I’ve been posting about my travels outside of Germany lately, but haven’t said much about my time spent IN Germany. It’s so easy for me to loose track of the beauty around me because anytime I have three days off (sometimes even just two) I’m looking at other countries I can travel to. It’s funny how Germany feels like “home” and just like when I’m back in Washington, I want to get away from my home and into the world.
Contrary to popular belief, I DO work here. I work close to full time averaging around 35 hours a week, but I make it a priority to get out and away as much as I can. Something as simple as a walk (or soon a bike ride!) into town is a helpful reprieve and reminds me I am in another country. The hotel I work at is American, and after a few days of not leaving the American military bases I am in dire need of an escape. Hearing people speak German, or exploring the alps is all I need to recharge.
I’ve managed to get into the surrounding mountains a few times, and as the snow continues to melt I look forward to my summer of hiking in my “hometown” of Garmisch. My first taste of the alps was a short 30ish minute hike to what we call “the swing.” I have been to the swing twice, and the second time I happened to meet a German guy admiring the view. He casually mentioned he built the swing, and has only ever met American’s at the hidden spot.
After I visited the swing I explored more of the area nearby. I’m literally surrounded by mountains, but have mostly stuck to a mountain called the Kramer. I plan to summit the Kramer soon, but my first semi climb on the Kramer was to one of the many hütte’s in the alps. One thing I love about the German mountains is that they have hütte’s all over them, which are restaurant cafe’s where people stop for a bite, a beer, or a baked good.
I made my way up to Sankt Martinshütte on one of my days off for a view of the city and a cup of tea. It was a moderate climb and felt good to dust off my heart muscle after a sedentary winter. Both the swing and Sankt Martinshütte are accessible by foot from the hotel I live in/work at, and there are so many other trails nearby that will be great for a day off or for an after work decompression.
My third mountain adventure, and first official summit since living in Germany was on the Wank. The Wank is a bit further (will be easy to get to when I buy a bike), so I drove with some friends the first time I explored it, and took a bus the second time. The first time I went I didn’t summit, I just went up part way to Tannenhütte for a post work adventure. My friends had a drink, and I soaked up the views.
After figuring out how to get to the Wank I felt comfortable going alone the second time so I could summit. I was a bit premature with this decision, because there was still quite a bit of snow at the top. I wore trail running shoes with minimal traction and was a bit scared coming back down, but I was too stubborn to turn back without hitting the top. I was the first of my coworkers (that I know of) to summit the Wank for the season, and three weeks later others started to make the Wank their first summit of the season too.
I met two German women at the top that thought I was crazy for not having the right shoes or any trekking poles. The Wank is 5840ft with about 3500ft of elevation gain. I was surprised I hit the summit as easily as I did. It was a push, but I felt stronger than I expected. It was probably the waffles and coffee I splurged on for breakfast. Thanks to Alfred, I felt the push after my hike (and thanks to my breakfast choice) and was out of commission for a day or so, but these things are just a part of life with an autoimmune disease.
At the top of the Wank there is a hütte called the Wankhaus. It was closed when I went because I went before it was open for the season, so I’ll have to return sometime for a tea. I tried to hike the Wank again a few weeks later, but my body was not having it. I only made it 1/3 of the way up and had to turn back. I had a small pity party and then had to get over it. The hardest part about living with Sjogrens is listening to my body when it tells me “no.”
Any movement is better than no movement, and I love how the German culture in Bavaria is very active. I love seeing the locals out walking the trails. Old, young, dogs, pointy ear squirrels – you name it. Regardless of age, people are out walking the flat and manageable trails and sometimes I need those reminders that it’s ok to not always climb UP a mountain, but walking around one is just as beneficial.
Admittedly it can be hard not to compare my abilities now to my abilities before I was diagnosed with Sjogrens. Mentally I still want to run all the miles, and climb all the mountains, but physically I just don’t always have it in me. I feel lazy when I struggle, but my fatigue can be so bad it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other. When I push too hard my joints hurt, my back aches, my organs feel funny, my lungs struggle to get air in them, my skin breaks out in itchy rashes, and then I take days to recover.
Alas, I will not quit I just have to moderate. Without the climbs, there are no amazing views.
All this to say life is Germany is moving along. I’d be lying if I said it were easy, and most days I struggle with my health, but I’m doing the best I can for now. Bavaria is beautiful, and I’d be remiss not to make the most of my time here. One day at a time!
Q: Do you listen to your body when it tells you it needs to rest?