Hike in the Harz

Alarm at 7, up at 8. If you’ve read yesterday’s post, you’ll know we don’t have breakfast., but according to Google both the bakery and grocery nearby in the village should be open, so I put on some warm clothes and get out there. The bakery has bread rolls (which we need for lunch) and exactly five breads, each a different type. She confirms they’re all sourdough, not surprising here in Germany, so I take the darkest one in the hope that the nut flavor will overpower the sourdough taste. The grocery store has cheese and meats (which I’ll need for lunch tomorrow) and Nutella (for breakfast today, are you following?). We have a relaxed breakfast and decide which walk we’ll do today. We don’t want anything too strenuous, too far or too boring, fortunately there’s a lot of info available online and it doesn’t take us too long to find a good match. We pack the day pack and the camera backpack and drive the short distance to Braunlage. It’s beautiful weather with a perfectly clear sky and no wind. Some spots along the way are obviously still warming up from the night, with hoar covering the grass. We’re at 600 m above sea level here and it is October, the night temp must have dropped below freezing.

We park in the center, put on our big shoes and climb up out of Braunlage along the skiing slope. We can see the Brocken mountain top with its recognizable two towers not too far away, sticking out above the nearer hills, each with their ski slopes. We spot a squirrel and I manage to take a few nice photographs with the 200 mm zoom lens. We continue climbing, it’s pretty lonely for now, the path is mostly gravel forest service road but perhaps because it’s a Sunday we don’t actually hear any forestry noises. We see a lot of evidence of long term planning here, also some informational signs explaining what they’re up to. There’s large parcels with seemingly dead firs, pines or spruces, I honestly don’t know the difference. They’re brown and without needles, is that normal?

We have lunch on a bench overlook the Oder river valley. This cannot be the same Oder that forms a border between Germany and Poland. In any case, it’s a beautiful view from the Hahnenkleeklippen and from the bench we pick for our lunch break. By this time, there are more walkers: couples, small groups, families. After the trail dips all the way down into the valley, we start the climb back. The sun remains strong, but the temperature remains low in the shadowed parts and we even see some frost on the leaves, it must remain near 0°C here. It’s around three when we get back to the car, after a walk of 15,7 km, with 400 elevation meters and an average moving speed of 5,7 kmph. That’s a lot faster than usual, but I’m using a new app and the auto-pause when we stop moving is pretty sensitive, that might account for the difference.

After changing shoes at the car, we decide to visit a café for a drink and a visit to the bathroom facilities. I have an Apfelschorle, a drink typically found in German speaking countries, made half half of apple juice and carbonated water. It comes in 20 cl or 40 cl glasses, like all the other soft drinks on the menu, not a choice we have back in Belgium. On the terrace, enjoying the sun, we explore the options for activities nearby. There’s a monastery with a museum, also a village nearby with remains of and a museum about the former border between East and West Germany, which used to run right near here. In the end we decide to be lazy and go back to the apartment for a long shower and some TV, before going out for our dinner reservation.

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