Sometimes it pays off to follow the urges of your subconscious, rather than making up long-term plans that tend to disappoint you in their execution.
Around mid-September, life was starting to become more focused again here in Sjöstaden, since long Summer days were gone and it seemed – for a short while – as if the flow of days and nights had reached an equilibrium, of a kind especially proficient for getting things done.
Whilst picture taking had been in hiatus for a while, the trigger finger started to itch again and I even took a camera with me on one of these crispy clear Autumn morning hikes. It is amazing that I still manage to "sqeeze out" new perspectives on my closer neighbourhood these days; shouldn't I have gone bored with it after ten years' living in my Sjöstaden? Apparently not, to judge from the two pictures below:
The first one is taken where hikers pass the lock between Lake Sickla and Sickla Canal, which in fact consists of two locks in series. The second lock had to be built since the new road bridge crossing the outlet of Lake Sickla happened to be constructed so low that no boats could pass under it!
The second picture shows the passage under the road bridge connecting the Sickla Peninsula with the main part of Sjöstaden. In the back, you just about can glimpse the red building housing Restaurang Göteborg, the finest eatery in Sjöstaden, located in a romantic fashion along Sickla Canal just below the locks.
Whilst taking these pictures, and generally enjoying life, suddenly, I felt the urge to do something new and surprising, rather than just aching on with my lengthy Emsland blog. Thinking about what could appear new and surprising to a septuagenarian who has seen it all, a name suddenly popped up from the caverns of memory, "HOCHOBIR"! It so happened that I had climbed that mountain in company with my wife exactly 40 years ago; why not try it again and see, whether I still could do it? Said and done. I hastened to book a trip to Austria, taking care to combine this adventure with visits to dear friends and relatives.
One of the later, my younger brother Ludwig, even was so considerate to suggest that he accompany me on the climb. No doubt, he was fearing the worst and wanted to render support, if needed. I gladly accepted his offer and we agreed to meet on 22 September morning in the mountain's vicinity.
The Hochobir is somewhat unique, in that it rises as a solitaire from the South Carinthian Valley of the Roses. It is not especially high, as Austrian mountains are measured; still, it surges a good 1.5 kilometers straight up from the plain. From the top, and on a clear day, one can admire essentially all of Carinthia, from the Karawanken to the South (the border mountains to Slovenia) all the way North to the Grossklockner, Austria's behemoth.
|The Rosental (Valley of the Roses) in Southern Carinthia|
Photographer: Jörg Schmöe
On this beautiful Sunday morning of 22 September, we drove a winding small road up to an isolated mountain hut, called Eisenkappler Hütte. From there, it was a question of getting our act together and climbing up, slowly and painfully, some 600 meters of altitude to the top of Hochobir. The Guidebook tells us, rather sprightly, that it would only take some 1,5 hours to do so. And, indeed, I recall that my wife Alice and I considered it a nice promenade (I even had sandals on my feet) forty years ago.
But this time was different and rather painful. Slowly putting foot after foot, and not looking too much ahead, I kept going, with grim determination, hoping the torture to end at long last. After two hours' labour we eventually arrived at a wide plateau, called "Kraguljišče" in Slovenian and "Napoleon Wiese" in German. Time to take a well deserved time-out! It had to be short, since the we had planned on a mid-day sandwich luncheon on the very top. Fortunately, we could glimpse the summit already, and it did not seem too far off. So on we went, with renewed vigour.
After another 45 minutes' painful ascent, we arrived at some ruins of a stone mansion, which we learned later were the remains of an old mountain hut, the Rainer Schutzhaus, sadly destroyed in the last battles of WWII. It would have been nice to have a Schnitzel or at least a Lederknödelsuppe at that stage, but destiny had decided otherwise. So we had to trod on. Just minutes later, we glimpsed a large hole in a nearby knoll, which, as brother Ludwig knew to explain, was the remnant of an old lead mine, abandoned already some 100 years ago.
Up to now, I was too exhausted to think about picture taking, but this mine was certainly worthy of being documented, to honour the poor devils who had to toll on this mountain, either hiking up and down every day, or spending the night in the forerunner to the Rainer Schutzhaus (which used to be the miners' cabin), shivering in the thin and cold mountain air.
But now, at long last, the summit beckoned. Soon we arrived at a kind of precarious crossroads, with two paths meeting on a rather narrow ridge leading to the top. Standing there is to be recommended only for those who are steady on their feet – or, at least, have a third leg to lean on. To your left, an abyss opens up, with an unhindered view down into the Rosental.
|View of the Rainer Schutzhaus Ruin ... taken in 2019|
|... and in 1979|
|A septuagenarian on "Napoleon Wiese", in 2019 ...|
|... and his former wife Alice, back in 1979|
|Alice rounding the foot of the Koschutnik Turm (see red circle above)|
|Hikers crossing the scree ahead of me|
|Alice's more cautious method of descent|
|Nature's very own ODE TO LIFE!|