Saturday through Saturday, Nathan and I spent some time in the German Alps, hiking in the snowy fir forests and climbing some of Bavaria’s most beautiful peaks. For me, the mountains have always had the power to reconnect me to that inner place of peace; to warm my soul from the inside. Our return to the mountains this winter was an adventure that still glitters in heart.
We arrived in Salzburg on the Saturday afternoon and bundled our gear into the backseat of Lisa’s car. Lisa owns the apartment we booked for our time there and she was kind enough to rescue us from arrivals after our car hire fell though. We spent our journey learning the names of the mountains and pointing out restaurants, before arriving at the apartment, pulling out all the hiking maps from the book library and falling into bed.
Sunday morning was snowy; one of the cold, brilliant blue sky days I love. We took the public bus to Konigsee, Germany’s third deepest lake in the shadow of Mt Jenner and hiked a little way up the trail to the cable car. At the Jennerbahn, we negotiated awkwardly with some Bavarian skiers for their cable pass and took the cable-car to the viewing station, from which we began our descent down deep snowy paths, past the frozen alpine lake which breaks apart the ski slope. We deeply underestimated our descent; arriving in town some 3 hours later and totally drained but full of that brilliant sense of accomplishment. There’s something about spending the afternoon in the cold and the snow and it being such an adventure – it’s definitely something I crave more and more each time we get out. The following days were spent in much the same way, trekking up knee deep snowy mountain trails in trainer socks and never all too sure we were on the right path.
The time we spent hiking in the German wilderness felt almost fundamental, in many ways. It seemed to me to be a return to something simpler; to the experience of being simply a person in nature – timeless in the way that as long as these wild spaces exist, the experiences enjoyed in them will always retain their raw, refreshing power – to clarify ones outlook and cleanse ones soul.
‘Many places can feel like nowhere: a desert, an isolated village, even the middle of a bustling, impersonal city. And then something happens: an adventure, a revelation, an experience that changes the whole landscape. The discovery that every place is the center of the world to somebody and has its own riches and wonders’.
Tales from Nowhere was my first Lonely Planet anthology; my book of choice for my own European adventures. It traveled with me in the door netting of my housemate’s camper van, nestled next to my Jungle Formula and paper packages of half eaten baguette, always in reach of my makeshift bed for our days driving south on D roads to the Verdon Gorge. 200 pages and some 643 miles later, I finished the collection, sat on a stranger’s bed, locked out of my house in the middle of the night and with sand still dusting my lap each time I moved my head. My own nowhere place. And a fitting finale for a collection so centered on the true nature of adventure.
Edited by Don George, the collection conglomerates 30 travel stories. Bound together under the expansive theme of nowhere, each tale takes us to a place so separate and yet so expressively relevant. Dazzlingly rich, but beautiful in their simplicity, modesty and innocent explorations of what it truly means to travel, these 30 stories wind from continent to continent, from the stretches of Icelandic wilderness to The Worst Country in the World, abstracting a sense of nowhere at each stop and illuminating the significance of our most (seemingly) arbitrary experiences. For me, this contrast is what made the book such a joy to read these past few weeks travelling south. Settling into each page, reading aloud to Nathan on the beach or by the light of my phone as we drove through the night to a mechanic in Troyes, I was transported from my own nowheres to the middle of the roads traveled by others. With these stories reverberating in my mind, I reminded myself again and again that the tiny mechanics shop, the squat toilet aires, watching the biggest great dane puppy I’ve ever seen in my life gallop across a service station car park at 6am, these nowheres were in those moments the center of my world. Those that made me wonder where is ‘nowhere’ when you are constantly ‘somewhere’.