Breakfast is awesome. We’re off to climb a peak and we go down for our buffet style food and it certainly does not disappoint. There are two types of piping hot bread, three types of cheese spread (two of them garlic and chive, another a purer, cheesier spread), four types of cheese, and four types of sausage and meat spreads. There’s yogurt on the side, orange juice, blackcurrant juice, apple juice, milk. Our friendly German host-matron asks if we want coffee or tea: two large teapots, steaming hot, soon land on our table. Four types of cereal, one of them has apples cranberries and strawberries in them. The bread is superb – crusty and has a wonderful cracking sound when you break it, revealing the soft warm chewy dough inside, packed with sunflower seeds. Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is playing over the radio, Freddie Mercury’s voice oddly suitable for the situation – ‘I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball’. I love breakfast.
After more travel we reach the forested part of the Black Forest. As the bus is driving up we see the mountains around us… Super verdant and the tall tall trees just everywhere. They cover the mountainside, feathery conifers reaching into the sky, mountaintop silhouetted against the sun. As we travel in the shadow of the mountains the dark green giants of this land stare down upon us, mere mortals in the span of their green lives. Then the bus rounds the bend and then the mountainside is bathed in solar glory, light dappling the leaves, nearly solid. Huge and dark it is, yet not foreboding, unlike Fangorn. This is what the edge of Lothlorien will look like, before it gives way to golden mallorn. But the trees are immense. The mountains contain a wisdom of the earth that we can only wonder at, the bones of the earth arching through the soil. Life abounds. Human habitation in this place is tolerated by Gaia, allowed to benefit from the bounty available.
We’re in this place called Todtnau, a little town nestled in the mountains, and it’s time for a short walk to a waterfall. 1.6km of upward walking and on the way there are so many things! Spectacular vistas of the German mountainside, blossoms of orchids in the sun, spiders crouching in the shade… The waterfall itself is waterfally and wet and wawaweewa! It’s like what I would imagine a drought of Entwash would fall from. Moss covered rocks gleaming in the sunlight and water frothing down from 97 meters. Trees and shrubs and bushes form a photo frame and the water is cold and fresh and Yates awesome. Now we talking about mineral water. The water falling looks like a dichotomous key falling from the top and the water branches out, spilling across shelves of rock and outcroppings. They form the roots of a tree, delving deep into the rock, then the clouds bursting forth from the mountaintop into the sky behind. Streams of silver falling down, an unending cascade of life. Water – the bringer of life. With it deserts bloom and trees flourish, entire ecosystems grow. Dancing frolicking capering, this water uses the very air and rock as a playground. Oh! To be a water droplet.
Now we are on Feldberg, the highest peak in the Black Forest. Surrounding us is rolling terrain. Covered in trees. Green and blue mixing on the horizon, the product of a divine painter. The silence is deafening in its tranquility. You can see the shadow of the clouds on the land. 1493 meters above sea level, I can’t quite believe I’m here. There’s a dream like quality to it, walking through Middle-earth-esque landscapes, imagining I’m a Dunadan protecting the Shire. Feels like I can wake up any time in my bed. But we’re here! Wow.
We continue walking around, down to lake in the mountains, the Feldsee. Unfortunately we can’t make it fast enough and have to turn back for the bus. But on the path we find ourselves inside the forest itself – regal trunks growing straight up. We are so small compared to them! And the lake can be spied through the gaps, it looks huge and still. Avalon? Maybe a hand holding a sword will rise out of the middle, bearing Excalibur to whoever dare draw it forth…