We talked about visiting the Black Forest in the winter for a ski trip, but we didn’t accomplish it last year and traveling this winter is uncertain. I suggested we combine a hiking trip with a visit to the Strasbourg Christmas market instead. We could accomplish this during Thanksgiving weekend without having to use a vacation day – bonus!

When the weather forecast showed mild temps and sunshine for Thursday, we decided to drive half way Wednesday night so we could hike the next day in good weather. This worked out fine except the drive on Thursday took over 3 hours and we got a later start on the hike than we wanted. We had to keep up a good pace to hike 13 km to our destination in time to catch a bus back to the starting point.

The trail we chose was the Wutachschlucht, a section of a longer trail that lies between two sawmills along the Wutach Gorge in the southern part of the Black Forest. It’s a very scenic trail along the Wutach river varying from high above to along side and zigzagging across over several bridges. The trees are wrapped in bright green moss and the trail is covered with rust colored leaves, creating a colorful tableau. There are also waterfalls and granite cliffs along the way. The temperature fluctuated quite a bit during our hike from areas where the air temperature was in the 50s to pockets of frost covered vegetation. I absolutely loved this trail and I savored every moment. Until . . .

We arrived at the Schattenmühle (the second sawmill) bus stop in plenty of time to catch the 3:16 bus. I knew that there was a bus that only ran from April to October, but I thought that was a direct bus from one trail parking lot to the other. It looked like a ‘regular’ bus made a bunch of stops in between and took about 45 minutes. We waited about a half hour and studied the bus timetable several times before we concluded that this bus was not coming. It was 3:45pm and the sun would set at 4:10pm. We looked the trail map again and saw that an adjoining trail ended at another bus stop (different bus) about 3 km away. We decided to hike there and hoped to arrive at the road before we lost light. Ohhhh, and did I mention that we had NO CELL SERVICE? Yeah, so we couldn’t check any of our handy dandy transit apps. 😫

Along the next trail section we were treated to some beautiful waterfalls, but we didn’t have time to stop and stare. I was afraid the daylight would fade and since the trails were so dark and slippery, it would have been scary to walk in dim light. When we got to the next bus stop and looked at the sign, we saw that we just missed the HOURLY bus. It was doubtful that this bus would have even made the stop since there was a big pile of dirt in the turnoff.

We could see a sign down the road that indicated 4 km to the nearest town. Okay, that’s not so far – except for a couple minor details like already having walked 17 km, fading daylight and no shoulder/breakdown lane on the side of the busy main road. We had to walk on the bumpy uneven grass along the side of the road (good thing we were wearing hiking boots!) until we finally came to a sidewalk about 1K from town. We prayed that there would be a bus back to our parking place. When we got into town (with enough light to see the way), we had cell service and Dick checked the bus schedule. Thank God we had time to catch the LAST bus to Wutchmühle! We had to wait about a half hour, but that gave us a chance to sit and relax a bit. We were the only two people that got on the bus and we had an nice chat with the driver during the 20 minute trip. 🙂

We were exhausted when we arrived at the guest house, but we had to head back out to find dinner. This was easier said than done because very few restaurants were open in this off season. We had to settle for a pizzeria, which served good enough food to satisfy our hunger. We were in bed early and slept very well that night! 😌

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