Skitour am Ifen | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

15 Mar. 2015 · Winter Activities

Wandering Through the Gottesacker Snow Dunes

Gottesacker’s Heavenly Trails

Generally speaking, a dune is a mound formed from sand that has been blown up and then deposited by the wind. The main prerequisites for sand dunes are the availability of sand and the absence of water or dense vegetation. Dunes therefore primarily form in arid climates, however, they can also appear in humid regions if vegetation has been cleared that would have otherwise held down the soil.

Wanderweg am Ifen | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

If you think that dunes can only form in coastal areas or in deserts, you stand to be corrected. Experts of Kleinwalsertal will know that there is also a wonderful landscape of dunes to behold 2,000 metres high up in the mountains, namely the snow dunes of the Gottesackerplateau.

The day after my Schwarzwassertal experience, Frau Holle, the fairytale character who is said to be responsible for making it snow by shaking out her feather pillows, had already cast her magic and a day full of sunshine promised more exciting adventures ahead. The day starts with heavenly blue skies and golden sunshine. Only a fresh serving of the wonderful white stuff is missing. It didn’t take me long to decide to spend the day along the Gottesacker winter hiking trail, which happens to be one of the most beautiful winter hiking trails in Kleinwalsertal.

Schnee beim Ifen | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

The trip on the two lifts up to the ‘rooftops of the Walser mountains’ is pleasant, even though I have to pull the collar of my jacket higher, put on my headband and gloves and snuggle down more deeply into my warm functional clothing. The mighty rock face of the Hoher Ifen stretches out for a considerable distance and glows in the warm light of the morning sun. I am looking forward to the day ahead.

You only have to walk a few steps away from the mountain station to get away from the piste. I soon find myself right in the middle of a bizarre winter landscape. It is possible to cross the plateau via a wide and well rolled and groomed winter hiking trail. The plateau, which can be mastered by virtually anyone, is a prominent and distinctive sight; it looks like an island of white against the clear blue skies.

Skigebiet Ifen | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

Goethe was not wrong when he said, ‘The mountains are mute schoolmasters and make silent students.’ As soon as you are away from the piste, you can enjoy the silence of the wonderful winter landscape. The Gottesacker is covered in a deep layer of snow and glistens like a sparkling diamond lake as I approach it. I can hear only the crunching of the snow beneath my feet and the whistling of the wind.

The snow dunes that have been formed by the wind conjure up a special atmosphere. Whilst walking along the circular route, your eye is continually drawn to the ever changing views created by the enormous dunes. There are mountains as far as the eye can see. It becomes quieter with every step you take and it is soon so silent that you can actually hear the silence. Solitude and silence – a gift from the heavens in what are unfortunately too hectic times – guide us towards contemplation. The thoughts become free and begin to fly.

Schneedünen - Ifen | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

I take my time and observe the landscape more closely. I don’t just notice the silvery sparkling of the surface. Depending on how the light is falling, the snow dunes also glow in a range of colours; an unusual glacial blue colour especially gives them a strange and mystical appearance. You have to see it to believe it!

I occasionally see fresh tracks in the deep snow and I am reminded of my deep snow day. I am overcome by the overwhelming desire to dive into the slope and to continue yesterday’s adventure. I am wearing my snowshoes, so what is stopping me? Good sense, thankfully. There is simply no room for recklessness on this terrain. As I am hiking alone, I ensure that I do not head out into the open terrain. There will be other chances when I venture out again with trained guides from the Bergschule. Instead I choose to enjoy to the full the sight of the white landscape beneath me and the infinite blue sky above me as I continue on my way along this long circular hike. I experience and enjoy the tranquility, the expansive scenery, the light and the close contact with the wintry natural environment. I occasionally sit down on one or other of the benches to enjoy a pleasant break.


Sicht ins Allgäu | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

During the morning, I yet again increasingly feel ready to welcome in a feeling of happiness surrounding the absolute perfection of the day. These magical moments far away from the hustle and bustle are what makes this day so special.

I finally take a short detour to the Hahnenköpfle, give the cross on the summit a quick hug, take in the view of Lake Constance and then it is time to head off. With a good dose of sun on my skin and even more sun in my heart, I finally took a comfortable ride down the mountainside on the chair lifts and I listen to the sounds of delight from those who had boards of different descriptions strapped to their feet as they take the sporty route on the pistes down into the valley.
Even today, a good week after my trip, this feeling of happiness flows through me when I think of this day and look at my photos. You have already seen the Gottesackerplateau and its picturesque snow dunes? Great – when will we see you again? You have not yet had the chance to see this fabulous winter landscape? I would like to warmly invite you to experience it!
It is so beautiful here in Kleinwalsertal where you are so close to heaven!

Schneeschuhtour Schwarzwassertal | ©  Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

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