Day 128: Leine River to Traufe (Dreister Ränge)
One of my most uncomfortable nights was in the dunes on Jeju Island, South Korea, many, many years ago. A storm surprised me overnight. Strong winds and heavy rain left me and all of my gear completely wet and full of sand.
I was a greenhorn back then when it came to camping.
Therefore, I was a bit sceptical pitching my tent on the sand.
The night was calm though. No wind, no rain but warm. A decent sleep.
The walk to the Steinhuder Meer is pretty boring. Along an air base, where obviously nothing was going on at 05:00 on a Saturday. Mosquitoes were annoying me big time. Luckily, a bit of repellent is keeping them away.
Eventually, I have the Steinhuder Meer ahead of me. It's larger than I was expecting. It is still before 07:00 so the place is quite empty. Only some early birds are running and cycling along the lake. But by all the ice cream shops and restaurants it's obvious that the place will be packed by noon.
A bit further along the lake, I walk onto a pier, go for a swim. With a max depth of three meters, it's a shallow body of water. When I crawl I continously touch some kind of sediments. A weird feeling. Yet, I thoroughly enjoy the swim. Out of the water, I sun dry myself and do some exercises, which I noticed make walking easier.
The remaining day, well a mix of forest and open fields. Some short streches of the forest trails are overgrown and I collect ticks en masse and fight my way through stinging nettles. Painful. And annoying as I miss a turn at one point and end up backtracking. It's complaining on a high level though. Compared to Sweden, it's a walk in the park.
In Bad Nettdorf I resupply for the upcoming two days. I throw everything in my bag and head off again. I'm in a hurry. I've got some precious cargo in my backpack: A cup full of Ben&Jerry's half baked brownie & cookie dough. My absolute favorite I only eat when I got something to celebrate. And today I celebrate 2 weeks on the trail. Nothing too exciting but still...
I don't want to eat it in front of the supermarket but a bit of a nicer place. Like a pond I saw on the map, being 1.5 kilometers away. As I get closer, construction works block my way, forcing me to make a detour. With temperatures above 25 degrees, I'm worried, the ice cream might turn into a milk shake. What a nightmare! So I keep pushing.
And it's well worth it. To my delight, the ice cream survives the heat just fine.
With my belly full of ice cream, I finally head into the hills. Nothing too challenging but rather a gentle up and down after two weeks of flat terrain. My legs are definitely not used to it anymore so I take it slow, take plenty of breaks. After another long day, I'm happy when I spot a suitable place along the wide ridge to spend the night.