Doing the rounds

Kayaking into the sunset along the Lesser Circuit, August 15, 2016
Kayaking into the sunset along the Lesser Circuit, August 15, 2016

Another year, another two sports seasons. And while some things change very slowly, if not at all, in others new challenges arose that had to be met. In all 290 km were paddled, 51.7 km swum, and 2730 km walked.

The most radical changes were in paddling. As April, 2016 came around, the university sports centre’s registration page was unusually silent about the details for the summer’s flat-water paddling group I had by now spent two summer seasons paddling with. In the run-up to the season there were no tours being offered on wanderpaddeln.de, Zottel’s homepage, apart from skiing in the Harz Mountains and in Norway. When finally some details emerged, it had been rescheduled to Monday, and a new instructor had been named, one Philipp Cartier. Googling his name almost immediately landed a SAR operation in Pegasus Bay, just north of Christchurch a couple of years ago.

This meant that the first evening involved almost every one being new to the set up. I offered Philipp to take a canoe with three others who I had never seen before; a small group had done a beginner’s course in 2015 and were now graduating to the Lesser Circuit – they turned out to be quite determined. But all of the “oldies”, mostly staff members, were gone. As it turned out, Zottel had separated his group from the sports’ centre, and moved it to one of the kayak clubs along the city lake, Maschsee.

Nonetheless the course was still quite full. However, it soon became clear that the deal with Philipp had been stitched very hurriedly, as it turned out that he had planned a paddle tour of Iceland from mid-semester onwards, and that meant that the course threatened to lose all of its steam, just as the weather was improving, and the evenings were longest. for me there was no question of whether or not to volunteer to lead the group while Philipp was away, it was more a question of getting the paperwork settled. In any case, on a thundery Monday in June I took over the helm, organised an Extended Lesser Circuit on one Saturday, and one round of the Greater Circuit on another, which we appeared to absolve in record time, and kept everything going while Philipp was battling 3 m high waves off Iceland.

End of a long path: Dreisessel rocks close to the Czech/Austrian border, at the end of the German section of the E6
End of a long path: Dreisessel rocks close to the Czech/Austrian border, at the end of the German section of the E6
The continuation of the course throughout the summer vacation was shared between the two of us. There was one further Greater Circuit under my captaincy; one Extended Lesser Circuit by Philipp. The course was no longer full due to the staff members who had migrated with Zottel, but that was a relief, if nothing else. On one Saturday the sports centre was taken over by a firm on their “sports day” and we were signed on to take two groups a short distance up the river as a try-out. As the nights reigned in, and we tried scheduling the circuit ever earlier, Philipp decided that the last session would be paddling in the dark, with our boats decorated with coloured lights. I managed to get a number of sequences shot at 4K resolution, with and without the camera bag, but with the old headband suspension, and that worked quite well.

I would have liked to have done more walking. As it was I needed just a couple of days to complete the length of the E6 that passes through Germany from north to south. The last section from Bayrisch Eisenstein to Dreisessel, just this side of Austria was pretty spectacular and very empty. In fact, all of the Bavarian/Czech section is highly recommended. There wasn’t enough time to do the Austrian section, yet, I estimate that it will take three weeks.

Hot day, idyllic path, along the E9 past Travemünde
Hot day, idyllic path, along the E9 past Travemünde
I did make a start of the section of the E9 that starts in Lübeck, but didn’t get very far. I started on what was possibly the hottest day of the year, in September, on a very long section to Boltenhagen, blistered my feet, couldn’t find any accommodation in Boltenhagen itself, and in Wismar it was very late and the train fare home was cheaper than staying the night, so I abandoned the enterprise. Looks like that section will be quite expensive and will take more planning.

As for swimming, a couple of times the session had been cancelled by the time I had reached the pool, but no warning had been given. I relaxed a little from my goal of 1600 m per session, and tried some interval training instead. Times have yet to be improved, but the going is certainly easier, and it can be quite fun to “explode” for 30 m every now and then, only to recover for the next 170.

That’s enough preparation for now. I’m not trying to paddle from Marlborough Sounds to Christchurch, as Philipp was when he was rescued back then, you know.