Besides Brocken, I haven’t done much hiking since I arrived in Europe nearly two months ago, so I was feeling a bit deprived. But when Eric suggested we go on an early bird, 22 mile hike across Hermansweg, I was both ecstatic and wondering “Why in the heck did I just agree to hike 22 miles?!” But really, there’s nothing more refreshingly energizing than a lengthy hike through the wilderness of a foreign country, so I was game!
We woke up 6:30am and packed a small bag of sandwiches and water, that was pretty much it. It was going to be a fairly easy hike that was a steady mixture of ascents and descents through forests, villages, farmlands, and more forests. After all the beer I’ve been drinking lately (in preparation for Oktoberfest), I needed the exercise!
Eric’s dad drove us to the start of the hike, underneath the base of a famous statue. Unfortunately it was too foggy out to see the statue. There was fog everywhere.
Hermansweg is about 154km long but we were only doing a leg of it. The trail is famous in this region of Germany for annual marathons and is a popular route for joggers and trekkers alike. The whole trail is marked with a bold “H” posted on trees, poles, signs, etc. Eric has walked and ran this trail before in the past and he’s crazy enough to want to do it again!
The start of our trail took us through a damp forest through scattered trees whose leaves were in the primary stages of autumn coloring.
There was a set trail laid out for us, but surrounding that was a mossy blanket that covered the forest floor with sprouts of mushrooms growing in random places.
I’d say after about two hours of walking, we found a spot to eat some of our sandwiches. It was short-lived though knowing we still had so far to go. We pressed onwards shortly after.
The trail eventually changed scenery and brought us out of the forest and into a quiet village. I didn’t know what the scenery would look like, we just knew to follow the ‘H’. At some points it was hard to find exactly where an ‘H’ was placed though.
Throughout the hike, we passed by many joggers and even bikers! I would never bike this trail as steep as the ascents were. There were actually a whole lot of bikers attempting the feat.
Once we passed the village, we were about halfway to the finish point. Only 11 more miles to go! We led up crossing over a highway and into a farmland and then more forests. The fog began to lift and the sun began to show itself.
While hiking through the last major stretch of forest, we lost track of where we were and somehow missed an ‘H’. Once we realized our flub, we had to backtrack about a kilometer back and rejoin the path. After a couple more miles we finally made it through a park and to a castle, which was the finish point for our trek. We plopped down on the grass immediately. It took about seven hours. My feet were cramped like no other! Eric’s dad arrived and picked us up. I passed out and took a nap as soon as we got back home.
Later that same evening, Sophia invited Eric and I to her dad’s birthday celebration. There I met Sophia’s wonderful family who served up some very tasty foods I’ve never had before. I also met a couple, some of Sophia’s parents friends, who asked me all sorts of questions about America and what I’ve been up to. I always think it’s neat when people I’ve just met are so interested in what I’m doing and ask me all sorts of questions. I never really mind.
For my last day in Bielefeld, Eric took us all out for American style burgers at a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere called Joe’s.
After that, he took me to the train station where a private driver was coming to pick me up. Ever heard of Blablacar? It’s a service where you catch a ride with a driver who is on the route of the direction you need to go. In short, it’s a safer way of hitch hiking and is much cheaper than taking a train or bus.
Eric and his family have been great hosts and I enjoyed my time in Bielefeld a lot! Thanks Eric! You are the man.
I was on my way to Kassel, a city south of Bielefeld to visit another friend I met in South Africa. 🙂