I’ve long preferred sunrise to sunset, and being a morning person never had to force myself to reconcile the difficulties in waking up and stepping outside before the first light strikes the horizon with the beauty and stillness that embrace the early riser. But waking up early, even in the middle of winter when the shadows are at their longest, doesn’t come easily, and sunsets sometimes offer the more attractive solution, especially when the ski lifts stop humming and the pistes are empty but for the snow groomers. The Riedberger Horn brims with activity during the day, but during either twilight a beautiful silence descends on its slopes.
I had originally hoped to get up for sunrise last weekend, the urge to sleep in thwarting my plans to see the first light over what’s been a rather [pleasantly] snowy January. Over the course of about five days mid-month, we got about two feet of snow in the valley, with over a meter falling on the 1700 m slopes of the Riedberger Horn. My snowshoes sank in about 6″, far more than the last time I was here (then for sunrise!) even though the temperatures were probably just as cold this time around. The powder was irresistible, attracting even some locals to return early from business trips to shred the stuff. I worked my way up for a slower, calmer purpose, and alone above the après-ski parties I watched the moon rise, and behind that, the sky turn blue, purple, and pink.
Outside of Germany, Austria, and western Switzerland, I’d guess not many know about the Allgäu. It doesn’t draw the glamor that sweeps visitors from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which has its own mountains and arguably a more-pronounced resort allure. But it’s a special sight here, and far less touristy, watching the sun kiss the high summits now drawn in white, and even though the setting sun is too far south now for them to explode in color, I’m doing as much as I can to take it all in — time of day be damned — before my landscape turns entirely flat later this year.
Despite the countless times I’m reminded that I’m not a local, I have an attraction to these pre-Alps that I’m already finding difficult to shake.