Frankenalb Panoramaweg – Panorama hike through the franconian hills

Time is a curious thing, sometimes it seems to fly, sometimes a moment feels like forever. And it’s the one thing that however much we try, we will never be able to influence the passage of time.

It’s been a few months since I’ve even thought about this page, let alone writing something insightful or entertaining, for whoever out there might still be reading my musings. Life has somehow gotten in the way and I’ve been otherwise occupied. As much as the world has been brought to a standstill in this global pandemic, hiking is one of the few activities unaffected by this annoying virus – except for location concerns.

So I’ve been mostly exploring my local trails, staying close to home, while stil trying to get out into nature and away from everything. One loop trail that is close to my home is the roughly km/30mi ‘Frankenalb Panoramaweg’. Located about 45 min east or Nuremberg it’s easily accessible and still in parts vaguely remote.

I didn’t start at the actual starting point (Lichtenegg) but rather left my car at one spot, walking to my parents house for an overnight stay, picking up the trail on the next day, returning to my car. Since it’s a loop, it really doesn’t matter where you decide to hop on it.

Day 1: Kucha – above Förrenbach (approx. 14.5km)

I got a late start, because OF COURSE, just as I was about to turn off my work laptop, my boss URGENTLY needed something….Murphy’s law. But I did manage to grab my headlamp and start walking just before 4pm with a little over 2 hours of daylight left. I’m lucky enough to have friends and family in the area, so I was able to leave my car in a safe spot and get back to it the next day.

The path started in the middle of the village, quickly climbing up over fields and through patches of wood, nothing spectaculat, but diverse enough to never get boring. The walking came easy, it just felt so good to get outside and get moving, even if the path led through various small settlements and on pavement for more time than I usually like. Some ups, some downs, some steep, some gentle, always moving along with the setting sun.

I made it up one pretty steep (but thankfully short) climb just as it went full dark. Getting out my headlamp I had some trouble finding the path on the other side of some open area, but quickly adjusted and tackled the last descent. I actually enjoy hiking in the dark a lot, especially through the woods when I feel like I’m the only humanoid moving through the realm of the forest creatures. I usually walk without a headlamp, because the moon is almost always bright enough to see where you’re going….just trusting your feet and your instincts.

I made it down the descent and immediately climbed back up the other side of the valley, just as steep, not quite as far up. At the point where the trail met itself I veered off towards another little village, getting to my parents’ house for a well-deserved dinner around 8pm.

Day 2: Happurg – Kucha (approx. 25km)

Feeling rested the next morning and just a tiny bit sore, my mom gave me a ride to Happurg, another random point on the trail, to start the second day of my hike, And what a start it was….the path immediately climbed up, out of the valley towards the top of Deckersberg hill, where the water reservoir used to be for the power plant in Happurg. The woods were beautiful this early in the morning, the sunlight streaming and slanting, making everything more vibrant and just feel so … alive. There were a few people out walking around the water reservoir, getting some exercise and enjoying the first real day of Spring.

I continued on, over fields, through woods, along roads and through villages. Nothing really spectacular again, but it just felt nice to walk, to move, to make progress. One nice feature was the natural water funnel that the path crosses, giving you access to some much needed water and a soothing soundtrack while taking a break.

I made it back to my car by 5pm, driving back to my parents’ house for another night, so I was set up properly to finish the trail on the next day.

Day 3: Lichtenegg – Happurg (approx. 15km)

It got cold in the night, the fog was slow to lift in the morning. With ice on the ground I started on my final day for this hike, covering the remaining 15km of the trail with relative ease. there were a few climbs thrown in (because OF COURSE) but the scenery was so amazing I didn’t mind. This stretch is easily the most beautiful, with gnarly trees, towering rock formations and a soft cover of leaves underfoot.

It’s also the busiest and most popular section of the trail, and it being Sunday, the crowds were out in force. Especially in the last few stretches, I saw as many people in a few km as I encountered all of last year while hiking. It made for a pretty jarring contrast to the relative solitude of the prior days and kinda sent my mood into the shitter, to be honest.

But it was nice to finish the trail with a walk along the lakeshore – even though you had to dodge SO MANY PEOPLE – and it felt like an accomplishment to complete another hiking trail, albeit a small one.

I don’t know how y’all are getting on, but this ongoing global halt due to the pandemic is starting to really mess with my head, my emotions, my motivation….which might be one of the reasons why I just can’t seem to get these posts out more regularly. There’s still stuff happening, trails to be explored, experiences shared, just be patient with me.

Until next time….keeping you posted…

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