From Scharnitz to Mittenwald – with a detour

The long and exhausting ascent of about 4100 ft. will be rewarded with a panorama that will literally take your breath away. It’s worth not to take the direct way through the Isar Valley if you want to walk from Scharnitz to Mittenwald. Here is the proof that this detour via the Brunnensteinspitze is really a great experience.

Scharnitz in the Isar Valley

The summer has been rather hot here in the south of Germany but unfortunately we often had either heavy thunderstorms or it was simply too hot for a hike on the weekends. This meant that I couldn’t go into the mountains quite as often as I wanted to. By the end of August there finally was a weekend that promised great weather and thunderstorms only for the evening. So I got up early and boarded the train via Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Scharnitz. The special offer ticket „Bayernticket“ is only valid to Mittenwald, but you can buy a ticket for the ride from Mittenwald to Scharnitz (one stop) on the train.

The village of Scharnitz has not that much to offer. The main street has heavy traffic with people coming from or driving into the mountains. The Speckklause was already crowded at 10 a.m.  The delicacies they sold did look very tasty. There were quite a lot of bikers and hikers around, but when I turned left at the tourist info to start my tour, I was very soon all by myself.

The ascent via the „Pürzlgrat“

On Inrainstraße I take  a left and soon I am standing at what looks like the entrance to the farmhouse I am passing. Since there is a sign showing in exact this direction, I continue. The mountain I want to climb today is called Brunnensteinspitze, but the sign says Brunnstein.

The smooth path is easy to walk but as soon as you have left the village it rises steeply to the top. At the beginning it is made a bit easier by ascending through serpentines. At least it is a shady path leading through forest and it is still cool. Unfortunately I didn’t have an easy part long enough to warm up and so I soon had cramps in the calves. But giving up was no option. So I reduced my speed and made several short breaks. After 30 minutes I reach a lookout called „Adlerhorst“ (eagles nest) that offers great views of Scharnitz, the Isar valley and the Arnspitze on the opposite side.

I treat myself to a short break and marvel at the vista that will become more spectacular later on during my tour. My calves did warm up and I finally can walk at my regular pace. It is very quiet here in the forest and there is nobody walking this trail besides me. Will it eventually be too strenous? Well, in my guide book it did say that the ascent over 4100 ft. will be straight and steep. Guess that quite a few will be held back by this announcement.

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The forest becomes more lucid and the few broadleaftrees I have seen earlier are receding. The sun hides behind clouds every now and then, so it is not getting too hot. Due to the effort I start sweating anyway. At one point the path takes a left turn and I am standing at a chasm.

At least I have a magnificent view of the Isar valley and the Karwendel mountains to the south. To get such views it’s worth to agonize a bit. With every foot I gain in height the view gets even more spectacular. So I stop every once in a while gasping and enjoy the great views. There is no hurry today.

During my walk I can look at those beautiful flowers around. The trail leads along the Pürzlgrat and I completely forget about the time passing. In the book it said it’ll take about 2 hours to completely cross this ridge, but I have the feeling that it takes much longer.

As per my guide book the woods should soon become  a forest of mountain pine and lead me to a boulder where I have to make a right turn. Unfortunately the summit of the Brunnensteinkopf is not that boulder they were writing about. That means that I have to continue the ascent. Once I have reached the summit I will be rewarded with really spectacular views.

The sun is still hiding behind clouds that look sort of menacing at times. A thunderstorm here in the middle of nowhere with no place to hide wouldn’t be much fun. But luckily I was spared.

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After another while even the mountain pines become more lucid and I have to cross a few fields of rubble. But as you can see above the view is becoming even more fascinating, if not breathtaking. So it really is worth the effort.

And there is the next boulder that looks like it could be the one where I have to turn right. From afar it looks like there is a trail crossing and per my guide book there will be no sign. But no luck, this is not the boulder I am looking for. At least I can catch the first glimpse of the summit I will be standing on today. That’s already an inducement.

The last effort before arriving on the summit

Meanwhile my shirt is dripping wet and I have to struggle to move forward. I sit down, have a drink and enjoy the vista. Suddenly there is a guy coming out of the woods who has chosen to hike the same trail as me. And he hopes to reach the summit soon as well.

Finally I reach a field of rubble with a broken sign leading me to the right turn I was so desperately waiting for. I made this leg of the trail and per my guide book I have survived the worst part of the tour. The view is really breathtaking and I keep tellng myself that this was worth the effort.

It’s not long before I reach a meadow with still some flowers in bloom. Aren’t they cute?

The Tiroler Hut

The trail leads across this meadow parallel to the mountain and rises slowly towards the ridge. However the mountain falls steeply to the valley and you shouldn’t be afraid of heights when you make this crossing. With every step the view becomes even more magnificent. This is one of those WOW-moments.

Finally I reach the ridge at the Tiroler Hütte. Well, hut is maybe a bit over estimated it is more like a shack. If you should be hit by a storm up here it doesn’t offer much shelter. And on top it is deadlocked and there is no chance to enter.

But I still haven’t reached the summit. At least it is not much of an ascent to reach it and soon I am at the top. Breathtaking is the only word that comes to my mind. What do you think? Isn’t that a dream?

There are millions of flies on the summit and I can’t stay here too long. So I am going back to the Tiroler Hütte where I will start my descent. The clouds that have accompanied me throughout the day are becoming more menacing again. Guess there will be a storm coming up today.

I’ve been hiking quite often along the German-Austrian border, but today is the first time I see a sign that actually tells me that I am crossing the border. Iit’s time for the descent. This means another 4300 ft. and will therefore be quite long as well. And on my way down there is a cottage waiting for me and I am looking forward to a non-alcoholic beer and a snack.

The descent via the Rotwandlspitze starts rather steep and I have to cross more rubble. At times it is not easy to walk, but manageable. Every once in a while the trail leads through mountain pines and the path is smoother there.

The rocks do have an intensive red coloring but it is not sandstone. On this side of the mountain I come across more people, but it is not over crowded. Again I am loosing the sense of the time I have been walking and the anticipation to reach the cottage rises with every step.

I find those colorings very interesting. At times it shimmers in ocher and then again in all kind of shades of red. The rubble gets less and less and the path is easier to walk. Shouldn’t I reach the cottage soon? I am very thursty and ran out of water again.

Just when I am asking myself if I got lost or did miss the cottage I finally can see it through the woods.

The Brunnsteinhütte is known for having a nice display of different animals. Sort of a petting zoo. Especially the donkey is very nosy. Since I haven’t crossed any alps with grazing cattle and didn’t meet any wild animals I have to include pictures of those animals in my post.

The first beer frizzles and the sausage with vinegar (Pressack) is a true delight. You can still make me happy with small things. Shortly after I reach the cabin, the guy I have met during the ascent reaches the cabin as well and we start chatting. In the end we decide that we will share the rest of the tour, since he has also to go back to Munich.

From this cabin the trail leads through shady forest and is not that steep anymore.

We pass clearings where we find this gentian in bloom. At one point we have to cross a dry creek. And then we see from one of those clearings that on the other side of the valley a storm is brewing. We hope that we will reach the train without getting soaked.

We are lucky and do reach at least the valley of the Isar without a drop of rain. A last glimpse back to the summit and off we go. From here on the road is comfortable to walk and even all the way to Mittenwald. Along our way we cross this herd of goats. Has been a good day for animal pictures after all.

Coming to Mittenwald we find it a bit difficult to find the train station. All the people we ask for directions are telling us that they are from out of town and don’t know how to get there. With some sense of orientation and just walking towards the center we do find it in the end.

And here are a few pictures of typical houses with traditional murals we pass.

This is the end of another great hike. Yes, it was strenuous but with those breathtaking views in mind I forgot about this real fast. While we are still waiting for the train we realize that there is a storm ravageing on the top of the Brunnstein and we see a paraglider that barely escapes this storm. I would have died of panic.

I hope you do like this post and the pictures. Looking forward to your comments.



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