A hidden gem on the Neckarsteig

When the COVID-19 restrictions did not allow any group hikes, I decided to hike the Neckarsteig on my own. In the past, I had hiked several stages, but some parts had seemed too long, too far away, or too difficult to organize transportation from/to for me. Now however I had a lot of time on my hands and life mostly happened at home. It was good for my mental health to have a long-term project that would give me something to do for several weekends.

Usually the Neckarsteig has very wide multi-purpose trails. During my hike on the Neckarsteig I discovered a part that the signs posted there call “alpine”. Although I would not call the trail alpine, it is a very narrow, winding path through the forest. One short part close to a spring is a bit trickier because the rocks can be slippery.

Once I had discovered that part, I decided that I wanted to hike it again with our group. The Neckarsteig in that area goes from Neckargerach to Eberbach via Neunkirchen. Neunkirchen is hard to reach with public transport (S-Bahn and 2 busses), and the Neckarsteig stage from Neckargerach to Eberbach would have been too long for us. What is good is that there are only few people on that trail because it is not that easy too reach.

Therefore I planned a hike over 17 km and around 450 m total ascent/descent. That hike also covered the Dschungelpfad (jungle path) in the same area.
We were 4 hikers yesterday and it seems that not only I find that part of the Neckarsteig extremely pretty.

Alas, we did not have our regular cake in Eberbach. At the end, all of us were glad that we had reached the destination and were rather keen on heading home.

Hiking through the Moosalbtal

Our 50th event on Groups Place did not start that great. Our train had a delay before leaving Heidelberg, so we eventually took the S-Bahn instead. As a consequence, we arrived one hour late at the train station in Frauenalb-Schielberg.

From then on we were really lucky, though. There had been a small chance of thunderstorms in the forecast and some members had decided not to join the hike. However, apart from one distant rumble it was a beautiful summer day.

At the Naturfreundehaus in Moosbronn I was finally able to have a piece of cake that I had not made myself. Unfortunately half of the cake was already eaten when I remembered I should take a photo. Oh, well…

In my opinion the Moosalbtal is more suited for biking than hiking, though. The trail is very wide and not really beside its namesake river Moosalb. There is one part of the trail where a narrow path goes through meadows.
It looks pretty, but the path has a slope to the right and is packed dirt that feels as hard as aspalt. Not a lot of fun to walk on, actually. In addition, as the day was very hot and we were walking through the meadow with no shade, I felt as if I was being boiled or barbecued.

Shortly before the end we had time for another break and cooled our hands and feet in the Moosalb. Finally we walked the remaining half kilometer to the train station in Fischweier and headed home to Karslruhe and Heidelberg respectively.

Tyrolean nut cake

Hike around Hemsbach on Blütenweg and Burgensteig

One of our members suggested a hike around Hemsbach, a town north of Weinheim. The hike featured two popular trails, the Blütenweg and the Burgensteig.

We passed a place of pilgrimage (Wallfahrtsstätte) in the forest, visited the stone mare (Steinerner Gaul), the Waldnerturm (stone tower and viewpoint) and the Jewish Cemetery.

The area around the Waldnerturm was very busy because there is a parking lot nearby. Lots of families had taken the opportunity to go for a picnic on this beautiful summer day.

All around we had beautiful views – first the vineyards, then the hills of the Odenwald.
My cake today was again homemade – a Tyrolean nut cake with lots of chocolate.

Redcurrant muffins

The first hike after what feels like an eternity

Our first hike after a hiatus of almost three months took place around Birkenau in the Odenwald.
The weather forecast had predicted all kinds of bad weather. Perhaps that was the reason why only three of us accepted the challenge and went hiking nevertheless. Eventually, we only got into one short shower towards the end of the hike.

The area is really pretty – rolling hills, forest, pastures, panoramic views. We hiked mostly on wide trails, which I am usually not too fond of. Right now those trails are ideal, though, because we can hike side by side and still abide by the rules regarding the minimum distance between two persons.

The cake today however (rather: the Redcurrant muffins) was home-made as we were not going to stop at a café. We will continue in this fashion except if we perhaps find a place with lots of space to sit outdoors. And sadly there is no sharing of food right now to avoid spreading an infection.

Still, we had lots of laughs and a good time hiking together again!
And the next hike is already being prepared.

Will Hike for Cake hikes are back!

Our next hike is coming up!

We will go to the Odenwald and hike around Birkenau. More details such as meeting point, trail profile, packing list are posted on Will Hike for Cake on Groups Place. For safety reasons, only members can see that information. If you want to know more about the hike or even participate, please Choose “Register” to create your account and become a group member.

We will follow the guidelines recommended by the German hiking association (Deutscher Wanderverband) during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, the number of participants is limited even more. Every participant needs to register with their full name and telephone number. We will also keep the recommended distance between each hiker, avoid crowded hiking hot spots, and so on.

But at least we can go hiking again together and socialize a bit!

Apple cake

Hiking in the time of Corona

Only a week ago, three of us went hiking around Lambrecht in the Palatinate. The S-Bahn had been quite empty, we kept our distance and ran only into few other hikers. We expected a similar situation at one of the PWV huts or that the hut might be even closed. Instead we encountered quite the contrary situation and were shocked at the mindlessness of people there. People sitting in clusters, children playing together. Inside the hut was a huge line-up for food and drinks. People were queueing along the counter and continuing in a U-shape inside the whole room. Aghast, we looked at each other and fled outside.
In the next hut, the guy taking our orders and handling food and drinks clearly had a cold.

The whole experience left us at unease. While I was still thinking about whether to post a new hike with limited participants, stricter rules were published.

While I miss being outdoors and enjoying the spring weather, I am glad that rules are more severely enforced now. Last Sunday in the Palatinate it seemed people behaved irresponsibly, completely ignoring the risk of infection.

Until we continue our hikes, please stay safe, stay healthy, and please consider everyone around you. Not only old people are at a higher risk when catching COVID-19.

Spanish marzipan rum cake

Mediocre start of the hiking season 2020

To be exact, we had not stopped hiking at all. Throughout the very mild past winter there was a hike every few weeks and a handful of us ventured outdoors.
When the weather promised to get warmer, I thought it would be a good idea to plan a hike that could be shortened and thus tailored to everyone’s fitness level. It turned out to be a mediocre start into spring, however.

I picked a hike of one of my first hiking guide books. The hike was described as going along the Burgensteig, starting in Weinheim and ending in Schriesheim.
When planning the hike in detail, I had already seen on my map that the suggested trail and the Burgensteig did not always match. Still, I thought it would be a good start. I manually shortened the hike because the suggested itinerary was too long for us. In addition I had an ulterior motive: going to a café in Leutershausen that we had discovered last fall.

Eventually only three of us signed up for Sunday. Knowing the other participants, it was clear that all of us would hike the full length.

The start in Weinheim was pretty, walking through the area of the Hermannshof, where spring was already in full bloom. Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, the first tulips, and so on.
Once we headed into the Exotenwald, the trail became disappointing. Lots of asphalt, wide multi-purpose trails, and for quite a while the Burgensteig was identical to the Blütenweg. This meant walking through residential areas and passing backyards. Once the Burgensteig got interesting and narrow, but just a few meters further all trees on the slope had been cut down, and we walked through a kind of wasteland. Some of the views from the vineyards over the Rhine valley were nice, though.

The real highlight for me was the cake at the café – a Spanish marzipan rum cake. Simply divine! Next time I just need to remember to take a photo first and then start eating…

A special day for geocaching

Every serious geocacher sooner or later looks at the different statistics in their profile. Did they cover all 81 combinations of difficulty & terrain? How many countries and counties did they find geocaches in? Did they fill their calendar and found at least one geocache on all 366 days of geocaching in a year?
The opportunity to fill an empty sport in the calendat arises once a year for almost every date. February 29 is an exception and therefore a very special day for geocaching.

As 2020 is a leap year, I had set up an event for geocaching. Eventually only one other person signed up for this rare opportunity. This person is an experienced geocacher and a good friend. Together we have had quite some adventures, both successful treasure hunts and failures too. As the two of us had some unfinished business, we decided to tackle different geocaches than the ones I had planned for the group. A while ago we had been in the middle of a geocache treasure hunt and not able to continue. Sadly, a stage that should have contained a hint where to go next had been destroyed.

To be on the safe side, we first searched an easy traditional geocache to make sure we could log at least one find today. That geocache was discovered quickly. Then we tackled today’s main task and after many more riddles, codes, and calculating, we eventually reached our goal after more than 2 hours. We discovered the final location and were able to sign the log.

Red wine cake with grapes

Where did the name “Will Hike for Cake” come from?

Our group had been called “Heidelberg Hiking & Geochaching” for a couple of years. So what is the origin of “Will Hike for Cake”?

A few weeks back I thought about what was unique about our group. All of us like hiking and enjoy being outdoors – but that should be a given for a hiking group. For us however coffee, cake or ice cream at the end is important, too. At some point during hikes people even start daydreaming and talking about what treat might be waiting for us. I thought “Well, we usually hike and then there’s cake”. Suddenly the very apt name “Will Hike for Cake” came to my mind.