Posts Tagged With: ferns

Enjoyable Echternach

Tuesday July 28I hadn’t set an alarm because I wanted to sleep in and enjoy waking up on my tent. The morning sun didn’t quite hit me as I hoped but it was close. It was pretty chilly so it was a little stretch to get up and out. I boiled up some hot water for my oatmeal to go and took my time getting ready. The tourist office didn’t open until 10 anyway. I went down to reception and went ahead and paid for two nights. I headed to the city center just past 10 and found it much easier to navigate when I wasn’t frustrated and hungry. The office lady gave me a small map of the town and paths but only pointed out one 12km loop trail. She said it was the best day hike in the region. I wandered into the cathedral next door before setting out to find the beginning of this trail. 

The beginning of this trail was also the beginning of many other paths, including a camino with the yellow shell marker. I started up the trail and immediately climbed straight up for half an hour. I stopped and looked back and there was quite a view! I could look out over the town and the surrounding hillsides because I’d climbed up so quickly. I spotted a wooden structure at the very top and hiked just a few more minutes. It was a large gazebo, complete with benches inside. I’d only been hiking for maybe 45minutes but it was around noon/lunchtime and this place just demanded a break. I pulled out a granola bar and began munching away as more people hiked up. No one seemed as interested in the gazebo as I was. I hiked on after eating a bit and wandered through amazingly beautiful forests. There were cliffs next to me and the trees were just perfectly placed all around. I rounded the corner and started descending very steeply into a gorge with high rock faces on either side. I came to an intersection where the trail went straight but it looked like there were trails up to lookouts on either side. I took the one to the left first, climbing many uneven slippery rock stairs before reaching the top. I could look down into the gorge and out across the surrounding areas. There were benches and many worn areas where it looked like people had camped. There was a mother and father chasing their two little boys around on the top. They climbed up here for lunch and the kids looked like they were having a blast. The cliffs were well fenced in all along the top. I could walk on top the cliff looking down at the trail I came in on. I clambered slowly back down the steep stairs I came up and climbed the stairs going to the right. This lookout was much smaller but had a bridge to another cliff island that was pretty cool. There was a troop of young adults that passed by, all grumbling and not very happy, each carrying large heavy packs. None of them stopped to look at either view, just bypassing it without even a picture from the center of the gorge. I was sad they didn’t stop. It really was quite fantastic up here and nothing is meant to be hiked through fast without looking around. I continued on a few minutes after they had passed, walking through some amazing rock formations, all covered in ferns and hanging vines. The rocks had been worn by the wind and rain and had pretty neat textures. It looked like a magical place with the ferns and vines combining to create an incredible aura. I stopped every so often just to stand still, in awe of my surroundings, slowly spinning around in circle. Everywhere my eyes landed was God’s perfect beauty. I passed a picnic shelter with a group of older people. They were all laughing and having a great time. I figured they’d get up and walk on but they all walked to the bus that was parked within eyesight. Well at least they were enjoying nature somewhat. I hiked on, not coming upon anyone for quite awhile. Then I could hear voices and laughter. I couldn’t see them but I could see where they would be. There was a giant rock face looming out over the trail and below it was a cave. This cave had a piece of rock all the way to the ground so you could walk under and around it. The group was sitting in the cave, their now joyful voices mingling and echoing throughout. I felt like this whole area was an incredible secret that Luxembourg kept for the special few. I came upon a sign to go to Berdorf or to continue on my trail. I’d heard that Berdorf was a cute little Swiss town with many shops and restaurants. I could go for an ice cream and it was only 2km there. I headed that way, making sure I remembered which way my correct path went. Soon I left the forest and started walking through fields of wheat and corn, with the occasional colorful poppy. I entered the town and was still able to follow the trail signs but I saw no shops or restaurants, just houses. I kept going but the houses got fewer and fewer. There’d been a turn off but I could easily see that was a highway through more fields. There was a gazebo where the young adult group was gathering. I saw a bar/pub but it only served drinks. Aha! I spotted an ice cream cone on that gate. My pace quickened and soon I was at the door, thinking about what flavors they would be. I pulled and pushed the door but it was locked. It was 2pm on a Tuesday and they were closed. Wow, I’d had such high hopes for this town and the picture of the smiley happy ice cream cone. I sighed and started walking back through the baking hot corn fields, back into the woods. I found my sign and began the way back. This wasn’t through the cliffs or gorge but at least it was beautiful forest with a gently sloping dirt path. 

I got back to town and still wanted a small something to eat so I found a bakery an ordered a cream filled glazed donut. Or what I thought was a cream filled donut. I sat down to eat and was given a fork and knife so I cut into it and took a bite. Mm yummy. I could just barely see the custard now so I cut into that and took another bite. Bleck!! What was that?! It tasted like hard boiled egg. I cut into the donut and tasted more. Yepp, that was egg filling my donut. I stared at it in wonder and disgust. It was glazed with a pretty chocolate drizzle on top. Fluffy. Round. Donut looking. But it was not a donut. I ate the outside, the sweet bread that had glaze but no egg with it. I walked away wanting more, completely unsatisfied with my little (mis)treat. I remembered seeing an ice cream shop but had trouble finding it so I went back to the tourism office to ask. They pointed me in the right direction, probably wondering how anybody could get lost in a town that had maybe 5 roads. Finally, I held in my hand an ice cream cone with hazelnut and caramel flavors. I sat on the steps in the square to polish off my cold deliciousness and just sat there watching people.

I meandered back to my campsite, this time looking in all the shops. I entered one an I thought it was just purses and magnets but at the back I spotted shelves and shelves of puzzles. It started with 100 piece puzzles and went all the way up to 5000! They were all Ravensburger brand. I picked one up and it said authentically made in Ravensburg, Germany. Oh wow, I must go research where that is! I would love to go to the home of the worlds best puzzles! I’d happened upon the Black Forest in Germany as being the home of the cuckoo clock. 

I got back to my tent, set my stuff down and began researching this puzzle city. Turns out it is directly between the Black Forest and Munich. Hmm, my mind started to race ahead of me. I’d like to go but I don’t know if I could fit it in. I’d had to sign up for a specific date to start the European Peace Walk from Vienna and then made reservations for two nights in the hostel in Vienna beginning August 2. It was the first time I’d had a set deadline for time and I was struggling with it. My moms friends friend in the Black Forest area was proving hard to get in contact with. I’d emailed my moms friend and received the contact info for the lady but wasn’t able to call, text, or email. The wifi at the campground was spotty so I tried using my data but that didn’t work. I should’ve been able to make a phone call or text by that wasn’t working either. I tried for several hours, getting more frustrated each minute. I was hoping to leave Echternach on the early bus out to Luxembourg city then down to the Black Forest. From Lux I could go either to Strasbourg, France then across to Freiburg which took pretty much all day or to a city in Germany north of Freiburg but that was way more expensive. I didn’t want to spend the whole day on a train/bus but also didn’t want to shell out big bucks to move a few hundred kilometers. And if course this all depended on if I was able to get in touch with the lady and stay with her or not. I wanted to hike a day and go to Triberg, home of the cuckoo clocks and this lady was right in the middle. I went back up to my tent and started to make dinner. I just wanted to see just a few things while I was in Germany because I only had a couple days to spend. I ate my pasta and thought hard but came up with nothing. I hunkered down in the lounge room as it got cold out and continued to plan. Nothing was coming together and my phone service I’d bought wasn’t working. I couldn’t leave the wifi with no plans if my service didn’t work. I starting shaking, partly from the cold, partly from the anxiety. I was trying not to fret, knowing that it would all come together but this was maddening. I just needed three more days then I’d be in Vienna and on my way down a long distance trail. I finally got the email out but it was past 9pm asking if I could stay there the next day so it probably wouldn’t work out. I wasn’t able to see a whole lot of timetables for trains and buses so I didn’t know how to from here to there. Eventually I went out into the cold and got into my sleeping bag just before midnight, not having a clue as to what I was doing the next day. 

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Sheep Creep past the Wigwams

I woke up at 5:30am, maybe someone came in and flushed a toilet but it was hard to get back to sleep. I dozed until 7:30 when I heard voices. They were in another language and I wondered if it was time for me to get up. Then English came through, I think someone’s in there… The other one doesn’t work. Oh no, I’d picked the only shower stall that worked. I heard a knock on my door, hello? I tried to speak clearly hoping I didn’t sound like I just woke up, yes I’ll be right out! I hurriedly packed my stuff up, not really caring if they knew I’d slept there, just not wanting to upset anyone. I left my stuff in the bathroom and went to get my sopping wet tent. It was mostly clear outside and the sun was coming in and out of the clouds. I put my damp clothes back on and got all my gear together, putting all my wet tent pieces in a trash bag in my pack, put my large pack where I’d found it with my new destination on the tag and got the shuttle bus to take me back to where they’d picked me up. 
I picked up the trail immediately passing into cow pastures. I was passing through large green rolling hills. It started drizzling heavily and as I passed cow patties, I could see dirty streams forming from them. Ew, that’s what I was walking in. Around lunchtime the skies cleared a little, enough for me to be amazed at what I was walking through and by. I chose to take the path to town, where my map had said there’s food and other stuff. It was a long steep path down, probably about 30mins. I just wanted to charge my phone and eat a little snack. The tea room I was hoping to go to was closed. I wandered on until I found the youth hostel, but it was closed too. Where were all the shops or bar that were listed? I asked the post office and finally found the pub but it was closed too. It opened later on a Sunday. I was going to get a snack and sit somewhere! I found a best western hotel and went in, finding it way too fancy but sitting down and ordering a hot chocolate anyway. I charged my phone and used their wifi, slowly sipping my creamy cocoa and eating my own lunch. It rained off and on so I waited for a sunny spell to head back. 

The path meandered on the side of a hill, awkwardly descending and ascending around earth bumps. The trail was hardly there at times, just slight indentations in the grass or where chunks of earth had fallen away. I passed through a few sheep creeps, which were narrow tunnels dividing pastures. I guess sheep are claustrophobic? After I crested the hill and came down, I entered a huge pasture with tons of sheep. It was an educational and new pasturing process, meant to be greener and more efficient. After that was the really old pieces of a priory. It was now fully sunny and everything around me was just so green and alive that i just pranced along. I happened upon the wigwam campsites and thinking my campsite was just a few minutes past it, took my time shopping at their little mart and buying gifts. I found a few packets of Cadbury hot chocolate so I bought a few of those. I noticed on the short order menu listed egg roll, sausage roll and bacon roll. As I checked out, I asked the guy what a bacon roll was. It’s just bacon, on a buttered roll. Wow, why are these not a thing in America? We chatted about the differences I was finding as I trekked across Europe. He asked about the wifi code on credit cards. I laughed as I told him I had to contact several different companies to get a crest card with a normal chip in it. I passed all the wigwams, wishing I could stay in one. They didn’t do sharing here or any of the other places so I’d have to rent the whole thing for myself, between 35-55euro. 

The trail crossed the road and started going uphill again. I got confused, thinking my campsite was right after that one. Ahh, again my map said something like, after a little ways. The map/guides I had found were word based, not actual maps. They’d give directions by turn west after the schoolhouse or pass the bridge and after a little ways, arrive at a sheep creep. I found a plaque that said this piece of trail was taken care of by a school group. It was super nice, with proper drainage techniques, and steps in place to keep the dirt where it needed to stay. It was beautiful meandering through perfect trees lined by grass and ferns. I found a plaque detailing the story of the lost sword. Opposite this plaque was a sword in the stone! It was just a picture carved into the flat stone but it was still cool. 

I crossed an old iron smelting spot which still had nothing growing on it. I wasn’t sure what cleanup process it had gone through and so wasn’t sure how safe it was for me to walk across. I did anyway and soon came to a few signs announcing my campsite was near. I tried to go to reception but there was a sign saying closed, be back soon. I waited for 30 whole minutes, anxious to get my tent set up before the next rain. Two girls with heavy packs also approached and I’d told them how long I’d been waiting. They signed and flopped onto the nearest bench.

 Finally I called the number, hoping to remind someone they had a place to run. I could hear it ringing inside and a lady answered it. I simply said, I’ve been waiting outside for 30minutes. She said, oh! I forgot to take the sign off or unlock the door. I tried not to be annoyed as I paid and got my pack. I set up my tent as it sprinkled and just took the rest of my stuff to the inside kitchen area. They had a little more than the last place, with a water boiler and 2 burners. I used the 60second water boiler to boil water for my noodles. I sat on the floor and ate my noodles as there was no table and chairs. I wanted to check out the hostel part but it was locked with a different door code. It was warm and bug free inside so I just stayed there, journaling til sun down. A family of 4came in, parents and 2 daughters maybe 2 years apart. They cooked dinner and then made tea and played cards. They spoke French but really reminded me of my family. My parents would take my sister and me to the mountains to backpack and we loved it! 

As I would step outside to put stuff in my tent or go around to the bathroom the midges would get me. They were about the size of fleas but flew and attacked your face, biting any skin they could find. I brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom, and flew into my tent as fast as I could. I had to zip up my rainfly before zipping up the tent and some got in with me. I tried to kill them but couldn’t so I just layed down, hoping they wouldnt find my face or neck in the night. 

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