Autumn is gently and ever so gracefully assuming its place in the year. The temperatures are cooling, the colors are changing, flowers are tucking themselves in for the year, the fog greets the early mornings and leaves are beginning to fall. The fall colors should be in full view in the next week or so. It’s as if the Good Lord is inviting me to take a hike… to get out and see nature’s beauty before the bitter cold of winter makes its presence known.
Thus, the last couple of weekends I have hiked around and enjoyed the beauty that exists in my own neighborhood. Several hundred meters up the hill behind my room is the Hohenecken Castle ruin. It’s a short hike, but a vertical hike. So after some huffing and puffing, I managed to reach the ruins. It’s at the top of Schlossberg Hill and the view is spectacular. There are also several trails along the ridge that provide forest views that are peaceful and calming. It is so quiet, you can almost hear the leaves fall and hit the forest floor. I enjoy seeing ruins as much as I do intact castles. They are open invitations to the fertile mind to imagine what might have been… The hard work of climbing the hill is rewarded by the almost effortless trek back down. My favorite part of hiking in a forest is how the light passes through between the trees and spotlights something new on a moment by moment basis.
During the week, I noticed the leaves beginning to change colors. It looks like the peak of colors will be in a week or two at this point. Talking to a friend at work about hiking trails nearby, the Karlstal Hiking Trail came up. It is within about 20 minutes of my dwelling so I thought I would check it out. Wow, am I glad I did. What a magnificent hiking trail. The drive alone to get there was fantastic, rich in colors and nature. I parked next to a restaurant and a pond with resident ducks and three swans, just as my friend had described and from there, started my hike, camera in hand.
What became immediately apparent about this trail is that it is primarily horizontal…Woo Hoo!! The trail followed along the Moosalb stream in the Palantine Forest. The trail was loaded with interesting characteristics. The water runs briskly along side the trail and seems to serenade you as you walk. In fact, at one point I thought I heard music and was preparing myself to confront hikers who were playing music on a sound system of some type. But the hikers never appeared, the music did not get louder and I realized it was just the sound of the water as it traversed around rocks, swirling and making rhythmic sounds. Fluorescent green moss was everywhere to be seen on rocks, trees, and dead tree stumps. It reminded me of a hike I took a few years ago through the Black Forest. Light flashed through the trees, mushrooms of all types were growing in the strangest of places, and large crawdads that looked like lobsters were swimming and crawling around.
There is a spot on the trail where a beautiful gazebo with a moss covered roof graces the trail. I came across a young family hiking through and offered to take a photo of them with their camera. The picture came out great and they were quite excited and appreciative. After they were gone I took a couple of pictures. It’s a tranquil spot. I liked the pics, but I knew when I took them that they were missing Ronda to make them complete. That is always the hardest part of taking these day trips. The adventure is exciting on two levels…micro and macro. If you ever get the chance to visit this part of Germany, you would do yourself a big favor by hiking this trail.
I hope I haven’t overloaded you with pictures, but it is such a beautiful place. The sights and sounds and smells were magnificent. I hope you get a chance to walk around your neighborhood and pay attention to the beauty that surrounds you. The reality of civilization hit me as soon as I left the forest. Walking to the parking lot, I was confronted by a swan heading my direction. I knew it was time to detour wide around the magnificent animal when he assumed the Karate Kid attack position. Everyone is so edgy these days. Enjoy the autumn season and the golden leaves as they gently wave goodbye.
Until next time…