Archive for April, 2012

While we were checking out some hiking maps last week at the Vieux Campeur in the city center, Jim found a book put out by the Club Vosgien called Randonner avec les TER (Hiking with the TER). In it there are 51 unique hikes that start at one TER train station and end at another. It’s perfect for a car-less city dweller like me! (The TER is the regional train network – so they make frequent stops and meander through each region of France.) Each hike is around 18 km and about 6 hours long. The book also provides a difficulty rating, but since it’s not explained and most of the hikes are rated with three or four stars – I just ignored that part.

Thursday I headed out for a solo walk from Cernay to Thann (hike #40 in the book). See all the pictures here.

Cernay – Uffholtz – Chapelle St-Antoine – Herrenfluh – Molkenrain – Camp Turenne – Pastetenplatz – Waldkapelle – Rangen – Thann

The train journey to Cernay took 1h15 from Strasbourg with one change. Before getting en route I stopped to visit the town’s stork breeding sanctuary and a delicious boulangerie on the main street with typical Alsatian treats (I got a croix à la cannelle). After my mid-morning snack, I started walking towards Uffholtz (a village not accessible by train where the trail starts).

The hike from Uffholtz to Molkenrain was a 750 meter ascent. I thought that my butt muscles were going to seize up at one point and I was going to have to use my emergency whistle to call for someone to bring ice and some Advil (I may have had a mid-hike hallucination as well). It turns out that a glass of Edelzwicker and a piece of tourte vigneronne at the Ferme-Auberge Molkenrain was all it took to get me going again.

The sun was high in the sky, but with the breeze coming down the mountain and the shade from the enormous pine trees I kept cool. After winding around the back side of the mountain I came to the Waldkapelle (forest chapel).

The Waldkapelle is a chapel built and rebuilt many times, but first in 1891. It is an open wood shelter with an altar and all sorts of iconography scattered inside – including hand-drawn and framed icons hung on the walls. Some people had left postcards with small messages on them. There were even a few Christmas decorations leftover from the holidays.

I finally emerged from the forest about an hour after leaving the chapel to arrive at Rangen – the famous vineyards dominate the landscape (as does a 10 meter white crucifix with the dying Christ). Below in the valley lies the town of Thann with a picturesque 14th century Gothic church, the Collégiale Saint-Thiébaut, rising above the half-timbered houses. The descent from the vineyards was pretty hard on my knees – I didn’t bring my trekking poles and by the last 3 km I was hurting (but in that healthy – I know I did something good today – feeling).

I hobbled around the narrow streets of Thann – visited the church, saw the Tour aux Sorcières (Witches Tower) and had a tea at a salon de thé across from the church – before catching my train home. That night I slept like a baby…

I took a second walk during the week that I’ll post next…Scherwiller to Dambach-la-Ville.


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Tomi Ungerer – he’s probably one of the least-well-know-most-famous artists from Strasbourg, France. Though once you get out of the Rhine Valley, he’s practically unknown by name, but I bet you’ve seen one of his drawings used in an advertisement or an illustration of his in The New Yorker.

People either love him or hate him. I more love him. His fountain sculpture of Janus can be found near the opera house at Place Broglie. This sculpture isn’t my favorite, but his illustrations and children’s books are quirky and colorful. He has a museum just around the bend from the fountain at Place de la République. Usually there is some sort of exhibition featuring his work alongside other masters. I am most fond of his political and anti-war illustrations and that’s what I was shortly obsessed with a few years ago (he also has some naughty drawings that are pretty funny).

I wonder if one day I’ll find myself in a cafe in the city sitting next to him – him drawing in his sketchbook and drinking a glass of Riesling (or whatever he drinks), me with a coffee and my moleskine.

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Sometimes I miss Paris. Sometimes I just miss the RER.

on the rer

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One month into his presidency…

How could I have forgotten this one?

It also reminds me of Rick Perry – a once presidential hopeful.

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The results are now coming in now.

Hollande wins the first round, but what’s in store for the second?

Watch it live here.

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Source: Wikipedia

Fresh beauty opens one’s eyes wherever it is really seen, but the very abundance and completeness of the common beauty that besets our steps prevents its being absorbed and appreciated. It is a good thing, therefore, to make short excursions now and then to the bottom of the sea among dulse and coral, or up among the clouds on mountain-tops, or in balloons, or even to creep like worms into dark holes and caverns underground, not only to learn something of what is going on in those out-of-the-way places, but to see better what the sun sees on our return to common every-day beauty.

-John Muir from In the Sierra Foot-hills

It  was in 2008 when I first read A Thousand-mile Walk to the Gulf‎. It’s a book that was put together posthumously in 1916, based on John Muir’s journals and writings from his 1,000-mile walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico:

My plan was simply to push on in a general southward direction by the wildest, leafiest,  and least trodden way I could find, promising  the greatest extent of virgin forest.

His idea that walking at more than one mile per hour is going too fast as to miss the scenery is something speaks to me – I can sit for hours in a patch of grass watching the life, mostly hidden from our view, come out from out from its hiding place and buzz all around me. Muir’s writings and life, along with the life adventures of my good friend and artist John Raux and many others have inspired me to live thoughtfully and to escape from the concrete cell where most of us spend most of our waking hours.

In honor of John Muir – go outside, take an hour and walk a block. What do you see? Have you ever seen it before? Why not?

Read about John Muir at the Sierra Club’s website.

Read A Thousand-mile Walk to the Gulf online for free.

England Hadrian's wall Autumn 2009 529

…and thanks to Foodimentary for bringing Muir’s birthday to my attention.

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Be thoughtful. Be mindful.

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