When I lived in Upper Michigan (da U.P.), Cross Country skiing was part of my routine and I loved going out into the wilderness. There’s nothing like sweating when it’s -15 F or so and then coming back to a nice warm sauna. I made it my goal this winter to get in some skiing in Bavaria.
Not having a car, I have to be careful about choosing a place that is accessible with public transportation. I decided on Bayrischzell, which is located about 70 minutes southeast of Munich. In downtown Munich there isn't a lick of snow, but in just 20 minutes the white stuff begins to appear. The journey on the BOB <Bayerische Oberland Bahn) is a comfortable one - chugging along under electric power slow and steadily gain elevation. Arriving in Bayersichzell, there's a ski bus that meets the train and drops Nordic skiers are their spot in less than 10 minutes and transports the Alpine skiers right to the lift.
At the Nordic spot, there's a sport shop and small restaurant. They have small lockers large enough to hold a small backpack and even a free shower for après ski.
The first 4km is a little rough - not rally groomed and icy in some parts, but the view to the Wendelstein Mountain is breathtaking. The next station is a large parking lot where the folks with cars start their ski. You have to take the skies off here to cross the lot and also pay for a €4 ticket to continue. But the conditions improve dramatically and the course is an ever so slight incline with the mountains soaring to the sky left and right. Finally, I can find a rhythm and my mind can wander while my eyes soak in the spectacular scenery as my heart struggles to keep the pace. Soon I'm making a loop and heading back until a left turn takes me into a pine forest with boughs hanging heavy with white snow. It's truly a wintry wonderland with an alpine backdrop. It's only after I round the loop that I realize I've been on a slight incline the entire time - now it's 3 or 4 km of double poling down a decline. It's a gentle slope but letting the muscle relax feels wonderful. Before I know it I'm back where I started and the legs feel almost lifeless. Walking into the small alpine styled restaurant to be greeted with a roaring fire and a tall Hopf Weißbier is an amazing way to end the trip!
Now, coming from the Wolverine trails in Ironwood, Michigan we have unrivaled snow conditions - how's 180 inches a year sound? – that’s 4.6 meters from my German friends! Our landscape is also beautiful with the rock outcropping and ice formations and the view of Copper Peak jutting up 120m into the sky with a backdrop of a Lake Superior. I definitely loved those times there. But, Bavaria has it all and after enjoying the Alps, in an hour I’m in downtown Munich with a Schnitzel and a liter of lager!