To reach the Fern Pass we stopped at Imst, a ski resort and border town. The campsite was amongst supermarkets and garages, which the next day would prove most providential, and undergoing renovations.
It was a noisy, dusty place so we climbed up and out of the town to explore the Rosengarten Schlucht, a steep and narrow gorge crossed by a series of wooden bridges.
The steep trail took us past roaring waterfalls, rugged cliffs and through tunnels hewn out of the rock face. The water thundered down with force into plunge pools and swirled viciously over rocky boulders. At times the noise was deafening. Although the day was overcast, it was hot and felt chilly in the icy mists of the waterfalls.
Up at 250 metres we climbed out of the gorge and found a welcome Alpine hut overlooking an emerald green lake.
Three wily old women in corsets and skirts presided over a busy bar and we joined others on the shaded benches for a welcome glass of beer. We were sheltering from the light rain showers which had just began. Despite the moisture in the air, it was 25 degrees.
The trail back down was easy going past verdant ski slopes that were being grazed upon by bell-wearing cattle. Chair lifts were being prepared for the expected snows. Hard to imagine on a hot late summer’s afternoon!
Back in town we paid more attention to the signs of its double-life. A large number of empty premises proved to be clubs and bars now closed but likely to reopen shortly, complete with pole-dancing girls.
Stores selling designer leisure wear were next door to second hand clothes and charity shops. It was interesting to see and honestly, a bit grubby. No doubt the first pristine snows would freshen the place up!
The campsite building work carried on into the evening and began again early the next morning so we were on our way by 9am. A tour of the local garages eventually yielded a bottle of the engine oil needed for Bertha’s power steering if we were to avoid the problem experienced in Switzerland.
Bertha sailed up and through the Fern Pass in a convoy of other motorhomes, motorbikes, large freight lorries and coaches.
We stopped for an expensive coffee along with many touring coaches in a slim lay-by at Fernstein (964m).
After enjoying the views and carrying out an oil check, we gingerly continued up to the peak at 1210 metres.
We then sped down the long, winding and fast road through the heavy morning mists, being chased by Italian and Austrian freight lorries taking a shortcut across to Germany.
Having descended and decided upon the ski resort of Ehrwald for a last stop in Austria we found ourselves climbing even higher into the mountains at 1248 metres. At the eerily quiet resort the cable car up the side of the Zugspitze vanished into the thick fog after just a few metres.
The aire was closed and the local campsite quoted 60 euros for a night’s stay. As the rain poured down Bertha bowled back down the mountainside and across the border into Germany.
We arrived a day early and just in time to get a final pitch on probably the busiest (and most comically named) aire in Bavararia, at Camp Wank in Garmisch Partenkirchen. We set-up beneath the Wankbahn cable car station and desperately tried to stop chuckling as the heavy rains continued to fall.