The sun was burning down on my neck with no mercy. I was heavily sweating and breathing. We had just left the woods covering the slopes of Mount Heimgarten mountain in Bavaria, it was a hot and sunny day. The path had been winding up the slopes steeply since we left the shore of Lake Walchen far more than an hour ago. Every time I had been wondering why we didn’t give up, a short view anticipating what was expecting us at the top reminded me why.
We took the last steps to the top. A summit cross was majestically sitting enthroned. The turquoise coloured lake far down and the endless layers of mountains in the distance on one side were breathtaking, the plain with several other lakes and villages on the other side seemed to have no end. Exhausted, we sat down for a break. If we had put a little more effort into planning the hike than just leave in the morning and figure out a route later, we might have thought of sunscreen or something to cover our heads. We hadn’t thought of any of that, so we made use of the smallest bits of shade we could find up there in 1790m altitude. And we weren’t done yet, we were just having a break to refill our water bottles at the little chalet before hiking on.
Steeply we descended onto the ridgeback leading to the neighbouring mountain, Mount Herzogstand. The path was narrow, with slopes going far down on both sides. Some particularly steep and rocky parts, where the path was broken off, were secured with steel cable to hold on to. One wrong step and you might find yourself sliding down these slopes all the way, so I was closely watching my feet.
Whenever I stopped and looked around, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Blue skies, mountains, lakes and a plain with villages as far as you can see. I smiled, this was exactly what I loved so much. Beautiful views and the feeling of having accomplished a hard way up to the top. If I got that in return, I was having my neck and face burnt with pleasure. Another steep and rocky part and we were there, on top of Mount Herzogstand. A small hut gave some shelter from the sun and an opportunity to sit down. We enjoyed the views one last time before making our way back down to Lake Walchen.
Exhausted and tired after the descent, we sat down at the shore, dipped our feet in the cold water and had a quick nap in the shade. This had been a hard hike, a great one, but hard.
And that was another lesson learnt: Always bring sunscreen and something to cover your head when hiking in the mountains. ALWAYS. The sunburn I had after that day was painful, very very painful indeed. But still – it was worth it.