There is a cable car up to Am Osterfelderkopf at 2033 metres (6670 feet) high. It costs an eye-watering €27 each for a seven minute ride. You can walk up the zig-zag paths but it would take a lot more stamina than I possess, and time that I had.
There was a cafe right by the cable car exit which was packed. We had lunch there, as far away from the accordion player as possible. The cafe had a captive market but I was pleased to see they had not taken advantage and their prices were not dissimilar to the restaurants in the town two kilometres below.
I walked a little further up the mountain, amongst the hardy walkers with serious-looking boots, nordic walking poles and backpacks. To go any further would have needed ropes and crampons and an annual subscription to Senior Climbing Magazine, so I was happy to sit for a while and admire the view.
Once I got to the furthest rocky outcrop away from the chattering tourists there was complete silence. I was above the treeline. No birdsong. No wind whistling through the treetops. If I strained my ears, I could hear the occasional distant sound of hiking boots scraping on rock. Once they rounded the corner there was nothing. Only silence.
Try this for me, if you will. Stop reading and listen. Concentrate on every sound, near and far. What can you hear? Cars on the road outside? Birds in the trees? A distant TV? A dog barking?
Unless we stop and listen, we tune out the background noises. They are always there in modern life. It isn’t until we are somewhere completely quiet – in a desert or on top of a mountain- that we realise how noisy our world has become. Maybe we humans need some noise. If, by chance, there is silence most people will turn on the TV or play music, or maybe quietly talk to a bird eyeing them suspiciously from a nearby rock.
There is only one bird that ventures into this alpine region, the Alpine Chough. An information board by the cafe informed me that these were social creatures that like to nest in large groups. This one was all alone which was why he was happy with my company. I told him all about the cable car ride and how I would almost certainly climb to the very peak of the mountain if I had only remembered some rope and my knees weren’t making a disturbing creaking noise. I mentioned that there might be some leftover food on the cafe tables. At the mention of food, he gave a little squawk and flew off. “Just follow the sound of the bloody accordion” I called after him.
Pictures from the trip can be found here