Winterberg-Neuastenberg (51.166193 | 8.480668)

At eye level with the sky

Viewpoint above Neuastenberg with a wide view to the mountain meadows, to the Wittgensteiner Land and to Hessen.

Today times into the forest and meadow cinema. At the Gerkenstein above Neuastenberg stands a kind of picture frame, big as a garage door, a square of massive wooden beams. In front of it, on the uphill side, three cozy forest sofas. Instead of popcorn, there are sandwiches I've brought along from my backpack. I take off my hiking boots, let my feet out into the fresh air, lean back and wonder what kind of movie is being shown today. For now, just this still image: gently sloping meadows, neat fences, a mosaic of spruce glades and deciduous groves, curving contour lines whose color strokes change from dark green near to blue pastels in the distance.

Blick durch das Landschaftskino am Gerkenstein

Quite nice, I think, but now the main movie could slowly begin. In the audience, today consisting only of me, quiet impatience becomes noticeable. But there, movement in the scenery. Entrance from the left: A woman leads a horse on the reins. They walk along one of the pasture fences, the two-legged woman at a leisurely pace, the four-legged horse cautiously putting hoof before hoof. Doesn't he look a little like Winnetou's black stallion Iltschi? Is she, in breeches and high boots, the horse whisperer? The two of them head for a shelter, the horse is tied up, the woman begins to groom the coat with a brush. Long, careful, yet powerful movements. In the absence of distractions, I just look, look and relax, look and let go of whatever thought density I had brought to this place in my head until the coat grooming is finished, the woman tightens a tan saddle and mounts. Quiet exit to the left out of the picture.

That must have been the opening shot, I think, strangely no longer impatient at all. My eyes now wander more slowly through the picture. They notice how the fresh green, young grass on the meadow in the foreground fights for its place against the light brown stalks from the previous year. The whole thing in slow motion, how else? Two poplars, solitary trees in the meadow, neighbors for many years, seem to be whispering to each other. The spring wind appears, intoning a soft whisper, background music for a chainsaw solo, of course in Dolby Surround quality. A satirical photo montage I saw recently comes to mind: a man is walking through a forest, on his head he wears one of those artificial-reality glasses that look like clunky black ski goggles; in this case, however, the front and the complete inside are missing. In other words, the man wears only an empty case and sees the trees, bushes and grasses in the highest image quality and even 3-D - with his OWN EYES. Here and now. No medium necessary, only direct perception.

Landschaftskino am Gerkenstein

Slowly it dawns on me what is so special about the cinema I am sitting in. The wooden square in front of me frames a screen onto which I can project my own inner images. A landscape as a projection surface for a film of which I am the director and sole viewer. It's perfect for this because it's not spectacular and action-packed. Instead, it is wide, open, light, in subtle color compositions and accompanied by a restrained soundtrack. A cinematic meditation for eyes and ears. I realize how often my attention is completely captivated by external events, as eventful as possible, and I distract myself from perceiving thoughts and feelings within. But is it really true that the outside world is so much more attractive than my inner life? Don't I sometimes avoid sensations of emptiness and loneliness by dwelling on the small and large dramas of everyday life? Doesn't slowing down do me good to realize that some of my inner movies are already on their thousandth repeat? Especially the ones with worry scripts and anxiety plots?

Shutting down helps. I don't remember how long I sat at the Gerkenstein. Time had stretched to far beyond the horizon. As I put my hiking boots back on, put on my backpack, and slowly walked the short distance back to the Rothaarsteig, all I could think was, "Great soul cinema!"

Author: Michael Gleich

A landscape as a projection screen for a film of which I am the director and sole spectator.

Michael Gleich

You can reach the Gerkenstein best from:

Start: Neuastenberg, Tourist Information.

Neuastenberg can be reached from Winterberg by bus lines R28 and 451. Free bus and train travel with the SauerlandCard.

For more information, contact the Tourist Information Winterberg: Tel: 02981/92500, e-mail:

N2 - Hoher-Knochen-Weg
Difficulty: Medium | Distance: 7.3km | Duration: 2:40h | Ascent: 235m | Descent: 255m
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