live slow, love nature, be adventurous

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Day in the Black Forest: Swimming & Walking Around Schluchsee

I always find it awkward to break radio silence on my blog, but this time - after almost three weeks of barely even posting an Instagram snap - it feels especially hard. I just got back from my trip to Spain and Rome which was all sorts of fun, but obviously also all sorts of exhausting and it's going to take me at least another week or two to make sense of the thousands of pictures that I took. But hopefully I can start sharing them with you soon! In the meantime, though, I thought I'd go back in time to the summer in Germany.

When S and me went to Freiburg a few weeks ago, we couldn't resist using the opportunity to head to one of my favorite regions of Germany, the Black Forest, again. On our last visit, we had gone on a fun little hike in the beautiful Wutach Gorge, but this time around Germany was stuck in a middle of a heatwave that didn't make walking up mountains seem all that fun and so we decided to head for a cooling little swim instead.

There are a few lakes in the Black Forest that are popular day trip destinations and I hope that I can visit many of them in the future, but this time around we opted to head to the largest lake in the Black Forest, Schluchsee. After an easy train ride from Freiburg, we were greeted by a welcoming breeze in a sleepy little town high in the mountains and made our way to the local pool. There are tons of free beaches around the lake if you know where to find them, but we appreciated having a place where we could lock our valuables and change in peace.

It also didn't hurt that it gave me an excuse to go ahead and treat myself to one of my favorite childhood indulgences: Orange Popsicles! They never fail to take me straight back to my elementary school days! We spent a few hours splashing through the water of the lake and the pools and properly cooled down for what seemed like the first time in months. I don't go to the pool very often because the ones in the city are usually so uncomfortably crowded, but if I had a lake like this in front of my doorstep that definitely wouldn't be the case!

But because it feels almost rude to go to the Black Forest and not go hiking, we decided to spend the second half of our day walking around the lake. Since we didn't have enough time to complete the whole 18-kilometre circuit around Schluchsee, we planned to shorten the route a bit and soon were on our merry way with the water of the lake beautifully glistening in the sunlight.

The path was very easy since there were barely any ascents at all (and you should have seen my completely hiking inappropriate outfit - I think I'm the only person who would head into the woods wearing a white skirt and a tote bag!), but unfortunately we quickly realized that even our shortened route was a tad bit ambitious for the time we had and so our leisurely stroll soon turned into more of a sporting event.

But, granted, if there was one place in the world where I would go power-walking willing, it surely would be a lake as pristine and peaceful as Schluchsee. The forest through which we walked was quiet and calm, with only the occasional bicyclist passing us, and between the branches of the conifer trees, we could see the intense blue water of the lake shimmering. Ever since leaving Norway, I have missed the feeling of being truly immersed in nature, but every time I visit the Black Forest, I once again feel like I have truly left the stresses of the outside world behind me.

A few kilometers into our hike, we stumbled upon an adorable farm and inn, complete with traditional folk music and a little flock of cattle. Standing on a bit of an elevation, we stopped for a second to enjoy the sweeping view over the lake (and wouldn't this be a marvelous location for an outdoor wedding?) - but the clock soon started to tick again and so off we went on the last leg of our walk.

We managed to reach our final destination - a tiny village with the cutest name I have ever come across in Germany, Aha - just before our train back to Freiburg was due and as we started to leave the lake behind us and the heat soon became impossibly sweltering again, I couldn't help but wish to be back in the mountains. Maybe I'll be back in the Black Forest in the winter - but until then, it's on to fall in Heidelberg!


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