January - March 2020
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  • Day56

    Esparles to Deia

    March 11 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Leaving Esparoles is hard. It's a gorgeous town, as Talat discovered the night before. In the morning, I wake early already exhausted and already excited for the next day. This is the first medium day: 19km. Yesterday was only 13km, yet I get distracted by beautiful things and it time forget to cover the 13km. Today there are two peaks-or more if you go looking, one town where most people take lunch, and about 1000 hm, total, up.

    The morning is sunny and bright. The route starts from the turn, yet I get lost in the way to the trail. Once I reach the woods, I begin the wrong trail. There are too many roads and people. Where is the trail? To the left maybe? I wander into a sunny Farmers field where sheep try to give me directions. The pigs don't care and wander off. I think pigs are pretty smart animals so I follow their example and wander off as well.

    Eventually, about an hour in, I meet up with Route 221. It's not a trail at all, but a road going up a hill. Good enough.

    Eventually this road enters the hills and becomes a real trail. There's a peak, and a view. I find a walking stick to ease my sure foot, yet it slows me down as well. There is a rhythm to having a walking stick that suits me, yet the slow speed does not. I distract myself by wandering off trail for better views.

    These mountains are low, but the only ones around. Standing on them feels like standing on the world, or having a look into the back room design lab of gorgeous landscapes. It's a bit like places I've been but also not at all something I've ever seen before. I continue on, but the walk is mostly down hill.

    Then, it's Valldemossa. It's after noon, barely, and theres a bar that serves beer. Perfect! I sit and sip a beer instead of my water. This may be the best way to save water and be ecologically friendly I know of.

    When it's time to go again, I post my bill and head straight through the city. The way to the trail is simple and clear, and do is the trail. I find a guide near a nature preserve telling visitors of the many paths in the area. He tells me the path is clear and simple to the peak, and that I will need to walk the ridge until I see Deia. Once I see Deia he says I just need to walk to it. Simple.

    So I walk. The way is shady and the path is clear. Perfect for afternoon stroll in the heat after a beer. The views are stunning as I walk around the mountain, slowly going higher and higher.

    I reach the ridge and wander off trail to enjoy a better view. It's breathtaking. I am not yet at the top yet there is nothing between me and views of Palma and the ocean on the other side of the island. I can see forever from here!

    Then it's time to return to the trail, but in the ridge there is no clear path, only stones. I spend too much time with my GPS yet it guide me to the peak, where two people walk their dog to the top.

    The top is sunny and warm and windy. There really is nothing except the view and clear blue skies. Deia looks close enough that I can throw a ball and hit it, and I am ready for the end of my day. Two peaks is enough for today.

    Yet the way down is not clear. I wander off the path quickly, and not on purpose. GPS shows me a path that I have already passed and now cannot reach without heading backward, so I head forward thinking I will find a better one.

    I find two lost Germans instead. I do not find a Walking path, but a climbing wall down. It does not look hard, but it is steep so I drop my bag first and climb down to it. There is nothing between me and the view here. It is beautiful too stand in the wall of the mountain, yet also terrifying. Climbing with my bag is difficult, my balance is off when I wear it, yet there is not always a place to drop it down, so I continue. Thank goodness for sticky liguano shoes, that help me climb walls ordinary hiking boots do not!

    The way becomes more even, yet it takes forever to find the trail. When I do find it, I bring marks and scratches from wandering through woods with no trail. I am exhausted from climbing at the end of a hiking day and convinced I have lost time going the wrong way, yet when I check my GPS I'm right on schedule. Thank goodness!

    It's a quick walk to Deia from here, and the hostel tonight. On the way I find two Germans who also came down from the peak, yet on the actual trail. They are still exhausted and worn out from the trip, and have a bus to catch toward the next city and hostel.

    Tonight, I'm very glad I don't. I find the hostel and have a beer. Today I earned it.
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  • Day51

    Off the beaten path

    March 6 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 13 °C

    I arrive in Mallorca and I barely know what I'm going to do. I have an idea of places to go in the north where the beaches are beautiful and the mountains are great and to drive alone near the northern mountain trails but I don't have a map of Mallorca and I don't know where I'm going to stay and I only have the slightest idea that I can sleep in a car and secret-camp along the ocean roads. I get off the plane and wander outside. I have a car rental reservation but the car rental place is not at the airport. My email says I must catch a shuttle yet there are no signs for a car service shuttle. I walk from one end of the terminal to the other, collect my bag, walk outside - all the way to the parking area - before I realize that there are parking shuttles where no signs exist, yet a shuttle for my car rental store is not there. This is the part I hate about flying and traveling. Every time you're in a new place there's a new routine and a new rhythm and new everything. Here I have trouble catching the rhythm. When the shuttle bus comes that has the name of my car rental store on it I jump on. When I get to the car rental store they upgrade me to a large SUV that I do not want. I have to argue to get a smaller car. There are mystified that I want a smaller car. why would I want a big car? I'm not a big person and only one person and frankly I'm planning on sleeping in it so there might be a reason for me to avoid having a big car - especially if I want to stay unnoticed.

    I purchased liability insurance while I was in Germany. I assume this means that I do not need car rental insurance because liability covers the damage you cause to objects. Yet the girl at the car rental store gives me great advice on travel and tourism and has a nice smile and so of course I buy the full coverage for insurance for the two days before I check into a hostel. She also tells me where to go for dinner and to visit Valldemossa where I can find the best local desserts in all of Mallorca. Turns out that Soller is also high on the list of places to go visit. I will be visiting Soller during my hike so this is not a rush for me yet the extra recommendation makes me more excited to see it.

    By the time I get in my car and drive I don't really know where to go. So I head to the beach. Mallorca is very different from Munich. Maybe all Spanish cities are different from Munich. I've just started my visit to Spain and the beach near the airport is filled with small stores selling tourist things to tourists, bars advertising German beer, bicycles riding everywhere, and a beach filled with giant waves and no people. I was warned that winter in Mallorca is quiet - and it is. Locals hang out in front of local bars the handful of tourists sit in the one or two bars that are open. I cruise the beach until I decide to find a grocery store collect some food and head to a beach on the North shore for the evening.

    Luckily the car has GPS. It navigates me to a grocery store and to a beach on the north side of the island. The island is so small that it's only 30 minutes to the north and I find myself cruising through a City built on a slope where every street and every house and every Garden has a wall protecting it from falling down the side of the mountain. The beach, which I came to see, at the bottom is not there! The Tide is in and the wind is strong and waves crash over and over and over against the side of the mountain. The beach must be hiding underneath all the chaos. There's only one other car parked at this beach, a young couple sit inside watching the sunset. I step out of the car crack a Beer and ruin their view of the ocean by sitting down on a rock and taking a sip.

    My moment doesn't last long because the waves crash so hard they Splash over the edge, showering me in ocean water. What is beautiful is also soaking wet as the wind grows stronger and the waves keep crashing. I jump back in the car after watching the sun go a little farther down. I drive around the ocean heading west on the northern mountain Road.

    The mountains here, next to the ocean, remind me of Cape Breton or Vancouver Island or what I imagine New Zealand is like. The mountains seem to jump straight out of the water and go high into the sky. As I drive around the island there are so many beautiful views of small towns, crashing waves, and setting sun.

    As dark sets in I stopped at one of the larger cities in the north, Andratix, where I have trouble finding a parking space. It turns out there are too many cars and too many people for comfort even in winter. When I do find a parking space and walk around the town is dark and quiet an empty on this Friday night. There are signs that point to the center of town where a plaza is open and surrounded by restaurants and bars yet only three restaurants are open and they are mostly empty. When I walk into one, Demoni, everyone looks at me as if I'm a stranger as I say "hola. I'm looking for beer and Wi-Fi. Do you have these?

    "Yes we do. The password is 666. Demoni, like the name." We all laugh. Maybe I am a stranger in a bar named after a demon, yet right now it's my heaven as I order a beer for 1.5€

    A rush starts as I order a second beer - a single family of 4. The tiny bar feels full for a little while. I appreciate my anonymity after Munich, where I left behind wonderful new friends who always have an invitation for me and always have something going on. Here I am happy to have nothing going on except deciding where to sleep later.

    This is an easy decision. I drive a bit more until I find a quiet, dark parking lot with an RV, a van with tinted windows, and a half ton that is clearly also being lived in. I flip the back seat flat and roll out my sleeping bag.

    It's a good day.
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  • Day50

    Job interview at 1500 hm

    March 5 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    When I realized I was spending so much time in the mountains I began to think maybe I should spend more time in the mountains. The more time I spend in the mountains the more I meet wonderful people and enjoy spectacular views. When I am at the top of a mountain, or hiking up there, all of the thoughts and stresses and anxieties of everyday life disappear in the ocean of whatever view is in front of me. The woods remind me of home, views from halfway up the mountain show me small German towns laying out like fairy tales in front of me, and at the top there's always an ocean of peaks under a sky that does not end. Who cannot be happy surrounded by such things?

    So I emailed many mountain Hüttes looking for seasonal work in a mountain hut. One even called back.

    I hike up Hochries, near Grainbach, on the Thursday before I leave for Mallorca. I start late and get off the bus in Grainbach at 1 p.m. Google says that I have a 2-hour hike ahead of me and to get back I have at least a two-hour hike or I can go forward and ends in Aschau where I will also have two hours to get there. The weather is bright with clouds when I begin.

    This mountain has a cable car and in summer is easy to reach especially for day trips with families and is very popular 4 lunch with a beer and a view. Today it is empty and the winter has not quite left and the spring has not quite sprung and I'm walking up a wet path. The first sign I see tells me that I actually have three hours till the top of the mountain which is a problem because I will run out of time before dark if it is 3 hours up and 3 hours down. In that case I will not get back until 7 and the sunset is at 5:30. I hike harder.

    the problem with hiking harder is that sometimes I don't see where I'm going and forget to check my map. That's exactly what happens here and I take the wrong path for 20 minutes before I realize it. When I decide to turn around I'm now jogging I'm not hiking to try and catch up on the 20 minutes I went in the wrong direction and what might be 20 minutes to get back on the right direction. I catch a sign on the path that tells me I finally back on the right way. And I still need to hurry.

    The hike is blurry until I find snow. I'm moving faster than my mind can keep up and the hike until snow passes through my mind without notice. Yet when the snow starts, it starts in a clearing with strong wind and no cover. I cannot help but notice have suddenly this changed has happened.

    I have made good time and almost caught up to where I want to be yet now the last 45 minutes or half an hour is through snow that has not been walked on since it fell. The higher I get, the deeper the snow gets. By the time I find shelter in the woods I'm high enough that the snow is almost at my knees. I find a trail made by a quad and I walk the path to the top of the mountain. When I finally see a building, the broken cable car, I am delighted. it's not the hot, yet it is nearby and I have not long to go.

    15 minutes later I'm in a hut meeting Manuel and Sarah and listening to reggae. They made lunch and we eats as we get to know each other and talk about life in the hut. They live here full-time year-round with gorgeous views yeah that's we finished our lunch the views are whiter and whiter with snow blowing harder and harder. After a quick tour I hurry to put on my boots and head down the mountain. I run through the deep snow so I can get out of the snow before dark and well on my way to the next train. Yet as I leave the snow I only find rain and a weight of 45 minutes until my next train!

    So instead I discovered a small beer house with a fire and wiese beer. I do love a beer on a train.

    And with that I catch my train a little damp but happy after a hike that was terrible and wonderful.
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  • Day47

    My Accidental Marathon

    March 2 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    I have been hiking for weeks. When I first got to Germany my time was split between school and hiking and running. In the evenings sometimes I would go to meet ups where I would have a drink with strangers. I even tried out salsa and realized that in Munich no one wants to teach a lead. Yet as time has gone on I find more and more that I love hiking in mountains the people I meet there and the adventures and invitations that come from there. That's how I wound up in Berlin!

    Yet after all these adventures I realized that I've not been running and I miss it. I have signed up for 50 km in Switzerland in August did I have not run more than 30 since I got here. I haven't run more than 30 in a row. So today I decide to run 30 km to Freising.

    The only problem is that by the time I run 12 kilometers I passed a sign that says "Freising 27 km."

    I try not to think about this too hard because I am here to run and I'm not going to stop running before I hit at least 30 kilometers so I keep running to freising.The day is sunny and I run along the ice are back and forth as it weaves back and forth along trails and empty Woods where no leaves live. sometimes there is a trail next to the water very close and fun to bounce on as I run yet often the trail is as wine and clear as a small and gravel Road. Either way I keep running. I have headphones in and I'm listening to an audiobook about how our bodies affect the way our mind works and that maybe our mind is less in control of our bodies and ourselves and that it is instead more a coordinator and our body is the one in charge. The more I listen to this the more it resonates with me as I feel my body and let it move. I do love to feel my body in motion.

    Yet when the sign starts to send freising 8 km my body does not feel so lovely. I pause and check my distance I've already run 32 km and I did not bring supplies for the next eight. Yet when I look at the map there is no convenient place to stop running and take a train home. We are not in freising and the nearest train station is also 5 km away. Given the choice between an empty train Station Drive kilometers away and a train station with a restaurant and a bar 8 km away I know the right answer. I keep running.

    I run for as long and as hard as I can yet after three hours of running I have no water and my body is tired so I change between running and walking and jogging as I get more and more thirsty. Next time I do this I will have to bring snacks. I hear peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a great choice. Either way I do get to the freising train station and there is a restaurant and there is beer. And milkshakes.

    I skip the next train so I can have a burger and a milkshake and after a little while I'm buy a beer to sip on the train back to Munich. I'm always amazed and how fast a person can run. it only took three and a half hours for me to get to freising, and it wound up being 42 kilometers. And here on the train it will still take one full hour to get back to Munich. Does this mean I was running at one-quarter the speed of the train?

    I have hunger that does not stop. This is a wonderful opportunity to break every diet rule in the book. I spend the afternoon searching and eating for everything, them catch up with friends for drinks.
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