Have you ever…. been to the Harz Mountains?

BranchRegular readers will have noticed a quiet spell on this blog for a few weeks. The reason is that I was presented with an opportunity to realise one of my life’s ambitions and it was too good to pass up, so blogging was suspended for a while!

As a child, my parents had an LP record which featured Christmas carols sung by that legend Bing Crosby. His rendition of “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” was always a special part of every festive season for me and left me with a yearning to experience at least one of these beautiful snowy Christmases during my lifetime. Every year, we also received many traditional greeting cards featuring wintry landscapes, sleighs and snow laden fir trees, all of which were totally foreign to me.Snow1

My ambition was to get to a suitable place in the northern hemisphere in a year when the snow was indeed “deep and crisp and even” as Bing sings in another carol! So when an opportunity arose recently to go to Germany for a week (even though it was not over Christmas), I decided that this was an offer too good to miss!

The weather forecast promised snowfalls, and not only was there snow where I was staying, but I was also able to visit the beautiful Harz Mountains and to experience snowy scenery that was simply exquisite and more than filled my expectations!

Snow laden trees at Brocken. These are just like the pictures on the Christmas cards we used to get!

Snow laden trees at Brocken. These are just like the pictures on the Christmas cards we used to get!

The Harz Mountains are serviced by a number of steam trains which take passengers to the very top of the range – a place called Brocken. This is certainly a novel way to travel through the snowy countryside, and creates a far more relaxed atmosphere than would be the case with busses or regular trains. The other great thing is that one can travel on the outdoor verandah at each end of every carriage, so taking photos is a lot easier as there are no reflective windows to get in the way.

One of many steam engines working in the Harz Mountains.

One of many steam engines working in the Harz Mountains. (Note the verandah at the end of the carriage where passengers could ride)

On the lower slopes, the sun teased and emerged intermittently from cloud cover – sparkling on the fir trees – their branches sagging under thick layers of snow.

The only sounds were the puffing of the steam engine, the clickety-clack of the wheels on the tracks and an occasional whistle as we approached a road crossing.

From time to time, the gradient got a bit more challenging, and the engine had to work a bit harder to keep moving up the slope.

All the while, patient parents entertained their excited small children while holding on to the sleds they had brought along for the latter to enjoy at the summit.

Train

Towards the top of the range, the fog set in and by the time we had reached our destination, it was difficult to differentiate between smoke (from the train) and the fog. This made the stay at the top rather more interesting as it was difficult to see more than about 20m!

FoggyTrain

The engine which took us up to Brocken. The fog was so thick that the smoke from the engine was invisible!

Despite the fog, I was able to get many great photos of icicles, snowy expanses and pretty branches decorated with fresh snow. A lot of fun was also had lobbing a few snowballs (of course!) and making a snowman (of sorts!).

And now I am content, so if I never get to have a white Christmas, I will have experienced something just as good!

FunTimes

Childhood dreams and fun times!

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22 Responses to Have you ever…. been to the Harz Mountains?

  1. scrapydo says:

    This is amazing, to think that a childhood dream came true! You have taken beautiful photos of the adventure.

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  2. pommepal says:

    What a magical trip, the photos are lovely.

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  3. adinparadise says:

    Beautiful photos. What a lovely trip you had. 🙂

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  4. fgassette says:

    You have taken some amazing photos of the train especially. It does have a fairyland effect.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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  5. Yes, I have – although they didn’t have as much snow as this at the time. Love the coniferous trees with snow on them – just like on a Christmas card.

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  6. mudlips says:

    I’m so glad you got to experience a white winter in the mountains. Snow does something magical to the landscape and those in it…and snow AND trains, now that’s downright marvelous.

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    • Madoqua says:

      Yes, how lucky was I getting both together! I enjoy modelling steam trains too, so there was an added interest. The snowy scenery was picture book perfect – most was undisturbed except for occasional animal prints.

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      • mudlips says:

        I have a great story about animal prints in the snow…oh, what a super post idea. Any, your post brought back many fond memories of days spent on the snow. As for trains and snow put the Issak Walton Inn (http://www.izaakwaltoninn.com/) on your list. It’s an old railroad worker stop-over lodge and is now an Inn. You can arrive by train, stay in the lodge or a caboose, ski, and watch the trains pass by. It’s in a beautiful spot near Glacier National Park in Montana – ah, those Rocky Mts!

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        • Madoqua says:

          Mudlips, I have read your post and was amazed to find our about the cougars. You are certainly game to ski in those spots, but perhaps one forgets about the big cats until there are unexplained fresh tracks in the snow……. 🙂
          I will have to do some research about the Issak Walton Inn. It sounds like a wonderful place to visit.

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  7. Helen says:

    It looks like you had a wonderful time. I would also like to see snow like this!

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    • Madoqua says:

      Helen, it was just so beautiful. We have exquisite snowy scenery in Australia too, but it is dominated by things like snow gums, so looks quite different. It was the ‘traditional’ snow scenes that I really wanted to experience, and now I have!

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  8. Pingback: Encounters with Winter Wildlife | peregrination

  9. restlessjo says:

    So happy for you, Madoqua! I have a friend who likes hiking in the Harz Mountains but the snow gives it a whole different aspect. Steam trains are great too. So full of themselves!

    Like

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