Friday, July 25, 2008

Soiled in the Black Forest

We try to scrape off the icing of the Black Forest as we made a day trip to Hansel and Gretel land. Did we trace our way to the house of the witch? Read how we managed to get soiled yet stay clean in the Black Forest...

Our class went today to the Southern part of the Black Forest. I didn't have time to prepare my meal of tuna sandwich. I grabbed a food container and stuffed it with several slices of bread and brought along the canned tuna and can-opener. As someone who has a phobia of getting hungry, I also stuffed some cheese, salami, and a hard-boiled egg in my lunch bag. We Filipinos are afraid of getting hungry. There's always a space for some candies, cookies, or crackers, may it be in a layman's belt bag or a jet setter's suitcase. That's in addition to the indispensable cellphone.

On our way, we were delayed by a herd of cows passing through a small road. They must have been enjoying the sun and taking their own sweet time. We were moving around the whole day from one dug out area to another. Our typical stop was comprised of the following: spraying some water on the a small dug out part of the soil, observing the profile change color, and explain the monochromatic color of the top soil to the semi-weathered gneiss near the bed rock. We did at least three of these stops in around the area of the Black Forest.

Here's Prof. Hildebrand in his best form giving us a lecture

This might not be of interest to you, but you must know that soil is the life force of the Earth where water and nutrients are stored and transferred to the plants, which are then transferred to us as we eat our salads and steaks. Soil also stabilizes our environment, and is considered an ecosystem in itself. No we didn't taste the soil to analyze it. Instead, we visited analysis stations and used simple tools such as comparing color gradients and fuzzy logic to identify layers of soils. My favorite part of the excursion would be the raised bog peat, wherein the forest floor is covered with carpet-like vegetation. Clear water would squish out of the bio-carpet as I pushed my boots on it.

In addition to soil analysis, we also learned some history along the way. Let me give you the names of our soils of holes, their interesting meanings and the story behind them:

Conventwald, literally convent forest, as the name suggests, was owned by a convent. It must have been the hunting ground of nuns. I wonder if they had difficulty washing their soiled clothes after the shooting. Hoellental means hell valley. It used to be disconnected from the world, thus the name. Another small town just before it is called Himmelreich meaning 'sky rich.' Hirchsprung- deer leap, is the site of a legend which tells the story of a deer that leaped across a chasm to escape its hunters. A deer cast in bronze is found on the edge a cliff in memory of the first extreme sport player.

We also approached Feldberg, the highest peak of the Black Forest, and Todtnau, whose residents claim where skiing was discovered. The Todtnau Skiclub was founded in 1891. Our last stop was Notschrei. I'm glad we didn't manifest its meaning 'emergency call,' after a long and warm day hiking on rugged paths, scraping soils, and pounding stones.

Some fine profile photos (not of soil) in my Facebook.

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