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Badener Höhe to Haaghütte
212 kilometers... So close to home. 4 days if I could hike as the crow flies. But the thru-hiking reality is a bit different. Double the number and it will sound a bit more realistic.
Not that it matters. Especially, if the views are as good as today. France with Strasbourg and the Vosges to my right, the southern parts of the Black Forest ahead. Today I can even make out one of Switzerland's northernmost mountains, the Säntis, with my naked eyes.
From time to time I need to focus on the things close around me. Mainly on the trail, which is surprisingly rocky. Care is needed as these rocks act like traps. Therefore, I never really get into my hiking flow. Yet, I enjoy my hike on yet another sunny summer day.
I'm not the only one enjoying the weather. The trails are well used, mainly around car parks and restaurants. Unfortunately, the scenic Black Forest Highway runs parallel to E1. Sometimes close, sometimes a bit further away. As a result the feeling of being in the wilderness never comes up.
The Lunas' straps I hoped to have fixed yesterday, are breaking up again. I switch to my spare sandals, hoping they will last.
At one point two young lads are catching up with me. They have a good, quick pace. We start talking and I automatically increase my pace as well. 10 kilometers later, our paths split. Probably my quickest 10 kilometers in a while. Ahead of schedule, I decide to skip staying at the hut I initially planned and continue for another 5 kilometers. I'm surprised to find out that it's actually a proper hut with a door and beds. It's dark inside and according to warning engraved in the walls full of mice. Seems like I need to hang my food.
Speaking of food: I have a lot for dinner. With 2000 vertical meters, tomorrow will be a tough day.
Schweizerkopf Hütte to Badener Höhe
Two people showed up after I finished my dinner. They seemed looking for something. The phone obviously that I found and handed over to a local a few minutes earlier.
I tell them it's on its way to the lost and found somewhere already. Bad timing, bad luck. But we all agreed they will get their phone back eventually.
It's a calm, quiet night. On the chilly side, perfect for sleeping. Well rested, I start into another sunny hiking day.
The trail offers nice views every now and then before dropping down more than 500 vertical meters to Forbach, where I do some resupply for the next two days and also fill my water bottles. I'm halfway into my hike and already need to carry the water for camping. Not ideal but I don't want to risk running out of water.
Climbing up on the other side again goes surprisingly easy despite the high weight of my pack. It is a rocky trail. Not difficult butbit requires me to stay focused. So not too much daydreaming and no Jack Reacher audio books for me. More than halfway into the climb I pass the artificial lake Schwarzenbach. Officially it's not allowed to swim but it's being tolerated. Whatever this means. I find a path down to the water. Going for a swim. Very refreshing. As it is a short day, I take my time. Going in for a second time.
The trail remains rocky. Too rocky for my old and battered sandals. A strap breaks. With probably close to 3000 kilometers they are beyond repair. I try it anyway. Because my second pair is not in its best shape either. But then again, Switzerland is just around the corner.
At 16:00 I reach Badener Höhe. Despite the comparably many vertical meters, I have only done 30 kilometers. While in the beginning of my career as thru-hiker I would have considered this as normal to long day. Now, it feels super short. Impressive, how my body has changed (for the better).
Still, as the next shelter is too far away to reach, I decide to call it a day. It gives me enough time to write this blog, do my exercises and relax for tomorrow, which aren't such a bad thing after all. And... I have my own observation tower offering sweeping views.
I watch the sunset with to other hikers staying for the night as well. One of them carries binoculars with him. He let's me use it. Without much expectation I look south. I nearly drop them when I can make out the Alps. 212 kilometers away are Tödi and Vrenelisgärtli visible in the mist (Peakfinder app helped me to identify them). 2 iconic Swiss mountains. Never would I have expected to see them so far away. What a motivation boost and great ending of my hiking day!
Pforzheim to Schweizerkopf Hütte
Apparently it has been a wild night weather wise according to my hosts. Heavy downpour and thunderstorm. I slept right through it, not noticing a thing.
Seems like I needed to catch up on sleep.
It's still raining as I am sitting in the living room with Martin, enjoying a delicious breakfast consisting of Müesli, bread rolls and coffee. As I am not feeling like rushing out and into the rain just yet, I am taking it slowly. In the TV they are broadcasting a short documentary about the serious draught in the northern parts of Italy. I watch it with interest as I might be walking this area this autumn.
Lack of rain is no issue here in Pforzheim this morning. Nevertheless, I get itchy feet eventually and decide to start into my walking day. I say goodbye to my wonderful hosts and trail angels, with whom I have had a lovely stay. Their hospitality was amazing and they made it super easy for me to recover. Many many thanks Martin and Silvia!
The first kilometers in the rain are not really spectacular. This changes, once I start following the Enz River towards Neuenbürg. A nice riverside walk, which is getting better with the rain fading away and the sun shyly shining through the clouds.
Once past Neuenbürg, the trail leads me into the forest again. Ahead of me, I spot another hiker. She keeps a good pace and I decide to follow 50 or so meters behind. Eventually, she stops at a cross road. I catch up with her and we say hello. As it turns out she's headed for the same direction, doing the Westweg in sections. We walk together, keep on chatting and chatting. It feels comforting to walk with company, sharing stories. Time flies and suddenly, after walking more than 10 kilometers together, we are in Dobel. She's taking the bus back to Pforzheim, for me it's another 6 kilometers to my shelter. Before doing so, she invites me for coffee and lemonade. After some more talking I continue. I feel good. Not tired. Neither mentally nor physically and walking is a breeze. Especially, once I have some sweeping views towards the Rhein and France.
My shelter offers the same fantastic views. I instantly know I will enjoy a fantastic sunset from this place a couple of hours from now. A lost phone I find at the shelter is keeping me busy as I am trying to figure out how to make out the owner. I give up eventually. A local offers to take it to a lost and found. Good solution I think.
With this out of the way, I'm back to admiring the view while preparing my dinner.
What a great start of my Black Forest section!
My legs and mind needed a break from the trail.
Planning the hike through the Black forest, eating good food, spending time with my wonderful hosts Silvia and Martin and simply just relaxing is what I am doing on this hot Thursday.
Hühnerbüschle to Pforzheim
I did not have to use the emergency slide. Lucky me. It sure looked damn steep...
I'm taking the easy way down via the stairs as I set off after a somewhat restless night without proper sleep. Being just past 05:00, it's still fairly dark. The days are getting noticeably shorter as I'm heading south and away from mid-summer .
Yet, it's quite busy already when I am walking through some I industrial area. 06:00 - the night shifters leave, the early shifters arrive. The night shifters are hurrying to their cars, getting in and accelerating quickly, most probably heading home. It is something I like about E1. The trail gives you a good realistic, faithful insight to the country.
Other than that, it's a similar day to yesterday. A mix of forest, towns and open farmland. Plenty of wild berries to pick along the way. Highlight once more the mirabelles.
Progress is good, mainly thanks to the fairly gentle climbs with less vertical meters overall than during the previous days. Having felt sleepy throughout the morning, I decide on trying to do a quick after lunch siesta. With little success.
I keep on going. As I get closer to Pforzheim, the views get less attractive with deserted looking villages. Most of the shops are for sale. Yet another unfiltered look into Germany. Pforzheim is not much better. Seems like after it got destroyed in the second world war, priority was to rebuild it quickly. And not the looks or design of the city. Maybe I missed it (which might very well the case) but I can't find it's city center, it's identity.
My couchsurfing hosts are living a bit away and above Pforzheim. Being the last climb of the day, I mobilize my last energy reserves. Once on top I do my resupply and write this blog, using the time wisely until it's 18:00, the time I promised I'd be there. Because out of experience I'm pretty certain that once I am at my hosts place, I got other better things to do than resupplying and writing this blog.
Martin and Silvia gave me a wonderful warm welcome, made me feel at home instantly. I took a shower, got my laundry done by Silvia and had a great meal. Plenty of food and nice talks, mainly about traveling.
Martin offered me the possibility of a zero day. I ponderd over it for a couple of minutes then decide it would actually be a good idea before heading into the black forest. Catching up on sleep and staying out of the heat.
So that's what I will do tomorrow. Sleeping in, taking it easy, recovering from the long days that I have recently done.
Ziegelhausen Shelter to Hühnerbüschle
A different day compared to yesterday. Firstly the weather: it is sunny throughout the day. And warm. And I have to say: I prefer sweating over rain.
Then there's the landscape: much flatter and mostly farmland. Hardly any forest. The wheatfields are shining golden - a wonderful view. Being quite low, altitude wise, the cherries are mostly gone, replaced by apples and blackberries. Even some mirabelles are ready to eat. One village has a designated stretch of path, where hikers are being encouraged by a sign to pick whatever is ripe. Such a sweet idea!
Other than that there's really not much to tell. I meet a fellow Swiss, nobo from Switzerland to Hamburg. In sections of 2 to five days each. My first Swiss I have met since resuming my hike in Germany. He warns me that the Black Forest will be steep, rough, tough. Sounds like a nice challenge to me.
My overnight spot is located on an outdoor event location with a playground and fitness parcour. Close to the road. Certainly not ideal but there's simply no other option. I'll be up and on the way early tomorrow anyway as a long day but also a nice meal, a shower and a bed are awaiting me in Pforzheim!
Willhelms Ruhe Shelter to Ziegelhausen Shelter
Glow worms again! I don't complain. This time however, their light show was soon replaced by a lightning spectacle. It lasted for several hours and robbed me of my sleep.
The shelter wasn't able to keep me completely dry. Strong gust were blowing in some of the rain. But it was really just a little bit and not really a problem. Still, I had better nights.
Fog has replaced the rain by the time I leave the shelter. Felsenmeer (sea of rocks) nature reserve is only a couple of steps away. In the early morning fog it looks mystical. I have the place for myself.
The descent through the Felsenmeer is steep but on good trails mostly. At one point, a bridge is closed, forcing me to scramble over the rocks. Despite being wet, they are grippy and it's a great way to warm up my body.
Soon, I leave the Felsenmeer. The rest of the day is dull. Nothing special to say about the tracks and the weather is pretty unstable. Many rainy phases until we'll into the afternoon. I don't mind the change too much though. The cooler weather makes walking a little bit easier.
Which is a good thing because today, walking needs a lot of effort. It's a constant fight, a battle for each and every kilometer. Despite the lower temperatures.
Maybe it's the lack of sleep, maybe the up and down. I don't know but these days are simply part of it.
Because of the though day, I am especially happy and relieved when I finally make it to my shelter. No thunderstorms are predicted so I hope for some good, well needed sleep.
Gotthard Franke Shelter to Willhelms Ruhe Shelter
I'm glad I opted for the shelter and not the cocktail party. As I was lying in my sleeping bag, glow worms started dancing around the shelter. Some even around my head. Magical. Unique. At least for me. Beats every cocktail party and 5 Star hotel.
Lots of forest, flat terrain. That's the first part of the day. I wouldn't consider it boring but after yesterday a bit of straightforward, tranquil walking is appreciated. After lunch time, I leave the forest for some gentle hills, mostly farmland. I seem to attract attention of some of the many people walking or cycling today. People ask me from where to where I am headed. When I answer I started at Nordkapp, people normally get curious and good conversations are taking place. Generally, they are headed the same direction but all are still different and I enjoy these chatting stops.
In Frankenhausen for example I even get invited for ice cream and coffee by a lovely couple that is spending most of the year in their camper van. Next project: Sicily. Same as mine...
And just a couple of minutes later I have a chat with an older couple. I meet them on a rather steep stretch of a path. She's 84, he's a 89 doctor. I'm impressed how well they are still managing the climb.
Obviously, progress is made slow by all the talking and nearly comes to a halt when a clasp on my shoulder strap snaps. My backpack starts showing its age. Luckily there's hardly anything a bit of duck tape can't fix. At least temporarily.
Yet, I'm still very happy with my backpack. With 15000 kilometers and despite being thrown over sheep fences in New Zealand and reindeer fences in Norway, it's still going strong. Eventually, I will write an ode to my backpack as it will be replaced soon. Its state of the art great grandson is already waiting for me in Switzerland.
By 19:00 I reach my shelter. It's super basic but has a cherry tree right beside it. And it should keep me dry during the night, which is supposed to be rainy.
Schloßborn to Gotthard Franke Shelter
The couch is so comfy. I'd love to stay another hour or even two. But I am on a mission today: firstly, I want to climb the Grosser Feldberg, the highest point in the area, before the Saturday crowd arrives. Secondly, plan to cross Frankfurt by this evening as I don't feel like staying the night in town.
Comparably late but still reasonably early, I head out into the misty morning air, creating a mystical atmosphere in combination with the low morning sun. I manage to take a photo I wanted to take for a long time but never worked out. What a good start into my day!
To the top of Feldberg it's 9 kilometers and around 400 vertical meters. A continuous climb, sometimes steeper sometimes less steep. My legs feel reasonably well and two hours later I enjoye a good view from the top. There's a road up here so access is easy. Yet, I have the place nearly for myself. Goal achieved. I continue to Altkönig, the next hill on my way. I leave E1, take a short cut up a steep and
rocky slope. Unexpected but a nice little challenge. Altkönig is completely different to Feldberg. No building, much wilder and seems to be popular with trail runners. On the way down I choose my own path again. The steeper path takes me down through blueberry fields, full of ripe berries. With the slightly rocky surrounding it feels like to be back in Scandinavia. A good feeling. I take my sweet time, eating berries, enjoying my surroundings. Not a single other soul around. Eventually, I continue my way down. Hard to imagine that in a couple of hours I'd be in a completely different surrounding. Busy, hectic maybe. But then again, Frankfurt is a financial center and it's Saturday so maybe not so busy after all.
Once out of the forest, Frankfurt's skyline with the massive Telecom Tower comes into view. Still far away but getting closer as I cross some farm land. It's hot out here in the sun. Especially compared to the forest. E1 takes an interesting route, passing through some low income places, a massive shopping mall, parks and the telecom tower, which is a bit outside of the downtown area. I think it's where E1 gives you a good insight of the "real" Germany. I find it interesting observing people why I walk through these area. People doing what you do on a sunny Saturday. BBQ on the balcony, celebrating a birthday in the park, playing mini golf...
As I get closer to downtown, it gets bussier and busier. Busier than I expected on a late Saturday afternoon (yup, I'm running quite late. It's going to be a long day walking well into the sunset. Too much time spent eating blueberries).
I'm getting tired. Not physically but mentally. So much going on around me. Looking for the markings (which are sometimes clearly visible and understandable and sometimes not) and looking out for traffic needs a fair bit of concentration.
As I get closer to the Main River, men in their suits and the ladies in their cocktail dress are being dropped off for a party. Bankers maybe, finding ways to spend their money. Gosh, I feel out of place! Doesn't matter though. Somehow, I enjoy watching them living a life so distant from mine. A life I wouldn't want to live.
I do quick resupply as I get closer to the city boundaries. It's an abrupt change: I cross a road, a deer fence and it gets quiet around me. No sign of the city behind me. Only a few people on their evening stroll. It feels good. My brain can wind down again. Especially because the markings, now done by another hiking club, are fantastic: a marking warning of a turn well in advance, one at the turn itself and one afterwards, confirming you are on the right trail. Not some kind of unclear markings by trying to only have one sign for both directions.
Aircraft flying into Frankfurt, one of the world's busiest airports, disrupt the quiet. Some would call it noise, I call it music. Every couple of seconds I look up, trying to identify the aircraft landing on one of the 3 parallel runways. Challenging as the trees are limiting the view. Otherwise it would be too easy ;)
Finally, at 21:30 I reach my shelter. Tired but happy. What a lovely, diverse day it had been!
Cramberg to Schloßborn
The predicted thunderstorms and heavy rain didn't materialize. I'm a bit angry because if I stayed, I could have witnessed a beautiful evening sky. From the shelter I moved to right after the sunset, I could only get a glimpse of the burning sky.
Anyway, how could I have known. And better be save than sorry.
As there is no rain when I get up either, I decide to hit the trail as quickly as possible. A long day lies ahead of me. A day, which starts with a shameful piece of trail. Overgrown, hardly walkable. Eventually, I make my way through and most of the remaining day is pretty uneventful. Well, Idstein, a village I pass by has a lovely old town. After the strolling through it, I make my way into the forest again. Dark clouds now looming overhead. I'm pushing, trying to make it to my 1nitetent host before things turn ugly. Without success. 5 kilometers before Schloßborn, rain starts pouring down. And thunder. Very close to me. Bad timing means that I am on an mostly open field. I find shelter in a structure on some kind of place used for events. But I am far away from feeling comfortable. 1 second between lightning and thunder is way too close for comfort. The thunders are loud, the shelter shaking. I distract my self by writing this blog as the thunderstorm is going on. Hopefully, it will be over soon.
It took a long while for the thunderstorm to pass. After finishing the blog I was doing my stretching with the storm still going on. Once the aircraft in or outbound Frankfurt started flying again, I decided I'd continue as well. The temperature dropped significantly, making walking quite pleasant, despite the rain.
Shortly before 20:00 I entered the front yard of my 1nitetent host. He let me into his house and offered me his couch immediately, because he's scared his wet lawn might suffer from my tent. I agree ;) Win win!
Steimel (Wirges) to Gabelstein
It's another warm morning. I start walking at around 05:00, already in shorts and shirt. The morning atmosphere is lovely as I make my way into Montabaur - a nice town but probably I won't remember for long. After Montabaur, the trail would go via Köppel. Since the observation tower is not opening until 10:00 I decide to do a short cut. Big mistake as I end up bush bashing and collecting ticks. It takes me up to an hour to remove all 30 or so. Hopefully, I didn't miss one.
The hike until Nassau is quite boring. Luckily, I remain within cooling beech forest for most of the hike. Eventually, the trail drops down into Nassau, where I grab a big ice cream. As it turns out, I'd need all the energy it contains:
The remaining 20 kilometers along the Lahn River are, after a level start, a constant up and down. Sometimes quite steep but technically never difficult. Only physically challenging. I find it interesting how I generally can squeeze out some extra energy when I need it. Like a booster.
All these climbs make me sweat like a bull. Twice do I need to ask locals for water.
The effort however is well worth it. It's an wonderful stretch of E1 in Germany. Quite rewarding. Especially when I arrive at the fantastic Gabelstein lookout, overlooking the river far below me.
I'm not sure yet if I will stay here to the next shelter, 500 meters away. This one here is exposed and with thunderstorms forecasted maybe not the smartest idea to spend the night. But for the moment I'll be staying, enjoying the sunset.
Drescher Fichten to Steimel (Wirges)
Seems like I got up with the wrong foot today.
Firstly, I left the camera's wifi turned on overnight, a mishap, which completely drained battery. Then, on the first couple of meters, I pick up several ticks. Then I follow some old, wrong markings and end up on a busy road. An annoying 10 minutes road walk is the result.
After the road walk I find myself a bench. I sit down to eat a bit and to press the reset button in my head. And after the reboot things go smoother, much smoother.
No more getting lost, the battery is still drained. But this I can't change anymore.
The views are lovely at times. At one point I climb the observation tower of Alpenrod. With 33 meters, the observation platform offers sweeping views. Towards the south, were I am heading, the terrain doesn't look too hilly. Only in the far distance one can make out the higher hills of the Taunus Range near Frankfurt, where I plan on being on Saturday.
The day gets better when I reach the Westerwälder Seenplate, some lakes scattered in the Westerwald, and find a good place to swim. All legal (I think). After not going for a swim for days, I am a bit hesitant. No idea why. Too many "no swimming" signs floating around my head.
But eventually I go in, it's so tempting with the air temperature being around 30 degrees Celsius. And it's beautiful! I swim some circles, enjoying the refreshing water. Surprisingly, I have the place to myself. I'm wondering where everyone is but don't exactly care.
The next lake is 5 kilometers away. And guess what, I have to go in again. Go swimming whenever you can, I say to myself. It might be the last swim for a long time.
The remaining 15 kilometers are fairly unspectacular again. But it seems like everyone wants something from me: ticks, mosquitoes and horse flies on this last kilometers.
Doesn't matter, my day has already been a success and I won't let them spoil it. Yup, I have definitely lowered my standards compared to Scandinavia, where I could have gone swimming 20 times a day ;)
My legs eventually start lacking energy. I decide to camp on top of a hill, next to chapel under some oak trees. Most probably I won't pitch my tent. The weather is good. It won't be tomorrow night though, with heavy rain und thunderstorms predicted.
Siegen to Drescher Fichten
Continuous change while being on the trail. That's what I wrote a couple of days ago. Well, to be honest, some things remains the same over the years. Like leaving trail angels. It's still difficult for me. No difference today. Therefore, I keep the goodbye brief and hit the trail once I am ready. No good in dragging it out.
It's a lovely, with 8 degrees Celsius pleasant morning. The hike itself is more diverse than the previous days have been. Different kind of forest and cute little towns. Best of it all are the berries though. Seems like they all waited for the longest day to ripe. Until today, besides the blueberries, there wasn't really anything to pick. Which made me a bit sad, made me think if I should have started my hike in Flensburg a bit later.
No such thoughts today! Raspberries, wild strawberries and to my delight also Juneberries I find along the way. Not heaps of them but in combination with the cherries I nearly could grab something sweet permanently. And what surprises me is how sudden they all became ripe.
But... I also have some walking to do. Up and down and up and down and up.
Towards the end of the day, I decide to deviate from E1 and follow the Westerwald Trail number 5, which would take me from Herdorf to Bad Marienberg more direct fashion than E1, which is deviating way towards the east. And I don't really feel like doing that today.
Shortly before reaching my spot for the night, I have a super funny, somewhat sarcastic chat with two older ladies. In the end they press me a 10 Euro bill into my hand. A first for me. Do I really look so shabby already? :D Anyway, I don't say no of course. This will buy me a lot of well needed ice cream!
The spot I picked for camping is, well, okay I guess, so I decide on staying here. It's a massive BBQ hut but lacking of chairs, tables and the like. Staying there is probably not tolerated but it's past 20:00, I am hungry and tired and don't expect anyone showing up anyway.
Day 137: Zero Day Siegen
Gegwallde Geschdallde - this was they typically Siegerländer dish Gabi prepared for me yesterday. Delicious and a extremely welcome change after all the trail food.
Today is a typical Zero day for me. Relaxing, taking it slow, getting my thoughts away from the trail and walking.
I spend a lovely day with my hosts tiki-touring the area in their Beetle and the Duck, eating more delicious food (Reibeplätzchen) and simply having good, interesting conversations.
The day is, like all zero days, passing way too quickly. So I want to keep today's short. Enjoying every minute of it.
Grossgemeindenstein to Siegen
There's this one thing with thru-hiking: you keep moving, have to. Things around you keep changing. Be it the landscape, the food, the people, the weather.
You constantly keep leaving things behind. Mostly good things, but not only.
All you take with you are memories.
Sometimes it is not easy for me to leave things behind. For example leaving the Norwegian mountains for the Swedish forest, leaving a comfortable, warm bed of trail angels for rain and wind outside. It's simply part of the game. And it's a part I love about thru hiking.
Because change can also be the other way. Mosquitoes, mud,... Also these hot days, the sorry looking forest which I am currently experiencing are only temporary. They won't last forever. They will be gone eventually. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a week, maybe a month. Different things will come my way. Better, worse? I'll walk and see, expecting the unexpected.
With this in mind I make an early start into my day. Trying to beat the heat. It's warm already when I start though, luckily getting considerably cooler once I drop down into the Ilse River Valley, which I'm following for a couple of kilometers. Sometimes the trail is impassable due to fallen trees blocking my way, so I use the road instead. No problem, as I have the road for myself on this early Sunday morning. Highlight, if you want to call it that way, is the Heiligenborn Spring. Apparently, its water can cure all kind of diseases. Despite feeling completely healthy, I refill my water bottle, enjoying a sip of the ice cold water.
The rest of the walking day is fairly unspectacular. A thin, high cloud layer is blocking the sun. It's muggy. Yet, it's a bit easier to walk. Around noon I stumble across the second highlight: a cherry tree. Nothing special about that per se, as I have passed hundreds of them, but this one, standing in the parking lot of Aldi, is full of more or less ripe cherries. Finally, I can eat them. My hiking poles come handy as I can use them to grab some higher limbs.
From the cherry tree in Deuz it's only another 3 hours to Siegen. I let my trail angels, who will host me for two days (I'll do a zero day here. After roundabout 1000 kilometers and 3 weeks, which took me halfway across Germany, I want to give my body a day to recover), know about my ETA of 15:00. An early finish after a comparably short day. On the last couple of meters, some tiny droplets of rain are falling on my head. Change - the only constant in a thru-hiker's life.
7 minutes before 3 I ring the door bell. Gabi, my wonderful host, let's me in promptly. After a quick tour around the house I head straight into the shower. Important things first.
I head down again for some bread and cheese and a Miami Flip - orange juice with vanilla ice cream. Super refreshing after such a day.
Two days ago, Gabi asked my what I'd like for dinner. I replied a local dish would be nice.
She tells me, she had to think hard about what to cook. But found something. Something with potatoes. I'm looking forward to that a lot, curios what she will cook for me!
Kalte Kirche Shelter to Grossgemeindenstein
A similar morning mood like the day before. Only warmer. My motivation to pack and leave could be better. I rather prefer to snooze for another hour until I get itchy feet.
About the hike itself there really isn't much to say. Progress is somewhat slow, with the heat the limiting factor. I take an early break, eating all the food that is still in my backpack. My next resupply is only 8 kilometers or two hours away. In Bad Berleburg.
Once there, I'm a bit reluctant to enter the supermarket. I'm sweating like a bull, my feet and even shins are black from the dusty road. Seeing 90 percent of the customers still wearing their face masks (I wonder why, initially I even wonder if it's mandatory) makes me feel a bit better and I enter the store. Also the desire for an ice cream is becoming too strong. Water and fruits are on top of my list as well though. Keeping myself hydrated.
With 3.5 liters of water in my backpack, I continue. Not many places to fill up water until tomorrow afternoon. And you really don't want to run low on water. Not during this heat wave.
After the initial shock, my body starts getting used to the new weight
10:00 and a temperature gauge at a gas station already shows 33 degrees Celsius. I'm battling with the heat, especially in the climbs. During these moments, I am happy I do all the running in Switzerland. With the acquired stamina I can squeeze out some extra energy.
The forest is of not much use. In many area it's just gone, some scattered, sorry looking trees not bringing any relief.
As during the previous days, the sight of this esolate landscape, truckloads of timber piling up left and right of the forestry roads makes me sad, thoughtful. It's scary what damage human interference can do. I wonder how many years, no, decades it will take for these scars to heal.
Mid afternoon approaches. I'd kill for a swim, even a quick dip into the water. But there's nothing. Nada. How lucky we are in Switzerland with lakes and rivers scattered all over the place.
E1 makes quite a long detour via the outskirts of Bad Laasphe. As I've got everything I need, I decide to make a short cut via Sassmannshausen. Saves me some hours out in the heat.
After another short, late siesta, waiting for the sun to descend a little, loosing a bit of its strength, I continue. A last climb takes me up to Grossgemeindestein. A memorial and two shelters, once surrounded by forrest look a bit lost in the current wasteland. Still, they are as good as any other shelters and do what they are supposed to do. Giving shelter from the sun.
My watch tells me I walked a bit over 40 kilometers. My gut tells me I have done less. Well, better this way than the other way round. Yet, the heat sucked out my energy today. Time to recharge for another hot day tomorrow.
Oelkesberg Shelter to Kalte Kirche Shelter
Some high cirrus clouds are decorating the early morning sky, as I start into another hiking day. It's dry, warm. The rich smell of fresh cut grass is hanging in the air. A lovely morning.
The views of the rolling hills in front of the rising sun are fantastic. The landscape is covered in yellow light. I enjoy every moment of it until I head into the forest. And forest is what I see throughout most of the day. A constant up and down (probably the most vertical meters so far), over Heiden and some viewing points like the Kahler Asten, which is crawling with people. Yet, I find a bench, away from the trouble and have a short siesta. The heat is daunting.
After yesterday, today I once more miss a turn and walk into the wrong direction. Half an hour wasted. And as if I don't walk enough already. I can't blame it on the markings. But I can point my finger at Jack Reacher. As main character in the new thriller "Sentinel" by Lee Child. It's captivating. Too captivating. It's consuming my attention. Missing turns the result. Still, I'll keep listening to this audio book. It's too addictive. And time is flying.
During my siesta on Kahler Asten, I also search for possible places to spend the night. I find to options. Antonius Häuschen, along the trail, and Kalte Kirche Shelter 1.5 kilometers off trail. I hope the first option will cut it but after a last strenuous climb from Westfeld it's instantly clear the place is not suitable. So I continue for another 20 minutes. The scenery looks like this morning. Pastures, great views. Time passes quickly and in no time I reach the shelter. It's neat, the view fantastic. Only the root covered floor is a bit of a turn off. Gonna be tricky to find a place to but the mattress. But I am done for the day. No way I continue. And the view is simply too good to continue. And I wouldn't know where to go either.
So I enjoy my dinner with a view. Lentil Fusilli. My favorite 😋
Oesdorf to Oelkesberg Shelter
Sleeping in is something I haven't done for years. Not because I don't won't to but I am simply not able to.
Also today I wake up at 07:30. Which is super late for me though. I feel fit, refreshed.
After a bit of planning and writing on my blog (which kind of got neglected yesterday for obvious reasons), I join Bernhard, his two very friendly daughters and son in law for breakfast with coffee, warm bread toast, cheese, fresh eggs from his chickens. What a great way into the day!
I take it slowly, don't feel like hurrying to get back on the trail quickly. And...in fact, I already walked a bit today. 2 kilometers from the shelter to Bernhard's house shortly past midnight ;)
After some planning and writing and finally packing, I get ready to go. Bernhard joins me on my first steps today. I really enjoy walking with him. Eventually, it's time to say goodbye. As I make my way out of the village, I am thinking of the great time I had here with these wonderful people. My friend George quoted on my yesterday's blog "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". And yesterday's nice experience, the breaking of the trail routine, which basically is hike, eat, sleep and repeat, feels refreshing indeed.
With all the memories in my backpack, walking goes easy. An 11 o'clock start feels a bit weird though as I'm used to start hiking with sunrise. But progress is good. Over farmland mostly with not much forest. Yet, the wind makes walking in the sun rather pleasant. More towns in between make the hike feel less remote than yesterday.
At 20:30 I reach a shelter, which I spotted during my planning this morning. After 40 kilometers it's a good time to end my hike for today. The shelter is a long distance to the next town or road and nobody around, which, after yesterday's nice but also exhausting evening is something I quite appreciate.
Velmerstot to Oesdorf
Some people showed up for sunset at 22:00, some for moonrise of the supermoon a couple of minutes later.
Since the double decker observation tower is quite big, it never felt crowded.
Sunrise a couple of hours later is spectacular as well. This time I'm the only one up there, I enjoy every minute of it.
With such a wonderful start into my day, it feels like I am floating down along the shallow descending ridge. Shortly after I bump into Johanna, who just got out of her tent and who is doing a multiday hike. We have a nice conversation and after a long hug I am on my way again.
Plenty of the pine forest has become a victim of the Bark Beetle, the lack of rain and storms during the last 10 or so years. It's a sad sight. No shelter from the sun, which is burning down relentlessly. At one point, I open my umbrella, to get at least a little bit of shade. I don't mind the heat, my body seems to cope quite well with it. Yet, progress is getting a bit slower and the feeling of floating has been vaporized by the sun.
Shortly before Blankenrode, I'm under the shade of the trees again. What a welcome change. After 45 kilometers I'm ready to set camp near a shelter a couple of steps away from Blankenrode. It doesn't look too inviting though. A sign says 4 kilometers to the next shelter and, even though I am not really in the physical state to continue I do so anyway.
And oh boy, it is so worth it. Not the walk there, but what I experience at that shelter, where a theater group is celebrating. Before I can put down my pack, I get asked if I an vegan. I deny it and soon sit amongst a cheerful bunch of lovely people, drinking beer, Schnaps and eating lots of delicious food. A great evening with lots of talking and laughing.
It's getting late, or I should rather say early. Shortly past midnight, I get ready to set up my camp (which I had do time and motivation to do before), when Bernhard offers me his couch and a hot shower. I can't believe how lucky this night is turning out for me. Together we walk into the town of Oesdorf and to his beautiful place.
After a shower, it's shortly before 1 in the morning, I call it a day. A long day, an evenful, fantastic day. Definitely one to remember!
Lemgo to Velmerstot
A cold, humid night left my tent covered in morning dew. Might sound romantic but it certainly isn't. A wet tent means some extra weight. After a relatively late start, I leave Lemgo behind. As I climb up and out of the cold air, the temperature is rising considerably, making walking much more pleasant. My mood improves even more when I spot some wild cherry. Not completely ripe just yet, but definitely good for eating. Three hours later, I reach Detmold. Time for resupply. As my timing is a bit unlucky (no possibility to resupply tomorrow and day after tomorrow with a public holiday on Thursday), I need 4 days worth of food. Plus 3 liters of water for today, tonight and tomorrow. My body struggles a bit with the increased weight. I need to take it slow.
After a strenuous climb I reach the Herrmansdenkmal, a hilltop memorial to a Germanic chieftain. It is massive, reminds me of the Statue of Liberty. This guy must have left quite an impression.
The next tourist spot are the Externsteine. Some rocks that actually look quite attractive. I think it's a bit of a shame they somewhat ruined by making their tops accessible. I'm surprised they didn't buit a roller-coaster around it too. I leave them behind as well, passing a Heide, packed with blueberries. This comes unexpected as I thought I have left the blueberries behind for good. Even more fantastic to see they are ready to be picked. Even though they are small, they taste delicious. The highlight so far today. Far better than these tourist spots. And that's a reason why I like thru-hiking. Going to these tourist places by car or public transportation, I'd have never experienced that and missed this highlight and would have to be satisfied with the touristy things.
With my belly full of blueberries a short but steep climb takes be up the Velmerstot. Two peaks, one that seems to be in it's original state, the other one heavily altered. Apparently it was used for as a military defense site. Now a massive observation tower sits on top of the flattened peak. The views are staggering. Clear sky, excellent visibility. After another somewhat tough day for me, mostly through forest, I'm soaking up the scenery, getting the motivation to keep trekking southbound.
Shelter near Ahorn to Lemgo
Many up's and down's today. Not only the terrain but also regarding the weather, the trail and my hiking spirit
Weather: The days starts with some shy rays of sun, followed by a shower of rain, sun, more heavy rain, sun, rain and sun again to finish the day with. Wind makes it uncomfortably chilly at times. Luckily I have my umbrella handy, preventing me from getting soaked.
Trail: the first couple of kilometers are overgrown. It's walkable, no question, still, the stinging nettles and the ticks make it a rather unpleasant walk. The trail experience improves and plenty of lovely walk through beech forest follows. I very much enjoy this kind of forest as it provides a good balance between shelter without feeling too confined due to the limited undergrowth. And of course the contrast between the light green leaves, the blue sky shining through and the golden leaves on the floor from last year make for a pleasant contrast.
Hiking spirit: the weather and trail are obviously influencing my hiking spirit. It's a tough start into the day, feeling a bit stiff and exhausted from the previous day. After an extensive break on top of the observation tower of Asch, to wait for a shower to pass, I feel much better and walking goes surprisingly easy for the next two hours, when I start feeling dizzy. A heavy head. A feeling I have not yet encountered on any of my hikes. I take another long break, having a short nap.
While the nap didn't work wonders, my head still feels clearer on the last 3 kilometers into Lemgo. I have another stop to clean my dirty feet, get some food and manage to make it to my 1nitetent host right on time.
They ask me if I need anything. Shower? Laundry? I say yes twice, the full program. They reply their son is a thru-hiker as well and therefore know the drill of being trail angels. He's currently hiking Cape Wrath Trail. A small world.
They invite me to join dinner and we end up talking until late. What a nice ending of a turbulent day.
Alte Taufe to Shelter near Ahorn
Sleeping in or without my sleeping bag - that's the question. The temperatures don't make it easy to decide. While sleeping without a sleeping is too chilly, sleeping in the bag is too warm and I ended up waking up several times, either to slide in or out of my sleeping bag.
A bit tired I continue my hike along the shallow, wide ridge. While the sun is out, the trees are blocking the views. The ridge is scattered with all kind of antennas and measuring equipment. Of them all mainly the radar used for Air Traffic Control catches my attention. Eventually, I climb down the Deister ridge and enter Münden. A small but charming town. Again I enter forest and climb the next hill.
Throughout the day it is a constant up and down. Especially, the climb after Hameln, yet another nice town, is steep. The 3 liters of water doesn't make it easier (I deviated from the trail earlier to pass through a cemetery. And sure enough they had a water tab there).
By this time I already have 40 kilometers in my legs with most of the energy gone. Still, I manage to continue for another 10 kilometers through undulating terrain when I spot the shelter, which I looked up beforehand. Since it's never really clear if they are suitable to sleep in, I am delighted to see this one is.
And the view is lovely. Probably the best view I have had so far in Germany.
It's also been the toughest day in Germany. 50 kilometers on flat terrain is one thing but 50 kilometers with more than 1000 vertical meters another. I'm glad to feel that, even though I am pretty tired and my legs are burning as I'm writing these lines, my legs and lungs still have power for all this climbs. With this in my mind, I am actually looking forward to tackle the hillier terrain ahead of me.
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.
Celle to Leine River
With no predetermined plance to camp for the night, I'm not in rush to hit the trail.
When I eventually do, it's a 3 or so kilometers walk out of town. I cross the railway tracks, where I was on my way up north two weeks ago. Up there on the bridge, marks probably the highest point of today's walk as well. Yes, the terrain is flat as a pancake in this part of Germany.
Walking goes as smoothly as it has never done since Flensburg. The beautiful spring weather certainly helps. So does the super marking of the trail, which improved drastically since the Hannoveraner Wander - und Gebirgsverein (Hiking Club) too over from ther colleagues from Hamburg.
Scenery wise it's nothing too spectacular. Plenty of forest, plenty of farmland with a few small towns in between. Mostly the walk is on forrest roads with the odd single trail. Where I pick up plenty of ticks and also get lost at one point. I bash my way through the forest. On the way back to the track, I pick my first blueberries of the season. The hours are passing and so do the kilometers. Progress is much better than expected and at around 18:00 I check the map for possible places to pitch my tent. Before doing so, I pass through the town of Otternhagen. As I am running low on water and don't feel like dry camping tonight without warm food, I ask a friendly looking woman for some water. She quickly hands me a whole bottle and also offers to prepare some sandwiches for me. Hungry as I am, I happily agree. Thank you very much :) After a nice talk with her and her hubby and with three lunch bags in my pack, I tackle the last 5 kilometers of today. They too are done without much effort. By 20:00 I reach the campspot that I've seen on the map. It's a bit sandy but otherwise looks decent with a nice view over the Leine River. I haven't pitched my tent yet but am eating sandwiches and the other sweeties, which I find in my "lunch bag": Smarties and Haribo. Stuff I haven't eaten since I was a school kid. They bring back good memories. They make me feel like I'm back at school on a school trip, especially since I am eating and writing these lines on bench, way too big for me.
Wietzer Berg to Celle
The forecasted rainfall did not happen. Good for me because while I was lying there in my sleeping bag, staring at the ceiling, I noticed all the holes, which would have made a rainy night fairly uncomfortable.
About the hike, well what can I say? Plenty of forest, with some nice Heiden (heathland) in between. To my delight, there's also a lovely pond waiting for me to jump in. After 3 days without the possibility for swimming, I thoroughly enjoy my couple of minutes in the pond, which I have all to myself. Coming out of the water, I feel refreshed, recharged. And it shows me once more: a swim a day keeps the worries away.
The next possibility to swim will be at Steinhuder Meer, where I will be the day after tomorrow. With a diameter of 5 kilometers but only a maximum depth of 3 meters, I'm curious to find out how warm the water is.
The pine forest, bringing back memories from Sweden, eventually ends as I get closer to Celle. After crossing an airfield mid-runway (I mentioned this especially for you, George ;) I soon walk through the suburbs of Celle. A sad sight. Dirty and run down. The city center however, blows me away! Absolutely spectacular with all the half-timbered houses side by side, all in different colors. I surely was not expecting that from a city, which name I first heard on my way up to Flensburg as it was the second to last stop before Hamburg.
I thoroughly enjoy my walk through the town. It's crowed though and I, after 45 kilometers, feel like getting to my camp spot asap. 1nitetent it is for tonight. 2 kilometers out of the city center with a hot shower and electricity. All I need. I share the lawn with a couple and their young daughter on their way from Lübbeck to Verona by e-bike. We have a lovely chat and I admire the patience they have to do such a journey with a 4 year old. Eventually, I excuse myself. It's been a long day and there's still some planning to do for tomorrow: An interesting day. Not so much because of the scenery - it's mostly farmland and forest - but rather because I have literally no idea where to spend the night. There's nothing else than some patches of forest (which are not always suitable because of the ticks) and some farmhouses. Having arrived in the thru-hiking mode my now, I don't worry to much about it now. I can do that tomorrow evening.
Bispingen Naturspielplatz to Wietzer Berg
Back to my normal rhythm. After a somewhat restless night, I leave the shelter shortly after 04:00. The day starts with a long stretch of forest walk. In fact, most of today's walk is through forest, fairly muggy throughout the day, with really nothing to write about. Soldau and Wietzendorf are two pretty towns and a welcome change
In soldau, there's a morning market taking place. If l wasn't so stuffed from yesterday, I'd love to try my way through all the delicious looking food. So all I am doing is strolling through the market.
As usual, going gets tougher as the day goes on. More breaks are the result. After a quick resupply in Wietzendorf, where I buy food for tomorrow (to keep the weight of my backpack down, I carry as little food as possible and won't carry food for a couple of days as initially planned to reduce the resupply stops). On the last 2 kilometers, I meet two hikers on multi-day father-daughter hike. We keep on talking for quite a while before they moved on to their hotel and I stayed on top Wietzer Berg, where I intend to spend the night. It's pretty up here on this small Heide. Fairly open and even a bit of view of the flat land around.
Tomorrow will be the last stretch through the Lüneburger Heide, where E1 partly follows the Heidschnukenweg. Around 50 percent of the time at least they did. I was expecting it to be more but I actually appreciate E1 found a good compromise between covering some of the highlights of the Heidschnukenweg while being considerably shorter.
Handeloh to Bispingen Naturspielplatz
A proper bed, a good sleep. Well rested I wake up and go downstairs, were I'm greeted by Kai. As I decided to take it slowly today after a string of long days, I'm not in a particular hurry. It's around 06:00 and I do not intend to leave before 8 o'clock.
After 10 days without, it's a welcome change to have a coffee to start into the day. Odin and Matthias, my other wonderful host, which I did not meet before are joining us a bit later. While I do some last minute planning for the next two days, Kai gets some fresh bread and fruits from town. What an amazing service!
Time is flying and eventually it is time to say goodbye. Initially, I ponder the possibility of staying for another night - which I'd love to very much but the urge to keep moving on is stronger in the end.
Thanks for everything. I'll remember the stay with you for a long time to come. Hope to see you in the Engadin in the future :)
It's impressive how such a great experience with my hosts, a good night's sleep in a proper bed and plenty of food can make walking easier. I feel light and agile as I walk through the Lüneburger Heide. Undeloh is picture perfect village I pass through after two hours of nice forest trail. Everything is incredibly neat and tidy. Such a contrast to Hamburg's suburbs. Blustery winds are accompanying me up to Wilsederberg, the highest point of today (169m). Right as I reach the top, the sun breaks through the clouds after a cloudy morning. Good timing!
The remaining day is fairly unspectacular. Mostly along roads. Something that Matthias mentioned this morning keeps popping up in my head: he used to live near the Black Forest. And when he went hiking and climbing its hills, he would see the Swiss Alps. Well, in a few weeks time, when I see the Alps from there myself, home will only be a stone's throw away.
By 19:00 I reach my camp spot, which I found earlier this morning on Google maps. An "adventure playground" in the forest. I expect it to be a quiet evening. Until two young men pull up and get their BBQ stuff ready. We start talking, I get offered a beer and we end up having dinner together. At one point, they set up their hookah. When they found out I never tried it, they insisted to take at least one puff. Curious as I am I do it. Tastes good but one puff is enough. We keep on talking until they leave around ten. I set up my camp in a shelter. It's getting dark now and now I am pretty sure I have the place to myself.
Cranz to Handeloh
Horst, my host yesterday arrived with his partner a couple of minutes after I finished writing his blog. Two wonderful people, who used to work in Switzerland. Therefore, they offerd me to talk to them in Swiss German. An offer, I couldn't refuse. We go for a quick swim from their private jetty across the Este River. With 19 degrees fairly pleasant to swim and a great way to cool down after a long, hot day of city walking.
The night is extremely wet, luckily Thor put up a tent above my tent. Despite the rain, my tent remains dry and packing in the morning is a breeze.
Already after the first couple of steps I can feel that it's going to be a tough day. Not because of terrain but because I feel a bit stiff, I feel the backpack more than usual.
Not much I can do about it. 1 hour into the walk, the path I am on, suddenly stops. Ahead of me, they are constructing an infamous German Autobahn. Initially, I follow a detour sign, which after a kilometer or so walking into the wrong direction, I realize won't get me back on track. A bit pissed off, I decide to hike across the wast construction site. Eventually, I am back on track. Not something I need at 05:30 in the morning.
Soon afterwards, I join the Heidschnukenweg, a trail, E1 will be loosely following for the next 200 kilometers until Celle. The start of the trail is quite spectacular. Winding and twisting itself through heathland (so called Heide) on undulating terrain. The somewhat sandy trail is a pleasure to walk on after all the hard surfaces yesterday.
After its fulminant start, the trail gets back to the normal forest walk. Plenty of tree fall is making progress slow at times. Towards the end of today's walk, I pass by Brunsberg, another lovely spot with surprisingly good views.
The last couple of kilometers are getting even tougher. The stiffness did not disappear and now my feet start aching too. I think I'll have to throw in a shorter day tomorrow to give them some time to recover.
Shortly before reaching my 1nitetent place, I meet Kai and Odin, his dog. My hosts for tonight.
Kai turns out to be such a wonderful, kind and generous person. He is even offering me a bed in their spectacular half-timbered house. An offer, I once more gladly accept after two weeks in the tent. A true trail angel.
Kai heads to Hamburg for a quick job shortly afterwards, leaving me and Odin in the house, where I enjoy a warm shower and a big bowl of pasta, happy to have a roof over my head and happy to know that I will sleep like a king tonight.
Reinbeck to Cranz
What a stupid planning mistake. I could punch myself... Today's Sunday, all shops closed. Nothing special. Tomorrow is Whit Monday. All shops closed as well. And I'm running out of food. Being Hamburg, I'll probably find food to keep me going but I not exactly what I am planning on buying. Mostly I am angry at myself for not thinking of it.
Anyway... After a warm, dry night I wake up fairly well rested and getting up and packing is easy.
On another lovely, sunny day, I start with a bit of forest walk, followed by a surprisingly nice walk through dunes - in the suburbs of Hamburg. I certainly enjoy that stretch very much. Right after the dunes, there's a small lake. Despite plenty of algae in it, I jump in, do a bit of swimming as well as cleaning, in order to look and smell somewhat presentable for my city walk. It's 07:30 and most people still seem to be sleeping.
Once I leave the lake, I soon hit the outskirts of Hamburg. I wouldn't say it's an attractive part. Not have I seen so much rubbish laying on the streets since I've been in South East Asia. Not a good first impression. The city looks tidier the closer I get to its center, which is busy, full of tourists.
Time flies, it's already past noon when I take a short break near Dammtor to watch the Ironman race and grab some pastries and a smoothie to maintain my blood sugar level.
From Dammtor to the Landungsbrücken on the other side of the city, it's a lovely walk in the park. Well marked, which hasn't been the case in the suburbs. Or maybe it's because I put on my glasses after reaching the city center and now can see them better ;)
By this time, the sun is brutal. I'm glad to be in the park rather than on the streets.
Landungsbrücken are as busy as it gets. I hope all these people would scatter as I head east towards Blankenese, but no. All of the last 15 kilometers are super busy. But also super interesting. Especially, if you are into ships and aircraft. Hamburg's harbor, which lies across the Elbe River, is massive and the ships, from the paddle wheel steamer to the container ship, interesting to watch. Just after the harbor comes the Airbus plant. As I spot all the newly built aircraft from airlines all around the world, my heart beats a bit faster. Such a wonderful sight.
By 16:30 I reach Blankenese, from where my ferry is supposed to go across the Elbe. It's idling at the jetty though, because the water level is too low. But since the tide is coming in, they are positive they could leave in 15 or so minutes. Good timing! I use the time to get a Fischbrötchen (probably the last one on this trip as it's a specialty from here) and ice cream.
Just as I finished my ice cream, the decision was made to sail across the Elbe. Great! It took probably 15 minutes to cross. Partly because the river is wide, partly because the water level was still low and the captain had to use caution.
Once across, it's like being on another planet. Back in the wild. Well not completely. There's a fish and chips take away. And I can't resist and get one. It's been awhile since my last fish and chips back in Scotland, 3 years ago.
From the Jetty to my 1nitetent spot in Cranz it's just a couple of 100 meters. It's a lovely spot right on a side arm of the Elbe.
The weather turns bad surprisingly quickly and as soon as I have pitched my tent, the first raindrops start falling. Good timing once again.
Güster to Reinbeck
It's gotten quite late around the campfire yesterday, which doesn't really matter as I have a comparably short day ahead of me. With 80 kilometers, it's too far to make it into Hamburg, meaning I split it into two stages. This one will take me somewhere into the outskirts of Hamburg. Where exactly, I don't know yet. But I have a rough idea of where I want to camp. Tomorrow, the plan is to cross the whole city and take one of the last ferries out to the other side of the Elbe River, where I have another 1nitetent spot to camp. That's the plan at least. The ferry only runs when water levels are high enough. It's a bit of a gamble. If it does not sail as planned, then there's no plan B. Just yet at least.
By 05:30, I lay wide awake in my tent, no need to prolong it so I get ready and hit the trail by 06:00. A low cloud layer lays above Schleswig-Holstein and the sun needs half of the morning to burn them off. What follows is another beautiful, sunny, warm day.
The hike itself is unspectacular, in the beginning at least. Mostly westbound, initially through forest, then fields, than forest again. This second forest is surprisingly lovely to walk. More than 5 kilometers of sweet, soft single trails, a bit rugged at times. For once a welcome thing as the terrain is challenging my feet and ankles a little, which got a bit stiff lately due to long days on mostly the flat surfaces. I deviate slightly from E1 to enjoy this nice paths a bit longer.
As I get closer to my planned overnight stop, I take it slower. No need to arrive too early. I sit down in the forest, enjoying the peace and quiet before heading into Hamburg tomorrow. By far the largest city on E1 so far. Very exciting but also a bit frightening.
I make it to my designated spot just shy of 19:00. Some Russians are there celebrating a birthday. They seem somewhat apologetic to what is happening in the Ukraine. When I say I don't care too much they invite me for a glass of vodka. They say they don't mind if I camp here. Still, as it seems like to be a long party and they have a dangerous looking fire going, I kindly excuse myself and retreat my steps a couple of meters to a spot I've seen before to pitch my tent.
Riesebusch (Bad Schwartau) to Güster
A surprisingly chilly night meant a rather light sleep. Many times I woke up, feeling cold.
Hence, I don't mind when dawn arrives. Time to get up, get moving.
Today, I will deviate slightly from the E1, which skirts around Lübeck and zigzag its way south. At one point, a bus ride would be required to take me beneath the Trave river. Since I neither feel like zigzaging nor taking a bus (boat would be okay to cross a river but certainly not a bus...), I opt for a more westerly route, through Lübbeck and along the Elbe-Lübbeck Canal. After a bit of boring walking through the industrial area of Lübbeck, enter the old town. Nice but nothing out of the ordinary. Being only 07:00 the city is still waking up. After not spending too much time in the city, I settled in for a 30 kilometers walk along the canal, which I have mostly to myself in the morning.
It's a pleasant walk, monotonous maybe, but I enjoy it. People I meet along the way are talkative today, on this sunny and hot Friday afternoon and curious about what I'm doing and where I am going.
With Heinrich, a NOBO hiker with destination Trondheim, I have a pretty long chat. After one week on the trail it feels great to meet another thru-hiker. So I'm not the only one out there at least.
The last kilometers along the canal are going surprisingly smooth for me. At Mölin, I leave the trail as I want to follow the last 20 kilometers a string of lakes, with the hope to find a nice bathing place.
Along the way, I grab a big bucket of ice-cream. Nothing beats that on a hot day like today.
Right after joining the lake, I spot a wonderful spot to jump into the water. The lake is warm and surrounded by forest. Civilization seems far away here. Wonderful.
The last couple of kilometers are tough. Despite the nice scenery, my legs and feet feel tired. So I am happy, when I am finally being greeted by my lovely 1nitetent hosts in Güster, where I have a sweet camp spot in their garden. After a very nice evening around the fire with my host I retreat into my tent. Tired but happy after a really nice day.
Eutin to Riesebusch (Bad Schwartau)
I had the campspot mostly to myself. Only a girl passed through later in the evening, not caring at all. It was a dry night. In fact that my tent, still wet from the previous night, managed to dry completely. Despite the wet soil and the lake right beside. Good for me, a few grams less to carry.
A lovely morning mood is awaiting me when I open my tent. Seems like it's going to be a fabulous day weather wise. With the mosquitoes not yet operating (all they do is chilling on my rain fly), packing is not stressful.
By 04:30, I am on my way. As the first couple of kilometers are through forest, I can't really make use of the morning sun.
There's the option to follow a side track north and up to Bungsberg, the highest point in Schleswig Holstein.
During the last few days the trail has been meandering north and east (and not south, where I'm supposed to go).
Therefore, even though the views might be interesting, I don't feel like another detour to the north and thus give Bungsberg a pass and turn south. Finally. Mentally, it makes finding the motivation so much easier, when I'm headed for the right direction.
And that additional motivation I can use instantly. While being in the forest and without me noticing, dark clouds rolled in and a stiff breeze was starting to blow. With my rain/wind jacket on, I continue to Neustadt for a resupply. Second resupply in Germany. As always when in a new country, I have to figure out, which supermarket suits my needs the best. After trying Aldi and Lidl with a rather disappointing selection, today's Rewe actually sports quite a good choice and I'll probably stick to this chain from now on.
After shopping, I'm continuing south through a rather dull landscape, trying to keep my arms warm in the wind. Once again, the weather improves quickly and so does my mood.
I'm writing these lines from the observation tower of Pariner Berg. A lovely place with a good view of the flat landscape.
Since my legs are tired and my feet hurt after plenty of road bashing, I won't go too far anymore. There should be a shelter 2 kilometers down the road. It seems to be in the forest and as I have to wait for darkness anyway to prepare my camp, I rather spend some more time up here, soaking up some well needed sun.
Preetz to Eutin
At around 03:00, I get waken up by a heavy rain shower. Luckily it's sandy soil, absorbing the water. Still, my rain fly will be completely soaked. An hour later I get ready. Waiting for better weather has never been my strength so I pack everything and head out into the rain. With calm winds I can use my hiking umbrella, making the walk much more comfortable. It's a lovely walk, along many smaller and bigger lakes. The scenery is reminding me of the one around Wetzikon, with its gentle hills, fields and the lake. Therefore, it makes complete sense that this part of Germany is called Holsteinische Schweiz and seems to bee a rather touristy area.
As the sun comes out every now and then, I use one of the sunny spells for a swim and wash in one of the many lakes.
As the day goes on, there are more and more rain showers. One of them extremely intense, flooding the path. Again, I'm happy to have my umbrella.
The dark clouds vanish from one second to the other. By this time, I'm already in Eutin, 50 kilometers done and in need for a place to sleep. With plenty of luck, I spot a secluded peninsula on the Grosser Eutiner See with plenty of space to pitch a tent. It's well past 19:00 and I am positive there won't be anyone will show up anymore. If there is and I will get a ticket, I will let you know tomorrow ;)
Jellenbek to Preetz
The chirping of the birds is waking me up before 4 o'clock. As the sky is already getting bright and I feel reasonably rested, I decide to do an early start. By 4:30 I'm back at the beach, respectively above. Both is possible, both has its own charm. It's perfect hiking weather. Neither too warm, nor too cold, no wind, sunny with great visibility. I am thoroughly enjoying these first hours along the beach, taking it slow, going for a swim. Having the weather on my side on my last day on the beach (for this year at least) is fantastic.
As I get closer to Kiel, the beach eventually disappears and I head inland. Bye bye beach. A ferry takes me across the Nordsee-Ostsee Canal, connecting the two seas. Once on the other side, it's a rather strenuous, neverending walk towards the city. I don't enjoy it too much. Therefore, I'm delighted when I see the ferry terminal, where I will take yet another ferry across the the other side of Kiel. While on the ferry, the Oslo Ferry is leaving for Norway. Those of you, who have been following my blog, know, how much I love Norway. A part of me wishes to be on that ferry and dive into Norway's vast wilderness.
Reality catches up with me once I step of the ferry. While it's not Norway's wilderness, the trail along Schwentine river is quite nice. Eventually, I start feeling tired. The day has been longer and harder than anticipated. After a quick resupply, I'm happy when I finally arrive at my 1nitetent spot in Preetz. It's 19:15. A long day. For once I am relieved that my "host" isn't really into the mood of talking as I feel quite exhausted and thankful for some quiet time once I pitched my tent and cooked my dinner.
Day 116: Hello Ostsee
Berkendorfer Forst to Jellenbek
Continuous downpour followed the thunderstorm, which meant I had the shelter quickly to myself and I settled in for my second night in Germany.
Some noisy birds wake me up well before 5 o'clock. Since I planned on starting early anyway, I don't mind. By 5:30 I'm on my way to Eckernförde. Surprisingly, it's quite a bit of up and down across somewhat hilly terrain. Like during the previous days the scenery is a mix of forest and open fields. Around noon I arrive in Eckernförde. A busy seaside town. With a mostly overcast sky and temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius not too many people feel like hanging out on the beach though.
From Eckernförde the trail follows the sea. More or less at least. Sometimes it goes inland for no obvious reason. Therefore, I sticked to the beach or close to it, rather than following the trail. It's soft sand, sometimes gravel. Not easy to walk on. Yet, I enjoy every step because tomorrow I will already leave the beach and won't step onto one again until I reach the bottom of Italy.
And because of that I really want to jump into the water today. Despite the water temperature of 8 degrees, despite the rather cool weather. It takes me a while, nearly the whole of today's beach walk, until I find the motivation to jump into the water. And once again, it's only a quick dip. Yet, I actually feel quite happy I did it.
Once completely dressed and on the move again, it's only a couple of 100 meters to Jellenbek, where I'm trying out "1nitetent" (people open their lawn for campers) for my very first time. A bit like couchsurfing but for camping. Hedda, my host meets me at the beach. Together with her son, we walk to their lovely A-frame house. I pitch my tent in their garden, light a fire and enjoy a nice evening around the campfire together with my host.
Day 115: warming up
Idstedt to Berkendorfer Forst
A good night's sleep, no wind and a bit of sun: it doesn't need a lot to make walking much more enjoyable. The early morning sun is even encouraging me to jump into Idstedtersee. Much colder water than I expected. Much colder even than my favorite Alpine lake in Celerina, where I usually go swimming when I am not on a long distance hike somewhere far, far away. So it's more a quick, refreshing dip into the water rather than a proper swim.
The trail takes me through forest and the castle of Schleswig. If someone is into art, one could spend hours there. I use its nice park for a late breakfast only.
Shortly after leaving the castle, I meet a cyclist, who is asking me for directions to Flensburg. I suggest him to follow the white "X"s as I know for sure the will get him there. From there he will continue north all the way to Nordkapp he says. He will enjoy it a lot, I reply.
While my hike south is probably not as spectacular as his ride north, the kilometers that follow, along lakes and ancient Viking settlements, are rather enjoyable.
Eventually, my legs start getting tired. I definitely have not yet arrived in my hiking rhythm. It's only 15:00 when I spot a nice shelter in Benkensdorfer Forst, right beside a small tarn. Should I stay or should I continue? Only 30 kilometers is not a lot... However, my legs don't feel like walking anymore...
It seems to be a popular spot, so I have to wait a bit until I can get myself too comfortable. And maybe I find the motivation to do a couple of more kilometers before I settle down for the night. Or maybe not.
On a little pier I do a bit of stretching. Something I want to do regularly on this hike to counteract the stiffness caused by all the road walk.
Now as I am writing these lines, a late afternoon thunderstorm is passing through, cooling down the air significantly and hopefully also reducing the people walking the paths around the little lake.
Flensburg to Idstedt
I was too optimistic: The delay of the night train grew bigger and bigger and thus my connection in Hamburg was gone. An hour to kill. Normally I don't mind but today it's not that easy. My restless feet want to hit the trail and not walking circles on the platform. While waiting, I get more or less completely ready so I could start my hike as soon as I step off the train. And that's exactly what I am doing once the train doors open in Flensburg. In fact I am so keen to start walking after 16 hours in the train that I nearly forget my "before hike" selfie.
When I left Flensburg after completing my Denmark hike in November, I was optimistic that I could continue my hike in shorts, shirt and with sunglasses on when I'd beck in May. Well, a beenie, a rain jacket and merino long sleeve shirt are what I am wearing on this windy, cold Saturday afternoon. At least I'm wearing shorts!
In combination with the lack of sleep and the flat terrain I can't get my body up to my preferred working temperature. A bit uncomfortable but I had experienced worse.
The trail is amazingly well marked with white "X"s everywhere. No way to get lost. Mostly on quiet back roads, through lush beech forest and picturesque villages, which look rather Danish than German, I make swift progress. My body feels good, not stiff at all, which is unusual on my first day on the trail.
Shortly before Idstedt, I pass a shelter. As a shower of rain is passing through at this very moment, I decide to call it a day and set camp here, instead of continuing another kilometer to a lake, where I was initially planning on camping.
After a bit of stretching, cooking I retreat into my sleeping bag. After 36 hours without sleep I think I will sleep tight tonight.
It's a familiar journey I am on. Same night train as last November, when I was heading to Denmark. Only this time I will get off a wee bit earlier. In Flensburg.
The train is packed, with people standing in the aisle. In stark contrast with last time, when I had most of the train to myself. Sleeping is, as usual, not possible. No matter how packed or empty the train is. Progress is painfully slow with the train stopping every couple of minutes. Maintenance works. We are an hour behind schedule but looking at the timetable (I have not much else to do), I'm optimistic the train will make up lost time.
Anyway, eventually I will arrive in Flensburg, where I plan to start hiking immediately, hopefully doing 30 to 40 kilometers. I'm curious how different everything will be compared to last November, when I arrived in a cold Flensburg, neatly decorated for Christmas.
Weather wise it seems like I will have a windy start into my hike with somewhat unsettled weather and temperatures just above 10 degrees. Still, I expect it to be more pleasant to walk than last November.
With the more favorable weather, I expect to meet more people along the way as I would imagine now it's a convenient time for hikers to start their hike across Germany.
Writing these lines, the train is stagnating somewhere between Frankfurt and Hannover. It's 03:52 in the morning and pitch black outside. Somewhere out there in the dark, probably not too far away, E1 is waiting for me and I can't wait for the train to arrive and finally hit the trail.
Back on track: After deviating slightly from the official E1 route in Skane, Sweden and the northern part of Denmark, I intend to follow E1 more or less exactly all the way to the Swiss border. Roundabout 2000km.
Resuming my hike in Flensburg, I will initially follow the Kiel Bugt past Kiel to Lübeck, where I will leave the sea and head inland to Hamburg. From there, E1 takes me south, skirting around Hannover and through the Sauerland into Frankfurt. Still on a more or less southerly heading, I'll cross the Black Forest. Shortly before reaching Basel, E1 makes a sharp, eastbound turn towards the direction of Lake Constance, where I will cross the border into Switzerland.
For the 2000km I budget 2 months. Average of 33km a day. Ambitious but absolutely doable as I crossed Scandinavia with a higher daily average on more undulating and challenging trails. If all works out as planned, I intend to hit the trail in the end of May, making use of long days and hopefully not unbearably high temperatures. Unlike in Scandinavia, left over snow won't be a problem this time.
While Scandinavia required its fair share of planning, especially regarding food resupply and naviagtion, the hike across Germany should be straightforward in this regard. According from what I have read and heard, the trail is adequatly marked with plenty of possibilities to stock up on food. Yet, what I see as a challenge is finding suitable places to pitch my tent. The "Everyman's Right", which is a beatuful thing that allows you to pitch your tent literally erally everywhere you want, does not apply to Germany. Apparently they are rather strict when it comes to freedom camping with only bivvying being tolerated here and there, which might be a possiblity if the weather is on my side. Otherwise, I'll try my best not to get caught in my tent.
Rødekro Aktivitetspark Shelter to Flensburg
An outrageous amount of calories found the way into my stomach yesterday, challenging my digestion and thus making me comfortably warm throughout the night.
Getting up on the last day is never an issue, especially not today as I'm looking forward to a warm place to stay for tonight. Great motivation.
But I have to deserve it. It's a long walk, the first half in rain (which wasn't forecasted) through very wet terrain. Shortly before crossing into Germany, I stop at the church of Bov. Not for a prayer but these churches usually feature a warm toilet. No exception here and I use it to change for dry, city-suitable clothes.
Crossing the border is - as usual - a rather emotional thing. Another milestone.
Denmark, country number four done and dusted. Or as my Kiwi friends would say: I knocked the bastard off.
Now let's tackle country number 5: Germany! For now it's only for a couple of kilometers but somehow they manage to ignite my Germam Wanderlust for next year as I stroll through the adorable old town of Flensburg in the last rays of the sun with it's bustling Christmas Market. There won't e Christmas Markets next summer but longer days and milder temperatures will definitely make up for that.
So that was it! A hike across Denmark in November. 13 days, a bit more than 500 kilometers.
It was certainly very different to my previous hikes. Not necessarily the landscape (which is similar to Sweden's southern part) but the hiking in constantly cold temperatures. Something, which turned out to be more challenging as I was anticipating. Luckily it was mostly just the cold. Rain was rare and only light when it did. Being outside nearly 24/7 and thus keeping myself warm wasn't always easy. It required a lot of eating. Fuel for my body. I could have worn morn but I more often than not had the impression the cold came from inside as well. Lack of sleep maybe despite the long nights.
Long nights. Another point I want to take up. When deciding to head to Denmark, I completely neglected this point. With only 8 hours of daylight the days are awfully short, requiring me to walk in the dark. Initially I had to get used to it but it somehow grew on me. Time at night was passing quickly and the moment the eastern sky turned from black to blue was always magical. In fact I remember every dawn of this little hike.
Last but not the people. Well, I can't say much about them as I have hardly met anyone on my hike. The few people I did meet though were wonderful.
I didn't mind to hike in solitude these two weeks. I actually enjoyed it. Still, if I'd continued, it might have become lonely.
Would I do it again? Maybe not. Do I regret it to have done it in November? Definitely not. I loved the challenge and am super happy I could master it.
Maugstrup Plantage Shelter to Rødekro Aktivitetspark Shelter
A lot of rain overnight, a lot of moisture in the air, a cold night. Unsurprisingly, there's fog in the morning. Eventually the fog lifts, it stays grey and dull though. No wind, which makes it quite a pleasant walk nonetheless.
A walk which is mainly along farm tracks and secondary roads with very short bits of hiking trail. My backpack feels light (well it actually is light) and my legs feel fresh - even after all this walking on hard surfaces. I have to thank my body for playing along so nicely. Initially the beach, followed by the cold and as mentioned, all the hard surfaces. It could have been so differently.
It's early afternoon, when I'm approaching Rødekro, where I immediately set course to the supermarket for my last shopping in Scandinavia. I stock up on food, which I grew fond of during my last 112 days in Scandinavia. I will have to carry it 40 kilometers tomorrow but I don't mind to carry these good tasting memories in my backpack.
The supermarket is just a stone's throw away from the shelter, where I arrive shortly after. Luckily it's available for staying as there wouldn't be many other options around. I have a lovely and very rare chat with some locals, before I get ready for the night. I am already in my sleeping bag, finishing up my book, when the lady I was talking to before returns, offering me a warm soup, sandwiches, coffee and beer. What a wonderful, unexpected surprise. Trail magic at work. I eat the sandwich and soup as long as it is still hot. It's so filling actually that I decide to postpone my mac and cheese and porridge for later tonight. It's going to be a full blown three course dinner tonight.
After drinking two cups of coffee and feeling a little excited as it's my last night on the trail, I won't be able to sleep so soon anyway.
Skodborg Shelter to Maugstrup Plantage Shelter
Without luck, I am trying to find my motivation to get up this morning. It seems to have disappeared. Doesn't matter, as it's, after pushing the two previous days, going to be a short day out on the trail.
At around 07:30 nature is calling and I decide to take it as a sign to pack and hit the trail.
While the first half of the day is fairly pleasant to walk in sunny weather through forest and the town of Jels with its lovely windmill the second half is a bit more a struggle. Wind (after westerly wind 2 days ago, southerlies yesterday now it's blowing from the east) and some light rain making the walk a bit less pleasant. After a short 7 hour day I reach my basic shelter in a pine plantation. It is super simple and I love it. I get comfortable, read my book, cook dinner. Lentil soup with chocolate porridge as dessert it is.
Yes, it's cold (not the porridge but the weather) , yes it's wet. Not comfortable, really, I've come out of my comfort zone more than enough. Especially after spending nearly all of the past 11 days in shelters. Yet, lying in my sleeping bag, candles burning peacefully beside me, listening to the rain in solitude - enjoying and appreciating the simple things the trail offers. I already know I am gonna miss it.
Vingsted Shelter to Skodborg Shelter
A cold night, a cold morning. Luckily there's a heated toilet, where I spend a bit more time than usual to soak up some warmth before heading into the night at exactly 04:00. The first 4 hours are night hiking, the time and kilometers usually passing quickly. Probably because navigating the small backroads and paths need more concentration than during daylight. Again I find some shortcuts, which means a bit of road walk. Well, the official trail is road walk as well, just following quiet roads.
By 09:30 I reach Baekke. Time for resupply and to treat myself with some sweats. In the cold, I will burn their calories in no time. Initially I was planning on staying here but it's obviously way too early so I push on after finishing packing and eating. 2 hours after Baekke, I pass through Vejen. An neverending, straight road takes me through the town, passing what feels like a hundred barber shops and hair styles studios. The only reason I would visit them was to escape the now unpleasantly stiff, cold southerly breeze. However, I keep on pushing. The shelter I was initially eyeing is closed for construction. So there's no other way than to push on some more. After 40 kilometers on hard, flat surfaces, my body feels stiff. The cold wind does not help.
At three, 11 hours after starting, I make it to Skodborg. Town number three today and my today's spontaneous destination. Luckily my hexagonally shaped shelter offers a good protection from the wind for my 3rd last night in Denmark. Time sure is flying.
Højderyggens Shelter to Vingsted Shelter
Except for the first couple of kilometers through forest (where I actually got a bit confused at one point in the night and walk an unintended full circle - I'm mildly pissed off when I suddenly walk past the same sign again a couple of minutes again) the big chunk is on backcountry roads, with not much to write about. Well, maybe I should mention that I don't head into Jelling as planned. Instead I take a shortcut straight towards to the south. Saves me a some kilometers of roadwalk.
So let's write something about the weather, which I think, being a weather observer at work as well, was fairly interesting today. It starts with drizzle this morning, not too cold calm air. Roughly four hours into the hike, looking towards the west, I can see a clear line between clouds and blue sky approaching me. The line is nearly completely straight, right across Denmark reaching somewhere from the south west corner oto Copenhagen. At this point it is obvious that a front (most probably a cold one) must be approaching. I enjoy the good weather period as much as I can because I know, showers, wind and cooler temperatures will follow behind. And sure enough, roughly an hour later I spot the first towering cumulus to my right. The wind speeds must be high further up in the air and the clouds are here in no time, luckily bringing only a few showers but blustery wind and colder temperatures. These temperatures are supposed to stay. Especially in combination with the sky, which by now is clear again as the front passed through, getting up tomorrow morning will be on the chilly side again.
Christianshøj Shelter to Højderyggens Shelter
A dull, unspectacular day. On and off drizzle, mostly through forest on wet, partly muddy trails.
Two things worth mentioning though:
I rejoined the official E1 today, after leaving it in Halmstad. It feels good to be back on it!
Second point: planning. I couldn't just do nothing at all yesterday. So I risked an outlook for the coming days.
From yesterday's Christianshøj shelter it's roundabout 250km to Flensburg. My goal: arrive there on the 29th at sunset. 6 days, roughly 40km days. Ambitious but absolutely doable since the terrain is generally flat and fast going.
The itinerary looks like this:
24. Christianshøj to Norre Snede
25. Norre Snede to Jelling
26. Jelling to Baekke
27. Baekke to Vojens
28. Vojens to Rodekro
29. Rodekro to Flensburg
Usually, I never plan my hiking itinerary so detailed as I don't want to be too fixed on the schedule. But I thought I'd do an exception. Let's see how it works out.
These long days also mean plenty of walking in the dark. Today it were more than 3 hours. While I don't particularly like it as it uses a good amount of concentration not to get lost or to stumble into things (especially in the forest), I find it kind of intriguing as well. My world is reduced to a small buble: only as far as the beam of my head lamp reaches.
Viborg to Christianshøj
Yesterday, I left the waiting room shortly after 17:00 for some sightseeing and shopping. The city makes a great impression on me, with its wonderfully decorated old town.
Ingeborg, my last night's host, was already awaiting me. What follows are a hot shower, interesting talks, delicious food and a good night's sleep.
Today, I start into my day slowly as I don't feel like rushing but rather enjoy the warmth of the flat a bit longer. Still, by 07:30 and after a filling porridge, I have to say goodbye to my lovely host, who actually walked the same trail to Flensburg as well and could thus provide some helpful information. It's blue hour when I step out of the flat. In combination with the golden Christmas decorations a nice view.
It takes me awhile to navigate out to the city. But once I have made it, a proper hiking trail with initially great views over two lakes is awaiting me. After walking on hard surfaces for 3 days, the soft forest soil feels pleasant to walk on.
For once I can't complain about the weather. Only light winds, sunny and not too cold. In fact, it's perfect hiking weather.
My body feels good today. So good that I walk the first 4.5 hours without taking a break. At this pace I will make it to my shelter well before sunset. After zigzaging through some more forest and with the very last sun rays, I make it to my shelter, where it's back to my normal routine. Unpack, cook, eat and crawl into my sleeping bag as it gets uncomfortably cold quickly. Might not sound too attractive but I actually start enjoying this simple, lazy after hike lifestyle. Dolce far niente without feeling bad.
Lerkenfeld A Shelter to Viborg
It's a cold night. I don't sleep much. Not because I'm cold. My sleeping bag keeps me comfortably warm. It's the getting out of the sleeping bag that keeps me awake. I'm not feeling like getting out into the cold at all. I use my awake time to send a couchsurfing request for Viborg, where I should arrive this evening. A warm place and finally some social interaction sounds tempting. But I don't have much hope it will work out. It is 3 in the morning.
I try to fall asleep again. Without too much success. So eventually I find enough motivation to start into the day. As mentioned a while ago, I have a strict routine to get on the trail as efficiently and fast as possible. I get dressed as much as possible while still in the sleeping bag. Down jacket and watch it is today. All the other clothes I am already wearing. Then, still in the sleeping bag, I deflate my mattress. Once all the air is out I crawl out of the sleeping bag, stow it, the mattress and another sheet I use to protect my mattress in the backpack. Also some other stuff like batteries (which I keep in the sleeping bag as they hate the cold as much as I do) go into the backpack. Sandals on, a quick pit stop at the toilet, switch on the GPS tracker and off I am. 20 minutes or so.
Usually, as soon as I start walking I warm up quickly. Not so today. Maybe it's because I am tired, maybe it's because it really is really cold, maybe it's because it's all flat and I don't need a lot of effort. I don't know. Shorty past six, I have been walking for roughly an hour, I meet three Monday morning runners. They inspire me to try some slow, easy jogging to get a bit warmer. And it helps a tiny little bit. Why didn't I think of it earlier...?
Dawn is long so far up north and I can enjoy a spectacular burning sky for a while until the sun finally rises. Time for a break. I notice the water in my bottle is nearly completely frozen. So it is cold indeed. I'm happy I decided to put on three pairs of. Two on my feet, one over the gloves on my hands. Conveniently, there's a bakery right across the street. After being out in the cold for three hours, I think I deserve a little treat. The chocolate tart (I think that's what they call it) tastes excellent.
I'm about to continue, when a local approaches me. He is amazed that I am walking in sandals and calls me as tough as a Viking and offers me to grab a to-go coffee at home. I gladly agree.
Happy to hold something warm in my hand and having just had my first real conversation with a local, I continue.
Even though the low sun is not too strong, it sure makes a difference and walking gets quite pleasant. It's also when my Couchsurfing request gets accepted. What a nice, unexpected surprise. Knowing I will stay in a dry place tonight makes me fly along the rail trail until I leave it shortly before approaching Viborg. It's been a pleasure to walk on it. I certainly will miss it.
As my host won't be available until 18:00 I have some time to kill in Viborg. I install myself in the waiting room at the train station. Nice and warm in here and not too busy. I use the time to write the blog and plan the next couple of days. Hopefully with tonight's warm and dry place and some good conversation I can gain some well needed motivation.
Aggersund Shelter to Lerkenfeldt Å Shelter
*Apparently Day 102 didn't show (correctly) on my blog. It should be there now and ready to be read*
Rain made for a noise night in my tiny little shelter - a shelter with a door, which helped tremendously to keep the warmth in and the wet out.
By the time I'm about to leave it's mostly dry. Dry but cold as the wind changed from west to north. I struggle to get my body warm for most of the morning, while I'm following a disused railway track. I'll call it rail-trail. Walking couldn't be easier. It's a continuous gravel track. Wonderful to follow as it passes tiny forests, villages and plenty of farmland.
Today, though, it is not the view which keeps me going but rather the anticipation of food. After 5 days without resupplying it's time to feed my backpack and stomach in Aarse, a rather large town with plenty of shops. Aldi, Lidl, Netto,... I opt for Coop though as I assume as they have the brands I'm used to from Norway. Walking into the store it turns out I am right. Not necessarily a good thing, though. With an empty stomach and and all these familiar foods, I of course over-buy. I have a hard time fitting everything into my pack. Bread and chips remain in my hands for on-the-go-snacking. Initially, my plan was to stay in a shelter in Aarse for the night. However, it does not look to inviting so I continue along the rail-trail for another 7 kilometers or 1.5 hours, which I mainly spend snacking and admiring a fabulous sunset over the flat, endless Danish farmland.
I arrive at my shelter at dusk. No time to waste as I need to repack all the food I bought. Takes me a wee while. By the time I finish, it's pitch black and cold. And temperatures will continue drop below 0°C. Glad I have my warmer sleeping bag with me this time. After cooking some broccoli I slip into my sleeping bag. Something I was looking forward to as well. Finally time to relax. I spend the following hour reading a few pages of the book "Alert" I started yesterday. It's well written and so far incredibly captivating.
Now it's blog writing time, followed by some more food. Havre gryn, or porridge, is on the menu. Not that I am still hungry but I have to make space. So typical me...
Langdal Shelter to Aggersund Shelter
After yesterday's sunny day, a grey, dull day with on and off drizzle is awaiting me. Because of this not overly inviting weather as well as some well needed regeneration, I decide to keep my walk short today and tomorrow. Hence, there's no need for another early start and I leave my shelter during dawn. Opting for a short day usually keeps my motivation low. No difference today. So I don't mind it's a simple walk. Road and cycle paths all the way, easy navigation. Finally, for the first time, the wind is not affecting me any more. At least not until I cross the bridge over Limfjorden, where I get hammered by horizontal drizzle. It's only for a couple of minutes though and shortly after I check in at shelter number five. My watch says 13:13. Sound early but considering it will be dark in 3 hours it's nice to finally have some time to just relax, read and enjoy a hot cuppa tea with daylight. The last couple of days have mostly been hike - eat - sleep - repeat (and write the blog of course ;). Not that I mind but every now and then it's good to change this habit.
So what's my first impression of Denmark after leaving the beach? Considering winter is just around the corner and in combination with the dull weather everything sure looks depressing. However, I guess most countries do in this setting. Still, the landscape consisting of pine tree plantations, wetlands and plenty of farmland has the potential to look attractive. As the weather should improve again shortly, I am therefore looking forward to hiking through and enjoying the scenery in sunshine.
For the people: well, anyone but me seems to be out and about in this weather. So far, I haven't had a single conversation (of more than 3 words) with a person from Denmark as there is simply no one to talk to.
Doesn't bother me (yet ;). Sometimes I enjoy these quite times, too. Enough talking when I am back home again.
Kajholm Shelter to Langdal Shelter
A stormy night, poor sleep. So it doesn't really annoy when the alarm goes off at 04:00. I'm already wide awake anyway.
The moon is shining brightly, making wayfinding through the forest and back to the road a piece of cake. I follow the road for a couple of kilometers back to the beach for another night of beach hiking. Or that was the plan at least.
The closer I get to the beach, the stronger the wind. Once I get to the beach access ramp, I notice the sea coming all the way up to the dunes/cliff. Even though the tide is going out, following the beach would be a bit of a suicidal mission. So I go for the safe option and follow the road, for 15 kilometers running more or less parallel, a couple of kilometers inland.
By the time I get to the beach, the sun has risen. With the tide completely out, walking on the hard, wide beach is easy - if it wasn't for the strong 40 to 50 knots wind (80 to 90 km/h), which is slowly changing from a cross into a head wind. Still, I am feeling much more energetic than yesterday. Slowly, I think, I am getting back into the Thru-hiking routine.
The last 5 kilometers where a real struggle though. The breeze stiffer than ever and the sand getting soft, I have to force myself to keep going, as I am unable to exit the beach due to a stupid military firing range. Exhausted (but also somehow happy) I am finally turning my back to the sea, heading inland. 100 kilometers of beach walking. Remote, wild, beautiful and challenging. A bit like 90 Miles Beach on Te Araroa. I'll definitively remember the last 3 days for a while.
Heading inland means I finally can enjoy a bit of tailwind. Amazing what an impact the wind direction has. Still, despite the wind pushing me towards my shelter, I start feeling tired. Therefore, I am relieved to spot my shelter in a pine forest plantation. Simple but a dry roof over my head. I can't ask for more.
Østerklit Shelter to Kajholm Shelter
I went to bed early last night so by 4:30 this morning I am already wide awake. Not a bad thing as I have a long day ahead of me. Packing goes much better than yesterday so by 05:00 I hit the beach. For the first time on a through hike, I hike along a beach during night time. It feels special, a bit eerie even at first with the dunes on my left, the sea on my right. I can't really make out neither of them in the dark. Two river crossings add a bit of spice. One seems to tricky to ford at night and I decide to head inland, where there luckily is a bridge not too far away.
Eventually, dawn arrives. Shortly after I pass through the depressingly looking town of Hirtshals - not without getting lost...
Then it's back to the beach. Rain starts, getting heavier towards noon. In combination with the constant wind a pain. My mood reaches today's low. Was it really a wise decision to continue E1 in November?
Anyway, let's not think too much about it. It only makes it worse. Eventually I have to leave the beach as the government is desperately trying to stop erosion and save houses by putting massive rocks on the beach. They look terrible but I hope it helps at least.
After passing Lonstrup, the dunes are getting higher - huge! They remind me of the Giant Sand Dunes in New Zealand. It's a beautiful walk. The rain stopped, leaving only the wind. Which nearly blows me away on the dunes. Doesn't matter, if I fall, I land softly. I thoroughly enjoy my time in the dunes. Definitely a mood booster!
From the dunes it's only a short walk to my overnight place - a shelter in a pine forest.
A long day - especially since it was mostly beach walking, which I find hard on my body. Time to relax and recover for tomorrow.
Grenen to Østerklit Shelter
Distance: 30km (plus 10km to the trailhead)
8 hours sleep without waking up one single time. I must have been extremely tired yesterday.
Well rested I get ready for my day. It's taking me a bit longer than usual. Out of practice.
Eventually, I set off into the night, initially back the same way I arrived from yesterday. Then through the sleepy town of Skagen and onwards to Grenen, which more or less marks Denmarks's northernmost point. By the time I get there, the sky has gotten brighter. It's so windy and rainy, I keep the compulsory photo session as short as possible.
Once done, I hit the beach. Deserted, as expected. Plenty of birds and some seals.
I follow the coast for the rest of the day. A typical beach walk. Sometimes sandy, sometimes pebbly (not that often luckily), sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. Only the wind remains. Not with rain anymore but with sun. A welcome change.
With around 8 hours of daylight, there's not much room. So I keep on walking more or less without a break.
As I get closer to my shelter, I want to make a short detour via a small village/campground to fill up my water bottles. However, with toilets locked and all the water tabs in the campground turned off for winter, I continue - knowing that it will be a dry camp, no cooking, tonight.
The camp or shelter, which I reach with sunset (at 16:00) are beautifully located at the edge of a pine forest, overlooking a wide field, an ancient mill and the sea behind. Out of curiosity I check out the mill. Light is burning inside so I try to open door. Unlocked. I venture into the mill. I don't care too much about the milling stuff but rather am delighted to find a toilet and running water. No dry camp tonight at last.
Still, I need to be more careful with the water. At least as long as I follow the beach, which I will do for another two days.
But for now, I'm looking forward to my warm porridge, steaming nicely right next to me.
22 hours, 6 different trains. It's been an exhausting journey. Hence I will keep it short and sweet today.
Yes, it was long trip but luckily all trains were never really busy, especially as I got further north.
Speaking of the north: Skagen is on approximately the same latitude as Göteborg, which lies a couple of kilometers to my east. I never really realized how far north I'd resume my hike until today. It took me 7 hours from the German border up to the top of Denmark and the intercity trains weren't exactly slow.
Quite a distance to walk back. I roughly measured 500 to 600 kilometers while killing time in the train. It will take me a wee while.
But let me worry about it tomorrow. Today, I am happy to have found my shelter in the middle of a pitch black forest.
Being so far north, the days are short. It gets bright at 8am, dark at 4pm. So once I finally step out of the last train at 5pm, I step right into darkness.
While my mood and motivation in the train were, like last summer in Norway, low, they immediately get a boost once I spot the shelter (GPS saved my day ;) as it brings back many good summer memories.
It's only 7:15pm but I am already fully ready to sleep. The journey surely has taken its toll. No more trains tomorrow. I sure won't miss them but might dream of them tonight.
When I finished section two of my E1 adventure in Smygehuk last September, I was certain that I wouldn't be back in Scandinavia until next summer to resume my hike.
Well, at that point I didn't know that my boss would come around the corner a couple of weeks later, and force me to get rid of my remaining overtime (which I was hoping to use for next year).
As any discussion is pointless I start tweaking our shift plan to get some days off. Luckily there's a lot of slack in it, allowing me to take a couple of days off in a row.
This poses the question: what should I do with my unexpected free time?
I fire up Google, searching for things or rather trails to do. I stumble across El Camino de Costa Rica, GR131 on the Canary Island, the Fishermen Trail in Portugal. While they certainly sound interesting, none of them completely convince me. And it's a bit like shopping for a new jacket: if you look at it in the store and are not convinced it's perfect, don't pull the trigger. You will hardly ever wear it. Or in my case I probably wouldn't enjoy the trip or hike as much as I'd hope.
So I keep on looking for other options until I come up with the idea to continue E1 in Denmark. Scandinavia in November? I quickly reject the thought. Too cold, too wet. But when my dad Fredy comes up with the same idea, I give it a second thought.
Yes, it's probably cold, yes, it's probably gonna rain more often than not. But then again, Denmark has a dense network of vindskydds (or shelterplads as they call them), which would offer me a dry place to sleep most of the time. And it's flat, easy walking. While bad weather might not be super pleasant to walk in, it shouldn't delay me too much.
And most important thing: continuing E1 would be something meaningful, purposefull. Something the other options were lacking. The idea to head to Denmark is growing on me quickly and starts making perfect sense.
Without dwelling on the subject for much longer, I buy a surprisingly affordable train ticket. All the way to Skagen, Denmark's northernmost town.
As the departure day is less than a week away, I can't afford to waste too much time and start planning and organizing more or less straight away.
As I am not following E1 straight from the start I need to plot a route. Luckily, I soon discover there are existing trails already and all I have to do is somehow connect them.
The route I come up with initially takes me along the North Sea Trail and the west coast before I join the Hærvejen or Ox Road, which leads away from the coast and will reunite me with E1 somewhere halfway between Skagen and the German border.
Resupply is straight forward as should be wayfinding and navigation in general.
Fast forward... Writing these lines I'm sitting in a intercity overnight train, somewhere between Zürich and Hamburg. A 12 hour ride. Plenty of time to finish up my preparation. However, there's really not much to plan or do anymore once I have finished this blog entry. I'll try to get some sleep even though I'm not overly optimistic that will work. Luckily I have a book lying next to me, ready to be read.
In Hamburg, I will have an hour to stretch my legs before I hop into another train for another 10 hours. ETA in Skagen: 1700 tomorrow evening.
It's a lot of sitting indeed. But all that sitting around will certainly guarantee a highly motivated me to hit the trail on Wednesday.
55 days, a bit more than 2000 kilometers. All in sandals once more. That is section two of my E1 adventure in a nutshell. Distance wise more, time wise less than I was expecting.
How come? Well, while the first three weeks are basically a continuation from last year, with plenty of pathless sections in rather mountainous terrain. At times navigation is challenging, especially during adverse weather conditions. Progress is good but 40 to 50 kilometer days are not really possible. The terrain soon gets flatter, completely different. The skiing town of Sälen, in fact, marks that very clear border, where I dive from mountains into the forest. Gone are the sweeping views, the river crossings, the exposure to the elements. The change is sudden. It takes me a while to get I used to the different environment.
More road walk follows, my pace as a result getting higher, I don't need to take anymore rest days. Walking in the forest becomes like a blur. I can't recall each single day. They all are simply too similar. The vindskydds, a wonderful discovery, are becoming the highlight and motivation of my days. Usually located near a lake, I spend many night in them. Sheltered from the elements. I love them, have them mostly for myself.
Without really noticing it, I am approaching Halmstad with big steps. It's only after Göteborg, still hiking in the forest, when I realize that I am actually really close to the finishing line. I don't feel like finishing though. It just doesn't feel right. If I finish now, all I remember is forest. And the location of Halmstad is bugging me a bit too. Somewhere along the coast. Nothing special about it.
But what can I do? Continuing south? I've got the time, I've got the energy. However, I just have to leave the forest, the ticks as soon as possible. So heading down south in the middle of Sweden is not sounding appealing at all as it's mostly through forest. It's only when I meet Julia, who draws my attention to Skåneleden, a coastal trail starting just south of Halmstad and following the coast for roughly 300 kilometers all the way to the south.
The discovery of the trail makes the decision to continue easy. It would add an additional element to my hike: the coast, something that I, as a landlocked Swiss, love. And it does not disappoint: Open views, plenty of beaches and seaside towns in warm late summer weather on nice trails are accompanying on my last week along the coast. It were these things I was missing and so, as getting closer to Smygehuk, I start feeling ready to finish this summer's hike at Sweden's southernmost point, where I arrive at exactly 100 trail days after starting in Nordkapp in 2020.
Having crossed the Scandinavian peninsula all the way from top to bottom feels great, better or how should I say, a bit more epic than crossing it from Nordkapp to Halmstad as I initially planned.
Yes, there was a lot of forest. Yes, there was a lot of road. While plenty of stretches might not have been as spectacular (or, let's be honest, as boring) as part one up there in the far north, it has still been a wonderful journey. Mostly great, warm weather, plenty of lakes to swim in, the fishing villages and beaches. And the vindskydds too, my personal highlights. And of course the locals, which were always friendly and helpful and sometimes went out of their way to assist me. It's the people that give my hike that special extra. In Norway as well as Sweden.
Speaking of these countries: which one do I prefer (I'm don't put Finland into this evaluation as I only spent 3 days hiking there)?
It's clearly Norway. It set the expectations for Sweden so high, leaving Sweden with basically no chance. On the one hand it's the open, more breathtaking landscape. The midnight sun. The clear, blue lakes, whos water you can drink with no need to worry. Towns and road are few and far between, which lead to that wonderful feeling of remoteness - solitude (out of 3500km I walked 3490 by myself as there wasn't anyone to hike with). A feeling that I somehow lost in the Swedish forests. I had to be careful that it didn't turn into loneliness. There were more people but at times I found it hard to connect with them. Something I never encountered in Norway, where I consider the people as more open. Many times I was told that people in the north are open, friendlier. And I can definitely agree.
So what now? Good question! It's been roughly a week since I arrived in Smygehuk. I teamed up with Julia and continued on Skåneleden for 80 kilometers. It felt good to walk with some company. Now I'm on my way north again. The Koster Islands to be precise. I spotted it on the map during one of these long, bright nights up north and I thought I have to visit them. It's the only thing I planned on doing after my hike. Everything else, I will simply let it happen. I will see where my travels take me until I have to return to Switzerland in early October.
Last but not least some stats for the first 100 days to be taken with a grain of salt:
Torup to Smygehuk
Saxtopsdammen to Torup
Rydebäck to Saxtopsdammen
Josefinelust to Rydebäck
Torekov to Josefinelust
Trönninge Beach to Torekov
Vessigebro to Trönninge Beach
Despite being in the middle of the town, surrounded by lights, which for no obvious reason would stay on the whole night, I sleep rather well.
It's a chilly morning though and I decide to get changed in the nicely heated toilet/shower. With first light I leave Vessigebro. Initially along Hallandsleden along a farm track, before leaving it direction Halmstad. Road walk all the way through. The first 20 kilometers are on surprisingly scenic back roads with not too much traffic. I walk it non stop. Only before reaching the highway E6 (the same E6, where I started my E1 on at Nordkapp) I have a quick break. Luckily, the shoulder to walk on is very generous, making it an okay walk. Thinking of the sea my motivation this afternoon. Eventually, I leave the highway again and follow back roads into Halmstad. A busy city. Larger than I was expecting it to be. Until very recently my planned end of E1 in Sweden.
Plans changed though. Luckily. Halmstad wouldn't have been a worthy ending. Located halfway between Göteborg and Malmö. Nothing too exciting about its location. And I don't feel like finishing either. It feels like something is odd, missing. After mountains and the forest I'm craving for the coast. And it's right here, here in Halmstad. With time and weather on my side, I see nothing against continuing. Especially, since there is a coastal trail called Skåneleden, starting just 30 kilometers south of Halmstad and going all the way down to Malmö.
So I dart right through the town. Takes me two long hours until I reach the other end. From there though it's not far to the sea anymore. With more than 50 kilometers in my legs and a close call with a cyclist (I completely blame it on me) I pitch my tent at the basically first contact with the see. Seems to be a popular spot with the locals, despite the motorway being clearly audible in the background. Yet, it's a lovely place with a great view up and down the coast.
Me a happy camper? Honestly? Not as much as I thought I would be.
I guess I still need a couple of hours to realize that I have finally made it to the sea. Something I was daydreaming about for a long time. Probably I am just too exhausted from my day.
Tomorrow, I am quite sure, I will wake up with a big grin on my face, full of fresh energy and motivation to explore Sweden's west coast.
Gällarpesjön to Vessigebro
Stora Hornsjön to Gällarpesjön
Hjälm to Stora Hornsjön
Norra Langvattnet to Hjälm
After lots of talking until late last night, I take it slowly this morning. Julia is ready at roughly the same time and as we're headed in the same direction we join up for the morning.
The nice company and the generally refreshingly diverse Bohusleden, which we are following make the time fly. Julia is making a short day and after 3 hours it's time to say goodbye. Even though the hike together was short, I enjoyed it and gave me some well needed motivation.
Bohusleden eventually turns into Hallandsleden. Less traveled, not as well defined as Bohusleden at times but still clearly marked. This time in blue and orange. Forest gives way to farmland as I am approaching Hjälm vindskydd.
Plenty of firewood. It's going to be a good evening in front of the fire.
An evening with a lot of planning. To Halmstad and further. Julia told me about Skåneleden, which is following down the coast to Malmö. Since I love coastal walks, it caught my attention and I obviously had to google it. Immediately, it makes sense to continue or extend my hike southbound.
Roughly an additional 250 kilometers. With a promising weather forecast, I most probably will give it a shot.