Rising early to avoid the inevitable hot-headed Italian manoeuvring at the Strasbourg aire, we crossed the Rhine and into Germany with the mountains of the Black Forest directly in front of Bertha’s windscreen.
With half an eye on altitude, we chose Sasbachwalden as our first stop from our Dutch ‘Camperstop’ book of aires.
This enchantingly pretty half-timbered village winds its way up the first foothills of the forest. Balconies were hung with baskets of bright geraniums and flower beds and planters were packed with tropical-looking tall and exotically colourful flowers.
Elevated over a difference of 1000 meters the village has four different climate zones and consequently is abundant in fruit trees, vegetable gardens, tropical flowers, vineyards and alpine meadows. In the bright hot sunshine of the day it dazzled us with its colour and vibrancy.
Having visited the new eco-tourism centre and collected maps and free travel passes we climbed up the steep 800m banks of the Gaisholl waterfalls.
A network of 13 wooden bridges and 200 steps took us up into the green and cool glades of the forest criss-crossing the fresh water falls before bringing us onto the Bischenberg for stunning views of the village, and a microscopic Bertha, way below.
Winding our way down through the steep vineyards and admiring the large crops of fruit ready for harvesting we felt it only right to sample some local wines at the communal cave, which also was our stopover for the night. What a lovely introduction to the Schwarzwald!
The next day we were on the early bus and up at the deserted ski resort of Unterstmatt before 9 o’clock to trek to the northern forest’s highest point, the Hornisgrinde at 1164m.
The coolness of the morning at high altitude made the steep hike enjoyable as we clambered up a rocky pathway through the towering banks of pine trees.
The air was still and scented heavily of pine and fern, whilst above us singing swifts were pecking busily at pine seeds and causing cones to crash noisily down through the soft green branches to land on the forest floor by our feet.
We saw only four other hikers on the trail.
We climbed 360 meters (across 4km’s) in an hour and once up onto the Hornisgrinde high plateau the views across to the western plains of the Rhine and France were stunning, but eclipsed by the dark and mysterious miles of mountainous forest to the east.
We caught our breath at the top of a lookout tower and picked out places that we had visited, and were headed to. Framed by the sunshine in the south, the high peaks of the Alps showed the way to our destination of Switzerland.
It was an easy scramble down the trail to the tourist stop of Mummelsee.
This mythical fir tree-ringed lake is famed for hosting nightly summer parties of nymphs and mermaids, presided over by the stern figure of the Konigsee, the Neptune-like king of the lake.
In the cool morning it was full of coach loads of all nationalities who were enjoying the short walk around its shores before shopping for souvenirs and snacking on wurst, leberkäse and other pork delights served on simple rounds of bread and smothered with the mustard sauce ‘senf’ or mayonnaise.
We had just missed the local bus so spent an enjoyable couple of hour’s of people-watching, whilst waiting for the next bus back to the village.
Back at Bertha in good time for lunch it was noticeably hotter at just 218 meters so we sat out soaking up the sun and planning the next few days of touring in the Black Forest.