11 Aug 2010

Family trip to the Westfalenhaus

I’d threatened to take the family for an overnight trip to a hut for at least a year, and finally the stars lined up. Kris and I schemed to keep the cost down. Membership in the alpine club made lodging half price, but dinner and breakfast was still pretty expensive. In the end, by bringing our own breakfast we got in and out for about 60 euros. Not bad for a family of four for dinner, board and lunch the next day. We also had our own room. Next time we’ll save more by sleeping in the common room, but the boys were so enchanted with their bunk beds!

There was a lot of traffic leaving the city, but eventually we were in Lüsens and making an early afternoon hike. The weather was beautiful, but a bit cold, and fresh snow decorated the peaks from about 2900 meters elevation.

The boys were good hikers, but prone to sudden bouts of extreme tiredness. It took something interesting to wake them up. Once I ate some berries and tried to get them to try them too. They were blueberries, and that got us through a steep section.

We found a good picnic place on a knoll and ate looking across at the waterfalls I’d climbed in previous winters. Kris made delicious salami sandwiches, and a tubular container of Pringles (TM) was a great idea. The boys played with their Lego men a bit. These are a great idea…if each kid is allowed to bring two Lego men, it is enough of a toy to satisfy them the whole weekend. The man can be placed in a natural environment of rock and heather, where he can experience alien attack, avalanche, menacing helicopters, and all manner of similar fun!

We rounded a corner then made a long pleasant traversing hike up to the Westfalenhaus, which looked impossibly distant. Sheep grazed the mountain above us. We arrived in late afternoon, and immediately booked a private room. The boys fell in love with the bunkbeds, and we all hung out in our beds for an hour or so. Kris invented a game where the boys had to leave the room, then come in and find where she’d hidden a Lego man. That was great fun.

We had dinner, then walked around the hut, where the boys found a dog to play with, and we all munched on cookies. As it got dark, we went in and went to bed, the boys so happy in their top bunks.

Early in the morning I woke up, put on contact lenses, grabbed my iPod and a candy bar, and snuck out to hike up the Schoentalspitze. I think it took 1.5 hours up, and there was snow on the summit block that had to be negotiated. A cold wind competed with the weak morning sun on top, and the view made me linger. Getting my fill, I hurried down, sometimes running thanks to some good loud music that fit the trail. Back at the hut we ate breakfast, and I took the kids for a nature hike while Kris relaxed in a sun chair. We found a big boulder and set up a space station on top, piling smaller rocks as places to hide. Then I napped in the meadow while the wars raged on between various factions of a broken alliance.

It was time to head down! At the hut I played guitar for a while, teaching a little girl how to play the all important “power chord.” We hiked down, doling out treats of chocolate when things got boring. Kris invented the “no pooping on (a surprising object)” game, which still entertains us regularly!

We stopped in Garmisch for a couple hours of swimming on the way home. I jumped off the high-dive and landed funny, such that my teeth hurt for an hour! The boys loved the slides.

It was a great first-overnight hike!