The lungs of a city …
Beech trees in a blaze of autumn glory.
View to the West.
Deep forest light.
All mountain ranges have to end somewhere, and for the Alps, the eastern terminus is the Wienerwald, a chain of rolling, low-slung hills on the outskirts of Vienna that drop down to the Danube Basin along a tectonic escarpment marked by a series of hot- and cold-water springs. It’s a geological and biological transition zone, where the rather moist and cool climate of northwestern Europe gives way to the drier regime of the Pannonian Basin to the southeast, including the Hungarian Puszta. Continue reading “Sunday set: Wienerwald”
Sunset at Aggstein Castle.
Deep in the Dunkelsteinerwad.
Looking west along the Danube.
Danube Pano from Aggstein Castle looking across at Willendorf.
Most travelers have heard of the Wachau region. The fertile hillsides along the Danube River have long been designated as a World Heritage region for its cultural and natural landscapes. But just across the river is another slice of forest, the Dunkelsteinerwald, that’s not quite as famous but just as beautiful. On a mid-October weekend, we hiked from the pilgrimage town of Maria Langegg up the restored Aggstein Castle, which was built in the 12th century. Like many others along the Danube, the castle was an outpost for charging toll to passing ships, a payment made in exchange for maintaining the paths along the shore that were used to tow ships upstream. But the area was inhabited long before that, with signs of civilization dating back to the Celtic era — and long before. Just across the river, construction workers in 1908 unearthed the famed Venus of Willendorf, a prehistoric fertility figurine dating back to about 25,000 BC.
Gotta go back …
Jökulsárlón lagoon in southern Iceland.
All you intrepid Iceland travelers out there, I would love to know what this snowy and massive mountain is. It’s visible from the coast road between Reykjavik and Keflavik.
Gullfoss, located in the canyon of the Hvítá river.
Dylan snaps a shot of the glacial lagoon.
Just a little more than a year ago my son and I had a chance to take a short trip around the southern coast of Iceland by camper van. The visit wasn’t quite long enough — it never is — but we still managed to pack a lot of action into our trek, including a stop at the famed Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon along the south coast. I’m certainly planning on going back in the not too-distant future, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dylan finds his way to this amazing country as he explores the world in the next few years. Visit our online gallery for fine art landscape images from Iceland and other amazing spots and be sure to follow our Twitter and Instagram feeds for daily updates.
Around the Grossglockner …
Among the peaks of the Grossglockner mountains.
What’s left of the glaciers around the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak.
Mondsee, one of the Salzkammergut lakes, from the highway.
Grosses Wiesbachhorn (3,564 M) from the Grossglocknerstrasse.
Austrian high country.
Our reporting for the global warming in the Alps project took us to the high country around Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner, late last week, where we saw firsthand how the once mighty glaciers have dwindled to remnant shards of ice in the past few decades, with uncertain consequences for ecosystems below. The mountain valleys are still lush green in the Austrian high country, but there are great concerns that the meltdown could affect aquatic life in the streams below the glaciers, not to mention hydropower production, one of Austria’s main sources of renewable energy.
Dusting off a few more from the Summit Voice archives for a Sunday set highlighting some of the things I love most: snow and trees. From aspens in the Williams Fork Range to the red rocks of Glenwood Springs Canyon, there’s incomparable beauty in the hills of Colorado, and nothing like a little snow to make it all shine!
Global warming will irrevocably alter the face of the Earth
Rocky Mountain National Park Pano, mid-summer.
Der Ötscher (1,893M), the easternmost outpost of the Alps in Lower Austria.
Thick ice surrounds a jagged mountain range in south-central Greenland.
A popular local swimming hole along the Danube River in the town of Greifenstein, near Vienna.
An arch iceberg in the Antarctic Sound.
The more I report on climate change and the environment, the more I learn to cherish the landscapes that I see, because it’s really starting to sink in that humankind, during this Anthropocene Age, is fundamentally changing Earth’s ecosystems, altering the climate and impacting the landscape on levels seem almost inconceivable.
Take the Danube River (or most other major rivers, for that matter), where I spent a few hours Saturday afternoon swimming to cool of from a hot summer day in the city. While the water offered cool relief, I couldn’t stop thinking about a story I wrote a few years ago about scientists who discovered how, at times, there’s more plastic pollution than fish larvae in Europe’s second-biggest stream.
And watching sunset colors tinge the Ötscher, the highest peak peak in the eastermost reaches of the Alps, was a reminder that global warming is inexorably changing mountain ecosystems to the detriment not only of nature, but to ancient agricultural practices that are a culturally important part of life in the Alps. Continue reading “Sunday set: Changing world”
Poppies and pollinators
Cityscape, with building thunderstorms.
Thunderstorms building over downtown Vienna.
Nothing says summer like big thunderboomers building up, unless maybe it’s a tall glass of raspberry mint lemonade or a field of brilliant red poppies. For the Sunday set we compiled a few images from the past week with a focus on bright summer colors. The solstice is right around the corner so get out and enjoy those long days!