Day II arrived. I don’t think people really check what kind of trail is ahead of us, but there is a significant difference between the one from yesterday and today’s one: today, I created the trail (and the one from yesterday was simply downloaded somewhere). Well, whether people knew that there was this difference or not, there were anyway a lot more people signing up today. Maybe I should change the strategy and bring an easier hike to Saturday and a difficult one to Sunday, to distribute the participants more evenly.
I was sitting in the DB Lounge this morning (to be more precise I AM actually sitting in the DB Lounge right now writing this text) and could see a range of photos depicting the area that we were about to visit. All of these photos, along with more inside the Lounge, were showing this area called Eifel, which is a famous national park inside North Rhine-Westphalia. When you ask a local in this area, they will certainly say the Eifel is the best place for hiking.
Not so surprising surprise of the day: our train from Düren to Hausen got cancelled, only a few minutes before it was supposed to leave. Just as always, with no explanation. As the connection had already been quite bad, we had to wait in Düren for 1 h 40 min in total. Anyway, as soon as the cancellation was announced, we decided to head to this river called Rur, which has nothing to do with Ruhr, as there was nothing interesting nearby in Düren otherwise.
I thought it was generally forbidden to swim in Germany, but as it turned out, there was a small section of river where we were allowed to swim – although it was actually so shallow that “swim” was anyway not quite the right word. Anyway we spent half an hour there and went back to the train station. This was one of rare cases where I didn’t really mind waiting for the next train.
Just like the first train, the second train was full. Some people were saying “no one cares about the social distancing anymore”. Well, I actually still do. There is a clear difference between “we sit together because we don’t care” and “we sit together because there’s no space elsewhere”. The latter was the case today and there’s still no reason to believe that we shouldn’t care about social distancing anymore when it’s possible to do.
On the way to the starting point, Hausen, we met someone who joined us 3 years ago by chance. As he and his girlfriend were anyway planning to hike in the Eifel, they simply decided to join us. This was the first case that someone on the way spontaneously decided to join us, which I always thought would be possible and had called the “Forrest Gump phenomenon”, where essentially we start hiking and people start following. Finally this happened. Hopefully it’s gonna happen again.
When I was checking the trail, I had the feeling that it was a rather simply beginning. In reality, the slope leading up to the plateau was quite challenging, but at the same time it was also a beautiful forestal path. I have to say I also really liked the fact that the height was completely hidden along the way, as we could get a view over the Rur until we reached the plateau.
On the plateau, we bumped into another person along the way, who used to join us before as well. I wonder whether this is going to happen often in the future, which is rather likely given the number of hikes we’ve already accomplished so far.
It was a good idea to announce beforehand that there was a possibility to go to a nearby café, which didn’t exactly lie on the trail, as I was far behind the group. Here, it’s probably worth mentioning again that we have a new strategy in the last few weeks, namely we simply keep going without making sure that the group is together. We announce this in advance and make sure that there’s a sufficient number of people who download the trail on their phones. But then this strategy has been working so well that instead of claiming that this is a sport activity, which requires social distancing, it might make more sense to claim that there are only groups of 10 people. From the purely legal point of view, it doesn’t matter how often you switch between groups as long as the group has only up to 10 people. So technically, I can belong to a group of 10 people in the first 5 minutes, then switch to a different group in the next 5 minutes and so on. Of course, this idea itself appeared so stupid and ethically wrong to me in the beginning, that I had initially completely dismissed the idea. But now, the fact is that the groups are so far away from each other, that re-mixing can happen maybe only during the break but otherwise the small groups stick together for a significant amount of time. With this in mind, while I still think social distancing should be respected, we can consider this as another layer of safety measure that makes our activity an even more legal one. Of course, people lose the opportunity to talk to many people, but the groups are formed naturally, I don’t think this is going to be an inherent problem in any way.
So, some people obviously went to a café, others stayed on the platform and I went down to the lake. By the way, I found it mind-boggling that the very photo that I could find the place where they took the very photo that I saw in the DB Lounge this morning.
Just like yesterday, the water was quite cold, but after a long walk it was refreshing to swim. It is a wonder that in such a great place, there was hardly anyone. If this was closer to Düsseldorf, I’m pretty sure that the things would have been completely different. Just like yesterday, since I didn’t announce the possibility to swim, there was only Meysam who had swimming stuff with him. But just like yesterday, I guess most of the people wouldn’t have dared enter the water anyway in this temperature. I did it twice but the second time was killing me.
After the break, we walked along the lake. Just as I had feared, there was quite a number of bikes passing by. And just as I had feared, they were not the nicest ones. Usually in this kind of touristic spots, the cyclists don’t know how to cycle properly. Fortunately the number was much lower than in places like Baldeneysee.
Well, it might be fair to say that the second half was not quite as interesting as the first half, as the path was then asphalted when we left the lake area, even though it was marked as forestal path on open street maps. There was a small section towards the end that was more like a hiking path. But anyway, considering the fact that we lost one hour this morning, it was probably good that the hike ended somewhat short there. It was also relatively late when we got back to Düsseldorf.