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What happens when the freeway becomes a parking lot on your way down to hike in Garmisch?  You get off at the nearest exit, that's what you do. After all, when what you want is to be in the great outdoors, any mountain trail will do.  So, that is just what we did. We pulled into the charming, if not predictable, Bavarian town of Eschenlohe.  

There is nothing particularly special about this town, except we could immediately tell it is popular with mountain cyclists. There are several trails in the area linking one mountain range with the next allowing for long, challenging rides.
With no plan, we parked the car and headed up on trail 15.  We were about 30 minutes into our walk when I could hear the distinct sound of cow bells.  I started looking for cows in the trees, but as we came around a bend it became clear the cows were not on the hillside, but coming down the road. What we thought was just some local farmer bringing down his cattle turned into a 30 minute parade of animals.  
This annual tradition is called Viehscheid.  The cows summer high in the mountain meadows and in early fall they are brought back down into the valley for the winter.  In many villages this takes form in a celebration with cattle being adorned with beautiful headdresses.  Our personal Viehsheid was a bit more practical--no pomp and circumstance, headdresses, or  music although it was a treat to be greeted by these darling little boys who tipped their hats as they passed by. For times and dates of upcoming Viehscheid celebrations click here.
After about 8 groups passed us, the parade was over and we continued our journey up the mountain.
The longer we are in Germany, the more I enjoy getting out of the city and into the mountains. I like that we are unplugged, forced to find entertainment in each other and the nature around us.  I like the challenge to my body and I love the discovery of an unknown trail.

Deep, deep into the forest we came upon this memorial to Josef, a logger, who died here in 1952.

Some critter lives in that shelter.