Hiking in the Vosges Mountains
near Munster, France  (June, 2012)
On Saturday morning, (June 16th), Irmi and I drove from Thalwil, Switzerland, to Freiburg, Germany, and spent the weekend
with our good friends, Norbert and Beate.  Following a lengthy Sunday morning breakfast, the four of us piled into Norbert and
Beate's spacious Mercedes station wagon and drove a little more than an hour into France for a hike in the Vosges Mountains.
Mogli, a pure-bred hunting dog, accompanied us, comfortably ensconced in the big car's rear cargo area.  To follow our route,
log onto the "Google Maps" web site and type in "Freiburg, Germany."  From our start point in Freiburg, scroll left on the map
to Colmar, France; then farther left and down to the town of Munster.  Once beyond Munster, we followed Highway D417 and
then turned onto D61, finally parking the car near a small restaurant in the woods within walking distance of Lac (Lake) Noir.
Our starting point.  A small restaurant is to the right; our car is parked down to the
left in a large parking lot.  We will begin our hike heading left along the paved road.
Leaving the road, the trail leads, naturally, uphill.  (Beate in the lead)
In less than twenty minutes, we reach Lake Noir.  We'll pass to the right and enter the forest beyond.
Mogli, challenging a bemused cow.
Ever onward, ever upward.  (Ron and Beate)
A small slice of Lac Noir, whence we came, is barely visible in the middle distance.
Irmi cannot resist flowers, and these are, indeed, beautiful; but often in Nature the most colorful plants
and creatures should be avoided.  I thought these were "Delphinium's," the roots and leaves of which
are poisonous; but a friend who fancies himself a horticulturist later assured me that they are another 
species altogether and very much benign.  Still, I wonder.
Deep in the woods:  Irmi and Beate.
Norbert and Ron following Mogli . . . uphill.
Passing this spot, Norbert and Ron expected a (French) leprechaun to pop out at any moment!
Stepping off the trail to allow another group to pass in the opposite direction. 
 L to R:  Norbert with Mogli, Beate, and Ron.  (Lac Blanc is in the background.)
Lunchtime on the terrace of a small restaurant above Lac Blanc.
 Irmi, gazing over at Ron's plate, wonders if there is anything worth "sampling."
Lunch is over, the plates are cleared, and we are relaxing,
allowing our stomachs settle before hitting the trail again.
And the trail, as always, leads . . . uphill.
We exited the woods at the far left end of the lake, walked along the road around
 the lake to the end and took a break at the small restaurant (roof is barely visible).
   After lunch, we climbed a winding trail to this vantage point and paused to look back.
We will hike around to the right and eventually traverse the crest in the background.
The trail was often rocky and uneven.  Good hiking shoes were an absolute necessity!
Only a few more steps to the crest.  Beate and Norbert can see it up ahead!
 The proof is in the sign: 1,302 meters (4,231 feet).  
(To my American friends, note the absence of bullet holes.)
Beate and Norbert stride atop the (Vosges Haut-Rhin) crest near Taubenklang-felsen (1,296 meters).
Norbert, Mogli, and Beate taking a short break on a plateau at the top.
Looking back again whence we came: Lac Blanc, the road, and the restaurant.  We
climbed up and around the hill to the left; then hiked in a long wide arc to our present position.
Turning 180 degrees from the previous photo, we survey a wide plateau.  Now, we
will turn 90 degrees left and hike along the crest back toward where the car is parked.
Ron, ahead of the group, wandering near the edge, contemplating the drop.
Ron and Norbert, followed by an unknown man from another group, approaching a small summit.
Just beyond the rise, we discovered a modest bronze plaque embedded in stone memorializing
 a young Scandinavian man who made his final (and fatal) para-glide jump from that point in 2006.
Leaving the crest (and plateau) behind, Beate, Irmi, and Ron head gradually downhill.
The path widens into a rutted dirt road through a thicket of pine trees.
Dipping into deep forest again, Beate negotiates a narrow winding trail.
Mogli, refilling his water tank in a cool, clear mountain stream.  He deserved it.
The car is parked just ahead, where we can all rest our weary feet (and paws).
The End.  Adieu und auf Wiedersehen.

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