To get away from the craziness that has spread across the globe in a matter of weeks, and to retrieve whatever measure of calm and serenity I could, I decided to make the most of a two-week vacation (that I was supposed to spend hiking a portion of the PCT) on a hiking trail in the Black Forest. I really don’t know anymore if I want to classify a 110km/ 66mi long trail as long-distance, because it just feels like such an attainable goal for me now.
But it is classified as a long-distance hike and a “Qualitätsweg wanderbares Deutschland”, a sort of quality stamp awarded to trails that fit vertain criteria, so I guess I’ll go with it and declare that I thru-hiked a long-distance trail during the 2020 pandemic…(adhering to the social distancing regulations, pretty much spending 5 days in the woods avoiding people as much as I could).
I left my house at 6am and drove for about three and a half hours to the start of my hike – Waldkirch, a small town nestled in between mountains, where I was able to leave my car and start this adventure off with an immediate climb up to one of the tallest mountains in the Black Forest region in southwestern Germany, the Kandel, which stands at just above 1.200m/4,000ft and is easily recognizable because of its bald peak and almost perfect triangular shape. I had walked up to its peak before and remembered how beautiful it was in this area. It was a moderate climb, just strenuous enough to get my heart racing. I climbed for about 3 hours to reach my first milestone, Thomashütte, a small wooden hut perched on top of a rock that offered amazing views of Waldkirch and the Rhine valley. I always love that moment when you look back to where you came from that day and can appreciate how much can be accomplished in just a short while. You are always capable of doing more than you think, in the end, it’s a mental game, not a physical one…
Especially when you know there’s something waiting for you at the end of that long uphill climb, or someONE, as it were 😀 I was lucky to have a wonderful friend coming out to meet me at the hut, bringing some water and snacks, as well as her wonderful company, of course. I hadn’t seen her in over a year and it was wonderful to catch up. I feel so lucky having friendships where you don’t have to question your affection for one another and it doesn’t matter if weeks go by without the necessity of constant chatter….you just pick up where you left off, as if time and distance in between meetings didn’t even happen. We spent a good hour just lounging around in the sun, chatting and enjoying the view, with the occasional group of people walking by, some quiet, some obnoxious.
After a while we decided to keep on moving up the trail and it was nice having some company for a short stretch, the last uphill climb to the top of Kandel. There’s not much up there except a huge parking lot and a hotel (which is closed now of course) – and functioning bathrooms….always a nice treat when you’re out adventuring. There was a small truck selling food and drinks, but I didn’t buy anything….gotta eat that food weight, otherwise your pack will never get any lighter.
As the evening progressed all of the people crowded around the fire and on the benches close by gradually went home. I made some dinner, journaled, looked at what the trail would bring the next day and when it got too cold to sit outside (and the fire went out) I snuggled up in my fluffy quilt and went to sleep. I felt right back at home, doing what I do best, letting the world and its crazyness pass by on its own.
Tomorrow will be a lot more uphill, and also a lot of descent…Keeping you posted,,,