11th Trail (1st Half) Bad Saarow to Wendisch-Rietz (Stop in Storkow)

11th Trail (1st Half) Bad Saarow to Wendisch-Rietz (Stop in Storkow)

Total distance: 15 km ~. Estimated hiking time: 4.5 hours.

In the middle of a Hitchhiking journey around Europe I managed to make a stop in Berlin with my Hitchhiking partner Zuzanna, and we decided to use the opportunity to make some more progress on the 66 Lakes Trail. Since my legs and feet were not well trained for a long hike I split it up into two parts, and only hiked from Bad Saarow to Storkow, which turned out to be plenty long enough. The entire 11th trail is about 24 km, but getting to the break off point near Storkow and then walking to the Storkow train station added another 2 km. All together I estimate we hiked 15 or more kilometers. Still it was great to get back on the trail.

Fountain at Bahnhof Bad Saarow

When I finished in Bad Saarow in February the trees had no leaves, and there was a layer of snow all around. It was quite a treat to arrive at Bahnhof Bad Saarow to see Summer in full action.

Bahnhof Bad SaarowBack in the Winter I imagined it to be a beautiful holiday town, I had no idea! The lake is huge, has boat tours, boat rentals, swimming, kayaks, lots of fancy vacation houses around the lake edge there are lots of options: beaches, cafes, resorts, and one very big and upscale looking Saarow Therme (bath house/thermal spa). I’ve imagined Bad Saarow to be a perfect weekend getaway from Berlin. Which I’m sure it is, but it must be a pretty penny.

Das Gorki Haus - Bad Saarow

Our hitchhiking adventure had kept our spending on a quite a budget frame of mind (<30EUR/day), so as I walked around the lake I realized Bad Saarow was probably too pricey to visit and fully enjoy right now, maybe next summer if things go well 😉

Compared to the more quaint low profile gästehauser, and camp ground restaurants I’ve seen in other parts of the 66 Lakes Trail, the holiday rentals and resorts there looked quite fancy.

Bad Saarow - Hotel Villa Contessa

On the trail, the first two kilometers follow a long a path that goes around the lake, giving plenty of opportunities to sit down and tempt the idea  of laying down, relaxing and enjoying the view instead of going on a long hike. 🙂 Needless to say we did keep going.

bad saarow lake edge

Soon, the trail veers away from the west side of the lake, and goes into the forest and here once again the virtues of the 66 Lakes Trail come alive; alone in the woods, climbing little hills, hidden fern groves, walking past small houses that seemingly could never be connected to the rest of civilization. The isolation, smells of nature, sounds of the woods, and total calm last for 2-3 kilometers before the trail adopts a small farm road. Don’t worry the only new friends we met here was a flock of sheep. That farm road eventually leads to Großer Kolpin See, which it trail follows about half way around the lake. At different spots on the lake edge, there were some fishermen alone each in their own spot, quietly enjoying the lake to themselves. Sitting on small beaches which have complete privacy from the rest of the lake thanks to a thick tree and grass bush that surrounds the lake’s beaches, it makes fishing look quite lavish.

At one point on the Kolpin lake, we stopped, went skinny dipping, and then laid down in the sun to dry off before eating some nectarines. It was one of my favorite moments from the trail. August, warm sunny day, swimming on one of the lakes of the 66 Lakes Trail. Perfect 🙂

After the Großer Kolpin See, the trail goes through the town of Kolpin itself, and by the Kleiner Kolpin See, which is where I snapped this photo of a goose who sadly seems to have broken a wing. He was quiet charming to look at until we realized he was hurt. We hope he got some help.

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From Kolpin the train heads east a bit and then makes a turn directly south towards Reichenwalde. For nearly 3 kilometers the trail uses a farm road which is so straight sometimes it feels like you can see the whole thing end to end.

Reichenwalder Straße

At one point along the farm road we passed a sunflower field, the sunflowers all had their seeds intact, but were clearly left to die. I don’t know much about farming, so it was quite ominous. Just a couple weeks earlier we were flying through the fields of Italy, France and Southwest Germany seeing all the sunflower plants proudly facing the sun making a very healthy color scheme of green and yellow. This looked different.

Dead Sunflowers on 66 Lakes Trail 11

After hitting Reichenwalde and quickly turning off into the fields, before reaching Storkow, the trail gave us a nice farewell with a stroll through a nice shady forests. The forest bed was a mixture of grass and small light bushes. The branchless trees, exposing long bare tree trunks, combined with the soft green forest floor, and the occasional path of sunlight made looked so soft and soothing, it was hard to stay on the path and not go find a place to lay down for a nap. Another treat of the forest, and the time of year, the black berries are finally ripe! So many bushes I’ve seen on this trail clearly weeks or even months from producing a good berry, we picked a few handfulls and then kept going.

Forest near Storkow, 66 Lakes Trail 11

A couple kilometers of the forest, and we were soon on a road leading to Storkow. For a brief moment the trail passes Storkower See. I can’t wait to follow the trail the rest of the way down the lake side to Wendisch-Rietz where the 11th trail ends and the 12th begins.

Anyhow, that was it for this 1/2 trail post. For anyone looking to split the trail up as we did, I can say it was a good way to reduce the distance. But don’t wing it with knowing where the train station will be, or when the trains come. In my relaxed hitchhiker mindset, we not only found ourselves needed train tickets, but some cash, and food. When there weren’t cash machines, or ticket machines, or food, anywhere near the train station which was nearly 2 km from the place we left the trail.

I hope I get in one more hike in September, while the weather is still great. Looking at my winter photos, I am already missing the warm weather.

 

Readers Questions: Favorite Trails, Can More Than One Be Done In A Day, and More!

Woo Hoo! I got some feedback this week, more proof there are other people walking the 66 Lakes Trail, which is awesome.

One reader wrote and asked questions which make a lot of sense; are there towns on either end of the trails, which are the best, and can you hike more than one trail in a day? Great questions, I wish I’d thought about that before now. Not everyone plans to walk the entire loop, so if you had to choose only a few which would they be? Duhh!

Yay for feedback and common sense!

All questions and my responses below:

1) Have you finished the loop yet?
A: I haven’t finished the loop yet. Originally it was my goal to complete it in one year, but life got in the way, and well, it is a lot of hiking too! I hope to finish it this year.
2) Is it possible to hike more than one trail per day?
A: To hike two trails in one day (or more), seems like quite an undertaking. That’s a lot of hiking! Each section takes 4-7 hours without stopping, so while it may be feasible in the current summer days to walk through two sections, you would need some very sturdy legs and have to be a fast walker. I suggest giving yourself lots of time so you can stop at some of the nice spots along the way and enjoy them. But that’s just how I like to do things, certainly don’t feel there are solid rules. I have rode one of the trails on a bike, this sped things up, but not nearly as much as anticipated. I suggest, aim for one, and if you have the time leave room for two, maybe you can do it! If you do let me know! You will be my hero!
3) Which trails are your favorites?
A: My favorites are probably trail 5, and trail 7, they both pass through several small villages and vacation areas with restaurants and there are many lakes to take a break at, you will stumble past skinny dippers!!! (just keep walking hahaha) I’m realizing now that I didn’t write about #7, and on the 5th we stayed in a guest house in Biesenthal and continued onto the 6th the next day, so I don’t know it’s easy to return back to the city at the end of it that one. But all of them have been accessible by train or bus, so I wouldn’t be concerned, just make sure to look up the train times ahead of time so you don’t get stuck. Also, while it’s not much like any of the other trails, the first one, is quite an experience as it navigates many of the palaces and gardens in Potsdam, and there is a brewery halfway through it which I highly recommend visiting, though the beer will slow you down! It’s worth it TRUST ME (said in Arnold Schwarzenegger voice).
Avoid #2-4, they are either not very scenic, and you will just find yourself walking through a lot of farm land and not much else. The 4th is very nice in some points, but has a very tricky section towards the end which got us lost and we spent an extra 90 minutes hiking (this was partially due to my stubbornness of not using cell phones for GPS), I suggest skipping it till you’re ready for real adventure.
4) Does each trail start and end in a town?
A: Each trail starts in a town and ends in a town, but some, like the town at the end of #1 (Potsdam to Marqaurdt), are very small, don’t expect the restaurants or shops to be open in these small villages, though most Gästehäuser are open on weekdays and on Saturdays till 18:00, just be aware that you’ll be hungry and you might not find a place to get food if you don’t watch the clock…
That’s all from the email. It was really nice to have a chance to share and hopefully contribute back to the 66 Lake Hiker group. Don’t be shy folks send me your pictures, questions, and thoughts!
Writing from Krasiejów, Poland, hope to see you here again soon!

Preparing for and Planning Your Hike

Preparing for and Planning Your Hike

Today’s an exciting hike because it’s overcast and might be raining. We weren’t sure if we’d dare to do the hike considering the weather, but it doesn’t look so bad, at least from the window of our kitchen.

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While getting ready for the hike, I thought I’d write about just that; how to get ready for your hike. It’s become a bit of a ritual, and it’s all about planning so you can enjoy the hike from beginning to end! There’s nothing super complicated to work out, but once you’ve left for the hike, you don’t want to turn around, so it’s important to go through a check list. Also even though hiking isn’t meant to be stressful, or full of risks, some thought and planning ahead of time helps you make the most of it. I suggest to figure out details such as where the trail starts, where it ends, how long the hike could take, and what the terrain will be like (lakes, forests, lots of suburb). This gives you an idea when to ride the train to the trail head, when to expect to ride a train home, if there is time to hang out during or at the end of the hike and catch a later train, etc.

So, assuming you have a mobile phone, and a good backpack here’s my preparation recommendations.

1. Choose your trail: I still rely on Wander Kompass.  To see the distance, expected time, and start and end points.

2. Get an overview: I like to checkout the trail geography in more detail with Google Maps

3. Find the train schedule for the start and also the end of your hike with bahn.de

4. Make sure you have enough day light! TimeandDate.com is a good site for this. Assume you don’t want to be finishing in the dark, try to end the hike 30-45 minutes before sunset.

5. Pack a lunch! Probably my favorite part, figure out what you’ll eat along the way and pack a bag!

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In addition to some food, I think snacks like nuts and dried fruit, a candy bar, and water all make good consumables. Also don’t forget your camera and a book to read on the train to and from your trail head!

6. Lastly, make screenshots of the hike. Since your phone may not have service through the entire hike, I suggest to load the entire map as plotted on WanderKompass.de and make screen shots of the hike from an zoom level that allows you to see details like, turns in the trail, street names, bridges and other milestones. Here are the screenshots I made for the hike today:

Start of 3rd stage hike from Brieselang, 66 Lakes Trail
Start of 3rd stage hike from Brieselang
2nd step of of 3rd stage
2nd step of of 3rd stage
3rd Step
3rd Step
4th Step
4th Step
5th Step
5th Step
6th Step
6th Step
7th Step
7th Step
8th Step
8th Step
9th Step
9th Step
10th and final step
10th and final step

So that’s it! If you have any suggestions let me know by sending an email or writing a comment.