Saturday, May 22, 2010

Schauinsland in the Schwarzwald

By Claire
At 1,284 meters (4,213 feet), Schauinsland is one of the highest points in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Today promised to be spectacular, weather wise, so we pumped up our tires and rode 9 km. to the Talstation for a 20 minute cable car ride to the top. We were so hot and sweaty from our ride that we steamed up the inside of the gondola. I hope the other people in the cramped little car didn't make the connection. Even so, the views were terrific.

At the top, we searched for the trail head for our chosen hike, an 8 km. meandering path back to the Talstation where we had parked our bikes. It was frustrating for us that the marked trails on our map had no name or number, just yellow diamonds. But so did most of the other trails. There were two blue diamond trails as well, but how do you figure out which yellow diamond trail is yours? Naturally, all the directional signs were for blue diamond trails. We had also hoped there would be someone around with information. Nope. Just a beer garden. We decided to take the logical route: down. Fortunately, we came upon a very nice German couple with good English who helped us get started.


It was definitely cooler up here but the air was fresh and it smelled like Christmas trees. We found out that the size of the Black Forest is only a fraction of what it used to be, thanks to mass logging. There are quite a few wide open spaces covered with wild flowers and even a few homes sprinkled here and there. What a place to live!

Man in black in the Black Forest

Black slug in the Black Forest

Inside the Black Forest; or is it the Green Forest?

We felt the whoosh of mountain bikers as they flew down the hill and we passed a few other hikers, but mostly we had the trails to ourselves. Finding a perfectly placed bench for our lunch, we enjoyed the view, the sunshine, birds, bees and wildflowers.

Lunch view

This hike was near perfection as we slipped in and out of the forest, even finding some fun forest sculpture surprising us in unexpected places, and a tree house perched over a huge, green lawn. So much room for a child to run and play.

Out of the forest and into the sunshine

This little tree house was fully equipped with dishes, a table and chairs.

We met another hiker as we neared the bottom, a German man who told us that he was in Freiburg because he had been in the hospital for 4 weeks and was recovering by walking every day. He told us that the two best hospitals are in Heidelburg and Freiburg, both university towns. We said goodbye at the gondola station and a few minutes later waved as we whizzed past him on our bikes as he stood at the bus stop. Our mission? Finding the best Konditeri in town for a piece of Black Forest Cake.

We were lucky. I had spotted such a place as we struggled up the hill on our way in and pointed it out to Chuck, noting its location. While I watched our bikes, Chuck went inside to make sure they had what we wanted. He came back out to assure me we had struck gold and we locked up our bikes. Back inside, I told the non-English speaking baker that we would like zwei Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, literally "Black Forest cherry torte". Much confusion ensued. A customer who had helped Chuck previously with translations tried desperately to find the correct words to explain the baker’s confusion. Turns out, he had already cut one piece for Chuck and now I was ordering two. We all laughed and agreed that one more piece was probably enough. Adding two cappuccinos to our order, we found a table out on the patio in the dappled sunlight.

This cake is now our gold standard. The sour cherries were subtle and just right and I tasted a hint of Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries). Add some whipped cream and you have a light, fluffy, not too sweet piece of heaven.

We hopped back on our bikes and zipped back into town where we split up—Chuck off to see about a haircut, and I back to Homer. It felt good to know my way around, even though we were off by several streets; I knew I could get back. I recognized several things and found some kind of canal system and an intriguing window treatment.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~ John Muir


amy_jay_b said...

Finally I have caught up on your blog! I have so been enjoying reading about your travels, hearing about the people, and seeing the lovely photographs. And there are even book reviews! Chuck, I will have to try Fidelma of Cashel--it makes me think of Ellis Peters's Cadfael series, set in 11th century England.

Paros Shepherd said...

Very nice! Reminds me of Oregon; the vegetation is the same.

Chuck and Claire said...

Yes! It does look a lot like Oregon. This whole area, and Freiburg in particular, also reminds me of the Berkeley Hills where I grew up.

Chuck and Claire said...

Hi, Amy
I hope you like the Sister Fidelma series. I loved Cadfael, too; my niece, Chelsea, introduced me to him a number of years ago.

Carol said...

C & C,

I liked the black slug. Very interesting. It looked just like a bannana slug only black. Also the picture of the moth you took looks to me like the Polyphemus moths that we have in the States. Don't know if it would be the same organism in Germany. I was struck by how much water this country has. To have water running in small canals down the streets speaks to an incredible amount of water with no fear of ever running out. What a contrast to CA where every drop is so precious and is fought over to the death. It also speaks to why you see Dicentras doing so well...lots of water and a mild climate.

Diane said...

Wow--what a stunning landscape! I could have done without the black banana slug though . . . eeeeeuuuww. Your cake looks outrageous--how do you guys tolerate all the caffeine? I between the cake and the coffee--I would probably be up all night--I'm so impressed!