I learned on my previous hike to trust in the beaten path, but my next hike taught me to take a few risks once in a while. I was still new to Freiburg, though I had already walked around the city a few times. After a full day of orientation in classes, I was tired but also feeling cooped up.
The entire day had been foggy. Even though–or perhaps because–I live in sunny Florida, rainy days are my favorite days. Here I was, spending the day watching clouds drape the hills. It was moody, and it was perfect.
Everything I’d learned about hiking–don’t hike too close to dusk, don’t hike alone, etc.–told me that hiking was a bad idea. But here was a chance to walk inside clouds in the Black Forest. I mean, who could pass that up? After a little debating, I grabbed a quick meal just before 6 o’clock and headed for the hills. The only problem was that I wasn’t familiar with the area surrounding my dorm; I had no idea how to even find the hiking trails in the first place without trespassing on someone’s property.
I decided to just wing it. No planning, no Googling for internet hints. Just explore. I walked along the Dreisam river until I found a bridge, and then I kept walking straight toward the hill. The paved road turned to dirt, isolated houses nestled at the edge of the forest, and suddenly I was on a trail. It was steep and a little muddy, but I loved it.
I found an overlook from which I could see my dorm (the tall and narrow white building).
Since I was new to the area and had learned my lesson from previous hikes, I took paths that others seemed to be walking onA trail that lead up. A strange clearing with benches. More people walked here. A sign described the area as “Fort Freiburg Castle Hill Historical loop” in German. Later I would learn that this area was the site of a count’s castle, which had been destroyed in the Middle Ages in a dispute between the count and the townspeople.
I was so thrilled to walk among ancient ruins, and the fog made it all the more exciting. I could only see a little bit in front of me, so stone walls and other hikers would appear and disappear. I resolved to return on a clear day, so that I could have a better idea of the area. Here are a few more foggy photos I took: