trans alp – hiking the E5 from bavaria to italy

Not all who wander are lost – J.R.R. Tolkien

One of my favorite authors could not have put it better – sometimes you need to wander – and even try to get a bit lost to find certain things in life.


But when we spontaneously decided to go onto the legendary E5 trail in summer 2014, none ous girls really knew what we would get ourselves into. The idea was pretty much fueled by mulled wine, nostalgic pre-Christmas moods and the reassuring feeling that summer would still be 6-7 months away.

So despite the odd looks and snarky comments of everyone and their mother, we decided to plan our hike one day – and here are the key stats:

  • Timing – 8 days in August 2014
  • Route: E5 – European long distance trail – Oberstdorf to Merano
  • Distance: 124.6 km
  • Climb: 7916 m
  • Decent: 7209 m
  • Highest point: 3.019m Similaun glacier

Karte E5Who were we? Six, mid-twenty-something ladies from Munich, former work colleagues turned friends. A wide variety of fitness levels, hiking experience and reasons to go on the trip to begin with.

For me, it was to challenge myself physically and to prove I can achieve it. As it turned out, I got way more out of it than ticking an athletic box on my bucket list.

For those of you thinking about doing the E5 or a similar long distance hiking trail, I am going to recall our preparation, trip and can hopefully give you some inspiration to get hiking. We successfully ended our journey exactly a year ago today.

10513447_10154385741360104_7200885795918528168_nTo Eva and me, preparation was key. I am used to hiking since my childhood and I am aware of how dangerous even a simple day trip hike can get. Hence, we took the summer of 2014 to go on numerous day hikes in the Bavarian alps to work our endurance up to 7h of straight hiking – mostly dealing with tremendous heat but also caught the odd mountain thunderstorm.

As a devoted cardiobunny, I did not fear my endurance to fail me but I could improve my pacing, plus got again accustomed to the thinner air and general strains of hiking.

Overall I would recommend several day trips to prepare – the tour is going to be practicable without hiking experience, but to enjoy the journey, I personally would get in hiking shape to not miss out on the beauty of the trail due to exhaustion of thoughts of quitting.

The tour itself was an eye opener to me, alone by showing us the most versatile changes of scenery from idyllic Bavaria to the Northern parts of Italy. image

From green fields,  stereotypical cows and little rivers to the deepest canyons and waterfalls – past fields of debris and snow on glaciers – the E5 offers such a wide spectrum of nature, which I still recall as the most valuable impression of the hike.

As I said, I expected blisters, exhaustion, a physical challenge to wip me into shape. But I got so much more. Because there was time to think and simply walk.

My key take aways:

  • Silence (even 6 girls stop talking on day 2 of an 8 day hike)
  • Digital Detox (basically not reception, let alone internet)
  • Community Spirit (yes, you b***** at one point at your friend. My tip: go to bed early)
  • Pragmatism (Ice cold shower? Freeze or smell? Your choice!)
  • Appreciation
  • Peace of mind

An eight day hiking trip through secluded parts of the Alps is an experience I would not miss – I will also never forget the feeling of relieve when we finally made it to Meran, but taking the route step by step with a daily goal to make it to the next cottage was very relaxed and slowed my inner speed down a lot.

Would I do It again? No. I now know where it gets hard, I could be to eager to get to the finish line and probably miss out on so many things. But another trail anytime.

My hightlights:

  • The day we finally started
  • Exhausting climb to Seescharte ( 350m difference in altitude up to 2.599m) at 6:30am to watch the sunrise at Inntal/ Austria
  • Zamer Loch at day 3 – the longest leg of the route with seeing a eagles and ibexes in breathtaking nature
  • Climbing up to Braunschweiger Hütte in pouring rain for 3 hours to sleep on top of a glacier
  • Seeing the discovery spot of Ötzi
  • Reading the first Italian word – DONNE – after crossing the border to Italy after 6 days
  • I never ever thought of quitting, not even on day 8. In the pouring rain.

My lowlights:

Unfortunately, the worst cappuccino of my life after officially ending the tour in Vernagt/ Italy.


So no, not all who wander are lost.

I think I found something I lost. And no one cares about the bucket list, but   the memories and pictures in my head.

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