Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A hike through Southern Europe: Hunsrück

On my way Southwest I had chosen the most direct hiking trails, a combination of the Hunsrück-Höhenweg and the Ausoniusweg to connect with the Saar-Hunsrück-Steig, a trail that I had already partially hiked last year on my Western European Traverse.

Unfortunately, the trail seems to throw all sorts of obstacles at me to make my start as difficult as possible. I have already mentioned that I am totally out of hiking shape. My leisurely bike trip has been so leisurely that I had not lost any weight leaving me with several kilos overweight fat on my body. I am struggling to do 30 km days.

Construction site at Kastellaun
My first resupply stop was the town of Kastellaun. I was approaching town with an empty stomach when a totally unexpected obstacle appeared: a huge construction site for a new highway cut off my access trail. I could not believe my eyes as this road was not even shown on my recent map print outs. Normally I would have just sneaked across but that was not possible due to two reasons. The new highway was dug deep into a cutting with high and steep slopes on each side. With my acrobatic skills I would have probably hurt myself while climbing down and up. But hungry as I was I would have risked it - if there hadn't been dozens of construction workers who would not have been happy with my expedition. It could not be helped: I had to hike a big detour to cross the cutting on a road bridge. Unfortunately, the construction work was progressing in all directions and I faced the same problem (and detour) when coming back from town on a different access trail.

The Ausoniuspfad did not improve my mood. It follows an old Roman road and is basically dead straight. Unfortunately, a big part of this old road has been transformed into a modern road - and that meant a lot of walking on pavement. At least there were a lot of Roman artefacts to look at along the trail including a whole archaeological park. But disaster struck again soon this time in form of a GPS defect. My GPS had been playing up for quite  a while. It hung itself up without apparent reason. Sometimes it booted up but did not show maps and/or tracks. But now it went totally crazy: a whole track was not displayed any more, the German Ausoniuspfad was now shown on the African Seychelles and the Rheinsteig was now shown as another random trail on my SD card. Of course I had back up SD cards but they did not solve the problem. Even with another SD card the problem persisted. After a similar hiccup at the beginning of my bike trip earlier this year I had the latest version of firmware installed on my GPS so this could not be the problem. I was already deliberating whether I could do this hike without a GPS when I stumbled across the solution. I completely reset the whole device - and it worked properly again! It is still a mystery to me where the misfunction came from but I do hope now that it will function properly for the rest of this trip.

The hardest blow came today and I have no excuse for it other them my own stupidity. I was hiking along the trail when I suddenly stumbled. For whatever unknown reason I could not catch my fall and fell down flat on my face. The terrain had been dead flat and easy and I don't know why I fell - but I feel hard, very hard. And unfortunately I feel straight onto my left knee that has been troubling me for a while now. After the first shock second I just screamed - out of pain and out of frustration. I think I screamed for two minutes before I could evaluate the situation. To tell the truth: it could have been worth. Although I had fallen almost straight onto my face my glasses were still on. No other cuts our injuries other than my left knee. Still lying on the ground I poured some water over the knee to clear off the dirt and assess the damage. The skin was mostly scratched off, but only one deep cut that was bleeding. The worst was getting up. I was praying that I could still walk - and I could. Nothing seemed to be broken or torn. Walking was painful and slow, but doable. I must admit that I wondered whether this is the preliminary end of my hike.

I made it to the next little village that was luckily only one km away. I managed to find the little assembly hall that had open toilets and an electrical outlet to recharge my phone. I cleaned the cuts and bruises and had an extented lunch break deliberating what I should do now. I had a badly bruised knee but I did not think it needed medical attention. I could still walk and hike on. But should I push it? The little village had two guesthouses and I could just have the rest of the day off. And although it felt ridiculous to pay for accommodation that early in the trip I decided to stay and give my body a break. The first guesthouse had a single room for 35 €. I just stumbled under the shower and then collapsed onto the bed. I have not moved away from the bed for 4 hours and my whole body aches. Hopefully it is better tomorrow. The irony is that now when I have time and electricity I don't have any cell phone reception. So no consoling phone calls or surfing the internet.....


Anonymous said...

Hoping very much that your injury is healing and that there are better hiking days ahead. Best wishes!

Carsten said...

should I start to worry about you?
We´re obviously not more than 40 miles apart @ this moment. Never thought I´d be this close to you in my life again, haha.
I will be more than happy to pick u up anywhere from this god-forsaken Hunsrueck anytime, you will have time and space to recover under these city lights. Full board included.
Hint: Berlin, 1990, HdK, CCD gang, I am one of the C, guess who :)))
Call me, and be it just 4 the lulz:

German Tourist said...

of course I remember you! I would have loved to come and stay with you int he god forsaken Hunsrueck but by the time I received your message I am already in France. What a pity! But I will contact you once my hike is over and have at least a long chat. I am very curious what has become of you (and the other ones....)
All the very best,