The Hike to Willers Alpe

Thursday’s hike in the Bavarian Alps:

Even in this valley, it is unusual to get such a heavy snowfall right in the middle of May.  However, we woke up to more snow on May 15.  In the valley, perhaps there was an accumulation of about 2 inches, but as we hiked up to Willers Alpe, a cheese making lodge and small eatery (stube), it was not long before we were in knee-deep snow.  Ursula had just hiked this trail last week with her sister and there was no snow.  Instead, they had encountered fields of enzian and other wildflowers, green grass, and grazing cows.

As we were walking up higher and higher, towards Willers Alpe, I noticed that there was no sign of anyone else having come up this path leading to Willers Alpe.  We should have had snowshoes on because the snow was getting deeper.  It suddenly dawned on me that the eatery (stube) could be closed and we were hungry, counting on a meal at the stube!  “Ursula, what if Willers Alpe is closed?”  Ursula being 10x more optimistic than I am said, “Don’t worry. It will be open!”

For most of the hike, Tom was “trailblazing for us” or cutting out our path in the snow.  At some point, I told Tom that I would walk up front because I know it is really hard work for the first person stomping down the snow to create a path.  Soon enough, I was the trailblazer (not nearly as long as Tom was the trailblazer).  I was sweating and marching, lifting my legs up high to create a path in the deepening snow.  At first, finding the path was easy because I just followed the open space of the snow-covered trail, a giant swath between trees.  But then the trail opened up to snow-covered hills and fields and I was no longer sure where to go.  The snow was coming down in thick flakes. Ursula has been coming to Hindelang for the last 25 or 30 years and she has hiked to Willers Alpe some 25 times so, luckily, she knew the path.  She knew exactly where the foot bridges were and when I should steer left or right and when she saw me hesitate, she would say, “Keep to your left!” I knew we were not lost, but I can’t express how relieved I was to see the lodge in the distance across the snowy landscape!

Was I ever happy to see this! Willers Alpe: home, lodge, cheese making facility, stube, refuge!

Was I ever happy to see this! Willers Alpe: home, lodge, cheese making facility, stube, refuge!

Once I arrived at the Willers Alpe, I got my camera out and took this photo of Ursula approaching...

Once I arrived at the Willers Alpe, I got my camera out and took this photo of Ursula approaching…

...and Tom approaching!

…and Tom approaching!  Yeah!  We made it.  We were so happy and hungry!

Once we entered, the owners of the Willers Alpe greeted us.  Ursula asked the lanky cheesemaker and his brother’s charming and beautiful wife if they were surprised to see us and they said, “No, not really.  BUT you are the first ones here today!   Maybe you are the only ones who will come today.  Welcome!”  Apparently, they had only three people the day before.   Ursula and I hiked up to Willers Alpe two years ago and it was packed with hikers coming in for a beer and bite to eat.

The stube (eatery).   So warm and cozy!

The stube (eatery). So warm and cozy!

Well, I guess the funniest part was when Tom’s cheese dish was placed before him.  In addition to cheese and bread, there were onion slices and a huge chunk of fresh butter (also made on the premises).  Tom, who vigilantly watches his fat intake, announced, “I am eating ALL of my butter!” And he did!  He worked hard for that butter.

One of the most charming men in the world, Tom!

One of the most charming men in the world, Tom!  He can put a smile on anyone’s face.

My kasbrot:  bread and cheese made at Willers Alpe.

My kasbrot: bread and cheese made at Willers Alpe.

After we ate, we headed back down the same path we came up.  But before we left, I took the following photos from the Willers Alpe stube (view from our lunch spot).   It is very unusual to get this much snow at this time of year.  I am so glad we got to experience this.  What a great adventure!

View from Willers Alpe stube.

View from Willers Alpe stube.

Another view of snowy alpine fields from the Willers Alpe stube.

Another view of snowy alpine fields from the Willers Alpe stube.

 

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