Schwartzwald – Day 3

I’ve got my phone back. Huzzah!! – courtesy of a helpful hotel receptionist and the wonderfully efficient German integrated transport system.
It went like this: yesterday I sent a message from my tablet to my phone; an hour later I had a reply (in perfect English) telling me where I’d left it (25 miles away over the German equivalent of the Khyber Pass!): the receptionist found out that a taxi would cost €100 but that I could get there, with loaded bike, for about €8 by train and bus. Hey Presto, catching the 8.14 local train, I had the phone in my possession by ten past nine. Not bad, hey!
By the way, it was a “no brainer” yesterday – the annoyance of the phone loss was easily outweighed by the pleasure of the pastry. You can buy another phone; but a pastry that hits the spot at the right moment …..

This necessitates a change of plan; I had not intended to be starting from Schramberg. But, you know what? This might actually be better. I can explore more of the Kinzigtal, arguably the most sumptuous scenery of the entire region – and this time, gently down hill. Serendipidy strikes again. In a trice (how long is a trice?) I have retraced my steps through  Shiltach to Wolfach.
Today there are more leisure cyclists around including the stony-faced Brunhildes, reminding me of the Moselle valley


On reaching Haslach I ponder over a coffee and a delicious banana split laced with fresh cream. This cures my nascent indigestion. After slapping on the sun-cream I decide to break free, heading into the hills to the south. There follows the most wonderful ascent. Now some of you may feel that these two words form an oxymoron. Not so! If you don’t understand the idea, you would be wise not to cycle in the Schwartzwald. No traffic; the sun starting to shine strongly, and a gentle breeze on my back. I pass a typical local farm farm.


Towards the top where the tarmac surface degenerates into a rough track and then a steep stony path, I happily get of and walk. Why not? I’m in no hurry.
This part of Germany is devoutly Catholic with many roadside icons and crucifixes. I stop to photograph a rather OTT example


Let’s pause the journey a moment and return to Sapiens.
Yesterday, I left a question hanging. The eruption out of Africa was stunning. Having led a parochial existence for almost 150,000 years Sapiens conquered the entire world within 50,000: Australia 45,000 years ago; the Americas 16,000 years ago.
How? Why?
I shall endeavour to leave you with another unanswered question.
Having existed happily as hunter gatherers for 140,000 years Sapiens suddenly converted to agriculture about 10,000 BC. Research suggests that this happened contemporaneously over many parts of the world. Why?
The consequences were momentous: permanent settlements, possessions, dependence on only a very few plants and animals, dependency on the vagaries of the weather, population explosion. Were human farmers really better off/happier than their “primitive” foraging forebears?
Additionally, the Agricultural Revolution signalled the development of many human “constructs”: hierarchy, rules/laws, myths etc. These rapidly became the glue which held society together. But they are only constructs. They have no absolute validity – indeed they show huge historical/geographical disparity. Let’s look at one relatively recent example – the American Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal … that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ……the pursuit of liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
Putting on one side the use of the word “Creator” (without which the whole thing actually falls apart!), and the obvious historic irony of “equality”, is it not simply an imagined order created by fertile human imagination and held together by social cooperation?
So humans have rights? Do animals have rights? If they do, surely they are endowed by us?
Who endows our rights?

Back to the journey.
The wonderful ascent is followed by an exhilarating, but much shorter descent down to Elzach, where I enjoy another cup of coffee. I suspect that this glorious up-and-over, from Holsach to Elsach via Bierich will be the single highlight of the entire trip.

But the wind has changed and clouds are blowing in from the south. An early finish me thinks. Ten miles down the valley on a cycleway alongside the road, now in light rain, leads me to the pretty town of Waldkirch where I manage to find a decent, stylish but not too expensive hotel. Herewith, the corridor outside my room:


It’s been day learning and appreciation. I’m a fortunate member of Sapiens

Distance travel           42.9 miles
Elevation gain                   4095 ft
Average speed                9.2 mph
Maximum speed         39.8 mph (!!)


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