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Monday, July 22, 2019

June 21st Reutte to Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The year before, Bowen and I had visited Garmisch but the Partnach Gorge was closed. This year, we planned to visit again, and this time I certainly wasn't going to drag Boen and Xiaoqin up to the Hollentalklamm as a backup plan.

When planning the route, I noted that from Reutte to Garmisch, the best bike route was to ride over to the Plansee (which I hadn't seen since my first visit to Austria back in 2003) and then take the dirt path over to the Garmisch valley. I didn't find any documentation, however, on the condition of the trails, or even as to whether it was feasible on a tandem, let alone a triplet carrying panniers.

My concern meant that I started the morning by pumping up the tires of the triplet, it having become noticeably softer since the days when we left the Zurich airport hotel so long ago.

We made it to the border of Reutte before finding a zipline playground and immediately stopped for the kids to play in it. I set a time limit and then after we left we followed the bike path only to discover that the komoot-driven route had been blocked due to construction. At least we found some wild strawberries! Circling around, we found a local who told us to go on the main road, and told us that we'd have to get off and push the bike because it was steep.

Steep it was, at an approximately 12% grade, which necessitated a rest stop about three quarters of the way up, which fortunately had a pullout conveniently situated for the purpose. We never had to push the bike, however, which was a good thing, because while the traffic was fairly light, it would platoon together behind slow moving trucks and RVs, so when traffic did come by it would come by quite heavily.

The descent down to Plansee exceeded our expectations, and the Plansee gave us a beautiful backdrop of mountains in a beautiful morning light. There was still a fair amount of traffic but also enough tranquil spots where we could stop an enjoy the scenery. At the far end of the lake, we stopped for ice cream and to watch the lake cruise stop, let off passengers and take off again. The boat was so slow that we'd overtaken it in the course of our ride.

It was time for us to explore unknown territory as we rode off the pavement onto the hiking trail signed for Garmisch. The first section along the lake was easy and unchallenging, as expected, but after that the trail climbed albeit gently along a river, lulling us into a sense of complacency that all internet reports that it was a mountain bike trail were wildly exaggerated.

At the summit, the trail remained a fire road, but the descent became steep, and mountain bikers with electric motors would marvel at this giant triplet with panniers coming down the mountain. I was slipping and sliding but always felt in control, though I kept thinking that if this got harder I was going to start to be in trouble, but it never did. The GPS track on my watch was misleading, occasionally telling me when I was off-course, but passing cyclists would reassure us that we were on the road to Garmisch. We found one gate which was easily opened, but the final gate to the pavement beyond was locked. Fortunately, a pair of mountain bikers stopped to help us hoist the bike over the tree roots that were guarding the mountain bike entry, which was fortunate because once again Boen refused to get off the bike so I could roll it over the minor obstacle.

Once there, the descent to Garmish was gentle and easy, though traffic once again became intense as we got into town. We got to our hotel, and our rooms were not ready, but we parked our bike and walked over to lunch and ice cream. We explored Garmisch, and I visited the visitor center where I was reassured that the Partnach gorge was open this year and we could bike all the way to the entrance of the gorge. Xiaoqin spotted the Michael Ende park, something I'd missed on previous visit. There was a market open where we bought some hand-made pasta along with the instructions on how to cook it.

By the time we we got back to the hotel room it was available. I took the kids over to the swimming pool. There, Bowen and Boen not only did the slides (it was crowded compared to the last time Bowen and I were there, it being a weekend), but also discovered the joys of the diving boards. By the time we were finished with our swim it was raining heavily. Out came the raingear and we rode over to the grocery store to buy dinner and we got back soaking wet but at least we wouldn't have to leave again. We went to sleep knowing that everything we had would have an entire day to dry, and that the gorge was fun to be in rain or dry.

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