For today, we had chosen a hike to the summit of the Rachel (visible in one of the pictures in my previous post). The Rachel is the highest mountain inside the National Park and reaches 1,452 m (4,764 ft). You can read more about it here on wikipedia.
The whole idea of a National Park is to protect the enviroment as much as possible, and so we left the car at our hotel's car park and took advantage of the National Park Card that we'd been given on our arrival at the hotel. It entitles visitors to use all public transport within the area for free. There were two bus stops in our village, one directly in front of the hotel, and we had to change only once to get to the starting point of our hike - everything went smoothly and both buses were perfectly on time.
These pictures show how much the slopes of the Rachel have suffered from both Kyrill (a big storm that caused much damage here in 2007) and the bark beetle:
Getting closer to the summit:
Not quite there yet, but the views were already great:
The last bit:
Views from the top:
After a short rest, we climbed back down on the other side of the summit, towards the Rachelsee (Lake Rachel), which is the only natural lake in the Bavarian Forest, formed by a retreating glacier in the last ice age.
Looking back towards where we had just come from:
Now, where was I when I took this picture?
From there, the path went steadily down towards the lake:
It was a very peaceful spot, but I was amazed to read on the information board that the lake has no fish in it - the water's pH makes it impossible for them to live in; the same is true for amphibiae. But there was an abundance of dragonflies around, some really big ones. Some were chasing each other (for love or war, we couldn't tell), and when they met mid-air, you could hear the rustling sound.
Vegetation around the lake is completely left to its own devices, as everywhere in the National Park:
A tree with trousers on and a "tree house" large enough for me to sit in:
It was almost 4:00 pm by the time we were back at the hotel, leaving us about 10 minutes to grab a (very welcome) piece of cake from the buffet before it was put away. We then had a relaxing two hours or so in the spa, and caught some evening sun on the deck chairs around the swimming pond before going in for dinner.
A perfect day - good weather, a great hike (although I must admit the ascent brought me close to my physical limits) and excellent food, all enjoyed in OK's company - what more could I ask for!