The original German photo reportage was published in ALPIN – LEBEN FÜR DIE BERGE issue 03/2019
Silent and still lies the lake.
Not. We have just arrived at Eibsee and walked our first few meters, but the lake is nothing but silent and still. As much as I like Eduard Ebel’s Christmas song The Snow Falls Softly (Leise rieselt der Schnee), he certainly could not have been here when he wrote the lyrics. “Can you hear that?” We sit down on little rocks next to Untersee bridge and listen carefully. There is a crackling, cracking and grinding around us. A mixture of scary and mystically beautiful. Stefan flicks stones over the ice. Another noise comes up. I don’t dare to enter the frozen surface.
A hiker stops and tells us that “the lake is singing”. And indeed, besides the rather groaning sounds are also lighter tones. We are lucky, the guy seems to be in the know. “The liquid water under the ice has plus degrees, the air above minus”, he explains. “These temperature fluctuations create tension and the ice expands and contracts.” Aha. Eduard Ebel was not right in the fact that the lake is silent – no, it’s not still aswell! Stiff are just my toes because it’s so freezing cold.
Slowly I am getting curious, if you can see the “singing” somehow and so we let our drone fly. After her whirring is cleared up in the heights and “peace” returns, we let our eyes wander. We fly over the small islands. In Summer the Eibsee is caribbean beautiful. Then the turquoise water is clear and wonderfully refreshing! But in the winter I like the lake even better. The icy surface is not colorless, as you might think. Quiet the opposite. Numerous shades of gray, beige and blue, studded with white spots and dark stones, colorize the surface. The different layers conjure entangled patterns onto the ice.
We fly around Sasseninsel, the largest in the lake. Beautiful. Nevertheless, I give a refreshing dip a miss today. We turn the camera of the drone. Zugspitze with it’s huge massif appears. Then we fly back to the bridge, which separates Untersee from Eibsee.
And suddenly: a moment of absolute silence.
I can not explain what really happened or did not happen. But suddenly everything is quiet. Completely quiet. No crackling, no crunching, even the grinding is gone. The icy wind takes a break. Time stops, silence. I am fascinated.
MIEP MIEP. A now deafening sound destroys the magic of the moment. The drone battery will be empty soon. Time for a warming sip of Chai tea from the thermos. Then we continue the circular walk. It’s 7.5 km long. Again and again we stop, look and listen. Here and there crackles and crunches again. Even the smaller lakes in the forest “sing along”. We finish our walk and I think about the moment back at the bridge.
Maybe Eduard Ebel was right after all. For that one tiny moment, the lake was really silent and still.
© Stefan Tiedtke & Julia Topp