Wunderschönes Saulajoch with wild rhododendrons

This is one of our favorite walks, taking you as it does to the gorgeous Saulajoch. (For more on that, keep reading.)  We've often noticed that it is gorgeous from beginning to end.

The walk has several variants and can be taken in either direction, which in this case changes the way it looks quite a lot. We took the Saulajochsteig in each direction when we climbed the Saulakopf. To go to the Heinrich Hueter Hütte or just to loop over the Sauljoch, we prefer the counter-clockwise direction, starting with the Lünerkrinne. So we'll describe this version.

Start by going east (up) from the Douglass Hütte, climbing the 12 zigzags.  After you reach the highest spot on that walk, go thru the gate and take the left fork over rocks and thru dwarf pine, towards the Lünerkrinne. On the way up to the pass, there are lots of beautiful flowers:  fields of Enzian, Türkenbund lilies, etc.

 On our way to Lünerkrinne pass, walking along the ribbed slope of the spectacular mountain ridge.

From the Lünerkrinne, the view is quite beautiful down towards the Gipsköpfle and on towards Zimba. We have decided that the really characteristic "signature" mountain of this area is the craggy, upward-soaring Zimba, and not at all the higher but less spectacular Scesaplana. The path descends rather steeply from the Lünerkrinne and then starts climbing a little up towards the low, round top of the Gipsköpfle. Shortly before that, there are wonderful sloping meadows full of all kinds of flowers, making for a really colorul spectacle on a sunny day.  (Once, on this path, Siv met and started petting a small cow; in return, the cow licked her knees.  It seems a cow's tongue is even more like sandpaper than that of a cat.)

Yellow Enzian, Gelber Enzian, which you have to be there early in the summer to see in full bloom.
After the Lünerkrinne pass you walk along a moutain side where there are kindly cows in with the Murmeltiere.

There are also marmots (Murmeltiere) here. Once, we heard one screaching his warning cry. We never did see him, but his cry accompanied us for a good 10 minutes. Other times, we've seen and even stopped and watched them.

The path from Lünerkrinne towards green Gipsköpfle with Zimba in the background, for once not in the clouds.
The Königersteig (as we call it), the shortcut from Gipsköpfle to Saulajoch, with Saulakopf in the background.

From the Gipsköpfle, the view over the Heinrich Hueter Hütte is breathtaking. The hut lies on a green slope below the rock wall leading up to Zimba. You can barely make out the zigzag path up the wall. It's not a walk we would even dream of making.

Now, one either descends past a large crater and then down to the Heinrich Hueter Hütte, or one turns left and climbs the Saulasteig to the Saulajoch.

If you choose to go the the Heinrich Hueter Hütte, you descend directly to the hut. It's a very pleasant hut with a large wooden terrace. They used to have the best Kaiserschmarren in the area, but the last time we were there they didn't have it any more. I hope they have corrected this lamentable error. After lunch and a rest and lots of admiration of the views, one makes a long, relatively steep climb up to the Saulajoch.

Meanwhile, back at the Gipsköpfle, one may also decide to go straight up to the Saulajoch. This piece of path is quite steep. There are rocky places where Trittsicherheit (sure-footedness) is definitely erforderlich (necessary). There also is a steep part where the path is composed only of small, sliding stones, where you must be very sure of foot -- or crawl.

Arriving at the Saulajoch is like arriving in paradise. This "valley", a flat-bottomed, saddel-shaped pass, is absolutey beautiful -- especially when the sun is shining and it is not full of sun-tanning people. The fields full of flowers are wonderful and we almost always get a chance to watch Murmeltiere here. One can always find a comfortable rock to sit on near some beautiful flowers to rest and eat lunch.   Leaving it is difficult.

A myriad of Alpenrosen at the very beginning of the Königersteig
Silberwurz covering the ground in the Saulajoch

This walk is a paradise for flower lovers. If you get there late in August the Silberwurz may be gone and all you see is myriads of the jagged little leaves. But the pink and blue small gentians seem to last throughout the summer. And also the Alpenrosen, the wild rhododendrons correctly called Almrausch, Rhododendron ferrugineum or hirsutum according to the different shades of pink.

Pink gentians, which you see in huge numbers on this walk. Deutscher Kleinenzian probably.
Saulajoch looking west towards Schesaplana

We very often see Murmeltiere - marmots - in this valley.
Troddelblumen, Soldanella alpina, gorgeous pink little bells

Intensely blue gentians (Schnee-Enzian maybe)
Silberwurz close up in the Saulajoch

From the middle of the Saulajoch, more (very) energetic walkers can climb up to the Saulakopf and back down again.

Afterwards, one heads on over to the western side of the pass. After admiring the view over the Brandnertal, one descends the Saulajochsteig, a path chipped out of the mountain face and looking from the Lünerseebahn like only mountain goats could use it. Actually, it's quite a beautiful path for people, too. But it is chipped out of the mountain side. In places where you have to scramble over the rock, cables have been installed to ensure that you can hang on to something. Walking sticks are sometimes useful and sometimes a hindrance, when you need both hands to hang onto the rock.

Setting out on the Saulajochsteig, right after leaving the Joch.  You may not see the path, but actually there is one, more or less. There are also cables to hold on to when the walking gets rough.

The Saulajochsteig and a glimpse of the dam at the Lünersee
Looking down from the Saulajochsteig to the Lünersee parking lot

Unfortunately, the path goes down below the level of the dam and therefore must come back up at the end, a fairly discouraging prospect if you're really tired by then. But all's well that ends well and this walk is both beautiful and spectacular, so very rewarding.