See Wikiloc trail here!
Today we’re exploring an area further away and we drive half an hour to Staufen, stopping in a bakery for a cheese sandwich and cookie to go. The last bit of road is icy and narrow, but there’s almost no traffic so it’s not too stressful to drive. We park in the tiny village and set off across the fields, following the signs. I imagine in summer it must be easy to follow the path, however we are the first to cross these snowy fields so we have no idea where to walk. Once in the forest we notice we must have missed a turn, but the forest is so nice that we decide to push on and do a little detour. Arne sees a field hare crossing the path, so we’re able to study its tracks and recognize them again (of course we forgot to bring the new book). A bit further we spot something moving further down on the slope, but it’s too far to say whether it’s a fox or a cat. I insist there are lots of cats around, based on the tracks we see.
We follow forest roads down to the river at the bottom of the canyon and along the way spot deer, cat and fox tracks (you can see the nails) and even boar tracks, easy recognizable by the hoof prints and the mess they leave behind digging for food. We take our lunch break in the Muckenloch Hütte by the river, where I also replace my moist socks: it’s a bit of a shock to expose my bare feet to the cold air, but they feel much warmer in dry socks afterwards. We start the steep hike up a small rocky path, fortunately the snow here is still firm so it’s not too slippery. We pass through the Rappenfelsen the hike is named for: a steep slope of big boulders where wild goats are supposed to live. It’s a bit creepy to cross the slope, since it’s obvious it’s a long way back down to the river and there’s nothing to stop you if you fall. We encounter a couple going the other way, the first sign of human live since Staufen. We climb all the way up to the Wartbuck, where we have a great view and even a nice bench to enjoy it, though it’s too cold and windy here to hang around for more than a minute.
It’s getting a bit late and we don’t dawdle, we don’t want to get caught by dark. It is getting darker by the time we get back to the village. There is a polite request on a plate at the start of the fields to respect the work of the farmers and stay on the path however it’s impossible to see where the path is. We use a building or two to orient ourselves and take our aim based on the GPS while the light turns bluish in the dusk. It’s windy and cold and we’re tired, but I take the time to take a picture of the dark trees and a cross against the dark blue of the sky and snow.