Over the past week and a half, Austria has gotten pounded by up to 3 meters of snow. That's a little far for a day trip, but about one meter of snow has fallen above 600 m in the German Mittelgebirge (literally 'middle mountains', the term is used for anything not in the German Alps).
So on Sunday we woke up early, took a 4.5 hour train ride to Schierke in the Harz National Park at 650 m at the foot of the 1100 m Brocken mountain, northern Germany's highest mountain.
We got about 4 hours of skiing in, which was plenty to start the season. The temps had already risen above freezing and the melt was starting (temps are predicted to get up to 10° by the end of this week). So the snow was not in the best of condition, but at least there was a lot of it.
It was very foggy, so I still have not seen the Brocken mountain. From what I could see, the landscape reminded me a lot of the Great Smokey Mountains. Unfortunately, the crowds were also similar. The village of Schierke is also a bit on the tacky side, although not as bad as Tennessee, I suppose. It was nice, I'm just saying that there are quainter places in Germany. I suppose that's inevitable being the closest mountain area to the major northern German population centres.
Anyway, with a track network of 70 km going from about 600 to 850 m (theoretically you could go all the was up to 1100 m, it just wouldn't be tracked), it's a nice area for a day or weekend, and I'm sure we'll be getting back this winter.
Here are the pics:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/48566742@N ... 3247041097
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