Life isn't how many breaths you take, but it's the moments that take your breath away. A way

This lake and area around have been on my to do list since 2 years. I don't know what I was waiting for actually. But usually in life things are coming when one is ready. So in September 2016 I appeared to be ready. I was just back to Groningen from Lüneburger heide in Germany and quite spontaneously took the tickets and planned the trip. The idea was - me, two dogs, 6 days autonomously high in the mountains. I know it's always better to go to the mountains with somebody in case if something happens. But I also know that if something really happens, then nobody can help. From the other side I had a few dangerous accidents in the mountains during my life and always have been saved by a miracle. Something keeps me on the Earth. So from my side I needed to have a good physical condition, objective evaluation of own abilities, knowing when it's better to step back, respect to the mountains and nature, proper equipment etc, and the rest would go to fate.

Places I have visited during my trip became really close to my heart, so I will not indicate here the exact locations and spots, only in general. Mine needs to stay mine.

I arrived by train to Sonthofen, stayed at the local camping overnight. Then took the bus to Bad Hindelang, and then another bus to Hinterstein.

Mobile photo

People travelling with both buses were more or less the same. So in the end everybody knew me and my dogs. And when I stepped out, the whole bus was waving me good-buy and wishing a good luck. Pretty good start so far.

My path was going immediately and inevitably up, 50-60 degrees at most of the way. What I felt from the very first seconds was my deadly heavy backpack. It was about 24 kg, almost half of my own weight. It was crazy, but I simply didn't find the way to light it down. The camera gear was about 6 kg, the clothes were only those on me plus dawn jacket and raining pants. Also the food for dogs for 6 days, necessary limited food for me for 6 days, the medicines, the hygiene stuff. The tent, sleeping bag etc were ultralight. Nothing was redundant here. I sarcastically recollected one joke about why people go to the mountains? To have a possibility to drag heavy loads on their back up and down hill, often at bad weather conditions, paying money for this. I wanted it, I had it, very simple.

I was writing before that any trip and especially trip to the mountains is the best way to get to know your partner or friend, as in the difficult conditions everyone always reveals the real face. Showing up doesn't help here. And it's also the best way to get to know oneself. When you are on the edge of the physical abilities body may work great, but it's not easy to keep oneself mentally calm. My thoughts were jumping in my head. All the doubts came up. Why am I here? Just a little woman, with that heavy backpack, going to the places I have no idea about. Why am I alone here? Why did I choose photography as a job and left another in biology which is so much more stable and easy? And so on. But then the other thoughts started to come. It was so wonderful that I COULD be here, I earned enough to be able to afford my equipment. So great that my body was ABLE to keep going no matter what. That I'm able to survive here alone, and able to feel all that beauty around.

In about 1.5 hours the forest switched to a more plain meadow with a lot of cows. During summer days they gaze up in the mountains, also around Schrecksee. Now due to the drop of the temperatures, they move back to the villages for a winter time. The way through the meadow and little hills took me about an hour. And in the end I faced a wall of high rocky peak. The lake was supposed to be behind them. But I couldn't imagine how to cross that wall. I took a little break, and kept going. The dogs seemed to have fun, even my oldest man, despite on his 9.5 years.

Tv 1/200, Av 9, ISO 250

The path went sharply up. It was cloudy the whole day. And the peaks were pretty much covered with the fog/clouds too. The higher I climbed, the more dense fog surrounded me. And at some point I appeared to be in a complete 'milk' . In fact I was even grateful for this, as after the flat Netherlands I'm usually afraid of heights and need some time to adapt. According to the map and logic my path was very steep, but I simply didn't see it, so didn't care. Finally the path again ran to the more or less plain meadow. Two silhouettes appeared from the fog, probably local shepherds, leaving their summer hut. They murmured me 'servus' and disappeared in the fog again. I continued walking. Couldn't believe myself when I finally reached the sign - Schrecksee. Wow, I did it.

Mobile photo

The whole walking way took me about 4 hours. But I didn't see the lake, I saw only dense fog around. Tired, I found first best plain spot nearby the rill and set my tent. Dogs immediately went to sleep. I prepared some food with tea. Looked outside again hoping to see at least anything. But saw nothing but fog. I still couldn't believe I made it up to here. And I was so grateful to my body.

Nothing was to do. It was getting dark, I didn't want to use my headlamp, just for the safety reasons. It's always better be stay unnoticed. I went asleep about 7 p.m. Very soon I was waken up by crazy scream, an angry, desperate, loud bellow. There were a couple of sources of it from the opposite sides. At first the blood froze in my veins. I sat in the tent and listened to that loud sound. Very quickly my fear was substituted by the curiosity of biologist. I tried to understand what kind of animal could create such a sound. Bear? No...too mad. Crazy cow? Any mountain goats? Dragons? The sounds moved closer and away. Sometimes I heard steps nearby my tent. Then strikes. A few hours I sat still, in the darkness, in my little shelter, then got tired and used to all this show, so fell asleep. And of course very soon my alarm clock belled. I opened my eyes, it was so light that I even thought that set a wrong time. But no, it was 5 a.m.

I opened my tent and looked outside. I could never describe that moment, any moments like this. But it's a very short period of time, when one gets answers to all the questions - why do I live, who I am, why did I come here. It was absolutely quiet, only the very far bellowing interrupted the silence from time to time. There was no fog at all. Right in front of me was a huge lake with an island on it's middle, and water reflected amazing moonlight, it was so light that I could clearly see my shadow. Wonderful rocky alpine peaks surrounded this little world, it was mine world for the moment, as I knew that there were most likely no people in many kilometers around. The moon, starry sky, lake, rocks, rills, even screaming monsters, I, we all were part of the one universe.

I quickly prepared the food for me and the dogs. Took only camera gear and went up, to the supposed saddle between the peaks. I decided to leave dogs in the tent for the safety, as I still didn't know what animals roared in the night, and where they were at the moment. 30 min, I almost ran up. Still more then hour left before the sunrise when I reached the saddle. A view that takes your breath away, a mountain 'sea'.

Closer to the sunrise fog started to move, partially clearing up the meadows. Then I heard again the roaring and finally saw my night monsters. Those were red deers! Indeed, September...a mating period. Males were fighting for the females, few females pretended that they don't care and grazed grass. Big, strong, yet so elegant stags were fighting, and I saw it for the first time in my life in the wild nature and so close. I forgot about the camera and watched them. I couldn't admit, that deers can live at such high altitudes, 1800 -2000 m, on the rocks, with absolutely no trees around. Or maybe they came here only for the mating period?

With the sunrise fog came up and started to crawl to the lake. I had about an hour of wonderful light show, then fog covered all around. And nothing was visible again, all became as yesterday. I went back to the tent. Dogs were sleeping in my sleeping bag. Hot tea, and time to move on.

Important note! Camping is forbidden in this area. One can use only bivouac. I had a little tent which could be called as bivouac. But still. Even if you camp here, set your tent late in the evening, and take away early in the morning. And never leave any residues. Respect yourself and the nature around!

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