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Trail Running Around Schmalkalden, Germany and the Lutherweg

Disclosure: I traveled in part as a guest of Thüringen Entdecken. As always, all opinions are my own.

The Thuringer Forest, like any forest, has two stories––one with people and one without people.

Without people, it developed naturally for thousands of years. But the forest has changed over the past 1,000 years since humans started penetrating the forest for its timber and ore.

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In Europe/ Outdoors

Triberg | Running Through The Black Forest

Black Forest Trail View

The Black Forest is probably the second German region behind Bavaria that most of us have heard about from overseas. We know it’s, well, a forest and that it has something to do with fairytales. The Brothers Grimm, perhaps?

I’m of course talking about the fairytales in their original version––not the cutesy, sanitized versions that found their way to Disney. The German versions wouldn’t give two Scheiße about our modern conceptions of protecting children from violence and gore. The violence and gore were front and center in these stories. And many of these stories were inspired by the region of southwestern Germany we know today as the Black Forest.

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In Europe/ Outdoors

Saxon Switzerland National Park | Hiking and Trail Running

“This might be the most beautiful place I’ve been in Germany,” I told Melanie.

It was just our second day in Saxon Switzerland National Park in southeast Germany on the Czech border (not Switzerland, to most everyone’s surprise). The country had just started to open up again and it felt safe to wear our masks for a two-and-a-half-hour train ride to Bad Schandau on the Elbe River for a short getaway after hunkering down in Berlin for what was starting to feel like a lifetime.

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In Europe/ Outdoors

A Loop Through Löcknitzer Forest

Müggelspree Trail in Löcknitzer Forest

I’ve been on the record as saying that what I’d miss most about living in Düsseldorf is access to the Rhineland. Düsseldorf is as flat as Berlin, but you can get some scenic elevation in Siebengebirge and the trails along the Rhine, Mosel, and Ahr rivers.

Not so much with Berlin and surrounding Brandenburg. There are cartoon characters underneath ACME anvils with more topography than Brandenburg. So my expectations for finding a good hike around here were about on par with getting a burrito dripping with Cholula in Minsk. Fortunately, as with most things in life, I was quickly proven wrong.

Enter, the Löcknitzer Forest.

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In Europe/ Outdoors

Hiking in Norway: Something to Keep in Mind

Haukeli Norway Hike

You go to France for the food and wine, you go to Norway for the hiking. Thems just the facts.

But approaching the topic of hiking in Norway can be an intimidating endeavor. It’s both a small (population-wise) and large (territory and terrain-wise) country at the same time. There’s the temptation to try and do it all at once, somehow simultaneously without taking into account the limits of the human body.

You imagine all the views from the top without seriously considering the transportation to the trailhead or the hours of trodding alongside hills and mountains to get those vistas––and what that does to your body. Besides making you tired, it makes you hungry, and Norway is without exaggeration one of the most expensive countries in the world for purchasing food.

That’s why it’s best to go into Norway with the right attitude, and the attitude is beautifully Norwegian in nature. I’m talking about “Takk for turen.”

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In Essays/ Europe/ Outdoors

Like A Bat Out Of Hell: Running the Panoramalauf Rund um die Burg Are

View of Ahrtal from the AhrSteig

“Fuck this. I’m never doing this again. No more running.”

That’s all I could say to myself as I started another 200-meter climb with about six kilometers to go in the race. My legs wouldn’t let me run up anything resembling even the slightest ascent. They were shot from the previous 800 or so meters of climbing.

I was out of water to boot, having felt a false sense of relief after taking a drink at the last aid station. My throat was so dry, I couldn’t swallow a tiny bite of my Clif Bar without nearly activating my gag reflex. All I wanted in the world was to cross the damn finish line and be done with this mistake.

That said, I’d happily sign up again.

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