Monday, February 25, 2008
The Devil's Rock, non-Elvis edition
Yes, I'm wearing a t-shirt.
Went hiking yesterday with our friend Sami the Finn. As usually, we let him set the itinerary, and thus ended up hitting a 10 km trail that would loop past both La Roche du diable and the grotto of St Leon.
Now I hardly want to upset my Canadian readers, but I feel it worth mentioning that not only did we start our hike under a clear blue sky, but the temperatures were twenty degrees. Above zero. In February. Compared to say, Halifax (minus 5 as I write this), or Montreal (minus 7).
His Satanic Majesty obviously has a good eye for a view
As with every pebble, puddle and plant in Alsace, the Devil’s Rock has a legend attached to it. A giant sandstone pillar jutting out from the side of a Vosges hill, the rock is separated from the mountain by an extremely deep crevasse. Within that gap live three virgins, according to the story, who occasionally throw themselves off the rock into the Sarre valley below, which echoes with their cries of joy. At night, they return to the rocky home, to weep over a treasure secreted therein,
It was somewhat discomfiting then, when we reached the rock, to see puffs of smoke emanating from the unseen depths below, as if the girls were taking a break from their skydiving to cook up some lunch over some Mesostophelian campfire.
Near Nonnenberg, population circa 50
As is our wont when hiking with Sami the Finn, we ended up compounding our late start with a dilatory pace, (not helped by Sami the Finn's propensity for photographing tree stumps) and thus had to race the sunset in order to escape the hills before darkness descended.
We hiked through two hilltop hamlets, and managed to accidently find the what Sami the Finn's guidebook described as a Chapelle detruit which, when he said this, I initially thought was a church for fish.** Turns out it was a memorial for Pope St Leon IX, who hailed from these parts.
What? More walls? Whaddya want next? A roof?
Afterwards, we found the Grotto of St Leon, the largest such formation in the Vosges. The waters of the springs there, Sami the Finn informed us, were reputed to be beneficial for couples seeking to have children. Despite having brought my binoculars for just such an occasion, I am disappointed to report that we saw no randy French couples in the area seeking to benefit from these fertilizing properties.
* "Détruit" meaning destroyed, "Des truites" meaning "the trout." Given what we'd had for lunch, the latter might not have been very welcoming.