I had met Gerald aka Wildniswanderer on a German outdoor internet forum. He had found my blog and contacted me via email when he realised that I was in Germany earlier this year. And after a couple of phone calls and a lot of help from his side to prepare my route I was very eager to meet him - especially since he is living very close to my hiking route. Gerald has done a lot of wilderness trekking and rafting trips to rain forests all over the world. And he is working as a forrester. We would have a lot of topics to talk about!
By coincidence I ended up in the Marburg area on a weekend and Gerald picked me up from the trail. With his help my resupply shopping in Marburg was so easy and I collected all the repair stuff for the parts I had broken in the previous weeks. He event treated me to a great Chinese AYCE buffet in Marburg. We then drove to his place which is a real forrester house. This was going to be my first real rest day in three weeks and I was really looking forward to it. And I had warned Gerald that I did not intend to do much walking on my precious rest day....
With Gerald being a forrester I had a lot of questions about our German forest. We made little trips into his forest and he explained very patiently what all those signs on the trees really meant. What had looked like Kabbala signs to me before all made sense now. I learned in which way trees are marked for felling or for special preservation treatment. I learned about the different trees and animals in the forest and Gerald pointed out a lot of rare birds and plants. We even saw a huge eagle owl and a black woodpecker! Most surprising for me was to find out why some trees have dirt and mud at the bottom of their trunk: When wild pigs are bathing in nearby mudpools they scrub their skin against the trees afterwards and leave those marks. ("Was kuemmert es eine deutsche Eiche wenn eine Sau sich an ihr kratzt....") And the little depressions in the forest floor without leave cover are sleeping places for deer. I must have asked about 5 million questions and Gerald gave me a crash course in forrestry. And my one rest day turned into two rest days which I had desperately needed.
But today I left refreshed without any aching feet or knees and will tackle the next part of my long trek across Western Europe.