Taking the Alpine Scenic Route (I Heart Cable Knit Hat with Ear Flaps)

Don't you hate that first glimpse of spring, when it's warm and sunny for the first time in months, and then the jokes on you when Mother Nature swings right back into below freezing temperatures and yucky rain?  Well, it happened to us this weekend and it was enough to drive me inside to knit something cozy.

Ella needed a new ear flap hat and I found this one to be a cute one.  I haven't ever knitted a cabled ear flap hat so this was a nice endeavor into the unknown.

But then halfway through the project, we hopped in the car and took a scenic drive through the Alps - specifically around the Karwendal Alpine Park (or Nature Reserve.)  Remember the Nordkette mountain range I visited with my friend, Jenie?

A Small Section of Nordkette

Well, this is the starting point and Karwendal goes behind that mountain range for quite a distance into Bavaria. This protected area runs between Lake Achensee, the Inn River and the Isar River.  It is the largest range of the Northern Limestone Alps... largest because there are 125(!) peaks that are over 2,000 meters.  I'm not even going to begin diving deeper into Karwendal because it is so much more than just an Alpine Park.  There's so much history and so many things to do.  I would have to write a book to cover it all.  It's amazing.  And if you're into climbing, nature, and all things Alpine - you should come visit.

So, our trusty navigator took us on a scenic drive.  We passed through Mittenwald and Krün to Lake Walchensee. (See the red pin on the map above.)  Here's a quick shot of the lake... which is so misleading because the photo makes it look so small.

Walchen comes from Middle High German meaning 'strangers'. It's one of the largest and deepest Alpine Lakes in this region.   It lies 802 meters above sea level.   

See! It's bigger than I let on!

Nearby was this sign commemorating the first ever fatal car crash on this road.   I've looked for info on this but there's a lot of back and forth as to where the first fatal car accident actually occurred.  

Coincidently, the first recorded fatal car accident is listed in the UK in the same year - 1896.  Bridget Driscoll died after she was travelling at 4mph and was hit by a driver going at tremendous speed.

Nearby Lake Kochelsee is connected to Lake Walchensee.  This lake is smaller and lies at 600 meters above sea level.

In 1900, Oskar von Miller, founder of the Deutches Museum, championed the idea to generate power from the 200 meter drop between the lakes. After World War I, construction began and by 1924, water from Walchensee turned the turbines at Walchensee Hydroelectric Power Station on the shores of Kochelsee.

During World War II, two aircrafts were ditched and sank into Walchensee.  In 1945, the German Armed Forces, the Wehrmacht, allegedly hid a portion of their assets and reserves in the area.  Although a portion of the treasure was handed over to the Allied Forces, speculation continues about the existence of hidden currencies and gemstones in the area.

Apparently, the Nazi's hid so much gold and treasure in the area - 25 boxes are still missing! - that you can go on a tour of the potential hiding spots!  Did you see the winding roads between Walchensee and Kochelsee??? Tremendous curves!  So curvy, in fact, that the speed limit is only 60kmph (37mph) and there's no overtaking on weekends.  There have been so many deaths on this road - they should call it the 'widow-maker'.

As we made our way into Kochel, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that one of the key figures of German Expressionism lived here.  Franz Marc, one of the founders of The Blue Rider, lived here.  Nazi officials had condemned him as a 'degenerate' artist and removed 130 of his works from German museums.  Marc's style includes bright primary colors, Cubist portrayal of animals, stark simplicity, and strong emotion.

Fellow expressionist, Wassily Kandinsky, later wrote the name came from Marc's love of horses, Kandinsky's love of riders, and their shared love of the color blue.  Fellow artists shared a profound sense of expressing spiritual truth through their art.  For Kandinsky, the color blue is the color of spirituality.  The darker the blue the more it awakens the human desire for the eternal.

"Landscapes with Horses" [Credit:Link]

In 2012, his "Landscapes with Horses",  along with thousands of other paintings, was discovered in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, who's father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, an art collector, had collected the Modernist paintings of other Nazi proclaimed 'degenerate' artists.  (More lost Nazi-acquired bounty found!!!)

Back in 1914, Franz Marc joined the German army during WWI and gravitated towards military camoflage.  He painted nine different patterns varying from Manet to Kandinsky.  He died at the age of 36 during World War I before reassignment could reach him.  He is buried in a cemetary in Kochel.

He lived a very short life, but his influence reached many.  He had influences on the artists Marc Chagall and Piet Mondrian and among American Abstract-Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns.  He is still, to this day, considered one of the most influential artists to come from Germany.

If you're ever in the area, be sure to visit the Franz Marc Museum.  I didn't get a chance this time... but I would love to in the future!

The Franz Marc Museum

Phew! What a scenic detour... later, when we made it home, I finished the knit cable hat.

I liked the cable pattern... I had  no idea where I was going on this one.  I just had to trust the pattern written out for me.  It turned out quite nice and fit perfectly... and the journey interwoven with the yarn was quite interesting indeed!


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