Friday, 31 May 2013

Black forest canyons (Gorge Trail 2)

The second leg of the gorge trail really lived up to the way's name. Steep canyons, murmuring streams, high cliffs, stone steps with safety ropes, and always, sometimes close and sometimes very far below, the river Wutach.
After an hour or so after leaving the village of Achdorf, where I had spent the night, I met two men walking the same route as I. I had overtaken them yesterday, but this day I joined them, and we walked together for most of the day. The older one used to be a forester in another part of the black forest, and he told us a great deal about the different plants, especially trees, that we encountered on our walking tour.
Even though this second leg of the way was shorter than the first one, it took a great deal longer to complete because the path went continuously up and down, and never seemed to use the shortest route available. Still, it was one of the most beautiful days of the trip, even though the weather wasn't the best.

Info Day 2
Length: 18 km
Towns: Achdorf
AccommodationPension Schattenmühle, Schattenmühle (20€)

A "pit stop" for walkers 
Inside: coffee, drinks, fruit for a pay-what-you-like contribution

An old millwheel along the way

Cows :)

The forest is not yet black

After this saw mill the path descended into the actual gorge
Anyone want to tell me what flower this is?

A pillar fir tree, something pretty rare that my forester walking companion pointed out to me.
The path is getting smaller, the stone walls steeper 

A stone pyramid, for good luck.

One of many interesting bridges along the way. 
The path is getting more and more exposed, from time to time there are ropes and handrails for safety reasons.
Limestone rocks are towering over the river Wutach.

Up into the forest and down to the river leads the path. 
Often, there are fallen rock pieces on the path, so standing under those stone walls is not recommended 
View back over forest and river.

The flower of a wild rhubarb plant

One of many waterfalls that we pass.

A little chapel in the middle of the forest. Once there was a spa village here, but nature has taken back its territory.
Quite an interesting rock formation

After the canyon, the river is getting broader once more.

After it's been raining for a few hours, there's water everywhere...

Big tree roots are forming natural stairs that make walking up and down a little easier.

These roots have been strong enough to break the rocks apart.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Into the wild (Gorge trail day 1)

I've just come back from a 5-day walking tour in the black forest in the south of Germany. Through dark woods and open grasslands I followed the "Schluchtensteig" (= gorge trail), enjoying the sparse sun and hurrying along in the more common rain. It's a very beautiful trail, as you will be able to see once I start uploading some pictures.

I started my tour in Stühlingen, near the Swiss border, after a five-hour journey by bus and train from my home town. As I planned to stay in little guesthouses and hostels along the way, I had only a small backpack with me, and didn't have to carry a tent or similar things. Very helpful was the tour guide written by Walter Theil (available on Amazon), even though there were one or two times where the signs led me in a different direction than the one the book described.

If you want some more information about the trail, follow this link for a description in English and in German.

And now, without further ado, some pictures of the first day on the trail.

Info Day 1
Length: 20km
Towns: Stühlingen, Blumberg, Achdorf
Accommodation: Haus Gisela, Achdorf (23€)

The "Sauschwänzlebahn" (= pig tail train), whose tracks I crossed several times today.

The starting point of the gorge trail, the catholic church in the small town of Stühlingen.

At the beginning, I follow small paths leading away from civilisation into hills and mountains.

The first glance of river Wutach, whom I follow upstream for several days.
One of several rape fields that I pass. 
The river is getting wilder.

Quite a nice footbridge...

... overshadowed by the rail bridge above.

A forest made from fairy tales.

Little rock towers, 

Suddenly, the path was lost under a sea of wild garlic (Bärlauch).

A small waterfall along the trail.

After a steep ascent, a beautiful meadow.

A lovely place for a short moment of rest.
A raised hide. Earlier today, I saw a doe from between some trees.

The view back over low hills and grasslands.

Panorama picture. The tiny dot in the sky is a bird of prey, one of many I saw that day.

"Ein bisschen verrückt" ab jetzt auf Amazon als Taschenbuch erhältlich

Heute mal ein Eintrag auf deutsch. Betrifft sowieso nur meine deutschsprachigen Leser:

Mein Buch, "Ein bisschen verrückt"/Going slightly mad gibt es schon seit 2011 auf Amazon als E-Book, doch jetzt habe ich etwas Zeit investiert, einen neuen Cover entworfen, und es über CreateSpace als Taschenbuch verfügbar gemacht. Hier könnt ihr es euch anschauen.
Wer nicht in Deutschland wohnt, kann es auch auf den anderen internationalen Amazon-Seiten bestellen:

So sieht es nach dem Überarbeiten aus:

Hier der neue Buchdeckel

Und so sah es vorher aus:

Friday, 3 May 2013

May I present: Two triops

Now that I've been looking after my triops for more than a week, here comes an update. There are two of them, Bertie and Jocelyn (I am told that there are always more female than male triops, but Bertie looks and behaves very male to me). Bertie is almost a centimetre long now, while Jocelyn is about seven millimetres. She's at least two days younger, although it's hard to tell, because she hid in the 'teabag' that was maintaining the water quality and I only found her yesterday.


Bertie, swimming on his back.
It's surprisingly exiting to watch them swim around. Bertie races through the market place, always swimming as fast as possible. Jocelyn stays closer to the ground, nibbling on algae that grow on the stones. I've noticed that when the light doesn't come directly from above, the two little swimmers don't seem to know where is up and where is down. If the light is coming from below, they start swimming on their backs - very cute :)
Jocelyn, hiding in a corner.

Today, I made 'triops city' a little more homely. I added stones and sand to the different 'rooms'. For now, the two triops are staying in the central market place area, but they seem to explore their changed home step by step.
The triops' new home.
I'm quite happy that they haven't eaten each other yet :)
Once they're a little bigger, I will add some protein-rich food to the special triops food, this is supposed to help against cannibalism in the aquarium.

Update 13th May: Poor Jocelyn died a few days ago. Bertie is growing rapidly, he's more than two centimetres tall by now. He's shedding his skin almost every day, which is the only way they can grow (and it's quite a good way of measuring his growth). I hope he's actually female, so that I get some triops eggs after all :)