Hiking report

Expert hike from Wickede to Neheim

I had planned an expert hike in Winterberg before the outbreak of the coronavirus. And just like many people, I was quite looking forward to that one. Then came first the coronavirus, but then last week’s hike, where things went quite badly. Now in the 4 days that followed last week’s hike, I was about to cancel the even altogether. I didn’t in the end, only because I didn’t do anything. And then one day ahead of the event, I realized that the train we were supposed to take got cancelled and we’d have had to change trains three times over 3 hours, which would still be overly optimistic considering the low reliability of the German railway. I then simply changed the route.

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I could see that the number of participants went down significantly from the last session, which was a great relief for me. In fact, we even met people who joined us at the last session, but apparently decided to get separated this time. Hopefully this is gonna happen more often with the ones who know that they are not going to follow the rules.

Changing the route yesterday appeared to me already like a huge undertaking, but we were forced to an even more challenging undertaking today – we got off the train at a wrong station. We could have waited for the next train for half an hour, but this seemed so stupid to me and we simply decided to go our own way. Whatever happens, this is still Sauerland; it should be fine.

I was a bit worried. Even though we’ve been hiking for 3 years, this was the first time that I was guiding a group with no route at all. I quickly checked nearby restaurants to see if we can have a decent place for a break without stopping on the spot in order not to give other people the impression that I don’t know what I was doing. Whether I was a good actor or not, everyone trusted me, and we got started.

It took me a few minutes to find a good path to start with. After a few impossible ones, we got one where I simply hoped that the rest of it would be good enough. It was. Today, I’m relatively sure that people didn’t get the impression that I had no idea where we were headed to.

Today was a holiday in Germany with a great weather after a long lockdown. All the outward trains were full of people with their bikes and hiking gears. We were lucky to be in this quiet forest today with maybe a few people passing by. If this was Essen or Bochum it would have been a catastrophe.

Also the temperature skyrocketed today – something like 27 degrees (?). Again, we were lucky that we happened to be in this vast forest nearly all the time. I could feel the sun burning whenever there was no shadow.

Nice castle on the way. Pity that it was closed.

We had a break in this small place called Voßwinkel, which had one restaurant and one café. I stayed in front of the church – which was anyway closed. The others went to the restaurant and found out that it was closed, even though the toilet was open for some reason. Well the main reason that people go to a restaurant is to go to the toilet, so actually it was even better than usual :).

We really had to be creative to take a photo without violating social distancing. You can see some people close together, but as far as I understood they live together, even though I don’t know what kind of rules apply to them in this case. I don’t say it’s not my problem, but I’m okay with the fact that they stick to their own logic.

When we got back to the forest, after some time, we encountered a few people. Every time I tried to make space to respect the social distance. At some point, someone started saying “No one cares about social distancing”. Here’s a warning: if you ever say that, next time you’ll regret it, because not only you won’t be successful, but also I’ll take it as a form of aggression against science, I’ll consider you as a person with no intelligence and no discipline, and all hikes in the future will be without you or me. I hope this point is going to be clear.

As you can maybe see in the map above, this is just a vast forest, but it wasn’t as boring as in Königswinter for example. Maybe because the trees were planted a bit more sparsely and it gives the impression that there’s more space. We were sometimes going forest paths, but mostly off roads. A super simple trail that was good for today’s participants, most of whom participated for the first time (I couldn’t believe about some of them that they initially signed up for an “expert hike”, which fortunately it wasn’t at all in the end).

They apparently cancelled our train in the last minute. Stranded in the train station. Good job German Railway.

On the way back home, we met the same group as this morning again. Actually, as Rohith was there as well, I simply followed him to his apartment, to talk about possible measures for the future sessions. While we focused on what to do, I also partly understood why it is difficult for many people to follow the rules. As I wrote last time, it’s a long learning process and we’re gonna try things out to find out what’s the best strategy.

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