Munich to Venice - 2018

I will always remember 2018 as the sad year when a young Canadian hiker, Jeff Freiheit, fell from the Aschelköpf Ridge on the Munich to Venice trail (theTraumpfad) and lost his life. Jeff had been in touch with me before embarking on the trek and was using my Cicerone guide to plan his itinerary. He was well prepared, and it was a terrible shock when this obviously fit young hiker went missing.

Jeff's death is a reminder to hikers in search of adventure and beautiful scenery that a missed step can have very serious consequences and that accidents happen even to the best prepared.

I've walked the Achselköpf Ridge twice and the advice in the guide is that it should be avoided unless you're an experienced hiker. It's the first serious stretch of exposed walking on the Munich-Venice trail, and cables and other safety features are limited. If you want to know what this section of the trail is like before attempting it than go to YouTube and follow this link to a very useful video.

It will be no consolation to Jeff's family, but lots of hikers successfully completed Munich-Venice in 2018.  Snow seems to have lingered on the passes well into July but, generally, the weather has been excellent through August and September.


It's great to get feedback and comments on the route from readers of the guide particularly updates and tips. Although most hikers on the route are German, who make use of one the excellent German language guides, my readers come from a diverse range of countries. This year I've had comments from Finnish, Italian, American, Australian and Spanish hikers. For the first time, I've had a report from a couple of hikers who've used the guide to travel in the reverse direction, from Venice to Munich, which I guess would have been a little confusing at times.




There were lots of comments about life in huts with some people encountering particularly crowded conditions in the first two weeks of August when the walking season hit full swing.  Huts that are full sometimes allow walkers who haven’t booked to sleep on the floor and have additional mats available for this purpose. Personally, I’d book at least 5 days ahead if walking in August and booking ahead is getting easier all the time as the websites improve.  If you insist on total improvisation and prefer to turn up fingers crossed, then consider carrying a lightweight sleeping bag.



Some walkers experienced problems towards the end of the walk at Ponte della Pruilla.  The historic bridge over the River Piave was damaged by floods early in 2018 and the only way to the other side involved a significant detour and a taxi ride.  My reading of local papers suggests that the bridge has now been repaired but I may have got the wrong end the stick so please check.

Finally, particular thanks go to Karolina who clearly enjoyed the walk and made some kind comments about the guide.  Karolina has shared some photographs with me and I have used them in this blog.

Six days walking along the Alpe Adria Trail

In July August 2018 walked for 6 days along a section of the Alpa Adria Trail. Apart from some crap information from the tour provider and a nasty reaction to a wasp sting we had a good time.

Christine has developed a deep interest in all things to do with the Italian Front in the First World War. It was initially triggered by a trip we made in 2005 along the Alta Via 1when we saw for the first time the extent of the wartime remains in the Dolomites. After two trips along the Karnischer Höhenweg (2012 and 2016), and helping me write a Cicerone guide to that route, she was keen to complete the experience with a visit to the Isonzo Front and a walk along part of the new Alpe Adria Trail.
Cables from a First World War Cable Car

Jeff Freiheit Munich to Venice


I heard on 10th August that Jeff Freiheit a Canadian walking the from Munich to Venice, has gone missing. He was last heard off on the 1st of August on what would have been his first day in the high mountains. Jeff had made contact with me before starting the trip and was clearly looking forward to his hike.

Jeff’s family and friends are obviously worried. I know a number of people are currently following the route described in my guide so please if anyone has seen Jeff let me know and I'll make sure the information is passed on.  

In the meantime my thoughts are with his family and friends.


Postscript

It's with enormous sadness that I have to report that Jeff's body was found on the 25th of August on the southern side of the Achselköpf Ridge. Traversing what is possibly the most exposed stretch of walking on the whole Traumpfad, Jeff fell 60m. My thoughts are with his family and friends, Jeff's loss will leave an enormous hole in their lives.

The Ruta Vía de la Plata - off road 2018

The Ruta Vía de la Plata is an ancient route that traverses the heart of Spain from Seville in the deep south to Gijón on the north coast. It makes its way through fabulous, empty  and visits wonderful unspoilt historic towns. Some people walk it, usually as part of a pilgrimage to Santiago del Compostela, but it's better by bike - either on the road or off-road version, or by grabbing the best of both worlds: a combination of the two.
countryside

Setting off from  Seville
I first cycled the route in 2017 as part of a longer trip that included most of the Portuguese coast. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to write a Guide and Cicerone have agreed to publish it. This year I went back to Spain and, working with the Ruta Vía de la Plata Association, cycled the off-road version. The Association involves the towns and cities along the route and their support and help has been amazing.

The Karnischer Höhenweg - an English language guide

Cicerone have published my third guide  - “The Karnischer Höhenweg”. It is thinner than my first two!
The Karnischer Höhenweg

Day 25 Ruta Vía de la Plata - Gijón

So I’ve made it to Gijón and after 25 days cycling and more than 4 weeks in Spain emotions are just a little mixed. It's been amazing, the cycling, challenging at times, has been much better than anticipated, but it's great to get here and I'm now looking forward to getting home and putting on clothes that are different and clean.

Gijón is on the coast and, as far north as you can go, is a good place to end the trip. It's an interesting city whose hinterland of heavy industry, much of which has seen better days, contrasts with a huge and stunning sandy beach. It's where holidaymakers from Madrid head to in August to enjoy the food and escape the heat of central Spain.

Day 24 Off-road on the Ruta Vía de la Plata - to Oviedo

The Ruta Via de la Plata provides amazing examples of Spain's most important architectural styles. The unique contribution the Asturias makes, Oviedo especially, is the pre-Romanesque, buildings that pre-date the Romanesque style of architecture. It was able to do this because it was never captured by the Muslims who stayed to the south of the Cantabrian mountains. The independent Christian kingdom thrived, particularly when the remains of St James were discovered in 813, and there was enough money to build substantial churches. Oviedo was the capital of this kingdom.