In early July I had a week off from work and decided relatively spontaneously to do a little bavarian lakes photo tour in the german Alps. I wanted to revisit some places I last visited about 10 years ago, scout some new locations and primarily just enjoy nature and relax but also do some decent mountain hikes which I wanted to do for quite a few years now, like the so called "Höllentalklamm" (devils deep), a very impressive, narrow, rugged and wild gorge near the Zugspitze (Germany's highest mountain, 2962m).
This time I had no particular photos in my mind which I wanted to create like I often have on my other photo motivated trips like the Heringstein Mountain Bivouac - instead I wanted to focus on the outdoor experience and just take photos along the way. That said, I ended up with almost 2000 new photos taken with the Nikon D810, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus drone and my Samsung Galaxy S8 mobile device - and I am pretty satisfied with the photographic results! The photo below shows my very organised storage management of all the photo equipment on the co-drivers seat. The drone, a D810 body, a backup D800E, two tripods, lots of lenses (14mm - 300mm) and filters, cable releases, cards, batteries, chargers, several backpacks and an ICU for hiking and whatnot.
Here is a view of the chaos in the trunk where I've slept in the back of the drivers seat next to all the camping gear, needed clothes and food for such a trip. The trunk of the Mondeo has plenty of space for all this stuff and me sleeping stretched out without any problems with 1,81m size. With some blankets, pillows and a Thermarest mat with sleeping bag it is reasonably cozy and comfortable during the night.
I packed and loaded up my expedition modified Ford Mondeo like I did on several photo tours before, for example during my roadtrip through Scotland and hit the road on very warm and cloudless ~30°C summer day and I was very happy to go to some colder climes in the mountains and out of the stressful, loud and hectic city.
After a seven hour drive I arrived at my first location, a lake called "Hintersee" near Berchtesgaden in Southern Germany at about six in the evening. Funnily, 10 minutes after I arrived there a two-hour thunderstorm with hail, heavy rain and incredibly loud thunder started and I was sitting in the car on a parking lot directly at the lake and enjoying the show in front of me. The temperature dropped from 21°C to 11°C in 15 minutes or so. During the second hour I was a bit disappointed and worried about my planned evening stroll and sunset shooting. Fortunately the weather calmed down in time and I had enough time left to scout the lake and possible locations for sunset. As it turned out the thunderstorm was good for interesting photo opportunities with a lot of fog and mist in the air which created some nice mystical conditions at the mountain lake. See the photos below.
Two additional photos from previous visits:
After sunset I drove to my previously scouted location to spent the night in the car there. It was a very nice and quiet spot in the forest, not far from the lake. I've slept quite well but not that much. After breakfast I strolled around in a nearby forest called "Zauberwald" (fairytale forest) which was a nice experience, except the company of too many other tourists.
After that I started my drive towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitz region on a road called "Deutsche Alpenstrasse". It was a very nice and scenic 190 kilometers drive on partly steep and narrow roads but with great vistas along the way. A nice contrast to the monotonous seven hour drive on the Autobahn the day before. In the late afternoon I arrived at my next destination, a large artificial lake called "Sylvensteinstausee" - of course in the pouring rain. I scouted the location but postponed my planned flight with the drone to take some photos of the place and continued my way towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Along the way I discovered a very special place I didn't know before and which I hadn't expected. A place which impressed me a lot, especially seen from above with the drone. It strongly reminded my on the vastness of the landscape of my northern adventures last year in Scandinavia. See photos below of the impressive valley with its streams and forests, the river Isar and the Rißbachtal, all enclosed by mountains.
In the evening I hiked from a parking lot called "Alpencamp" some paths at the mountain called Wank and strolled around and enjoyed the vistas over Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Due to the rain and grey skies I did not take any interesting photos that evening. When I woke up the next day the skies were still grey and the rain was still pouring. So I opted for the hike up and through the Höllentalklamm. One of the wildest and most adventurous hikes I ever did, until now. The hike started in the hamlet Hammersbach and led along the river, through really nice forests and between the massive mountains Waxenstein (2277m) and Alpspitze (2628m). All the rain and the fog in the mountains and forest gave the hike a very mystical touch and pretty intense green colors. See some snapshots of this breathtaking hike below.
After an hour or so of constant, partly quite steep ascent I arrived at the gorge entrance. The landscape suddenly changed and it became very loud due to the Hammersbach river crashing down in the deep and narrow gorge. Water was literally everywhere and as I continued my way on the countless ladders, bridges, tunnels and stairs I got wet to the skin of icy glacier water. With 12° C outside temperature, it was a pretty refreshing experience!
I've spent quite some time completely wet in the icy cold canyon and took countless pictures, always fighting with water on the lenses and the cold in my fingers and then eventually enjoyed the wider Höllental (devils valley) with its more open landscape and very mystic atmosphere with all the mist and fog in the air and the spectacular views and vistas along the hiking path in this high mountain wilderness. It was breathtaking and I enjoyed it very much but after three hours completely wet and cold I decided to descend back to the village but again through the raging gorge. I think I only needed a little more than an hour to get back to the parking lot and then I was very glad to have a hotel room to dry all the wet clothes and to enjoy a very long and hot shower.
Altough this trip-report is named "Bavarian Lakes Tour", this impressive and adventurous mountain hike might be the true highlight of the trip. It was a very memorable and intense experience that I do not want to miss! Due to the weather and the strenuous hike I've spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing and warming up again.
In the evening however I drove to a lake called Lüttensee near the village Mittenwald, scouting for image compositions but left the place without a single photo. For sunset I drove to a famous alpine lake called Geroldsee (or Wagenbrüchsee) but the thick gray clouds of rain prevented even seeing the mountains behind the lake, so I just enjoyed being there breathing the fresh mountain air and appreciating solitude without creating images. To give you a sense for the place here are some photos I created there some years ago.
The next day the rain finally stopped and I visited a Viking village (picture below) directly at a huge lake called Walchensee and revisited the place which impressed me so much the other day. I really enjoyed taking my time there doing my thing, strolled around the area and flew around with the drone in search of new image compositions, soaking in the wild landscapes.
On my last evening I've explored and enjoyed the area around the Eibsee and scouted for new image compositions. The weather was cooperating with my photographic endeavors, so I was fortunate to create some (imho) decent new photos. See some of them below. It was such a nice place to be! Very quiet with no winds, almost no other people around and I enjoyed the scenery and the smell off a nice summer evening at the mountain lake a lot! I kept shooting and being in awe of the landscape until the last light was gone und then hiked back about 4km to the car through the dark forest during the blue hour. The forest there somehow reminded me on the forest of Saxon Switzerland with all the huge rocks and ancient, rolling paths and so on.
The next day, I started my way back home and with lots of new experiences and photos made, I returned with a smile on my face, looking forward to review and process all the new images.
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