Friday, September 07, 2012

2012 - The Final ChapTour part 8 - A Lonely Godforsaken Path

8/14 - Oberhof/Zella-Mehlis/Suhl

After a minor screwup with the train, I'm on my way direct in to Meiningen.  The STB is kind of pokey, so this will take a while, but delays -- and more sun -- just take this closer to Boston.  I probably don't have enough water either (as then), but somehow I'll bite down and fight through.

306. Centaurs in the Erfurt station.  The mall under the tracks, all this month, has an exhibition of statues of mythological creatures.  It's a neat gimmick, but it's extremely weird to come in off the train from Party.San, come doen the stairs, and be confronted with a minotaur.

307. Wooden ties in Oberhof.  We're really out in the sticks; normally German railroads have concrete ties.

308. Neat bridge below Untermaßfeld.

Ihre Reiseführer - Grenzübergang

This is not only a record of the way I hiked over the old IDG at its closest point (between rail links, that is), but also includes some travel tips for the particularly hardened, tough, or insane travelers who want to do this for themselves.  The way is deceptively short, and the challenges -- as well as the tricks used to overcome them -- are not always clearly marked on the maps.

- Meiningen -

309. Pillar in the Goethepark by the Meiningen train station

310. Traffic signs, part 1.  I had some maps, but it's always good to know for sure.

311. Neat old house on the way out of Meiningen.

312. Look down a side street.

313. Church towers in town.  There are a lot of cultural points in Meiningen, and the city would probably make a nice day trip out of Erfurt, but I had hiking to do.

314. Two classic houses next to each other.

315. Second-Empire building at the edge of the center.

316. Into the wild.  Here begins the most dangerous part of the hike: two klicks of bushwhacking to the city limits.  There's no shoulder here, and the underbrush is very thick.  A turned ankle can easily lead to a fall into the traffic stream, and a fast and messy close encounter with a truck doing 50.

317. ...but the rewards are cool views.

318. City limits -- and at last, a real trail through a real shoulder!

319. West at the rotary.  This starts the "forest stage" of the hike, which is the first significant climb/descent.

320. Milestone in the forest.

321. Sülzfeld im Sicht.

322. I believe it, but I don't wanna believe it.

323. Panorama of the fields below the wood.

324. Every traffic sign has its reasons, remember.

325. Modern mile marker.

326. ...and another old highway sign.

- Sülzfeld -

327. Highway signs part 3.  This, by the gas station in Sülzfeld where I filled up on water, shows the hike is about 1/3 done.  This gas station is not marked on Google Maps, but is a lifesaver for the weight-conscious traveler.  You should be able to get through the first third of the hike, including the forest stage, on about 1 liter of water, then pick up the water you'll need for the much more strenuous climb through Henneberg and the border area here.

328. The rolling hills of Thuringia can eat me.  This section, between Sülzfeld and Henneberg, is the "hill stage".  No significant climbs, but a lot of ups and downs.

329. Corn, trees, and corn.

330. The road behind.  It never looks as intimidating when your feet are pointed up at it.

331. Extremely precise imperial measurements.

- Henneberg -

332. Mittelpunkt Henneberg.  The cut through Henneberg saves about 1km of distance in exchange for a vicious series of up-grades.  There's also a restaurant, the Schwarze Henne, on the cut, but I was so dead from the climb into town that I didn't stop in.  I probably should have -- those with more time should use this opportunity to get some rest and put an actual meal down -- but oh well.

333. Mile post at the turn.  This is where the main-road detour around Henneberg links back in, and it's also where the "border stage", the second and more signficant climb/descent, begins if you didn't go through town.

Just beyond this post is a modern sign promising a ten-degree up-grade.  This is not a joke -- it goes on for a kilometer or so, almost right to the border, where it continues to go up at a slightly slower rate.  I took a lengthy break on this slope, despite the break immediately back in town for picture 332 before, and then decided to go for the gusto.  The greatest antidote to the crushing feeling of "I can't do this" is the even more gutting feeling of "but I have to do this".  Going back is useless -- Henneberg doesn't even have a bus stop -- the only way is forward.  Burn way down on water and rations, wait till your legs quiet down a little, and sing "Heart of Steel" (third verse, obvs) to get pumped up, then get up and go finish kicking the hill's ass.

334. Relics of a time before.

335. Old plates; probably to hold an armature for something to close the road.

336. Sculptures, symbolizing "Deutsche Einheit", forgotten with the rest of the Grenzgebiet.

337. To protect and bottle; the forest's edge still follows (mostly) the state border.

338. The heritage sign; "geteilt" is interesting, as, maybe due to so much time in the east, I'd rather say "getrennt".

339. Old old borders; yes, Saxony used to go down this far.

340. ...and somewhat newer.

341. Wir sind im West!

342. Fields along the Landstraße.

343. Weird Bavarian milepost.

344. And the other side -- to the north, shit has flat fronts and is easy to read.  Fucking Bayer.

- Eußenhausen -

345. Eußenhausen, finally.

346. Bavarian dialect on this knife-sharpener's.

347. Four km left -- and there's a Radweg!

348. A break under clear skies.  Last sausage gone, water out.  Time for the last sprint.

349. Christ on the bike path.

350. Bayerpanorama.

351. Across to the west.  Look at this, and you'll easily see how so many Germans ended up in Wisconsin.

- Mellrichstadt -

352. Final descent into Mellrichstadt.

353. Highway sign part 4; almost done.

354. Ziel erreicht -- plus ads.

After the free promo, I went not to the Lidl, but to the Edeka directly across the road (behind me) from it, as that didn't involve crossing the street.  Just 1km left to the station.

355. Lol, alles ist Krieg.  (And notice the black, metal, Opel device on the roof.)

356. Finally, at the station.

The train to Schweinfurt involved a batchelor party headed to Nürnberg with a lot of party favors, and some old dudes with bikes and Roman weapons, which made for a funner 45 minutes than anticipated.  At the end, though....

- Schweinfurt -

357. Maininsel, crossing the river.

358. Back into town.

359. Souvenirs from the hike.  These treads are still self-cleaning, but not from gum.  Fucking Wessis, stop throwing shit out your cars.

I left the platform at Meiningen at 08:20 and arrived at Mellrichstadt Bf at 13:50; five and a half hours including five breaks (plus shopping), or half an hour more, over much more challenging terrain, than tests in Boston -- and with significantly more, if better-balanced, pack weight.  It took a lot of strength, and I wasn't really ready, but I did it anyways.  I ended up too beat up to do Summer Breeze -- in addition to major foot damage, and weird bruises on my shoulders and upper legs, I pulled my right groin pretty badly coming down from the bridge to the hotel island -- but this was always a risk, and I've cleared my distro stuff out already, making it less of a loss.  Tomorrow begins the "screw around in Bayern" days.

No comments: