A forest walk

A cloudy day in the Schwarzwald

Even though it was a cloudy, cool day, a hike beckoned on a Sunday in Germany.  Since most shops are closed, it makes sense to be outdoors enjoying time in nature rather than doing errands, which often happens on a Sunday at home in the U.S. or Canada.  A favorite Sunday walk many years ago was in a coppiced forest preserve near the dorm where I lived in Osnabrück;  I’d often end up with other walkers for a coffee and a piece of cake at the nearby Konditorei in the late afternoon.

Walks in parks, forests, and the countryside are popular regardless.  The signs posting trail directions by foot and bike to both nearby and far destinations are everywhere in German towns and villages.

We thought going back to Sankt Märgen and walking the path to Sankt Peter (in the Schwarzwald) would be fun, so we set off.  It was a bit too foggy for the far views that the trail is known for, so it didn’t matter that we wandered onto a forest path by mistake, having not thoroughly researched the route (and misinterpreted the labeling of a sign.)

A lovely loop through managed fir forests and mixed forests, with some lovely pastoral views, when were on the main trail, still brought us back to St. Märgen, and found me musing about why I love forests with mosses and lush understory vegetation.

I certainly didn’t grow up in a place that had many mosses and ferns, but rather in the dry juniper-scrub of Central Texas, punctuated by limestone-lined creeks.  But childhood vacations camping in the Rockies and out West brought me home to the virtues of big trees, meadow wildflowers, alpine vegetation, and so much more.

I’m reminded of reflections on this in the past blog posts, from remembering a summer spent on Mt. Hood, Oregon with a summer research program as a teenager to visiting cloud forests in Patagonia.

There’s something about evergreen forests and accompanying mosses and ferns that always make me feel at home.