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La neige du coucou: Vosges cemeteries in snow, April 2016


Dragon
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April 1916 was bitterly cold in the Vosges, with heavy snowfall making the men's lives deeply unpleasant. I was there exactly one hundred years later - just over a fortnight ago - and during the night of 26th/27th April, 40 cm of snow fell. The cols through the Vosges were almost impassable and were closed to HGVs. The Route des Crêtes, Joffre's road along the mountains for military transport, had been closed all winter 2015/6 and with the new snowfall there was doubt that it might be cleared before the official opening date of 1st May. In the Vosges they call spring snow la neige du coucou.

We were able to get up to the area of le Linge, the 1915 battleground, and visit the two military cemeteries.

This is Hohrod-Bärenstall, the German military cemetery, at midday on 27th April, 2016.

 

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There are some more photos in my Zenfolio gallery La neige du coucou: Hohrod-Bärenstall , if you would like to see them.

Gwyn

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This is Cimetière Wettstein, the French military cemetery, April 27th 2016. Wettstein is lower than Hohrod-Bärenstall, and the snow had begun to melt. (There will be more images, including military structures at height, but I haven't finished editing all my photos yet.)

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Gwyn

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Thank you! :)

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Just epic as ever, thanks Gwyn.

Pete.

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Thank you! It felt epic. I was in the Vosges in April 2014, when there were spring flowers and warmth. Now 40 cm snow and cuckoos and...

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I was also very restricted by a torn meniscus from a fortnight before and using crutches. Knowing that there had been heavy snowfall exactly a hundred years before, it felt quite a privilege to be experiencing the same weather conditions and see the winter mountain landscape as the men would have seen it.

Gwyn

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Excellent shots Gwyn.

Roger

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Excellent shots (again) Gwyn.

I know you mentioned the possible weather conditions before you set off, but I must admit to being surprised by the quantity of the snow. Makes for some beautiful photos though!

Did you manage OK with the knee? (You could have borrowed my dog and taken a sled if you'd asked!!! :thumbsup: )

Dave

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Thank you all for the nice comments! There will be more photos to come.

Dave - this was going to be the trip when I went up Voilu. The knee put an end to that idea, but we couldn't have gone up there anyway with the snow. Diligently doing my physio exercises in the swimming pool every day before we went helped, but given that when the accident happened there was doubt that I could endure such a long drive, I'm just really pleased with what I could do. Your dog would've been really bored with the pace!

As you know the area, here's a record shot (taken from a moving car) of the Route des Crêtes near Markstein on 29th April! That part of the road was open on Friday 29th and the sun cleared the snow left on the road. I was able to get out and tramp around the vestiges up there in the snow (pics to come).

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Gwyn

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Wonderful photos, thanks for posting Gwyn.

Steve

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Fantastic shots - An area that I must visit

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Imagine having to live/fight there under these circumstances...

Roel

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Thank you - it's nice to know that people liked them.

 

Visiting the Ambulance Alpine du Mittlach recently, I was distressed to read that men were lifted in baskets from that small hospital in the valley by cable to the mountain tops so they could be taken down the French side of the frontier for care, and that some simply froze to death before they reached the summits. This is a short blog piece called Beyond Bitter: winter on the Vosges front from my personal blog, not my Blue Line Frontier blog.

 

Gwyn

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