Monday, July 7, 2008

The Black Forest

We turned north from the flats of the Rhein River into the Southern Black Forest. We followed the road north to the town of Wehr. As we do many days, we found a bench and spread out our tent to dry while we ate lunch, since we packed it wet with dew earlier in the morning. On this day our bench was near a bus stop and an intersection, and soon, as often happens, we struck up a conversation with a local curious of where we were and where we were headed. She was a teacher, also an avid bike tourist, and recommended we take a detour to see the Erdmannshohle, a local geologic feature. So we did, and under threatening skies, we took off on a road that became very steep. We were in the flats no more. The Erdmannshohle was located in th town of Hasel, and when we got to the town we saw a sign describing the site, and saw a sign that said 0.1 kilometers left to get to the site. But we never found it.

Ther afternoon consisted of trying to get back to the main road...our teacher friend desribed a route, not too difficult, she rode it just yesterday. But we found 15 percent grades and an exhilarating downhill in a light rain. This may be a lesson in listening to locals.

We met a fellow bike tourist from England at the campground, and spent the evening chatting about the differences between the US and Britian. He was a character, a bit lost after making a wrong turn in Switzerland, and trying to find the source of the Danube to get to Budapest. He thought he was in the Alps, and we set him straight with a gift of maps to get him to the right place. He was a avid pipe smoker, and was a bit concerned about the route for the next day over Feldberg Pass. Up to that point we hand not really looked at the map close enough to realize we were going over a pass next to the highest point in the Black Forest. As we were huffing our way up the road the next day, breathing like chain smokers, we thought of our friend and hoped he somehow hitched a ride over.

The view from the pass was wonderful -- all shades of green, from the bright greens of pastures to the deep greens that give the Black Forest its name. We spent a couple of days camping near Titisee, with a train ride to the university town of Freiberg, to experience the forest in all angles of sunlight.

We traveled for several days, immersed in Black Forest landscape and lore. And sometimes the intersection of the old and new, like a typical one-roof house modernized with solar panels.

We saw lots of cuckoo clocks, visited museums filled with Black Forest wood carving, clocks, period clothing and artifacts. But what we could not get enough of were the sweeping views of the green, green landscape.

And some of the bike trails were unpaved, and led us so deep into the forest were were surrounded by all those shades of green.

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