Surprise

Five Trees in dem Schwarzwald

So, today was another beautiful day, a perfect day for a hike in the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald. Our origination point was the small “Kur” hamlet tucked in between forested hills called Bad Wildbad. A stream runs through the middle of the town, which has a massive sanitorium building straight out of an earlier age looming above it. Bad Wildbad 2 This town, in a smaller version of Baden-Baden, is centered around thermal natural spring baths and also lined with outdoor waterfront cafes, hotels, and stylish shops.  People were out enjoying the sunshine and a coffee on the terraces along the stream, accompanied by the soothing sound of the waterfalls below. Initially our destination was the Sommerberg Bahn, a small train that glides up (and down!) railway tracks at a very steep angle to and from the top of the berg, or mountain.

Sommerberg Zug im Wildbad

Sommerberg Zug im Wildbad

The scenery was gorgeous at the top of the mountain with hiking trails going every which way and intersecting here and there, with “Skiihütte” (skiers’ huts) helpfully positioned at the crossroads, in case you need a rest or want to measure your pulse. (The bigger Skiihütte offer steaming plates of wurst and salad along with beer or lighter drinks.)  It seems important to mention that there even were raised hiking trails on platforms at least thirty feet above our heads that extended through the trees in a wide circuit (the “Treetop Path”), making the hiking experience easily accessible–and particularly scenic–for those who wanted to see the sights from a yet higher vantage point, including those who are wheelchair-bound.

There is a Nordic method to calisthenic hiking and it involves hiking poles. This method reportedly burns up more calories and leads to greater fitness. So, many people getting on and off the Sommerberg Zug had their hiking poles (a bit like ski poles) with them. While you are on the Sommerberg Bahn, you may pass by people sunning themselves on their otherwise apparently private terraces  (alongside their drying laundry arrayed on racks to catch the sun). There are a great many Kliniks and sanotorium in this area, reminding one perhaps of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.

It seems doubtful that anyone is in a hurry here, so probably it would be a great place for sketching.  It would be painless, for sure, to check in here for a few months!!  In any case, although the watercolors were along for the ride, the circumstances were such that only a simple sketch of one of the Skihütte sites was possible. This is the site of the Fünf Baüme, or the Five Trees, a surprising spot in several ways.

Ski hut Since this spot is surrounded by trees, it is natural to ask, as we did, why it is called “five trees.” Soon we spotted the reason; there were five trees growing together and protected by a fence just to the right of the hut. A clearing above the hut had permanent recliners–sort of anti-gravity chairs for hikers or, possibly, for sketchers passing by.  Below the hut, through the trees, a horizon of mountains and tree tops as well as blue sky was visible.  The many trees in the foreground were all possible shades of green–a fabulous place to take a rest, as several hikers and bikers did while this sketching was underway.

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