This is our last walk and we had some doubts about whether we wanted to actually do the steep climb. However our legs are in pretty good shape in the morning so we set off to Gfäll after stopping at the Edeka store to get some sandwiches for lunch.
The road to Gfäll is the only summer road that is still open, all other roads to summer parkings are closed due to snow. We follow the GPS up via Spiegelau and drive slowly to the parking lot over a small road with a thin layer of snow. We set off with a ‘light’ clothes setting, since we suspect the climb to the Grosser Rachel will keep us warm. Again it’s a wide forest road, obviously recently used by a vehicle. The compressed snow is very slippery in places so we have to watch our footing. We do not see another soul all the way to the top, though the many footsteps prove that there is some passage. We climb 500 m over 3.5 km, which requires numerous stops to catch our breath and to let our heart rate drop back to normal. During the climb mine averages 135.
We have some nice views of the top ahead and the snowy slopes, the Alps seem much closer today and cover the entire south horizon. At the Rachelschutzhaus just below the top we share one of the Eat Natural fruit and nut bars and some hot tea. We encounter the same guy we already saw at the parking lot, he must be 60 but took the long way up and still got there before us, as far as we can understand through his strong accent.
The view from the top is a bit encumbered by the trees, so we don’t stay long and start the steep descent towards the Rachelsee. The way down is a hiking trail that is completely covered in snow. We can follow the footsteps but we cannot see what’s under the snow, so the trick is to throw out your foot, slide it until you find a non-moving object and then move your weight forward.
We start encountering more people, mostly older locals with a big dog bouncing along, in surprisingly modern gear, using walking sticks for balance. We break for lunch at a small chapel overlooking the Rachelsee, glad to give our knees a rest after clambering down the steep rocky terrain. After the chapel the trail gets a bit easier, the most beautiful bit is around the Schutzhaus, where the forest is dense and quiet.
At the hotel we organize our stuff a bit for easier packing in the morning and enjoy our last dinner at Das Reiners.
- Steps: 21742
- Floors: 192
- Kilometers: 15.35 km