My discovery of a mist-shrouded fort was so exciting that I had to go back–and possibly share it with others. I was especially interested in seeing the location again with a little less mist concealing everything. At the PH where I was studying, a group of international students wanted to go on a hike, but didn’t have much direction about what to do. I eagerly suggested the “castle ruins” that I had found, and in my attempt to convince them, I over-emphasized how cool the ruins were. Our hike took longer than I expected, mainly because we paused often for pictures and for people to catch their breath.
But finally, after a few uncertain intersections, we came out on the bench-bordered path I’d seen before. We climbed a few stairs and took pictures, but this “castle” was hardly the capstone to the hike that I’d promised. Certainly, there were rock walls that rose nearly nine feet, but most of the structure was enveloped by mounds of grass. “It’s okay,” one of the other students said to her friend, “We’ll find a real castle to explore sometime soon.”
Embarrassed, I followed everyone else’s lead. Some of the group noticed other hikers walking the opposite direction, so we decided to find out what was so popular.
We came across an observation tower. I remembered seeing it from below in the city of Freiburg. About fifty people were here, climbing up to the very top to take pictures, climbing down again, resting on small boulders. We decided to climb the tower, though one of our party had to stop halfway there because of vertigo. When we made it to the top, the tower’s swaying was far too noticeable. I couldn’t decide if the movement came from the wind or the pedestrian traffic, and I had trouble being near the outside railing at first.
I don’t have a strict phobia of heights, but the fear of falling has always been a big problem for me. Because of that fear, I’ve never climbed a tree, attempted a cartwheel, or ice-skated. It’s very hard for me to jump into a pool or to climb more than three ladder rungs off the ground. Climbing stairs is usually much easier for me, however, because they’re wider and solid. These stairs, unfortunately, were a metal mesh, which meant that I could see the ground as we went up. But I didn’t feel scared until we were at the top, where the wind might blow you over. Even then, we could climb just a little higher on a smaller platform that was big enough for two people. I decided to not let my fear prevent me from experiencing this tower, and I paused briefly to get a picture at the very top.
Later on in the hike, we came across another tower, this one mainly ignored and inaccessible. Our group decided the actual warning sign in front of the dilapidated bridge was overreacting and crossed it anyway. I hung back until I was the last one. I hated the idea of falling, but the bridge had supported the others, so I went for it. On the other side, we found carvings and graffiti. Take a look for yourself! We also found a small cave that looked like it provided a little shelter for someone who was homeless.