30-Apr-2022 -- As Joseph and Josef were working together this week at the University of Salzburg, as they are both geographers who believe in getting out into the field and understanding the landscape, as this point was fairly easily accessible from Salzburg, and as the day's weather forecasted rain later in the day, it only made sense that we set out to visit the confluence of 48 North 13 East on this day. Would we be successful?
Our journey took us north from Salzburg along the road that passes over the toe of an active slow moving earth flow south of Pabing. Dr Strobl provided a wonderful narrative along the way of the history, geography, and geology of this fascinating area. From the earth flow, we journeyed to the church where the song Silent Night (Stille-Nacht) was composed and sung for the very first time, at Oberndorf bei Salzburg. From this beautiful church we walked to the bend in the Salzach River and had an amazing view at the wide bend of the river, gazing into Germany and the town of Laufen on the other bank. Then it was north again to Hausmoning, then northeast to Reidlkam and then Gresenberg. The last 10 minutes along these roads were my favorite part of the journey, as the road was one lane in most places, passing through tiny villages and past fields and farm houses, with the sun brilliantly lighting up the farmsteads and fields. We had originally intended to cycle to the point, but the weather was forecasted to hold sunny only for the morning. Plus, seeing the steep hills here made me thankful that we had driven instead. It would have been challenging, for me anyway, to cycle here, certainly not for my friend and colleague, who is from Austria and very accustomed to these hills and mountains. Anticipation rose as we stopped at the farmstead at Gresenberg, gathered supplies, and set out on our walk.
The farmstead straddles a ridge and this is another reason why we love field work: One does not get a true sense of the landscape from the satellite images or maps, as wonderful as those images and maps are. We encountered a dog straightaway which fortunately was very friendly. From the ridge, as we walked southeast, we could see the field where the confluence would surely lay. In fact, the one lane paved road in good condition, pointing to a raised hunting shed on the top of a ladder in the distance, seemed like it led almost straight to our destination, but not quite. The fields were greening up in spring and so were the trees; to the northeast we saw a bright yellow field of canola. We noticed the landowner tilling the field to our left but kept walking.
For the last 150 meters, at the end of the path or road, we turned left and walked northeast over the grass. We had no trouble zeroing out the GPS receiver and found the point a short distance west of a different part of the field. There were no fences. A clear view was available in all directions, particularly south, with a fine panorama of the Alps. North of us was the shortest vista; there lay the ridge where the farmstead stood. Trees stood to the west and south. Everywhere was amazing green rural beauty. It was truly a magnificent spot. The temperature stood at about 20 C (69 F) under sunny skies with a pleasant light wind. We saw deer to the south and one of the largest hares I have ever seen bounding away to the west. We took photos and I posted the video to my Our Earth channel, here.
This was my first confluence point in Austria and I was thankful to be here. I believe this is my 19th country with a confluence visit. I now have 8 points in continental Europe spanning the past 20 years. The closest to this point was 1 degree north and 1 degree west of here in Regensberg Germany, 14 years ago. This was my first time on 13 East but I have stood on 48 North a few times before in the USA, in Washington, Montana, and North Dakota. This was my 4th point of the year 2022, after three points in Minnesota earlier this month. It was marvelous to be out on the landscape and I was reluctant to depart. However, after 10 minutes on site, we exited the way we had come in. We met four men at the farmstead including the landowner, who knew why we were there. I admire the folks who work the land very much. The dog was there too who spent some time nuzzling against the back of my legs. After an amiable chat, we made our departure.
However, our adventure was not quite over: Next, we journeyed to the VEGA Sternwarte Haus der Natur Salzburg, enjoying the amazing views of the landscape shaped by tectonic and glacial forces. We passed numerous cyclists enjoying the day. At the summit, we saluted Kaiser Josef (with whom we share a name) from the 1700s at the monument there bearing his crown. One of the volunteers at the nature and technical center, a retired electronics engineer, gave us a private tour of the magnificent facilities there including both of the enormous telescopes! After seeing these fabulous telescopes, we drove back to Salzburg and got to work. It was a wonderful morning: Es war ein wunderbarer Morgen!