Trees and Grass, Die Eiskapelle. Near Königssee, Germany. July 14, 2013. © Copyright 2013 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
Momentary sunshine illuminates a grass-covered hill and small trees in front of Die Eiskapelle at the base of Der Watzmann, near Königssee, Germany
We hiked to this spot on one of the first days of our stay in the Schönau am Königssee area of Bavaria in Germany, where we stayed in an old, rambling farm-house for a week. Aside from the general charm of the area – conforming to many of the expectations of American visitors – there are a lot of special features around here: Berchtesgaden National Park and the Königssee itself, along with the views of the Bavarian Alps, including the classic peak of Der Watzmann, the second highest peak in Germany. We took the tourist boats up the length of the beautiful Königssee lake – which I think of as what Yosemite Valley might look like if it were filled with water – and disembarked at the start of the trail to Die Eiskapelle. This trail begins at the very civilized landing, with its outdoor cafe, beach, and lawns, and starts up the hill very gently. It soon enters the hardwood forest, narrows, steepens, and begins to feel more like the sorts of trails I’m familiar with from the American mountain west.
Die Eiskapelle is in a small, rocky valley at the base of a huge cliff dropping down from the eastern face of Der Watzmann. As I understand it, the permanent ice field seen at its base in this photograph is formed by repeated avalanches that come down this face. The July time frame of our visit usually is when I spend a lot of my time in the Sierra, and as wonderful as our trip to the UK and Europe was, at times I longed a bit for “my Sierra.” In the upper reaches of this trail, as the path disappeared and I was left to find my own route across bits of grassy meadow and rocky terrain to the base of the snow field, I felt as close to the Sierra as at any time on this trip – the feeling reminded me a bit of early season in my favorite terrain among the granite peaks right at timberline. And, momentarily returning to landscape photographer mode (despite using a small, handheld camera!), I paused here for some minutes, looking for a composition that would combine these small foreground trees with the ice field and then waiting for a bit of light from the broken clouds to move across this small grassy rise.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.