|| From Desert Floors To Mountain Tops-ultralight outdoor activities||


Trailrunning in Tenerife (Canary Islands)

At the end of October I went to Tenerife to participate in the Tenerife Blue Trail. Because of a weather warning, the race got postponed to November just 4 hours before the initial start in in the south of the island. Standing there dressed in my running clothes and drop bags in hand It was quite a bummer to get the notice after I walked about 4km from my apartment to the bus. Well this was the perfect end to an already strange season. With no finish over 50k distances I just wanted to run this race so badly. Did not happen. As a runner I think despite the lack of finishes I learned a lot this season. I feel like I got stronger, running over the winter as preparation for 100 miles of Istria and trying to structure my running a bit more. I hope to be around this crazy sport of ultra running for a long time and so I think this season was quite valuable and educational for me.
The weather predicted did not hit Tenerife that hard and so I was able to explore the trails on my own. In eight days on the Island I ran about six different trails from east to west all over the place.

The trails where very well marked, so I had never problems to follow the right way. It can get very hot even in October and water was scarce. So bring enough! …and sunscreen!

The Afur Loop aka „Mr. Wilson“
Profile | Strava

Alone the drive to Afur is quite exciting. Very small and winding roads in the mountains of the northeast. I just wish the this trail was longer, it is a very beautiful course through Canyons and along the coastline with views over the Atlantic Ocean. I would recommend to go clockwhise from Afur so you have the downhill road stretch at the end of the loop.

El Realo Alto aka „The Roller Coaster“
Profile | Strava

In the foothills of Puerto de la Cruz lays this quite runable forest trail. You have one bigger climb no matter which direction you go first.

Garachico-Montana Chinyero aka „Quadcrusher“

Profile | Strava

Climbing steep from the old town of Garachico west of Puerto Cruz this can be done also as a loop trail around Mount Chinyero which provides great views over Teide. Be sure to start earlier as it gets very hot on the climb out of town. I ran out of water so I could not do the loop trail which adds about 6km to the 25 for going out and back. A lot of sand and lava rock. Very well marked but no water on the route. You can make this one shorter if you wish by driving further up the road by car.

Sendero 7 Montana Blanca – Pico del Teide aka „Spanish Sahara“

In the heart of Teide Nationalpark, this is a must do. You start right at the road or further down at the visitor center if you want to have a long day out. Bring a lot of water!
If you want to run up to the summit of Teide you need to have a permit for the last 200 meters to the crater. Otherwise the rangers will not let you enter the last trail leading up to the peak. Trust me you want to go to the summit. So arrange that permit early enough! I could not get one and had to turn back at 3550m where the tourists arrive with the cable car.

Alaska | Wrangell-Saint Elias Trip Report & Video

The short story:
When I planned the route described in the last post, I gave us a 60% chance of finishing it as it looked on paper. My biggest concern was the weather being not stable enough to go for the full 20 days without too many cold and rainy days. Having observed the Alaskan weather all summer long I hoped for an mild early autumn. In the end we had to bail out of the route earlier than expected, from 12 days in the field it rained on and off for about 7 days. The last 3 days so heavy that we where stuck in the tent for 3 nights. Temperatures dropped, we where just under the snow-line and allready low on food.

(watch on vimeo for higher resolution)

The more detailed one:
Ruth & Brian, a couple from Anchorage I contacted before to arrange a drop-off at Nabesna road end, picked us up and drove us all the way from our hostel in Anchorage out to Nabesna. They continued on their journey to McCarthy and delivered a resupply box for us in town where we would pick it up later in our trek.
At the road end we said „good-bye“ and shouldered our packs following an atv track towards the old Nabesna Mine. At a „private property-do not enter“ sign at the side close after the mine, we veered off into the bush to our left. I said to my dad that this will be the last trail we would see for a while, trying to find a way through dense scrub. Later as we gained a little bit of elevation we got into the forest where walking was a bit easier than before. I checked the GPS every now and then to make sure we are heading in the right direction towards the Jacksina Creek, which we wanted to reach that night and start rafting out the next morning. Later the Jacksina would confluence with the Nabesna River.
As we came closer to the river, it got dark already. We tried to find a way down to the river for about an hour but the cliffs where just to steep. I hoped it would be just a matter of time till we would find a small ravine between the cliffs to climb down. For today we decided to use the last daylight for finding an proper campspot and have dinner. As the last tent peg was in the ground I noticed that big old tree hanging into an other just above our tent. I hoped that it would last another night and left camp in safe distance to fire our gas stove. If the tree would drop in the middle of the night and rip our tent or batter us this would have been an early ending of the trip.
The night passed very silently, the tree was still over our heads and soon after breakfast we where ready to go. Eager to find a place where we can drop down to the river and start rafting. We followed the cliff for a litte longer and found a place where the drop looked possible. We tried it and minutes later we where inflating our rafts on the riverbank. My father never pack rafted before, but had experience with larger rafts and kayak. I was not concerned that he could fail in the packraft.


The river was not too fast but also not too slow to be boring, the main challenge for both of us was to not hit the low water channels. Because of the silty water it is impossible to see the ground and so we had to climb out of the boat to drag the raft into deeper channels quite often.
After about two hours on the river we where at the Nabesna confluence. We looked at each other and asked at the same time „is it a good idea to keep paddling into this?“ The Nabesna was that big and we felt very tiny in our small rafts. I could see more sandbanks in the distance and as long as there are sandbanks we felt kind of safe. So we paddled on. What else could we do. We found a rhythm with the river quite fast and just continued rafting downstream. The Nabesna is a fast river and it did not take too long till we came to that area where we thought to be at the right spot for the ascent towards Cooper Pass.


We hiked up dry riverbeds, along glacial moraines, through meadows and dense forests, every now and then we could also follow game trails. My anticipation to see our first bear grew with every pile of bear scat on the ground.I think our very regular „hey bear“ yells helped to scare them away long before they came in viewing distance.

On day 4 we arrived in Chisana, a tiny settlement and remainder from the gold rush area only accessible by airplane or foot. Nowadays it is home for hunting excursions and a few people who chose to life off the grid. A day before Chisana we met one camouflage suited hunter on a horse searching for another party of hunters (which we have not seen). Another one in „town“ and two other persons who where going for the mailplane on a quad. We stayed one night in the public cabin right in town, fired the oven and dried our stuff while listening to the rain dripping on the cabin roof. We hiked out the next morning, hoping for improving weather during the day.


4 hours into the hike leading up a riverbed the rain got stronger, so the river. We could not really cross the river anymore to gain elevation so going around it in the bush was the only option left. Further up (about 10mi from Chisana) I spotted a roof on the left side. It was raining and cold and we where of course curious. Soon we found ourselves on a trail leading to a hut which was not in the maps. So we where sure it is not a forest service hut. It was unlocked and to our surprise unlocked (and well stocked). I am not going into details here. We stayed a night, had some cans of fresh fruit, left money and a letter on the table and where gone by the early morning the next day towards Solo Mountain. (Gabriel, why did you bring this flag?)

Despite the rain, the hiking was great. Good views, open tundra. No more riverbeds for now. As we approached Solo Mtn Hut the rain got stronger again. Luckily another night under a roof. Solo Mtn Hut is a very rustic cabin but the roof was leakproof. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading the hutbook, where legends like Roman Dial, Andrew Skurka and friends from Austria left their entries years before. While doing so my dad was gathering wood from the riverbed and surprisingly spotted Moose up river. We observed it for minutes before it ran off towards the hills behind.


Next morning was just beautiful. Clear blue skies, views on big mountains and glaciers and the best thing to look at, a fresh snow line above the tundra. We where eager to hike again in good weather and continued our trek towards the Solo Mtn airfield. Looking at the map it made no sense to loose all the elevation and hiking out the valley to the airfield and so I thought it might be a better idea to cut off to the right and to bushwhack down to the river which we had to follow upstream towards Skolai Pass. So we did. The trek through the bush down the side of the mountain was strenuous but despite the good weather conditions still a good option.


We where more than happy that the weather finally turned great! But little did we know. The next morning clouds where moving in again. We could hike another full day in dry conditions all the way up Skolai Pass where we found a good spot to camp. It was really calm this evening. No wind. not to cold and I was confident that the weather would become good again for our final leg on the Goat Trail towards McCarthy. In the middle of the night I awoke to heavy rainfall and gusts of wind hitting the silnylon of our tent. I just hoped the stakes in the ground would keep our dwelling save till the morning. The weather did not change for 3 days. We where stuck in the field. As far as I knew, most of the Goat Trail was higher in elevation and exposed. So I was not very comfortable with the thought that all we have for shelter up there is a wet tent. The risk of getting hypothermic was too high for me to take also thinking of my dad. I know I am able to move for 20 hours or longer if I had to, but this was too big of an risk for both of us.


We had to make a decision, with about 5 days away from the nearest town of McCarthy but only 3 days of food left it was clear, that we had to think of an Plan B. I knew somewhere here is the Skolai Air-Field where hikers can get to per plane and start their trek towards McCarthy on the Goat Trail. A route frequented more often than anything else in Wrangells. Our map was a bit outdated so the air-field was not in the place the map showed. There was just an old barn with dry wood (we used as shelter) and rusted chevron barrels (great as seats) in it. So we had no idea where the „new“ airfield was neither how to contact one of McCarthys pilots to get us out of here. Suddenly we saw that plane going low over our heads and started waving. We watched the plane and because of his low route we knew the field must be somewhere „around the corner“ but still too far to go and have a look. My father hiked up the hill a bit and spotted a group of hikers with his binocolars ( a nice to have tool up here). Without the field glas we would not have been able to see them, even it was just on the other side of the valley. I knew that was our chance. So I ran across the valley for about 20 minutes and found, somewhere along the hills and brush a group of hikers. To our advantage they had a Delorme inReach device and where able to send a text to McCarthy Mountain Air. We set up a pick up for tomorrow and got that confirmed within minutes! Thanks!


We spent a couple of days in McCarthy, rafting the McCarthy Creek and discussing what to do. I knew I had to let my dad make the decision on continuing or not. With the weather ahead, I was not disappointed of his decision of not continuing. Rafting in rain with 2°C down a river as large as the Copper River made no sense to us at all.

I knew that for this trip I have to queue behind my own expectations and goals a bit but it was still a cool trip for both of us.
I am still impressed how vast and quiet the landscapes are up there and will be definitely back for more someday.


Regarding the Gear we used, I only would change one thing. Bringing a two way communication device such as the DeLorme inreach or a Satphone instead of the spot (which is still better than nothing)

Watch the full set of picture on my flickr account

Alaska | Wrangell-Saint Elias Traverse Route Description & Gearlist



A 21 day trip traversing Wrangell-St. Elias NP from mid August to early September in south eastern Alaska. The planned route starts in Nabesna (N) and runs down to Cordova (S) with packrafting the Copper River down to the Gulf of Alaska. The Route is approx. 500km in length and should provide a good mixture of hiking and rafting parts.
In the first half, from Nabesna to McCarthy the rafts will be needed mostly for river crossings. The second half, from McCarthy to Cordova should be fully raft-able.
It will be my first off-trail pack-rafting trip covering that distance and also my first non-solo hike since 2010 because I am accompanied by my father.

About Wrangell-St. Elias NP

With 53320 km2 (6xYellowstone) Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest NP in the United States but only accessible by two dirt roads, one in the north to Nabesna and one in the south to McCarthy. Because it is divided by the Nabesna River in the north which is impossible to get across without a raft it is less travelled. There would be a lot of superlatives to drop here, but I hope to tell them first hand when I am back from the trip!

Carrying System
ULA Epic + 65L Sea to Summit Drybag
Ortlieb Waterproof Camera Bag

Rafting Gear
Alpacka Yukon Yak + Spray Deck 2830g
Sawyer Paddle
Anfibio Drysuit
Anfibio Vest S/M 376g

Clothing worn
Nike running shorts
Orthovox Merino T-Shirt
OR Suncap
Running socks
Salomon XA-PRO 3D Shoes
BD Z-poles Carbon

Clothing carried
Exofficio trekking pants
Ibex Indie Hoody Merino
Merino Buff
Fleece Hat
Running Gloves
Merino tights long
1x pair extra running socks

Insulation Gear
Cumulus Endurance Lite Down Jacket

Rain Gear
Haglofs OZO Jacket
Montane Minimus Pants
MLD Rain Mitts

Sleeping Gear
Katabatic Sawatch Down Quilt
Silk Liner
TAR Neo Air S
Sleeping socks

MSR Titan Kettle 900ml
Vargo Titan Spork
Swiss Army Knife
Mini Bic

Group Gear (shelter)
GoLite Shangri La 3 + Bathtubfloor
10 Easton Gold Stakes
15m Cord

Group Gear (kitchen)
Crux Omnilite Gasstove
2x Gas canisters
Fire Steel
Wet Fire Starters

Hygiene & First Aid & Repairs & Safety
Dr. Bronners Peppermint soap
Hand Sanitizer
Dental Floss
Duct Tape
Boat Repair Kit
TAR Repair Kit
Seam Grip
Needle + Safety Pins
Bear Spray

Group Gear (Camera & Electronics)
Spot Satellite Messanger
Fuji X-E1 + 18-55 lens
4x Camera batteries
GoPro Hero 3
3x Camera batteries
4x SD Cards
Iphone 5s + lifeproof case
External Batterie 8400 mHa
Chargers and cables
Petzl E-Lite Headlamp

Route Descriptions and Maps + Waterproof Cover
Wallet and Travel Documents
Drybags and Stuffsacks

100 Miles of Istria 2015 Race Report (DNF)

In 2013 I participated in the 100 km race from Buzet to Labin. When I first came across the 100 mile runners which where on the same course than us, I said to myself „never will I attampt an 100 miler on that course“.
However I signed up for the original 100 miles of Istria in Autumn 2014. Training and preparation really went well, I was able to do some ski-mountaineering and because of a really dry February and March there was some decent mountain running possible. I never got so many kilometers and vertical meters so early in the season. Well I never decided to do a 100 mile race before.
So a few days before race day, Anders, Mike (did the 65k) and I where going down to Umag, Croatia. Apartment check in, Bib number collection and grocery shopping. A short run in the afternoon as a kind of heat attaptation. Unfortunately the weather for race weekend was looking more like rain than sun.
After stepping out of the Bus in Labin (where the race started) I noticed a light drizzle and wind which felt cold. Instead of waiting outside for 45 minutes till the race starts I went straight to the restaurant across the square for a cup of tea. Other runners allready in, eating, preparing, checking headlamps and the race course. It was warm inside and the tea tasted really good. I felt calm. Just minutes before the gun went off I sneaked trough the field to get a little closer to the starting line. And off we where. I could not believe how fast others went out at the very beginning of a race that long. I was not too impressed, found a comfortable rhythm and cruised down the first downhill to Rabac. I noticed that it became really warm further down, runners in front stopped and removed their jackets. I jogged along the seafront in Rabac, out of the town and followed the marked course on dirtroads up to the mountains toward the first refreshment station at km17. It got dark, but still enough light to save batteries on the headlamp. I closed the gap between some runners in front by mostly walking uphill.


As it got completely dark, the fog came in. Really thick fog, making a visibility of maybe 1 meter. Headlamp strong, blinded. Headlamp dim, tired eyes. I played around between those two for most of the time, remembering how technical this terrain actually was. My hopes that the fog is just along the coast where high. I closed up to more runners on the downhill into the first aid station. The fog cleared below a certain elevation.
I just filled my bottles and off I was again, climbing up a dirt road for the next section of single trail. The further up I climbed the more fog appeared again. I caught up to more runners, and after about 25km in, I was right behind Nerea Martinez. I started questioning myself:“Am I too fast“?
No matter what, I felt really great and could go a decent pace without putting too much effort in. The terrain certainly got more technical, sharp rocks in all sizes and heights all over the place, slippery from the dew, hard to see because of the fog. It did not take long till I hit my toes in full motion. From the sharpness of the pain I knew that the rock was hitting the nail hard, I had this before. Refreshment station II came in sight. Not really actually, I just noticed a bunch of headlamps gathered around a few other people. The volunteers wrote my bib number down and offered me refreshments, I filled my bottles again and continued further on the trail towards Poklon. I remembered a really technical stretch in that section from 2013 through the beech forest. Fog, night, slippery terrain and mud did not make it easier this year. My headlamp started blinking as indication I have to change batteries, which I did not immediately of course. I calculated..still more than 6 hours darkness, the first battery did after 4..what should I do If I run out of batteries before daylight? Wait somewhere till darkness disappears? What If it shuts down right now? Will I be able to change the batteries in complete dark? Will I loose orientation and wander around like in a dark room? Of course nothing of my mind made scenarios happend, at the next checkpoint there was enough light to change the battery pack without to hassle.
Rolling down the trail into Poklon was cool, I could see the yellow streetlights around the aid station through the trees and people chatting and cheering. I knew I had some pretty though terrain behind me and also the first 42km under the belt. Still in a good mood without beeing too tired. I had some segments of an orange, filled my bottles with tailwind and water and left after drinking some coke for the first time during this race. I was happy to be on easy rolling forest track where running was possible. The hours went by pretty fast, sections of technical terrain followed by more runable and forest track. Up a mountain and down and up again. At around 06:00 am I arrived in Trstenik (km 73). I remembered the place from 2013, It is a really small place but very cool place with houses built of stones and the refreshment point in a really nice driveway of one of them. I felt a bit tired from the last downhill where I noticed also the burn from a couple of blisters on my toes. I got water, more coke and left towards Buzet (halfway) after chatting with the volunteers for a while. One told my that there where only about 10 100 milers through at this point which was cool and gave me some sort of boost. Daylight broke trough the clouds, I could hear the birds singing from the trees and all in all I felt really good getting new spirits into my head. I stowed the headlamp into my pack and started marching uphill. After a while I saw somebody in front of me, from the dirt on his calfs and moving from left to right I could swear it is a 100 mile runner. Indeed it was Adam Hewey. Again I started asking myself. Am I too fast? But still I felt good without giving all my efforts on the uphill. The downhill into Buzet, which is one of the longest on the course was hard tough. About 1000 meters descent and again very technical trails. Down there my toes hurt from kicking rocks all night long. Not even really in the refreshment station I got allready my dropbag offered from on of the very attentive volounteers. Thanks!


I really took my time here, thoughts from quitting came into my mind. Do I really want to go for another 85km? What If my toes are getting worse? Why am I doing this? I took of my shoes just sat there for minutes. Runners came in, runners went out. Some looked fresh, some looked tired. My mind said, continue! So I changed socks, got my sore toe taped, put on my trusted Cascadias and out of Buzet I was. After taking a break for about 40 minutes. I knew that the second half was not so technical anymore, also I had just 2000 meters of climbing left at this point. While pausing in Buzet, both Nerea Martinez and Adam Hewey caught up and left the aid station before me. I caught up to Nerea just a couple of kilometers later, Adam nowhere to be seen. The terrain really felt easy after the hard first half. Even with not the freshest legs I was able to run good chunks. Instead of rocks there was mud now, a lot of mud, making shoes really heavy and sticky to the ground. Rivercrossings, a pool of mud, relentless uphills through sections without trail and so on. I arrived in Hum having done roughly 100km now. The rain that started earlier got heavier now. I decided to put on my jacket, which was not the most waterproof of all. Leaving Hum I felt really cold allready, but with less than 10k to the next checkpoint I was in good spirits. Heavy winds and more cold rain, I doubted I could last long out here with no change of clothes and weather that does not look like it is improving soon. I said to myself if it is not getting better in Draguc I have to bail out. I was just shaking all over not beeing able to open my bottles or any wrappers from my supplies anymore. Luckily my brother-in-law and my sister where waiting there, which I did not know before. I got into the car and my race was over. Another time maybe.
Things learned: Adding weight in form of a proper jacket and a change of clothes will pay off in the end!
Thanks to Alen and his crew for setting up 100 miles of Istria!


Trailrunning in Paklenica (Velebit)

In November 2014 Mike, Andy and myself drove down to Croatia to find some nice trails to run in the Velebit mountains!
We spent two days in NP Paklenica and a third day on Dinara (highest mountain of Croatia) where we had to drive to Knin.
The area offers really everything from deep canyons to running on ridges and through woods, always with a view of the sea.
A highly recommended the area for people who like technical trails.

I have not found a lot of useful maps on the Internet but dont worry, you can buy a very detailed hiking map at the Park entrance!

Our moves on Strava:


Großglockner Umrundung

Route: Kaprun-Gleiwitzer Hütte-Fusch-Ferleiten-Trauner Alm-Pfandlscharte-Glockner Haus-Salmhütte-Glorer Hütte-Kals-Dorfertal-Kalser Tauern-Rudoflshütte-Kapruner Törl-Moserboden-Alpincenter Kitzsteinhorn-Krefelderhütte-Maiskogel-Kaprun

Dauer: 3 Tage/ Nettozeit 23 Stunden
Distanz ca 120 Kilometer mit 8000 Höhenmetern im Aufstieg



Nach meiner Besteigung des Großglockners (3798m) im April, waren die heuer lang anhaltenden winterlichen Verhältnisse nun Geschichte und die Wege um Österreich´s höchsten Berg großteils schneefrei. Grund genug, um ein paar Freunde zusammenzutrommeln und um gemeinsam  das mächtige Glocknermassiv in den Hohen Tauern zu umlaufen. Dabei ging es auch gleich um die Machbarkeit der Strecke und dem sammeln von wichtige Daten für den 2015 erstmals stattfindenden Großglockner ULTRA-TRAIL.
Mit einiger Verspätung sind wir um die Mittagszeit, zu viert, vom Salzburger Platz in Kaprun gestartet, mit dem vorhaben noch heute es bis zur Glorerhütte oberhalb von Kals zu schaffen. Schon nach nur 1,5 km Asphalt durch den Ort Kaprun steigen wir bereits in einen anfangs breiter verlaufenden Forstweg und kurz darauf später in den Singletrail (Arnoweg) Richtung Gleiwitzerhütte ein. Nach ca. 7km sind bereits fast 1000 Höhenmeter geschafft, so kann es weitergehen. Das Wetter scheint vielversprechend, ebenso hoch ist unsere Motivation. Weit oben am Berg blicken wir oft zurück nach Kaprun und das dahinter liegende Zell am See. Der Ausblick nach allen Seiten ist einfach nur Traumhaft und lässt keine Wünsche offen. Über der Baumgrenze geht es auf rasanten trails zur Gleiwitzer Hütte. Oberhalb der Hütte konzentriere ich mich zu sehr auf das Filmen während des Laufens, übersehe dadurch einen Stein und stürze. Das ist mir  noch nie passiert. Ich finde mich am Boden liegend wieder. Ich begutachte kurz meine rechte Handfläche und den rechten Unterschenkel und warte eigentlich nur darauf bis das Blut zu rinnen beginnt. Weiß aber das es bis auf eine Schürfwunde nichts grobes ist. Die Kamera hat es auch überstanden. Es kann weitergehen.
Bei der Hütte legen wir eine kurze Rast ein um die Füße für den langen downhill hinunter nach Fusch kurz ausrasten zu können. Wir laufen recht zügig die in Serpentinen hinunter. Ich denke nicht mehr an meinen Sturz und konzentriere mich voll auf das Laufen. Leider kommt kurz oberhalb von Fusch auch Harry zu Sturz. Anfangs lässt er sich nichts anmerken, beschließt aber es in Fusch bleiben zu lassen. Hinsichtlich der noch langen Strecke ist das sicher die richtige Entscheidung um keine gröbere Verletzung zu riskieren. Nun waren wir nur noch drei. Von Fusch aus verläuft der Weg recht einfach und nur leicht ansteigend in Richtung Ferleiten. Einmal nehmen wir eine falsche Abbiegung und suchen uns dann querfeldein über eine große Weidefläche zurück zum richtigen Weg. Es ist sehr heiß geworden und der Schweiß fließt in Strömen. Schön das es in sehr regelmäßigen Abständen Bäche direkt am Weg gibt.
In der Ferne ist bereits die Pfandlscharte zu erkennen, hier überquert man auf 2600m Seehöhe den Alpenhauptkamm! Insgeheim weiß ich jetzt schon das wir unser Ziel die Glorerhütte nicht mehr erreichen werden. Es ist schon recht spät geworden und das Wetter scheint schlechter zu werden, regen setzt ein. Kurz vor der Trauneralm kommt uns ein alter VW Bus entgegen. Die Lenkerin kurbelt das Fenster hinunter und will wissen wo wir heute noch hinwollen. Wir erzählen ihr kurz von unserem Vorhaben. Sie rät uns auf Grund der Gegebenheiten davon ab und bietet uns einen Schlafplatz im Wirtschaftsgebäude der Alm an. Sie kommt zwar heute nicht mehr zurück aber es ist offen und zu Essen gibt es in der Küche auch genug. Wir sollen uns einfach bedienen. Kurz überlegen wir noch vielleicht doch noch die Scharte in Angriff zu nehmen und zumindest noch aufs Glocknerhaus zu laufen. Der stärker werdende Regen und die müden Beine helfen bei der Entscheidung und wir beschließen auf der Alm zu bleiben. Gute Entscheidung!
Schnell die Laufsachen in trockene Kleidung gewechselt und ab in die Küche, wir finden alles was wir brauchen.
Bereits um 04:00 Uhr leutet der Wecker am nächsten Morgen. Nach dem Frühstück, Joel schmeißt tatsächlich ein paar Eier in die Pfanne, machen wir uns um 05:00 auf den Weg. Zuerst steht die Überquerung der Pfandlscharte am Programm. Relativ zügig und gut ausgerastet bewältigen wir den steilen Anstieg. Die letzten paar hundert Meter auf einem sehr breiten Altschneefeld. Viele Menschen sind hier heuer noch nicht drübergekommen. Auf der anderen Seite genießen wir kurz das Panorama mit seinen Gebirgsseen. Weiter geht es im downhill zum Glocknerhaus. Hier gibt es ein zweites Frühstück 😉
All zu lange bleiben wir nicht, denn heute wollen wir die Zeit von gestern wieder gut machen und bis zur Rudolfshütte kommen. Wir laufen hinunter zu den Stauseen und haben besten Blick auf die Pasterze sowie auf den kommenden Anstieg. Das Wetter scheint echt optimal zu sein. Wir ahnen nicht das bereits hinter dem nächsten Kamm bereits der Nebel auf uns wartet. Zügig lassen wir die Salm- und Glorerhütte hinter uns begeben uns am Wiener Höhenweg Richtung Peischlachtörl und in den langen downhill nach Kals. Lustige Wanderer Rufen uns irgendwas  mit „ironman“ zu. Whaaaaat? Was auch immer, es gilt sich in der schwierigen Passage auf den Weg zu konzentrieren. In Kals angekommen ist es Zeit für ein Mittagessen. Im örtlichen Gasthof kehren wir hungrig ein. Den letzten Teil der Route durch das wunderschöne Dorfertal und über den Kalser Tauern schätzen wir auf ca 20 Kilometer ein. Mehr als genug Zeit um noch vor der Dämmerung auf der Rudolfshütte anzukommen für die wir bereits im Vorhinein ein nettes Zimmer reserviert haben. Am Himmel wird es immer düsterer und der erste Regenschauer lässt nicht lange auf sich warten. Die Temperaturen bleiben aber recht angenehm und solange ich in Bewegung bin verzichte ich auf die Regenjacke. Schnell ist der Pass erreicht und die Rudolfshütte in greifbarer Nähe. Nördlich vom Kalser Tauern wieder bestes Wetter!
Wir checken ein, duschen und machen uns auf den Weg zum Abendessen, das Berghotel lässt ansich keine Wünsche offen! Für den SPA-Bereich sind wir dann allerdings doch zu müde. Noch ein Bierchen und ein paar Fotos von der Kamera gesichtet und ab geht es ins Bett. Die nächste Etappe ist zwar eine der kürzesten aber nicht weniger schwierig. Vorallem der Aufstieg zum Alpincenter Kitzsteinhorn ist nicht ungefährlich und verlang volle Konzentration. Im Rennen nicht durchführbar, ist unser gemeinsamer Entschluss. Auf der Krefelderhütte genemigen wir uns noch Apfelstrudel mit Vanillesauce mit Kaffee, bevor es in einem sehr langen downhill über den Enzinger-Weg zurück nach Kaprun geht. An diesem Tag haben wir rund 3000 Höhenmeter allein im Abstieg bewältigt. Das Gefühl zu wissen es geschafft zu haben ist ein sehr schönes, die letzten Meter entlang der Sommerrodelbahn bringen uns zurück in die Zivilisation. Es war wie immer eine große Freude, danke and Mike und Joel!

Video (HD empfohlen):




The North West Circuit , Stewart Island NZ


Quitting the hike on the North Island gave me some extra time to explore other parts of the country. So I went to Stewart Island, 30 km away from Bluff on the southern tip of New Zealand.
I arrived in Oban , the one and only  settlement with a population of about 400 people located in Halfmoon Bay. After a quick walk around town and I bought some last minute supplies at the small 4 square Supermarket I walked up to the Department of Conservation office to check the forecast and ask the locals about the current track conditions.
The North West Circuit is known as a rugged backcountry hike with trails consisting of knee deep mud, roots and sand. Experienced hikers would need 9-12 days to complete the 125 km loop  without the possibility to restock on food along the way. The weather can change very quickly but with an amazing hut system along the way, it is not a problem to hide from the weather.
The Madame in the DOC office asked if I have enough supplies for 12 days in that tiny pack I had with me. She also asked about other hikes I did to get to know of my hiking experiences. I mentioned that I just finished my hike across the South Island yesterday but she made the impression on me that the so called TE ARAROA was new to her. However I told her that my plan is to hike the circuit in 6 days and that I am capable of hiking 30 km a day no matter what terrain. I knew that there will be no bush whacking out there as long as I stick to the marked route.
I started from Oban in the late afternoon and made it to Bungaree Hut where other hikers and fishermen where staying already. Hunters at the huts love to feed hikers, they offered  fresh fish to everyone. Every hut on the circuit is in an really unique place. The downer on this is just you can not enjoy the scenery from the outside of the hut because the sandflies are just too furious out there.
Only at Big Hellfire Hut I noticed that the flies are not too bad so I could spend the evening in the sand dunes which are reaching high into the hills. If you like to spend more time on the STI I would recommend to plan an extra day at Mason Bay Hut. This one is the biggest on the Circuit located in the south west above Doughboy Bay. It is not far from the beach and offers a lot of day hiking possibilities like exploring the huge dune systems.  It is also possible to take a water taxi from Oban to Freshwater Hut and take an easy walk from there to Mason Bay.
If you wish to extend your hike you should consider linking the NWC with the SWC which connects at Mason Bay. This will add about 3 more days to the journey.
What I really liked about the NWC was its diversity. Thick rain forests, steep ups & downs, dunes, endless beaches, quick changing weather, wildlife mixed with amazing sunsets made this journey to something really remarkable.

How to get there:
I stayed at the Hostel in Invercargill and booked a ferry including a transfer shuttle from Invercargill to Bluff.
If you are tending to get seasick easily take a flight. The sea can be very rough even on a sunny day.

Get your supplies from the large Supermarkets in Invercargill, the 4 square in Oban is ok to resupply but more expensive.

Leave your tent, air mattresses, etc.. at the hostel you don’t need it if you are planning on staying in the huts which I would recommend.
I carried 4 kg of gear on the NW Circuit.

I was fine with trail running shoes, just make sure you have them tied to your foot so you don’t loose them in the mud.It is a very wet hike, after the first day you will never have dry feet again.
Not even with hiking boots and gaiters. They will just add extra weight when they are wet.
Don’t fear the mud, just walk through it. You will have the possibility to wash of your feet and gear at the end of every day at the hut.I loved my flip flops for the hut stays. You don’t want to wear your soaked footwear while preparing your dinner.

Kiwi Spotting:
I never looked for them, they just came on the trail mostly in the mornings. I spotted about 5 Kiwis in 6 days.
There are people getting up in the middle of the night trying to see kiwis and never saw one.






Te Araroa South Island Part IV: Wanaka to Bluff (The End)

Wanaka is a cool town, I think I would call it my favorite town along the Te Araroa. Even I did just spend one night there, as in most other towns during the hike.
I left the town on the same cycle trail I came from the day before towards the Motatapu Track which leads the way to Arrowtown. After the first day on the Motatapu Track I met another hiker at the hut I stayed for the night. Gerald from Germany. He hiked the North Island too and was on the trail for about 3 months. We had a lot to talk about and decided to hike together for the next stretch. Our hiking paces matched pretty good and so we ended up walking all the way to Bluff together which took us about 14 days.
In Queenstown we met  Michelle and Tim, who are friends of Gerald. We walked the Rees-Dart Track for 4 days together. The Rees-Dart Track was a real highlight and I am glad I decided to take a break from the TA to do it with them. We took it really easy so I could mix in some trail running  in the afternoons. Tim and Michelle dropped us off at the Greenstone Trail Head after we finished the Rees-Dart so Gerald and I could continue on our journey to Bluff.

The last two weeks on the route where nice hiking and a good mixture of alpine terrain, rain forests, dirt roads, farmlands and finally coastal walks. It was a really good feeling to see the ocean again out of Longwood Forest. We knew the end is near and that we where ready for it and finish the hike. The last 25km out of Invercargill where mentally tough. I did not hitchhike anywhere else on the South Island so I just got it done as fast as possible in walking pace. Also it would have been wrong to leave Gerald on this final part of his hike.
After arriving at the yellow signpost in Bluff, we took our finishing pictures and hitched a ride back to Invercargill. The next day I left for another week of hiking on Stewart Island.

I think I still need more time to sort my thoughts about this trip. I have seen a lot and went through many different mental stages during my time in New Zealand. There will be an additional entry about that and I am also working on a walking guide for the South Island right now. I hope I can finish it during the summer.



Snow on the peaks over Motatapu Track




Hiking into the Rees Valey, Rees-Dart Track



Towards Rees Saddle



Back on the TA, sunrise at Mavora Lakes


Long day on gravel roads towards Te Anau



Beachwalk after Colac Bay





The signpost at Bluff, the official southern terminus of the Te Araroa.

Te Araroa South Island: Part III Arthurs Pass to Wanaka


This stretch was dominated by wide braided river valleys like the Rakaia and the Rangitata River and high tussock country. As the Rakaia River is a natural break in the continuum of the route  I hitched around it making a resupply stop in Christchurch where also my bounce box with new shoes was waiting. From Christchurch I booked a shuttle back to Methven where the bus driver gave me a lift to the Rakaia River Camp where I started walking again. I had no luck with getting a ride to the trailhead so I had to walk 35 km extra along the Rakaia River on mostly gravel road to get me back to the route. The walk was quite ok even with 8 days of food in my frameless pack.
When I arrived at the Rangitata River a couple of days later, the weather looked not too promising to make the crossing. A very strong storm and incoming rain made me turn back soon from the very wide riverbed. The storm was so strong that I could see sand swirling 40 meters high in the air from a far distance. It rained over night but the next morning it looked clear again and the storm was gone. The rainfall increased the water level in the river quite a bit but I did not want to spend another day so I gave it a try. When I saw the river for the first time the crossing looked impossible at the first sign. I did not even know how many arms I would have to cross. If this arm is just a small one I can not make it across the main one. I searched upstream and tried it at various spots. Stepping in, making one step after another upstream, figured out that the flow is too strong and walking back out of the river. Further upstream I finally made it with the water coming up over my hips. I stayed focused and pushed my body weight strong against the current.
On the other side the wind was stronger again and I was happy to enter the smaller valleys of the Two Thumbs Range which is leading me to Lake Tekapo and further into Twizel where I stopped for my birthday.


The river valley leading up to high tussock country

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Sandfly bites

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Easy living, lunch break in the shade


This picture indicates the water level at the Rangitata River crossing, not the fear of crossing it on my own


Rangitata River



Into the Two Thumbs Range


Where the tall grasses wave


Morning view out of the Stone Hut window

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Breakfast with a view over Mt. Cook NP


Approaching the saddle


Ridge Walk with Lake Tekapo in the distance

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Camp Stream Hut






Sunrise after a very stormy night at Pines Camp

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Birthday Celebrations in Twizel

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There where not a lot possibilities to built a fire on the trail, recommended camp spot after Lake Ohau


Devil in the flames


A start into another beautiful day of walking

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See the marker pointing to the left?


Lake Hawea, Mt Aspiring in the back


Trail out of Wanaka


Te Araroa South Island: Part II Ship Cove to Arthurs Pass

After the letdown on the North Island I walked the South Island from end to end covering 1395 km in 42 days.
I took the ferry from Wellington across the Cook Strait and the watertaxi from Picton which brought me to the Start of the TA at Ship Cove. The Queen Charlotte Track which is part of the nine „Great Walks“ New Zealand has to offer starts right at the Cook Monument.

The South Island was a challenging but very beautiful hike, most of the route did not follow a real trail, thats what it makes it difficult in places. Most of the time it just follows a riverbed or climbs up or down direct routes to saddles and mountainpasses. Routefinding itself was not very difficult because of the markings along the way. I enjoyed staying in the backcountry huts which are very simple equipped with bunk beds. The first hut is lays in the Richmond Ranges is followed by many more  almost all the way to Riverton. I was happy to carry just a lightweight pyramid tarp which I pitched not very often. Most of the days where very fine wheather wise. As far as I can remember heavy rain hit me just once, light snowfall too, but just for a few hours. The route itself its almost just for TA hikers as most of the tourists stay at the Great Walks or go on individual planned hikes.
The Richmond Range was one of the highlights for me. It is known of one of the longest stretches on the route without contact to civilization. It stretches from Havelock to St. Arnaud the southern end. Most hikers plan 8-10 days for the traverse. I took advantage of the good weather and put in some longer days so I made it through in 5.5 days. It leads through dense Rainforest’s, beech forests, many river crossings and wades, up to ridges and to the top of Mt. Rintoul. The Red Hills area where a reminder of the desert in southern California just with the little difference that there are no rattlesnakes or not even lizards around.

Nelson Lakes National Park is a little more travelled so the huts are a bit larger. However still far from crowded.
The national park offers many beautiful places and the track follows rivers for most of the time. Waiau Pass above Lake Constance is the highest point along the route. The alpine area is followed by wide open grassland which gave me a hard time because of hay fever.

I think my favorite part was the Mingha/Deception route over Goat Pass and down to Arthurs Pass, a small alpine village. With a big day before to get me in a better position to do the route in one day I hiked from Morrison Footbridge to the Highway in 10 hours. The way up to Goat Pass follows the riverbed almost the whole time involving countless river crossings.



Ship Cove, start of the South Island via the Queen Charlotte Track


Marlborough Sounds, Queen Charlotte Track


Livin la vida hikertrash


Roadwalk out of Havelock


Starveal Hut, Richmond Range


Beautiful Beech Forests along the way

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Mt. Rintoul, Richmond Range


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Nice Trail!


Another Hut

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Nelson Lakes NP

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Blue Lake was indeed very Blue.


Lake Constance above Blue Lake


Danish hiker Kasper Dean approaching Waiau Pass


Coffee Time!


Another Boulderfield towards Caroline Bivy

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Hayfever paradise

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Simply breakfast time at Ann Hut


A warming fire at a hut


Hurunui Hut No.3, a long day of hiking is waiting for me

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Harpers Pass Bivy. I crashed my head so hard at the door that I had to sit down for several minutes


Selfportrait in front of Harpers

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Another funny trail marker


Down the valley it goes

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Deception Valley


The Route followed the riverbed up to the pass


View from Goat Pass Hut


The Valley I came from on the Mingha Route