” The weather does not look so bad today”, the Hüttenwirt (mountain cabin manager) said to us before we left for the next cabin. “Tomorrow, there will even be some sun!” He looked at his IPad and the symbol of the sun was encouraging us to continue our hike. We started our climb to the over 9000 feet high Säuleck. From down below the valley, thick fog crawled like a huge dragon up the mountain, rising its head until it dispersed into thin air.
The way was steep and gorgeous.
A massive boulder scree was sometimes swallowing up Anna-Sophie, who was walking always ahead of me. Despite feeling sick in the stomach (I had to take antibiotics because of Borreliose caused by a tic bite), I was intrigued by the beauty of the place and wanted to capture this experience by making photos and haikus.
Between the space of
haiku and photography
I follow the path
Sometimes, a tiny pitch black salamander froze in its movement just in front of us, pretending to be dead.
On the ancient rocks
a universe of lichen
with spring green colours
For a short time, the peak of the Säuleck became visible.
Anna-Sophie always waited patiently for me. Last year, she did the PCT in California and she is also a passionate rock climber. I could never keep up with her. But today, I was very much slower than her.
The weather became continuously worse the higher we climbed. Storm gusts lashed heavy raindrops into our face and slippery rocks caused us to take every step with utter carefulness. However, after a while we reached the top of the mountain and rested for a good lunch. There, I thought of an haiku by Issa.
Climb Mount Fuji
but slowly, slowly
A selfie on the top of the mountain with chocolate in our mouths
In order to reach the Gießenhütte, we had to descend for about 1000 feet, climb up again to a saddle (Mallitzer Scharte), and then hike along an amphitheater like mountain curve to the cabin.
Sweet land art in a dried up mud puddle
Another work of art
Anna-Sophie studies the map at the saddle
I was already exhausted when I reached the saddle. My vision got bad, my legs felt weak and the shortness of breath got worse. It must have been the side effect of the medicine I took.
Majestic mountain range
On the other side of the saddle, the rain turned into tiny ice-balls and each rock had the potential of being slippery. Therefore, we avoided the rocks as much as possible and walked on snow fields. Some allowed me to slide down on my seat – a relief for my legs.
The snow fields consist of very hard snow
We could see the Gießenhütte from far away. However, in between us and the cabin were thunderous water streams rushing down the mountain. We wondered how we could cross them – for sure, we thought, there would be bridges. Other hikers must have crossed them too.
Photo of the water streams
In addition, a thunderstorm formed above our heads. Anna-Sophie became nervous. “Mutti, you have to walk faster when the path allows you to do so!” I could not walk faster. I needed to ground each step in order not to fall or slip. Water was everywhere! The path became a creek with sometimes holes to sink up to the knee. We waded through several powerful, but not so deep streams of water and our shoes and part of our legs were already soaking wet. But at one point we came to an enormous waterfall, where pure white water was rushing down with a force and freshness I have seldom seen before. I could not help but being in awe of this vitality and beauty! But how do we cross? It seemed impossible! One good thing was that a metal rope was hanging from one side to the other. Still, a wrong step would had been deadly.
We were lucky! There was a climbing rope attached to two carabiners where the force of water was not dangerous. Anna-Sophie had the idea of taking it down and securing us both to the metal rope.
After we crossed without having had a problem, my energy was back and the dizziness and tiredness gone. A huge Adrenalin push from the inherent danger must have caused it. We rushed to the cabin, where the operator and his team already expected us. They had seen us standing in front of the waterfall and the Hüttenwirt already prepared for a rescue. They also switched on the heat in the heating room for drying our cloth. We were wet to the bone, despite our rain gear.
We were the only guests in the cabin. They prepared a delicious meal – beef bouillon and stuffed pancakes with chanterelles. Home made Enzian Schnaps was a medicine for my stomach – delicious, but a very bitter drink. We were grateful that we survived this day.