Hiking report

Hiking at Bochum!

Today, we had only about 20 min between the meeting time and the departure of the train. As I got up late in the morning (because there was Jen who stayed at my place who got up late), I arrived right before the train departure. Just as last week, people got organized themselves.

I still remember the hard day we had at Bielefeld, when we went to the Externsteine. It was a great hike, but it doesn’t have to happen every time. This was mainly the reason that we went to Bochum today. Bochum has exactly one subway line, which goes towards the university. So we did not have to go very far from the city center to start hiking. On the other hand, you might know that most of the students that join us for the hikes are from Bochum, i.e. we did not have so many tickets today. Fortunately we had enough tickets, maybe one or two more than required.

Just like last week, the weather was quite good, even though it was cold. Maybe the temperature doesn’t matter so much, as long as the weather is okay.

Actually I had a different route for Bochum, which I replaced by that of Clara, because she lives in Bochum and she apparently cycles or walks around quite often. For some reason, she didn’t want to join us though, maybe because she’s moving to Darmstadt soon and she’s also mentally busy.

And appropriately enough, I missed the route very often today. Every 30 minutes or so we were walking nowhere. So weird whereas the route looks quite simple.

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you might know that I was in Greece in September for a conference, where I hiked with one my colleagues, Visnawadh. He brought another guy from the institute, Srinivas, who works in the same field (medium manganese steels) as I do, although his work is fully experimental and mine is fully theoretical. I’m not going to describe why medium manganese steels are so interesting, but this is something people (especially industry) are extremely interested in. Both from the theoretical and experimental point of view, manganese is something really difficult to treat, because of its high evaporation pressure value (i.e. manganese may simply disappear in the air) for the experiments and its magnetic instability for the theory. Our conversation flourished. And in the end, I managed to make an appointment where he’s going to show his experimental installation to me and my Ph.D student. And actually this is the first time that I’m going to see what experimentalists really do.

When we arrived at the Baldeney see, which is part of the Ruhr river, there was one restaurant, where the owner allowed us to sit and eat our own stuff, whereas we also ordered small stuff like coffee or tea. After all, we were still something like 30 people and there was no one at the restaurant. It makes more sense for them to allow us to sit there even if we have our own stuff to eat (which was probably what they though considering their attitude…)

It would have been certainly boring to walk along the river in summer, but today I had the feeling that walking itself is something special in winter, which was probably the reason why I still enjoyed the moment. And I’m pretty sure that many of us felt the same, because I was getting much more people interested in the movie sessions of next week. This is something a bit weird about the winter hike, or maybe it exactly corresponds to the human instinct: people get much closer than in summer. For me, regarding the new acquaintance, summer was like vacuum. I did get in touch with new people, but it was somehow different. Now, after so many sessions, I’m getting the feeling that we’re real friends.

After the hike, we went to the city center, because the Christmas market started last week. Then, we found out that today it was the “dead Sunday” (whatever it means) and it was closed. Well, fortunately we were in Bochum, and it was quite easy to find an ice cream parlour nearby, where we could sit together inside. We effectively chased away the customers who were already inside, something that’s actually not so nice in Germany, but with the Italian people it’s apparently possible.

40. Does the number ring a bell? 40 is the number of hikes we did so far. It looks like I’ll really be able to organize 100 hikes before I leave Düsseldorf (which will be end of June 2019). I realized this fact after the hike, when I started the number of hikes we did. So there was nothing special today, but I just want to write what came to my mind when I was talking with others today.

As many of you already know, I have a flatmate, Alfredo (and his girlfriend, Karina), who actually almost never appears at the hike. People every now and then wonder why he never joins us. Well, the reason is clear: it’s too early for him to wake up. He’s certainly not someone people associate these hikes with.

Alfredo was one of the first people I met here in Düsseldorf. At that time, we lived in a different place, but we were also flatmates there. And from the very beginning, which was the beginning of this year, I was motivated to organize hikes. At the same time, I was not really sure about it myself, because “organizing an event” appeared to me like a huge undertaking, until I met Adrián, who was my flatmate in Lyon. He implicitly taught it to me. When I came here, I wanted to do the same. Yet, I’m not Adrián. And Düsseldorf is not Lyon.

The very reason of organizing it myself instead of simply waiting for someone to do so was related to what I dream of, namely, what I call “self-consistent democracy”, in which the leader exists only from the point of view of efficiency. The idea is, it’s not up to the leader to decide what to do and people agree or disagree, but people themselves decide where to go. The hikes are the place to simulate such a system. Indeed, people sometimes get confused when they find out that it’s not up to me to decide what to do. But more and more people agree with the idea and we already have so many people now.

With this ideal in mind, I put my first hiking event on couch surfing in February 2017. And there was — one person. Now, looking back on that moment, I can say that it was only the beginning, but at that time I was truly not sure whether there would every be more people interested. So, I was about to cancel the event altogether. After all, I wasn’t even sure if this one person would come.

Probably I would have done that, if Alfredo (and Théo, who was also in the same flat) didn’t say they would come with us. With them, we were four. And the hike, which was in the snow, was a great moment.

Still after this great hike, I was not sure if I wanted to continue organizing the event, especially if it was only to see that there would be again only one person. Then there were again Alfredo and Théo, who assured me, that they would join us for the second session too. From that time on, the group grew significantly. Now, with hundreds of people already having participated in the hikes, the decision was indeed right.

Yes, I did doubt, but then Alfredo supported me. After the honourable 40th session, I still vividly feel the importance of Alfredo in the still ongoing hikes.

Today’s trail can be downloaded from this page (kml-format) or this page (gpx-format)