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In the north-west of the Schwarzwald lies the town of Bad Peterstal-Griesbach, a quiet valley with sweet homes, clear sparkling water, high walks in the hills, towers and lush forest. On the first day of a trip when my mother came to visit we walked 26km, along the rim of the valley, over the Alexanderschanze (images below).

On our arrival in Pad Peterstal, after a 3 hour train ride from stuttgart, we were picked up by Frau Frist and taken to Hotel Frist. A large a wonderful wood lodge with many rooms, a large dinning room, a pool, and a shoppe with home distilled liquors. Our simple room had a balcony looking west down the valley. We sat enjoying a simple meal as the sky burned orange with the sunset – little men and elves danced along with their feet burning on hot coals.

Morning came with fleecy cumulous marching across the sky and allowing bright patches to paint the tops of the hills about us. We took the bus just a bit further to bad Griesbach – and got lost trying to find the path. Well not really but it took some searching out before we found the yellow arrow. Then steeply up and up and up. Through pine forest mostly. A first view, from the town ski jump, showed us the Renchtalhutte perched across the valley.

A shortcut around a portion of the hill brought us steeply up around below a tower, then to it – the Haberer Turm. More views from above, we surveyed the long valley rim we had before us, and the elevation we still had ahead; although we were now high above the ‘ants’ in the town below we ourselves were overshadowed by an ‘ant’ of a wind-turbine on the Alexanderschanze. Looking at the forest from above also revealed pretty patterns in the trees’ new growth.

Leaving Haberer Turm behind we continued along the twisting paths. Somehow missed the waterfall below us as we kept on going up. But we hiked along a ridge that was absolutely gorgeous – lush, straight, quiet, a bit brighter, but still closed in by small trees, and a smaller path. this was followed by a little ‘wurzelweg’ – path with roots – and then onto a forest road.

Broad, nicely graded forest roads were then the norm for a while. Came to Sexauer Hutte. There was a spring (though we didn’t drink of it), a larger cabin where one could sleep, and two fire areas – one covered by a tepee structure – where I could imagine young boys grilling sausages and rubbing warmth into their hands. Going up the road to Teufelskanzel I really enjoyed seeing the neat walls of large stones that supported the hill from washing over the forest road.

The Teufelskanzel was a neat series of stairs – wood and stone – zig zagging steeply up a hill. The sign warned of a treacherous way, but it was rather pleasant and the vegetation was different (including some berries!). At the top We wandered along a more frequently used forest road and then got confused by the signs. I had to pee and said I would go one way and see my mom at the hut on the other side of the woods. I then got lost delighting in the moss. But we found each-other on the other side eventually, and my mom enjoyed an early lunch. We then went south and past some amazing boulders, lying flat with veins carved by water gouging large channels between these ‘islands’ – almost like a delta but overgrown with plants instead of water…. anyways that was the wrong way to go. Which was upsetting as it was a beautiful way, but I ‘kinda’ convinced my mom and we continued along the ‘westweg’.

We made it through a region that had recently had the trees harvested, and onto another sort of ridge. A nice small way with the trees a bit shorter and greener (not just the trunks of pine falling away on steep slopes as before!) and a bit of mud (which always thrills me!). This continued to Hildahutte, where green paths crossed and a little fire pit awaited guests.

Then we were again with a view, the trees parted and we gazed back at the Haberer Turm, now so wee! Looking around we could see past the rim of the valley to the fading hills of other valleys beyond. In the opening we saw ahead that another long uphill led to the Alexanderschanze itself – where we could again see the wind-turbine spinning. On the way up we stopped at the paragliding platform to exchange picture taking with folks. While it had a nice view it was too windy for lunch, so we proceeded onwards. We made use of one of the many benches along the steep uphill to rest and enjoy the view and lunch in relative wind free calm.

Full we reached the top, went under the turbine listening to the swishing blades, and though some more lush forest to an ancient stone which once marked the meeting of three kingdoms. Neat to see the different coats of arms carved into the stone.

We then had a lazy time on the way ‘down’. Still a few kilometers around the very back of the valley. We crossed the road to an old military earth-mound construction that was kind of boggy but had really soft grass to sink into and nap on briefly. A little ski hill had people flying model airplanes and discussing the view over the rhine and into france. Starting to descend we passed a great holiday home with flowers. then we took a shortcut in order to watch some paragliders hang in the wind. Strewn beneath the tree trunks were some nice large stones partially covered in other vegetation – they had a very pleasing grey color.

At last we reached the Renchtalhutte (though we briefly discussed a 10km detour to Oppenau) and decided to settle in for an early dinner. Yummy Schwebishe Rostbraten and fresh water. We were perched above the valley on a firm wood deck attached to a wide and sturdy wood home. Immediately below us a farmer was raking hay.

On the final descent we passed some cute flowers and villages, including an inviting looking cafe. Passing cherry trees with not quite ripe fruit we came into the darkening valley along a stream. In bad Peterstal we encountered a fountain with sparkling mineral water and filled up all our bottles for the next day!

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