It’s been over a month and a half that I have now been in Heidelberg, although courses only started this past week. It’s equally noteworthy that this fifth post is continuing in the tradition I seem to be establishing of writing about natural excursions. I certainly have been seeing castles and churches and folk festivals. But for some reason, there seems to be less unique about them compared to the mountains and forests of Germany.
At any rate, I went hiking again today in the Black Forest, though not as far south as Freiburg. Friends and I travelled to Ottenhöfen, from where we climbed to the summit of the Hornisgrinde, which is the highest mountain in the Northern Black Forest. We got to Ottenhöfen about noon, and spent three hours hiking to the summit, which was covered in about a foot of snow. Similar to my experiences hiking on the Heiligenberg and Königstuhl in Heidelberg, there were many trees, paths and grotto-like stops that frequently called the mind to the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales. Some of the most interesting man made artifacts we found were several fountains – which are common in German forests – as well as religious monuments – including a cross in the forest highly reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings.
However, the best part of the day was the snow that we began to encounter about half way up the mountain. We first noticed simple patches of snow hiding in bushes or on the ground. But the patches progressively became larger and eventually it began to snow. Until the snow became consistent, thick and relatively deep. After about two and a half hours of hiking, we reached the Mummelsee, directly below the Hornisgrinde, which is a popular tourist spot and the supposed home of a water spirit. We were considering going back down the mountain, to be sure of catching the last train home, but decided we would risk it to hike all the way up to the Hornisgrindeturm. After another thirty minutes of hiking – through a snow bedecked forest – we reached the top.
We played in the snow for a while – and then headed down. The weather had by this time cleared up, and we were left with stunning views of the mountains and valleys below us.