This weekend a friend organized a spontaneous trip to the Harz mountains when a colleague mentioned to her that it was snowing there. Although the highest peak, the Brocken, is only 1141m, the area has an alpine character with lots of fir trees and receives much more snow than the surrounding areas. It was amazing as we drove from autumnal forests full of orange and gold up to a snow-covered winter wonderland. We visited earlier this year in January or February when the snow was deep for cross country skiing. This year we did some hiking in the hills instead, another way to enjoy the beauty of the snowy trees. I can hardly wait to visit again.
You might have noticed a steam train and tracks in the photos: that is the Brocken railway. You can take a steam train to and from the peak of the Brocken, so every now and then while walking through the forest we heard the distant ghostly noise of the train. On top of the Brocken is an out-of-use television tower and a new television tower. Interestingly, listening stations on the Brocken were used extensively for surveillance and espionage by both the Soviet military and the Stasi (Ministry for State Security) during earlier times. Now the Brocken is home to a weather station. On top you can also have something to eat and drink.
After spending a weekend outdoors I felt truly restored by the sunshine, fresh air, exercise and exhilarating scenery. It just goes to show, even in the cold, it’s a good idea to spend some time outdoors.