Over the Rocks this Summer - Day 2

Day 2: Altendorf - Schrammtor- Schrammsteine - Jägersteig - Wildschützensteig- Czech Republic- Bad Spandau

It was a new day. Trickles of raindrops woke us up. We had stayed in one of those friendly, home-bound establishments, that welcome Malerweg walkers. The place was especially lovely, with the Granny's friendly talks, the soft mattress, perfect mountain view, cold beer, a hot shower and a fresh basket of breakfast waiting for us at the doorstep so early the next morning - all to provide us with the perfect stay! - even if it were for just one night. It was a perfect beginning, with mountains surrounding, fresh dew on the flowers in the front Yard - and the glowing Sun trying hard to peek its way out the clouds (well, that indeed was promising, considering how dark the clouds loomed over while I was getting ready)

All geared up, we began our brisk walk, as the Sun now shined bright over our heads. Passing by several graceful houses, we soon reached a large grassland-type of a landscape (or maybe it was a paddy field : it was  just so relaxing to walk through, and with a perfect view of the hills in front of you). We could also see the flat mountain distantly, which looked even more beautiful today, than when we looked at it yesterday at dinner. Probably cos we were drained yesterday o.O. I was absorbing it all, and walking straight ahead, when "We have to turn around here"- said S, to my disbelief. I couldn't believe all this walking for an hour now had gone to dust. Well, luckily for me, with a slight deviation, it seems to still be possible to get on track (ultimately to our car, parked in Bad Spandau) Thanks to S, for his map-reading skills, and well, his constant talent to pacify & cheer me up :D, we entered a complete new scenery - dense forest, slippery, woody soil and rays of lighting passing through the tall trees. How contrasting. It was also S's favorite landscapes. In a 30-min descend, we were soon out of the forest, only to find that we had already reached our car-park! That's it ? For today? We checked the time, it was not even noon - "Let's look for a slightly deviating trail from here, why waste all day, what say?" - I asked S, and went to find a closest path. It was not long before we finalized on one, which even touched the Czech border. And so we hopped off, away and away from our car. Little did we know what was ahead.

Schrammtor: Charged, we started off following the Malerweg board, just like yesterday. Starting off through tall trees, the trail then leads up the hill to the Mühlweg path into the Schrammsteine: hmm, its supposed to be an elongated, heavily jagged group of rocks, a massive natural gate made of basalt stones. Peculiarly, the rocks stood all of a sudden amidst the forests, with white sand below! Nature can be so confusing. See the pictures for yourself. It was a wonderful change of scenes from the dense forests, with a lot of families/people, who seemed pretty relaxed and enjoying the view: a drastic change to our other by-passers who were usually super-fit or rushing past us huffing and puffing.There were proper long wooden stairs, that aided visitors to get a look from up above, which meant we dint strain ourselves at all. S even tried rock climbing over one of the humongous rocks :) S and I had a lot of amusing moments in this stretch of our hike, as we happily climbed up to the viewpoint. It was so much fun, and we were so distracted that we even started to slow down our usual pace :D > yeah, we maintained a steady walking speed *hmm, I don't remember exactly how many mins per km we had to finish now, but then we had to keep up to it: so we could reach the destination before sundown.

The Jägersteig ascent: So yeah, after a pretty long break, we then descended the same route we went up, when a small board caught our eye: It pointed to the nearest viewpoint: Schrammsteine: it led towards a steep uphill and then a left. We stood there speculating a minute or two if we should actually go up. Well, let's atleast climb and see what is above the board, we finally thought. And started to go up.

'Only for hikers: upwards'- welcomed a Warning board, as we crossed it. Huh? Its to go up, but not to descend? - how funny, I thought. In due time, I came to know why. The ascent takes you across steel ladders, which lead to the Schrammsteingratweg trail, featuring the Schrammstein Viewpoint. Some of these were literally facing upwards towards the sky, that you cannot imagine using them to climb downwards. No wonder, it was only for the ascent. I was so terrified everytime I had to walk on those ladders, especially at the topmost step, turn around and switch positions. S was always behind me, guiding my every step. Thanks to the steelrails, which were extremely sturdy and perfectly placed - your hands look for a grip and there! you find a support, just where you need one. It was an adventuresome climb, as were turned left, right, bent down and snuggled through the rocks. It was infact colder amidst these rocks, especially because these ladders were cutting through the rocks, or sometimes we had to walk under them - and were also covered with bright green moss and trees. Know what, it later became one of our best-loved part of the hike! Hands down :)

The Viewpoint: Ah, and then with the last step out of the caves, we reached the "Wildschützensteig" leading to the final meters towards the peak. Nevertheless, it took us some time to go up as we now had to cross stairs, steps and ladders. Oh, and there was traffic jam too here :D with people going up or coming back down. But the many steps and ladders and all the waiting was forgotten in a blink on the top!

And.. you can walk almost to the brim, which ofcourse had well-secured handrails for safety. There was also this particular edge, wherein there was a foot-length gap, towards the adjacent rock infront. It scared the hell out of me, looking down a minute or two : I could actually see the vegetation and the deep ravines under my feet! <absolutely, or rather literally breath-taking> I remember standing there, stunned in fear :D Just exactly at that moment, a kid (maybe 4) jumped across it, considering it absolute fun and was even nagging his parents that he wanted to keep doing it - lol. Well, it sure is true, that little babies know no fear, isnt't it :) Thanks to all the company of the climbers here, who were kind enough to take us the perfect postcard-picture we needed : of this Summer :) for the view was simply spectacular. From here, was a fantastic view all over Saxony, one of the best views of Saxon Switzerland - at the stunning Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the adjacent climbing rock "Jungfer", the Elbe river and Czech Republic! S and I took some good fifteen mins to just sink in the beauty, that lay infront of us. It is just so impressive how only about 400m difference of altitude could make such a difference and already upon up such a beautiful view.

Crossing Borders: After all that strenuous hike to the top, we started back towards our car. It was now almost 6 hours since we decided on the detour towards the Schrammsteine. Clouds were getting darker, and we still had to reach Bad Spandau - before the rain splashed on us. We were literally running down the wooden stairs, stamping the dried foliage, taking two steps at a time. If we can make it as planned, the end destination was a laid-back supper, at the Czech-Republic, crossing the German Border all by foot. It was just this one thought that kept us going, well and the darkening clouds and occasional thunders :D I still could remember how much we were rushing, with no thoughts in mind - no drama, no nothing - the only focus was not to get drenched. Haha, we even felt like prehistoric times - lustrous green ferns, tall slender trees, hustling of the distant wind, birds coo-cooing and fresh oxygen ofcourse. It was a delight walking downhill, only to see Czech border as a distant sight. Excited and amused stepping foot into Czech - all by foot, we rewarded ourselves with a scintillating view of the mountains - yet again like yesterday, an exquisite gulash meal, a relishing chocolate cake for the dessert and such tasteful Czech beer (all those calories we lost in our 2-day 52km - flew off that minute I guess :P).

With tummies full and calf muscles soaring in pain, we walked alongside the scintillating Elbe river, taking a short ride across the ship - before we reached our car park. Just as we were taking our last steps towards the car, trickled the first drops of rain. You completely forgot about the rains, right? I know - we did too, for a short while :) Taking one last glimpse of those immense mountains and patting our own backs that we actually hiked more than 50 km in two days, S turned on the engine of our car. As we drove farther and farther from the car park, flashes of lightnings branched across the enchanting orange skies, fresh petrichor (its that fresh earthy smell of the rain that we all love) and chilled air blew across our windows, kissing us a farewell, we would never forget: Ever.


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