. I was about to give up actually, but luckily Elias took over and found the perfect destination for our adventure – Feldernkopf 2071m.

This was a hike of firsts – Made and Elias doing stuff they have not done before. 

  • This was the first time I camp outside during winter
  • This was the first time I hike with snowshoes
  • This was the first time I use a stow to make pancakes
  • This was the first time I put up a tent on snow

All in all we learned so much during this adventure: 

  1. Snowshoes are not so awesome for hiking steaper hikes (perfect for less steep hikes), but they are awesome to go down hill with.
  2. Plan two hours for setting up the camp. We used 1 but it would have been nice to have one more hour just for looking at the sunset.
  3. Store your shoes inside the tent not outside in a bag.
  4. Store all your food inside the tent so it will not freeze during the night.
  5. Take your time when making the flat area for the tent on the snow. The more time you use the better you will sleep 😉
  6. Secure the inner tent the most, otherwise it will start gliding down the hill (We learned that the hard way).
  7. Take extra pars of socks with you, at least 2 extra pars for the night (You need the grandma stuff)!
  8. If it is cold sleep with cloves on, I did not do that but next time I will so that you have more flexibility when choosing  a sleeping position.
  9. Thermos is nice to have, even when you plan to boil water, so you can store the warm water you boil. When it is could outside the water gets cold faster than you think.
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what a feeling.
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View from the top around 4PM
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This is where we decided to camp, it was a little too windy on the top
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Here I try to mark the place for the tent.

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One thing to think about before you head out to a winter hike is that it is not always easy to find the path. The regular markings were almost never visible, but luckily we were able to follow the skitourng tracks. It is also a good idea to find a hike were you can see the peak from the beginning so that it is easier to orientate, or even better, take a GPS with you.

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Final break, ca. 200m still to climb

The hike was “only” 900 m climb. This was yet another thing we discovered 900 m climb in snow can not be compared to 900 m climb during summer. Yes we had quite heavy bags with us but we needed 6 hours to climb that 900m. In other words we were glad we had the whole day.

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We had quite big bags with us

 

When it comes to food the possibilities with a stow are endless, but my advise is to keep it simple. It may be cold on the top, you may be hungry and tired so you should plan to make something easy and fast. The easiest thing is to buy some of the dry food meant for hiking, but if you feel more adventurous then that, you could make dinner at home and just warm it up on the stow. We had something like chilli con crane with us and simply heated it. We even had homemade guacamole and cheese with us 🙂img_20170211_173642

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Preparation can not be underestimated, here Elias tries out making pancakes at home.

 

For breakfast we made pancakes with apple jam. (Elias wanted bacon but we never got so far as frying bacon. The pancakes would have gotten cold in the mean time so we dropped that). In addition to this we had tea and coffee with us and some fruit, homemade granola bars, sandwedges for the lunch and a chocolate. It was more than enough food and we ended up bringing some of it back home.

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Clothes:

I already mentioned extra socks, we also had extra change of clothes for seeping. The moral here is that more is better. You can never quite know how cold it will get during the night and the worst thing I know is to freeze, so have more clothes with you that you think you will need and prioritize wool and layers.

All in all this truly was an adventure. We learned a lot and experienced a lot. It was heavy and we needed to push ourselves mentally. But it was sooo nice to have dinner and watch the sunset. And to wake up and make pancakes and look at the mountains. We were also lucky with the weather so the last 300 height meters we had amazing views.

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Sunset ❤

Did you see the supermoon? From Jochberg (1565m) you could.

So on Monday everybody were exited about the “supermoon”. Apparently the moon did appear larger than it has since the 1940s. It was supposed to be the whole 14% bigger and 30% brighter compared with the smallest full moons. Pay attention to that last fact “compared with the smallest full moons.” In other words it was not THAT big, but I still thought it would be worth taking a step outside to see this supermoon and so at the last-minute, I joined a hike that a friend of mine was organizing. This meant that I had to pack everything the evening before and take it with me to work. I did not even have enough food in the refrigerator to make sandwiches, but once I have decided something, nothing can stop me!

So I packed everything and got up 6:20 to buy some sandwiches from the bakery and get to work early. At 4 a clock I left work and had to get to the other side of Munich, where we were to meet. One hour later we were on our way. Once again I was hiking with new people who I had never met before. This is almost becoming a habit :D. We were a group of five and had a really nice time.

This was also my first winter-night hike in a very long time. I think I did something like this back in Norway but in a much smaller scale.

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We were truly hiking in winter wonderland.

I must give my friend Anna all the credit for choosing the mountain and planning the hike. I know she put a lot of effort into finding the perfect mountain where we could see the moon. And perfect it was 🙂 .

The hike we did was the following:

Route: Parkplatz am Kesselberg (850 m) – Jochberg (1565 m) – Parkplatz am Kesselberg (850 m).

Time: Estimated time was 2 hours to the top, but we used closer to 1,5h.

Climb: 750m

The drive there from Munich took ca one and half hour. We honestly thought that we would be the only crazy people going hiking in the middle of the night just to see the moon, but when we got there, there were about 4 other cars already parked. Turns out we are not the only ones who had this idea!

We started from the parking lot with lots of layers and headlights. After 10 minutes the layers came off and after 30 minutes we turned off our headlights. It was so snowy and the moon was indeed very bright, so the headlights were not even needed. There was however a lot of fog, so we could not see the moon. At ca. 1400 meters (when the forest ended) we finally walked out of the fog and saw the moon.

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The magical moment as we exit the forest and see the moon.

So imagine this: you are standing in the snow, under the stars, under a bright moon, you look down into the valley and it is covered with thick soft fog. In the horizon you see all the mountaintops reaching out of the fog. It was amazing.

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The fog in the valley and the mountaintops rising up from it – Amazing.

Tonight, the full moon will appear larger than it has since the 1940s. The moon will appear around 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter compared with the smallest full moons. It will be worth taking a step outside to see this super supermoon.

What is a supermoon, and why does it happen?

The moon’s orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. It’s an ellipse, a saucer shape that’s longer than it is wide. That means as the moon follows this orbit, it’s sometimes closer to the Earth and sometimes farther away. At perigee, the closest spot in its orbit to the Earth, it’s around 31,068 miles closer to Earth than at apogee, when it’s farthest away.

Meanwhile, we see different phases of the moon — full, crescent, waxing, and waning gibbous — depending on if the sun-facing side of the moon is facing the Earth.

These two phenomena don’t always match up, but when they do, astronomers call it a perigee full moon (a.k.a. super moon). This occurs about one in every 14 full moons, Jim Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin Madison, notes.

The relative difference in size between a full moon at perigee and apogee. It does appear bigger, but not dramatically so.
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To be sure, this isn’t an enormous difference compared with a regular full moon. Neil deGrasse Tyson has called the frenzy around supermoons overblown. “If you have a 16-inch pizza, would you call that a super pizza compared with a 15-inch pizza?” he said on theStarTalk radio show.

Whether or not you’re impressed, it’s a good enough excuse to go outside and marvel at the beauty of the cosmos. Sky and Telescope reports that the night of the 13th or 14th should make for good viewing (perigee will occur at 6:23 am EST on the 14th). But “[t]he tiny difference between the two evenings will be undetectable,” the magazine writes. You may want to try to catch the moon earlier, when it rises (for those of us on the East Coast, around 5:30 pm), because near the horizon, an optical illusion will make the moon appear absolutely huge. Like this:

Expedition 50 Supermoon

But why is this supermoon extra special?

The moon will appear slightly larger than it has in decades because of mere chance. The moon will reach fullness just three hours after perigee on November 14. Because perigee and the full moon are so closely timed, this full moon will be the largest (relative to our perspective on Earth) since 1948. The next-closest supermoon will be in 2034, as NASAreports.

Again, though, the differences in size between a really close supermoon and a typical one would be are pretty negligible. The full moon Monday will be just 30 miles closer to Earth than the last record in 1948, National Geographic reports. In astronomical terms, that’s tiny.

The moon will also be a bit brighter than usual — also due to the fact that it will be a bit closer to the Earth.

And if you miss it, fear not. We’re currently in a run of supermoons, and there will be another on December 14 (it won’t be quite as big). After that, we’ll have to wait until December 2017 for the next one.

Correction: This article originally misstated the how the moon’s phases occur. They do not occur due to the moon’s passing in and out of the Earth’s shadow. Rather, they’re due to thechanging angles between the sun, Earth, and moon.

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We were the only ones on the top and enjoyed our warm tea (me) and gipfel beer ( Anna) with amazing view.
On our way down we had some problems because it was very slippery. Actually we were counting who fell the most :D, but after a while we came out of count. There were couple of very funny falls :D. Luckily I had my (new 🙂 ) hiking poles with me and did not fall once!
Despite the falls, the hike itself was quite easy, but there was a lot of snow so gaiters and hiking poles were very useful as were proper hiking shoes. If you plan to do this hike or any other winter hike, invest in gaiters and bring always two pairs of gloves with you. Warm tea in a thermos is also a must for me 🙂
I would totally do this hike again during daytime. During day, you should see Walchensee, Kochelsee, Riegsee, Staffelsee and Starnberger See! Walchensee and Kochelsee being the closest biggest lakes. You can see a summer panorama here. 
The day after this hike I was a Zombie.. So tired, I got to bed at 1 AM and had to work the day after. That gave me ca. 5,5 hours of sleep. In other words, after-work-hiking is not something I would consider doing often :D.
Did you see the supermoon? Could you tell that it was bigger?