11+ Hours: Memminger to Hanauer Hütte to Boden & Imst
Third day on the Lechtaler Höhenweg started towards Hanauer Hütte at Memminger Hütte instead of Württemberger Haus like I had planned. I was behind my schedule. I needed a shortcut to get back on schedule and what followed was trail overload.
The Lechtaler Höhenweg is a 10-day hike that goes across the main ridge of the Lechtaler Alps and ends at Anhalter Hütte about 100 kilometers (62 miles) later. It starts at Stuttgarter Hütte, near Lech, but you can get on and off the trail in several places. It can easily be done in less days than 10 if you squeeze in some longer days.
I had squeezed it already. I was doing this hike by myself and so far had walked from St. Anton to Ansbacher Hütte in one go, equaling almost 3 day stages. Then I planned to walk from Ansbacher Hütte to Württemberger haus for the night, but bad weather and fatigue kicked in and I needed to stay at Memminger Hütte.
Before getting on the Lechtaler Höhenweg, I had already walked from Oberstdorf in Germany to St. Anton.
To get an overview and necessary details for planning a hike on the Lechtaler Höhenweg (or Lechtal High Route, or Lechtal High Trail), check out the Gohikealps Planning Guide for the Lechtaler Höhenweg. It includes all the details you need to plan for this trek – including contact info to all the 13 mountain huts along the way as well as listings of the different route variants you can take.
Headache at Memminger Hütte
I woke up at Memminger Hütte with a headache. I had spent the evening chatting with my new German hiking friends, along with maybe one too many glasses of wine. The evening was very pleasant – it’s always great to meet new people in such a relaxed environment!
The night that followed, however, was not pleasant at all. I spent it in a sort of emergency dormitory with extremely narrow bunks and a full room. I woke up every half hour to somebody tossing & turning, snoring and just generally being squeezed in. By the time it got light outside, I had been awake for a long time.
By the time I had breakfast the weather had turned nice and I was eager to get on my way!
Shortcut to Hanauer Hütte
My original plan had not worked out so far and I only had two days left in the mountains to be able to catch my flight out from Munich. My original plan was to get to Muttekopfhütte and down to Imst from there. For that to be possible, I would need to get to Hanauer Hütte that day.
From Mamminger Hütte to Hanauer Hütte is a long, long way – practically 3 day stages and a total of 9½ to 10½ hours of walking in rough terrain and high altitude. Given my already tired condition, I deemed it was too much.
The reason I needed to be at Hanauer Hütte that night was simply that the last leg from Hanauer to Muttekopf is 6½ hours so it needs a full day of its own. Add to that walking down to Imst the same day.
Pondering my options, I noticed another path leaving in the same general direction and a sign that said Hanauer Hütte 8 hours. This was path 621 which is not on the official Höhenweg. Nevertheless, the 8 hours seemed more doable and would put me back on my plan. So I chose that.
Sunny Morning on Trail 621
Trail 621 starts from Memminger Hütte and first climbs up to Oberlahrnsjoch and then down to the valley behind it. After a long but easy descent, the path climbs back up to Streichgampenjoch. I took a break and ate some trail grub. From there, a the path continues across a small bowl of a valley and up to Albitjoch.
I took another short break and took a moment to wonder if I should visit Leiterspitze at 2750 meters (9022 ft.). I chose not to. It would have added probably 1½ hours to my already long day. The views would probably have been wonderful.
The 621 continued over Mintsejoch and then made a longish tour around the end of the valley towards Vorderer Gufelkopf. Behind Gufelkopf a beautiful, remote valley crowded with deer opened up. This is Hintere Gufelalpe on the map. What a beautiful place with just me and the wildlife!
The path continued up and I reached Gufelsee, a small lake above the valley. Another beautiful spot. The beauty was somewhat diminished, though, since it started to rain again – and it rained for the rest of the day…
Fresh Rain at Gufelsee
Above Gufelsee is Gufelseejoch and from there it’s still a 2 hour descent to Hanauer Hütte. I took a small break on the ridge and started getting a bad feeling when I saw a huge group of people coming down from Uhde-Bernays Weg in the north, clearly heading for Hanauer Hütte. The memory of the sleepless night before started haunting me as the rain thickened and I observed the muddy trail below me.
I had only eaten nuts and chocolate all day so I was getting hungry. Since it started to rain – again – I was also getting grumpy. I was tired to begin with. A herd of Steinbock (Ibex) on Gufelseejoch must have had a fun time watching me, the lone human, grumbling out loud all by myself.
My mood didn’t get any better when I reached Hanauer Hütte. It was packed. I could barely make my way in for all the hiking boots at the entrance and the restaurant area was full of people. The noise was unbearable. I did not have a reservation so I was faced with another night in an emergency bunk, or possibly a mattress on the floor somewhere. The 8 hours of walking I expected leaving Memminger Hütte had turned into 9½.
The Levee Breaks at Hanauer Hütte
Something snapped in my head and I got a very strong sense of not wanting to be there. Nothing bad to say about Hanauer Hütte itself, it was in a beautiful location and seemed welcoming. After the solitude that day, it was the number of people, the noise, kids running all over the place and my bad mood combined: it was just too much. I didn’t want it.
I considered my situation and concluded what I really wanted was a private room with a hot shower that doesn’t run out after 1 minute. And a really good meal and dry clothes. The thought of another night in an emergency bunk with 20 people snoring side by side was impossibly unappealing.
The thought of tackling the strenuous stretch from Hanauer Hütte to Muttekopfhütte (in rain according to the forecast) after another sleepless night felt equally unappealing.
I realized there was a small village called Boden just 1½ hours away down in the valley. According to my map there was a hotel. For a moment I felt really shitty about myself being such a wimp but then suddenly my mind was made up: I had enough.
To Boden, To Imst
Down to Boden I walked. The day ended up being well over 11 hours of walking.
I found the hotel in Boden and asked for a taxi. The hotel waiter/owner – a wonderfully friendly elderly gentleman – turned into a taxi driver and I got a ride to Imst, where I happily gave him a 50€ bill for taking me right in front of a nice hotel (Booking.com link). The going rate was more like 40€, I think.
At the hotel I was given a two room suite all to myself. Once I had unpacked all my stuff to dry it out and showered in hot water forever, I proceeded to the hotel restaurant and ate. I ate a lot.
Then I slept for 12 hours straight in my private room where the only one snoring was me!
Afterthoughts and Recommendations
The Lechtaler Höhenweg is great! I can wholeheartedly recommend it, even though I’ll admit I had a rougher time than I thought I would. The weather is what it is and this time I had some bad luck. Some recommendations:
- I squeezed about 6½ days of hiking into 3 and I was probably affected by the strenuous days walking from Oberstdorf to St. Anton before this. Too many 10 hour days on a longer trip are too much and there won’t be time for just lingering or climbing summits on the way.
- … so, be realistic in planning. For me, 6-7 hours per day is sustainable for a long trip.
- This really is back country – don’t rely on cell phone coverage. I was off the grid for most of the time between Ansbacher Hütte and Hanauer Hütte.
- Make hut reservations early, if you know where you’re going to sleep.
- Be prepared gear-wise, but don’t overdo it. I had way too much and didn’t even use some of the stuff I carried. For example, I carried my Via Ferrata gear just in case but never took it out of the bag.
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- Map. I used: Kompass Lechtaler Alpen Hornbachkette 1:50000
- Detailed contact info to all the huts and all relevant details on Lechtaler Höhenweg in the Gohikealps Lechtaler Höhenweg Planning Guide.
- Make sure you’re fit. This is a difficult route.
- Let people know they can’t necessarily reach you and you can’t reach them. I had no cell phone coverage here for almost 2 days…
- Make sure you’re equipped. Check what you need in the The Gohikealps Ultimate Packing Guide for the Alps.
- Link to Memminger Hütte
- Link to Hanauer Hütte
- Great deals for hotel in Imst at Booking.com . . . I stayed at Hotel Stern, which I found to be good value for money.
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