Sunday, November 13, 2011

Black Forest Adventures

A short bus ride from Baden-Baden is a set of hiking trails in the north end of the Black Forest. Wunderbar! We can explore the great Black Forest in Germany. The Black Forest gets its name from the dense trees letting little light through to the ground floor. Figure we should see the more wild and natural aspect of Germany. Might get some good outdoor hiking that we missed from our Canadian home.

The thing about hiking in Germany, and my guess most of Europe as well, is that you don't have to hike if you don't want to. We caught this cable car to the top of the hill. For only a couple Euro the ride seemed worth the view alone. Then we could venture around the top, find some less traveled trails and explore the Black Forest.

I was pretty excited.

Up and up the cable car climbed. Already you can see the forest on either side of the track. You'll notice in the middle of the track there are two cables. This isn't safety redundancy, but in fact a bit of German efficiency. There are two cable cars on the track so when they move, they both move at once connected with this single cable. That way the car coming down provides a nice counterweight to the one going up and thus requiring less effort by the winches to pull the car up. A section of track half way up allows the two cars to pass each other half way through the trip.

Once at the top we got a lovely view of Baden-Baden below. It was extra foggy that day which provided a nice dream like view. Talking to one of the locals we discovered that this is pretty normal. Baden-Baden is built on-top of natural hot-springs, which they use for the baths. This heat also warms the air in and above the town which allow it to contain much more moisture, and thus the fog. Another interesting thing is that there is a big thermal caused also by this ground heat. The end result is all that warm air rising pushes the clouds away or around the town. Baden-Baden gets very little direct rain during the year.

We learned all this while enjoying a lunch at the top of the hill. If hiking in Europe means taking a relaxing cable car and then celebrating the climb with beer, wurst and schnitzel on the summit I could get very used to this. Once we eat our fill for the journey we set off.

... but didn't make it very far. Comfy benches with stunning views and lots of fresh air quickly greet you along the trails. I use the term tail lightly as it was more of a small road to supply the restaurant.

We did eventually get off the little road and onto a smaller trail.

Finding berries along the way. There were a number of other small plants and such that I didn't recognize. Feeling a bit like an explorer discovering new species. Although I'm sure the German's have all these plants documented and cataloged somewhere in this very manicured parkland.

Wanting to find the Black of the Black forest we did a very un-German thing and started bushwhacking. Still lots of light and not that much under growth. I really tried with this shot to make it look wild, but you really have to try.

Although not very Black we get did some stunning fall colours. The leaves are much brighter here then what we have back home. Although perhaps it is getting accustomed to city living and anything in nature looks bright and fresh.

Found a little deer trail to try to find the true Black Forest. Ashley was beaming as she was back in her element of sticks, leaves, and everything nature. Pretty sure she didn't stop smiling since we arrived at the top.

Problem with trying to find the "true" Black Forest is that no matter which direction you walk within two minutes you find civilization again. A sign, a building, a road, a something. Perhaps it was because we were in a well easily accessible park. Would be similar to say Mt. Doug back home and expecting to find the "wild" side of Canada.

Trevor this is for you! Although having more developed and built up parks has it's advantages. Above is the 4th paragliding takeoff field we found. All of them have wind socks, usually multiple, and lots of cleared out land for taking off. I tried to. Hands up so not using the break at all. Up up and away!

Didn't make it far, especially once I realized I didn't have a wing. If I did manage to have a wing and take off I would certainly be greeted by all the lovely thermals I talked about before. With all the take off points facing many directions for different winds, abounding thermals, and an inexpensive and easy cable car to get back to the top this was a paragliding paradise.

If you're new to the area there is a lovely sign giving tips and general info of paragliding in the area (including where to seek medical attention if something doesn't go quite right).

This was the only paraglider we saw. He got off the cable car we were getting on to head down the hill. If we weren't needing to fit the wonder bath houses in that day we probably would have followed him. C'est la vie.

So back down the steep slope we went. Part of me kind of wanted the cable to snap and have an exhilarating roller-coaster ride down. Glad that wish didn't come true as I don't think I would be blogging all of this if it had.

So although I didn't find the Black Forest I was looking for, I did find many wonderful things. I got to share off it with my wonderful wife Ashley. Not a bad afternoon at all. Not at all.


  1. How fun! Love the part about German engineering and efficiency. I really wonder if there is anywhere left where you can just wonder through you know how big the preserved part of the Black forest is?