Mt Roy: Wanaka’s best kept secret

The alarm went off at 6 am. Hubby muttered “No, no, no…” I mentally screamed “Yes, yes, yes!” I was out of bed in no time, full of excitement and joy. I had prepared for this day to come and I was ecstatic it had finally arrived. When you spend time in New Zealand you make sure to make the most of it – that includes a trip up Mt Roy. The country’s South Island is scattered with towering peaks, but few are as impressive as this one.

I’d seen awe-inspiring pictures of Mt Roy and God forbid my picture-hungry soul would drive by the town without stopping for a fine mountain hike.

We tend to be rather active on our adventures, however prior to arriving in New Zealand a tooth infection turned around everything. I had to take it slow, as ordered by the doctor. So we took a few days off to give my swollen face time to heal. The antibiotics helped  but also turned my guts upside down. My body did not want to be bothered with food that morning but I knew I needed the energy. Hubby wolfed down his cereals while simultaneously packing his bag and searching for his boots. I had neatly packed everything the night before. I felt so well prepared.

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Continue reading Mt Roy: Wanaka’s best kept secret

Cascade Falls

Just a short drive from beautiful Emerald Bay…

on the west side of Lake Tahoe, is Cascade Lake. The lake itself is hidden away in a little valley just west of Tahoe and the hiking paths around the lake provide incredible views of both Lake Tahoe and the mountainous country around it. The wonderful thing about the Cascade Falls trail is that after a very established trail heads up to the granite stones around the falls, the trail ends; leaving you to decide where to explore and what to see. The falls themselves are not, perhaps what many would think of as a waterfall, but rather at large granite face of rock over which water from higher in the mountains flows and several small, serene mountain streams.
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Contributors Ryan And Tayler on the trail to Cascade Falls.Cascade Lake can be seen in the background.
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One of the more isolated and beautiful ponds further up the slope.
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Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe in the background.
The trail is fairly popular in the summer months because of its relative ease and beautiful views, but you can easily find ways away from the people to more isolated ponds and quiet streams with large stones surrounding them which are perfect for picnics. The further up the slope you wander, the fewer people you will encounter and the more perfectly serene and beautiful places you can find. The higher on the granite slope you climb, the better the view of Tahoe and Cascade Lake, do be careful though to always keep yourself close to the water so you can find your way back, remember there are no established trails further up.

What to Bring

Always remember that in the mountains any hike can turn dangerous very quickly, therefore bring necessary provisions with you such as a small amount of trail food and at least 2 liters of water per person. In the summer Months the slopes here are rather exposed, although there is plenty of tree cover at the beginning and further up the slope. Bring appropriate clothing for whichever time of year you are planning on your hike here like Hats, Sunglasses, and sunscreen. Hiking poles are helpful but not strictly necessary, it is a short hike after all.

Other Suggestions

The parking lot is fairly sizable but in popular months could fill very quickly. If you chose to park somewhere else, be aware that the roads around Emerald bay are very narrow and curvy, walking to the trailhead from another location is seriously dangerous so have a back up plan if you cant get a spot. The parking lot is very often in summer, full of wasps. Be aware and try to have your food and sweets pre-packed in your bag before you leave the car because let me tell you, they will follow you.
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Wander on!

The Osser

Along the Czech Border…

Stand a range of mountains that form a natural border wall. The largest of those is called the Arber but even though it is the largest, it is far from the most challenging to ascend. The Osser ranks much higher on that list. The Osser was the first of the Bavarian mountains I ever climbed back in 2013, the way to the summit is only 3.5 Kilometers, but it will still take 4 hours both ways and that’s if you manage to keep the same pace both up and down.

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Clouds roll over the Czech border into Germany.

The Osser looms tall above the towns of Lam and Lohberg in the Bavarian forest National Park and at its very summit, much like most of the mountains in Bavaria, sits the Schutzhaus, or protection house which marks the border with The Czech Republic and serves as a resting place for hikers and wanderers to stop and have a beer and some food before continuing on their way. There are many ways to climb the mountain like almost any other and some are easier than others. We did not take the easy path.

If you are looking for a training hike then the Osser is for you. You will ascend over 500 meters in 3.5 Kilometers, that’s a steep grade and it almost never relents. There will be times where you think the path is becoming easier, only to become just as hard or harder within another minute. It can be demotivating but the view is well worth the work. An even more challenging route would be to climb bot the smaller and larger Osser all at once. there are paths that connect the two but if you are planning on that way you will need someone to pick you up on the other side because the path ends in another place.

The path itself is barely a path and more of a stairway in some places, the roots of the trees stand exposed and act as steps up to the top. The moment of clarity that you will be making it to the top within the next 30 minutes is when you reach “the Meadow”. About 5 years ago a huge storm hit Bavaria with seriously high powered winds. The winds were so strong in fact that they tore whole sections of forest down from the tops of some of the taller mountains on the border. The Osser was one of those mountains. The meadow is full of young growth trees and bushes where there were once large, strong trees. You can still see the carnage of that storm laid out across that meadow. The carcasses of the unfortunate trees lay in every corner, but in that clearing you catch your first glimpse of the summit.

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Ryan stands at the cross atop the Osser.

The first time I climbed the Osser I was not expecting the hike that I got and nearly turned around, but that day there was a Czech/Bavarian friendship fest at the Schutzhaus and from that meadow, I could hear the music from the summit. That inspiration proved to be all that I needed and that day I stood at the top of the Osser, that was nearly 3 and a half years ago.

This time, I got the opportunity this time around to see an incredible sight; the movement of weather from the Czech Republic to Germany. As we stepped to the top of the mountain, I looked to the Czech side and saw that the entire valley was full all the way nearly to the summit with clouds. At some lower points the clouds started to spill into the valley where the town of Lam stands, you can see in the picture below. It was an incredible view and one that I will always remember. The weather seemed to follow us down the mountain on our way back but when we where sheltered by the back side of the mountain, we stood under the clouds.

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Our travelling squirrel met us on the way down! he said something about “not enough trees on the summit”.

This Time I had a companion, My friend the traveling squirrel joined me! I am happy to report that I caught a couple of photos and also that he will be accompanying me on all of my future wanderings! Get excited, because more cuteness is to come! Stay tuned for much more fun from the woods! Next time we will climb the Lusen, in the Czech Republic, and this little guy will come with us!

Keep Wandering, Friends,

Ryan+Luise

Warum, Drumherum?

During the Weekend of Pfingsten…

A religious holiday known as Pentecost elsewhere, the city of Regen in the Bavarian woods is overrun with musicians and dancers. For 4 days every 2 years, Drumherum is here. Every street corner, every tavern, every inch of every street within the city center is full of life. since 1998 this festival has been a testament to the wide and varied folk music styles of Bavaria, The Czech Republic, Poland and even more. The smells of fresh food fill the air while the incredibly talented musicians practice their art.

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Musicians in a crowded pub practicing their art, during the fest every single pub is filled to the brim.

Even if you are not a fan of the folk music, you can watch, and even take part in traditional dances of the region like waltz and Zwiefach. you may even run into a group performing a special dance known as “schuhplatteln” a highly technical and difficult dance which I suggest you look into. I will also post a video of the dance to the blog so you can see for yourself. The Festival is perhaps made even better by its setting.

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The city of Regen, nestled deep in the woods, is dominated by the river which it is named for.

The city of Regen is deep in the Bavarian woods and nestled into a valley which is dominated by the river which bears the city’s namesake. The river splits at a pair of long islands which serve as parks during normal times, but at Drumherum the islands are full of musicians. Some are organized bands playing in stages venues spread throughout the city, but most are simply musicians who decided to come and play at a corner, maybe compete with fellow musicians. It is a paradise of music. You may even be able to see some unique home made instruments which have no real name.

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A “Kirtabaum” in the central square of Regen, Celebrating Drumherum and Pfingsten.

Beer, of course is a huge part of this festival just like any other and the local brewery turns out big to provide what I can only imagine to be the largest amount of beer they will sell all year. All this is of course, leading up to the big party of Pfingsten, Pfingtritt. Join me next time and learn more about the celebration!

Best wishes on the Road,

Ryan

The Beginning of our Journey…

There is no Better Feeling…

Than standing at the top of a mountain in the Bavarian woods after a long day of work to get there. The smell of the wind as it rolls, or sometimes whips by you. The incredible view of the Upper Palatinate below you and most importantly, the knowledge that in a few minutes you will be enjoying a cold, traditional Bavarian beer in the Berghuette (mountain house) to celebrate your victory.

So, I suppose there are a few things you should know about where I live.

  1. The region I live in is called the Oberpfalz, German for Upper Palatinate. Its a heavily wooded and very rural section of the Southern state of Bavaria.

  2. Basically my entire region is a giant national park, The Bayerwald. Literally translated, it means “Bavarian Woods”

  3. There are a multitude of beautiful mountains like the one above all along the Czech border.

  4. Nearly every single one of them serves beer and food at a guest house on the summit of the mountain.

  5. As you might imagine, all of these mean that there is nearly limitless adventure potential in the Oberpfalz alone, not to mention the Alps in Oberbayern, or the Black Forest in Baden Wuertemburg. So I made a decision: I would make it my goal to explore every nook and cranny I could find here and bring my knowledge and experience to the table here, online for all to see. That is the purpose of this blog.

On this medium, I , along with the other contributors, will keep memories, trials and adventures through the many Wanderwege (Walking or wandering ways) of my beloved home. There will be images, Articles of my different adventures and also as much video footage as I can get of the experience of wandering in this beautiful place and others across the world. So if you are ready for an adventure, follow this blog and get yourself ready to ride along with us. We start right now.

All the best on your way!

Ryan+The Wanderweg Crew