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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

July 2nd: Zugspitze

After breakfast, I walked outside to put our borrowed backpack on the bike and then realized that we had a flat on the front tire. I took the front wheel off, examined the inner-tube, and found that a patch had failed. My frustration was compounded when the brand-new-in-box Vavert inner tube that we had carted up and down the alps in the pannier had a flat in the seam! In disgust, I threw away the tube, and made a note never to buy those inner tubes again. I had another pre-patched tube ready to go, so I put that in the tire and repatched the older tube.

After the entire process was over, we went downtown to buy sandwiches for the trip, and also hydro-cortisone, because Bowen was complaining of itchiness, possibly due to some insect bites from the hiking yesterday. Google Maps showed a 300m climb in 10km or so, but the ride to Grainau yesterday had very little climbing, so I guessed it had to be a pretty steep climb at the end. Indeed, I was right. The last 3km went up 10-12% grade, made much worse by the bike path which turned out to be unpaved. We ended up having to walk the last little bit. As we climbed, we observed that the car traffic wasn't that bad, and we should have just stuck with the main road and ignore the bike path signs.
The cable car up to the top of Zugspitz is a relatively new entry, only having been completed in the last year. In fact, they were still building out the top. While the older train took a good 90 minutes to get to the top, the cable car only took 15 minutes. We brought warm clothing, since the altitude at the top was 2900m, taller than even the top of Stelvio pass!
While it was sunny and warm at the bottom (near Elbsee), it was a partly cloudy, which meant that the fog would sweep in and out. This was fine, as we had plenty of time to out-wait the clouds, which were moving fast. At the top station, there's several walkways, one of which took you to the Austrian side of the mountain, so we did managed to get in one last border crossing:

The ticket also gave you a free ride down to the glacier area, which is a ski resort in winter. In fact, there was a snowfield big enough for kids to go sledding on (with a rental charge for the sleds), but it didn't look fun enough to Bowen for him to try.

Bowen got to spend some time playing in the snow. Since this was effectively a rest day after yesterday's massive effort, we took our time walking around and admiring the scenery, after which we took the cable car back to the summit restaurant, found a spot to watch the clouds move, and ate our sandwiches.
Back down at the Elbsee, it was warm and we rode to the lake side, but Bowen decided against riding around the lake. I settled for talking him into taking a picture with me and then we rode back to Garmisch, where once again we had ice cream.
After that, I talked Bowen into letting me take him to the Garmisch swimming pool, since our guest house had given us passes that let us in for free. He was reluctant, because he was still sore from yesterday, but I told him he'd have fun there, and we'd leave quickly if it wasn't. Well, all mentions of soreness disappeared when he saw the giant-sized water slide in the pool and took a ride. This was a 3 story ride, which meant that for every one of his 20 runs on that slide, he climbed 3 flights of stairs. Clearly, the soreness doesn't mean anything when there's a water slide involved!
Of course, by the time we got back and got showered and laundered, he was once again too sore to walk to dinner. This time, I took him to the Asian buffet. The sushi was terrible, but he hadn't had any for 3 weeks, so he went at it like it was going out of style. I looked at the forecast, and it called for thunderstorms in Garmisch the next day, but it would be sunny in Munich. What that meant was that we needed to head North as early and quickly as possible in the morning. I suggested going to Wolfrathausen, which I was familiar with and knew the ice cream shop. It was a little longer but had less climbing. Bowen wanted to return to Tutzing so he could complete a loop, even though we'd already broken the loop by taking all those train transfers.
After much thinking, I decided Bowen was right: the route to Tutzing paralleled the main train line, which meant that if we got into trouble or ran late, we could catch the train directly to Munich. The main constraint was that we had to get to the airport by 4:00pm, after which the S-Bahn wouldn't allow bikes in the cars. The Woflrathausen route had no such fallback. I plotted both routes on Komoot just in case. Of course, if it really did pour after breakfast, we could just roll into the train station and hop onto the easy train to Munich.


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