Autumn, sycamores, and mountains

Last year around this time we agreed with friends from Freising that we should go to the mountains in autumn. In particular, we wanted to see the wonderful coloration of the sycamore trees that are about to drop their leaves in preparation for winter. Then the covid situation took a turn for the worse, and we did not meet up with anyone after mid October 2020 for a very long time. And so our mountain autumn tree adventure was more or less forgotten.

This year, conveniently, it turned autumn again! And even better, with great weather. (About time.) And still better, we were all vaccinated. What better conditions to go to mountains to look at trees. We forget the fact that we now have a little baby, and that the other couple are pregnant and exhausted. Today we went to see the sycamores. We went to the Ahornboden, in the Karwendel national park, just across the border with Austria.

The großer Ahornboden is a large meadow situated at the end of a dead-end mountain valley, about two hours away from where we live. On this meadow, roughly 2000 very old sycamores are growing quite far apart, creating a somewhat eerie atmosphere. It’s a collection of trees, but it’s not a forest. Or is it? Although the trees have grown there for hundreds of years (300-600 years for many of them), it is perhaps not a fully natural phenomenon. Instead, it is quite likely that human activities through the centuries have led to removal of coniferous trees, leaving only the sycamores and grass meadows for the cattle to graze. It makes a quite unique forest for sure. The backdrop of steep mountain cliffs, today with a tiny layer of snow on the highest peaks, made for picturesque scenery. And as they say, a picture says more than a thousand words, so I guess I’ll end it here and drop some pictures below.

A sign that you’re in a tourist place at altitude in Austria: Alpine choughs feasting on leftover Kaiserschmarrn…

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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