Fall Means Yodeling and Homeopathic Healing in the Alps
Enlarge image The Summit of Hochfelln (© picture-alliance / Paul Mayall) For many, once the breeze of fall has cooled the heat of summer, it is the ideal time to take to the hills, mountains and dales. And when summiting peaks or experiencing nature is not enough, then head to Chiemgau, at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, for an overflowing autumn hiking program that includes a yodeling course. Or head into the forests in search of naturopath pioneer Sebastian Kneipp and the healing powers of the Crescentia in the town of Allgäu on the border with Switzerland.
Enlarge image A woman hiker with a red jacket enjoys the scenery of the Bavarian Alps near Chiemgau. (© picture-alliance / paul mayall) Atop the Chiemgau mountain peak of Hochfelln, participants form a circle not far from the hiking trail, humming. Then comes the collective vocalization: “Holla-re-dew-rew-holla-ro-dew-rew-holla-re-dew-rew.” The yodeling course is only one of over 200 events that make up the 10th annual Chiemgau Hiking Autumn. Go horse riding, head to an Alpine festival or take the “Women hike different” tour, which proposes a more nature-harmonious alternative of hiking as opposed to the summit-conquering variety. From arduously steep mountain inclines to pleasant meadow paths, through swamps and alluvial forests, there are 230 diverse trails of southeastern Bavaria to explore.
Rounding out the Hiking Autumn program are a variety of events throughout the southern German Alpine expanse, including horseback riding, concerts and church consecration festivals. Innkeepers are ready to offer regional specialties to guests for the occasion. A program in the Ruhpolding area, on the border with Austria, takes hikers back to the olden days of forestry. In the town of Reitim Winkl, next door to Ruhpolding, there are two new “premium” hiking paths to test out – the “glacier view” and “Alpine pleasure” trails are open daily.
A bit further west into the Allgäu region, visitors can end up on one Sebastian Kneipp’s many paths. Kneipp (1821-1897) is a local pastor who, as a young man, would jump into the ice cold waters of the Danube River several times a week. His “cold water cure” was an attempt to heal his Tuberculosis – his life’s work was to develop a holistic naturopathic way of life. His home town of Westallgäu has much to offer on the life and work of the “water doctor:” there is the Wörishofen loop, which passes by his parsonage, his parish church, St. Justina, the monastery where Kneipp lived and perfected his five-point philosophy over 42 years, his small bathing houses where he founded his wellness centers, a memorial dedicated to the naturopath and the mausoleum where “humanity’s helper” was finally laid to rest.
Enlarge image Father Sebastian Kneipp's "cold water cure" has become famous. (© picture-alliance / dpa) Outside the town is another one of Kneipp’s trails. Just head to the parking lot on Schöneschacher Street near Trimm Square and head out on the ten-kilometer-long route. There are 25 stops along the way for hikers to learn more about the importance of nature for health and Kneipp’s five pillars of healing. Hikers can play on the Dendrophon, a kind-of xylophone made out of branches, and calculate their body-mass index (BMI), for example. And if these short-distance paths are not challenging enough, there is the full 38-kilometer Kneipp Nature Hike that will take you to Grönenbach. The trail leads past the Benedictine Abbey and the town of Ottobeuren where Kneipp was born. Hikers will also pass by the Katzbrui, Bavaria’s only remaining old German flour mill from the 17th century, where visitors can stop for a bite to eat and experience a bit of southern German hospitality. Those who attempt the long route also enjoy exquisite views of the Alps, which Kneipp would agree is soothing for both mind and soul.