So I’ve had these coupons laying around….for the last 2 years 😂 and since I won’t be in Germany for the second half of 2018 and they’ll expire by the end of the year I needed to get around to using them….like NOW.
The coupons are from MYDAYS, an online platform where you can choose from various experiences, from a candle-light dinner to offroading in a tank. I chose the middle ground by selecting an Outdoor Survival Day.
The registration was easy and I got my confirmation by email pretty quickly. The event was held by a company called simply outdoor and took place in an area around Burg Prunn, close to Riedenburg in Bavaria, Germany on May 26, 2018.
So on Saturday morning, after having breakfast and catching up with J, one of my oldest friends (not old as in age, but old as in I’ve known her foooreeeeever) I drove a little over an hour to the designated location. I got there a bit early, so I still had time to use the bathroom at the restaurant at Burg Prunn – very advisable, since the next ‘real bathroom’ would be several hours away.
I have to admit, my expectations were VERY low….I think of myself as being pretty advanced concering outdoor stuff, having spent some weeks roughing it on various trails around the world. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by what the day held in store for me.
The event started at 11 am (and it was already pretty hot) with an introduction by our guides (Stefan and Ramona – hey guys 😁) and an overview of what was to come. Navigation to three different points in the surrounding area, where various tasks were awaiting completion.
There was a total of around 15 people – two women, including me – and we were split up into groups of about 4 people. Since most of the attendees were staying overnight, my group was put together by default – we had all booked the day event without the option of the overnighter.
My partners in crime were the only other woman, D. (yay for outdoor sisterhood 😉), and two guys C. and H. which were all really cool and easy to get along with. The whole day would have been much less fun without you three – it was a unique pleasure to traips around the wilderness with you.
After the introductions we received a short introduction to reading maps and handling a compass, from finding true north, to finding your bearings using degrees. After about 10 minutes, we were let loose with a booklet containing two small area maps and instructions.
The first set of instructions pretty much read like this (not the actual instructions, but you get the point):
Parking lot – 120° – 290m
Woods – 56° – 450m
Path crossing – 80° – 150m
Rock formation – destination
our combined amazingness sheer dumb luck, we made it to the first destination without getting lost in the woods, first heading straight across a meadow and then trying to count steps and making a turn at some randomly chosen point. But we did make it, and were the first team to get there (as intended). What i saw when i got there kind of made my stomach drop out….a sheer rock cliff, pretty high up….and a rope dangling over the edge 😲. All in all, not a good sign….but oh well, we were all here to challenge ourselves, right?
The first activity it turns out was going to be rapelling. We each got a helmet and a harness and a choice – to go down assisted, or unassisted. The others went down before me, I meanwhile took about a millin pictures and gave my nerves the chance to calm down. By the time it was my turn, i was pretty confident and walked up to the edge to get strapped in with 2 carabiners (one to rappel, one for the safety rope operated by Stefan).
The idea is to stand on the edge, butt facing outward, lean back and allow the rope to slide through your fingers until you’re about L-shaped with your legs horizontal to the cliff. To stop the rope from sliding, you just have to put your right hand (that is holding the rope and feeding it through the harness) behind your butt.
That’s the idea anyway 😅.
I got over the edge okay, and taking small steps while letting the rope slide I made it down, but I just couldn’t uncramp my fingers. It always felt like the rope was tugging and I couldn’t stop it from sliding faster and faster, so I clenched harder. Which for someone with NO hand strength was pretty exhausting….and painful. I had to yell up to Stefan twice, asking him to ‘lock’ the security rope – basically leaving me hanging halfway up a cliff – just so I could relax my hand for a moment.
It felt like an eternity, but was probably no more than a few minutes, when my feet touched solid ground and I could give my poor hand a rest (trying to unclench it from its vice-like grip on the rope). H. was nice enough to help me get out of the harness and we sent the equipment back up to Stefan with the rope I was hanging off of just a few moments ago. H. was also nice enough to share a picture he took of me, hanging halfway up the cliff:
D. was even brave enough to scramble around the rocks and go down a second time. Not gonna happen for me, I was happy to reach solid ground unscathed even one time.
After this little adventure we followed the second set of instructions, down to a river, across a bridge and into a wooded area with a few more rock formations. We missed the intended track (actually, we went up it at first and then decided it was the wrong one and turned around – yeah I know, stellar decision-making there 😅). We walked up a different path and after a while decided to just head straight up the hill, to find the intended destination.
One more instance of dumb luck later, we reached the second checkpoint, again as the first team, and proceeded to build a water filter out of cut up plastic bottles, charcoal and sand. Did you know that this is an effective way to filter out most of the harmful stuff? Just make sure that the drip is very slow and that you filter the water several times (and possibly boil it as well afterwards). This method of course takes time, so it is a chore for camp – good thing you’ll most likely have charcoal from a nice cozy fire left over anyway.
The last stretch of orienteering took us back into the woods, but we kind of made a bad decision….we headed straight up a hill again instead of going around it, which led to bushwacking and scrambling….and lots of laughs.
By the time we made it to the last meeting point Ramona was already trying to find us, because we were so late…
The next challenge consisted of building a raft to float our stuff across the river safely. It didn’t take long with wood poles and ropes already provided and the swim across the river was actually quite refreshing after running around the woods for the last hours, getting all sweaty.
Getting the raft out of the water and carrying it a short while we reached the camp where a nice fire was already burning. Our stuff stayed dry as intended, affording us the opportunity to change back into regular clothes.
Some more information was provided by Stefan, about necessary or recommended gear in outdoor settings, as well as the opportunity for any kind of question regarding survival situations.
While the others built their shelters for the night, I helped prepare for dinner by slicing tomatos, onions, garlic and lemons, the filling for our last challenge.
Ramona had picked out living trout from a nearby fish farm and we had to prepare them for dinner. Which is a nice way of saying we whacked them over the head, slit their throat and belly, scooped out their insides and washed them. I know it sounds barbaric, but that’s how you eat. And they were DELICIOUS.
I had mine filled with loads of garlic, surrounded by lemon, onion and tomato slices, grilled over the coals for about 15 minutes on each side, soooo goooood. Our guides also made some quick bread (I’d say bannocks, but I’m not sure – any Scot here to confirm?) out of water, flour and salt and it was cooked in the still-hot ashes of the fire. it was really yummy, and so simple to prepare.
It’s always amazing how great food tastes if you’re sitting around a fire in good company. Especially with a beer 😉 .
At around 8pm Ramona gave us a ride back to our cars and we took a team picture before heading back to our respective homes. It was a day filled with so many experiences and challenges and has been really rewarding for me.
I got to spend time with some really amazing people and push myself to do things I’ve never done before.
I can highly recommend booking this event if you’re interested in all things outdoors, it’s so much fun.
And I finally figured out how to use a compass… 😅
Until next time…keeping you posted…
(I paid for this experience myself and did not receive any compensation for writing this revew – all opinion presented is my own)