I’m going to take you on an adventure today. Faust, our rottweiler/Australian sheperd mix will lead our journey, at least when he’s not stopping to sniff a plant or pee on a tree. And therewill be a LOT of trees, because we are going into our land.
As I mentioned in the very first post I wrote, the eight acres we have are not easy to traverse. They are not for the casual stroller looking for a soft field. Our land is as wild as the roe deer and boars that roam it, and it is meant for hooves and paws and heavy walking sticks. It is the kind of land that can play tricks on you, water washing away footholds that were there just the day before, autumn leaves wet with rain and dew making a slippery carpet out of what was a path. It is steep and thorny, full of branches that snap at your face or slide wooden fingers into your hair.
I adore it not in spite of but because of that intractability. Its complete refusal to be managed or controlled. And it will remain so, for I won’t add artificial aids to make the paths easier or the mountainside more accessible. If you want to walk it, you have to be willing to put some leg muscle into it.
Our trip starts here.
We are just past the mill and house, going towards that center “path”.
To your right, you will see a stone wall that used to work as a dam of sorts for the water that used to be rerouted and collected for the mill. Notice all of those nettle plants. They are all over the property and next summer I plan on harvesting them for their fiber, which I can then spin in my spinning wheel and use to knit and weave.
To your left, an old, rusted gate covered in ivy that we will put to use.
And then the proverbial fork in the road.
First, a left, to a path leading downward. The sound of the river is constant, not a soft trickle as it was in the summer, but a rough tumble of water over rocks.
Look down, to your left, and spot a miniature waterfall that has worn stones down into a small cavern. And keep going down.
Until you see part of the river. Now, this beautiful stream, so calm, turns into a fury when it rains up in the mountains. It is a torrent, after all, and it chooses when it behaves like one.
We head back up the way we came now, and take the path on the right. Here is where Faust will join us.
Down this deceptively easy, smooth path that smells of lemon balm and lesser calamint.
Over a narrow and short wooden bridge hidden by leaves.
We wait for our guide to sniff a particularly arresting smell. Probably roe deer scat.
As we wait, this is the view to our right. It’s difficult to see because of the leaves, but there is an edge there, a dip to where the water used to be held for the mill. It has been overrun with plants now, mostly nettles.
To the left, as well, is another dip, with trees hanging over the side, their roots the only thing keeping them from giving in to gravity. A lot of these are young hazelnut trees.
Onward. The path gets narrower and narrower, and the mountain begins to rise on your right.
We follow that dark spot on the center right of the picture, Faust, past that tree, avoiding looking to the left, where there is a drop right to the rocks and the river, with nothing to stop your fall but a few roots.
Up an incline.
Another narrow terrace-like path with hazelnut trees.
And up into the chestnut and oak forest. And I mean UP!
An easy trip on four legs, but one that winds anything on two.
Oak leaves cover the ground, green and brown chestnut shells dotting the path. As we walk, we hear the light crash of the trees shaking ripe ones off.
If we look closely, we encounter a entirely different world.
Mushrooms blooming quietly in the trees’ wet shadows.
We don’t touch them, for we don’t know what they are yet. We continue, instead, bird cries and the regular thud of falling chestnuts in our ears.
We follow the sunlight and Faust.
We take the time to admire the trees, oaks, beeches, chestnuts, and hazelnuts. As well as, I’m sure, other varieties that are still hidden. Of course, the mountains go up both on our left and on our right, but we remain on the path, because the leaves are wet and we don’t fancy a fall.
So many trees.
We come to another fork in the road and, for today, we take the right. Always following Faust.
A bit to go yet.
Up again, now, into the forest once more.
Although this incline is soft, we can still feel it as we climb up to the smoothest part of the mountain.
We are careful as we walk to keep from crushing mushrooms, which have sprouted everywhere in the span of a day or two, it seems. To our right, the mountain rises and trees draw closer together, transforming the noon light into evening.
We arrive at the very edge of the mountain, where we encounter this structure of stone. Too large for a well, but round and carefully made. We do not disturb it.
But we do greet the oak tree beside it, calling our journey to an end for today. There is much left to see, the entire mountain top to scale, but that will require hiking boots and we do not have those.
We say our goodbyes to the forest and everything that walks within it, and we start back the way we came. We give Faust a pat and a thanks for the guidance, and we find somewhere comfortable to sit, ignoring, for now, the call to head out once again into the woods.