Hiking in the Swiss Saxony (part 1)

Paolo Ghisletta and I hiked in the so called Swiss Saxony region near Dresden on Easter Sunday. It was a rainy, moody day and we splashed through plenty of mud. The Swiss Saxony region includes a large German national park through which many of the locals go "wanderen" over holidays. It's just a suburban commuter train ride from Dresden to Bad Schandau where we left the train and crossed a bridge over the Elbe to start our hike.

The countryside was extremely green and extremely muddy due to a month of almost daily rain. Today was no exception as a fine mist and sometimes light rain continued to come down all during our hike. There are agricultural fields and villages interspersed within the park along with hiking trails.

We set out with a vague idea that we would hope to end up at the Bastei, a set of cliffs along the river. But we really didn't know where we were going as the mist prevented being able to see into the distance and we didn't have a map.

But eventually we sighted a landmark table-top hill that helped us orient to where we were hoping to go.

Along the way were many small villages such as this. Close to here we stopped for an Easter lunch in a small roadside restaurant.

We saw several warning signs along the way, but didn't run into any of the local wildlife. It certainly was a good day to be an amphibian, though.

Finally about 5 or 6 hours into our hike, we sighted what we thought was the Bastei. It turned out to be the Bastei's little brother.

Here we finally see the Bastei and we begin to get some inkling of what is in store for us as we contemplate walking to the top. The Bastei is about 400 meters high, rising straight up from the Elbe. That's about a 100 story building if each story is 12 feet high.

At the base of the Bastei is a small village in a narrow gorge right on the river This picture shows an old stone building at the top of the small hill in the center. The stone building is now a cafe with a lovely terrace where Valerie and I came back to eat a few weeks later.

It is 100 stories of stairs up the Bastei. Here is a picture of the Elbe from the first outlook. At the time, I figured we must be pretty close to the top. Actually, this only about half way up. On a clear day, you would be able to see the Czech border from here as it is only about 10 km away.

Here's a view back down the river to towards Dresden. There's a tourist sidewheel paddle boat headed up river. After this picture, my camera batteries ran out. No problem, I thought. I had brought a brand new package of batteries with me. I put them in the camera and found to my chagrin that they were completely dead. They were Cameleon brand. I think that meant that they just looked like batteries. Paolo and I made it to the top and then found that the last bus back to the river had already left. After we hiked back down and got on the train for Dresden, we had been hiking for about 10 hours and were close approximations of a couple of cold, wet, tired puppies.

Anyway, for pictures of the remainder of the walk up the Bastei, you'll need to go to the next page from when Valerie and I came back a few weeks later with some fresh, working batteries.

Next are the spectacular views from the top of the Bastei, the Saxon defense stronghold overlooking the Elbe.