Horizontal Rain

I set off quite late for a short hiking trip near Nothweiler in the Palatinate Forest, Germany. The hiking trail starts in Nothweiler, leads over the border into France, passes four castle ruins, finally ending back at the starting point in Nothweiler.

Clouds were looking very dark and dense as I drove towards Wissembourg, the sky further west over the Palatinate Forest painted with grey, vertical streaks. A sure sign of heavy rainfall at my destination. Nevertheless, I proceeded. By the time I reached Nothweiler, the clouds had cleared, the air was moist, cool, fresh, and beams of sunlight illuminated the open space of the forest car park. There were no other visitors. It promised to be a pleasant afternoon for a hike to the castle ruins along the trail.

The hike was just as I expected it to be. The cool forest, no other hikers to be seen, the red sandstone rocks and boulders typical of the Palatinate Forest, and the superb castle ruins offering splendid views to the south, deep into France.

After two hours of hiking, I scrambled to the top of the last ruin, Löwenstein Castle, an exposed pillar of rock that once served as a hideout for outlaws after the castle's demise. As always, I pulled out my Primus cooker, and began preparing a noodle soup. On the horizon to the south, dark clouds were lurking. Just as my noodle soup came to temperature, the sunlight disappeared, and a strong wind started to blow. The first raindrop fell. Then the next. Suddenly it was pouring. Not from above, but horizontally, saturating the back of my shirt and trousers, while the front of my body remained bone dry.

In an instance, I slipped on my rain jacket, turning my back to the horizontal rain, not loosing focus of my noodle soup. I remained still, crouched over the cooker to shield my culinary delicacy. Under such conditions, the soup always seems to taste its best. Being outdoors, feeling the elements on my skin, eating a warming, nutritious meal in the most simple circumstances.

View towards the Gimbelhof Restaurant and Palatinate Forest from Löwenstein Castle, Alsace, France.

View towards the Gimbelhof Restaurant and Palatinate Forest from Löwenstein Castle, Alsace, France.

Soon the wind and rain stopped. The clouds passed over. My soup bowl was empty. Suddenly, The sun made a spectacular return, shooting low-angle light beams across the wet landscape. A warm, golden light bathed the forest, and immediately before me, two of the most spectacular rainbows I have ever seen appeared suddenly. It was time to descend from Löwenstein castle.

A pleasant Saturday evening of activity in the Palatinate Forest.