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Saturday, Sept. 11, the day for walking has come and it is a lovely one – temperatures are expected to reach 25C.  Great!  A sunny day!  One of a handful that I have experienced since arriving in Scotland August 9/Germany August 15 – no wonder both countries are so green.   However, people in both have said that it has been unseasonably cold and rainy this summer/fall.

I have elected to go via road.  The roads between villages here are small ones so I’m not as concerned about becoming road kill.   Sometimes I think Germans treat every road as if it were the Autobahn.

I figure going by road I am less likely to get lost, plus I had stopped in at the Schrozberg Rathaus (city hall – “a” is like “ah”) a couple of days ago and gotten a map of the area.  The map shows all the wee villages that the guidebook mentions right up to Mulfingen, which is my next overnight stay 20 km away.   Another 20km you say?  Yes, well I am brightly confident – my legs are no longer achy breaky and my toes will do – besides I have a map!  And, Marlene and Rolf (her husband) had spent some time going over the routes with me.

House in Kalberbach

According to the guidebook the next stop of interest is Erpfersmeiler six km away.   I’ll never know how interesting Erpfersmeiler is because I never get there.  I end up in Kalberbach.    In my defence both villages are somewhat in the same direction even though the roads they are on are several km apart.  What can I say, I have a gift.

I have no intention of backtracking again, after all I have a map and the next town , Herrentierbach, is about five kilometers away.  All I have to do is figure out which
direction to go – I must be a closet optimist. I give up after about 10 minutes of spinning myself around like a top trying to place myself in what I think is   Kalberbach’s compass orientation.  It is only confusing me, and making me dizzy.  I fold up the map thinking it will make a good souvenir with all its pretty red, green and yellow lines randomly scattered all over.

Once again I put my trust in trust and straight ahead it is.  I am out in the middle of somewhere and there is no one around to ask this time.

At least the weather is nice, of course now I’m too hot.  For a time I follow a bicycle route figuring it will eventually have to go somewhere habitable.  Mini digression:  Germans are great for their Radwegs (literal translation – wheel ways).  These are
also Wanderwegs (walkways).  These “ways” can follow along beside a road or not.
There are a great many bicycle routes/wanderwegs set up in Germany.  Often established with families in mind the majority of them tend to be quite level.

Miracles do happen and I get to Herrentierbach in a relatively straightforward way.   It is here that I end up following the guidebook again as the next village, Simmetshausen,  is only 0.6km away and there is really nowhere else even I can manage to get to.

Herrentierbach

From Simmetshausen I have to go through the Wald (forest).  It is going through the Wald that I get somewhat nervous.  I have seen a number of hunter’s blinds scattered here and there and I see from the map that this is a popular hunting area.  I
realize that being September it is probably hunting season.  After seeing 3 tiny deer flee across the path behind me (no, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head – I happened to turn just then) , I hope some hunter doesn’t think he’s found the mother lode when he sees my burnt orange and muted yellow pack.  It takes me an hour to get through the forest all the while hunching my shoulders up, because we all know that makes you invisible.

Through the Wald

Hohen Strasse or Hoch Strasse

From here the guidebook directions are excellent and I end up on the Hochstrasse (High street) just like I am supposed to.  It is a straight run on this wanderweg to
Heimhausen about 7km away, and then only 3km to Mulfingen – my end point of the day.  Historical note of interest:  The Hochstrasse or Hohen Strasse is an ancient route travelled by both the Romans and the Celts before them – so cool to have walked it myself!  For those of you that are unaware the Celtic people originated in what is now Austria.

Straight and easy run it may be, but after a couple of kilometers or so it goes steadily down hill to the valley of the Jagst River.   The geography of this area is the prettiest
I have seen in Germany, but I don’t spare too many thoughts for the beauty
because this down hill walk is giving my right knee some issues and is causing my toes serious grief.  When I eventually get my shoes off in Mulfingen, I see that three of them are blackened under the nail.

*Pilger tip #4 – footwear is extraordinarily important!  I cannot emphasize that enough.  Your footgear and your feet are going to become more intimate than lovers, so be sure they get along. “They” suggest that you wear your shoes at least a month before you plan on doing a lot of walking to break them in.  I would say longer than that, plus walk around wearing the gear you will be using – uphill, downhill and sideways if you have to.  My shoes are very comfortable, but they were not up to this task. *Pilger tip #5 – it is a good idea to pack some moleskin – because you will probably need it anyway.

Heimhausen

At Heimhausen my feet give out and I call for help once again.  There is the possibility that I could have made it to Mulfingen, but I could see the village in the distance  and that distance was all uphill.  That did it for me.  Bernd, owner of the Gasthaus zur Krone in Mulfingen, came and collected me.   Marlene had insisted that I phone her to let her know of my safe arrival and so I do.  Karin, Bernd’s sister, brings me some tea and offers a lotion for my feet.   I settle in for the night.

I spend two days in Mulfingen – legs were fine, toes not so much.

Wishing you all health and happiness,

Anita

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