It's 30 years after the german re-unification as we mind a bizarre plan: We're trekking along the Iron Curtain, the former deadly borderline between the East and the West of Germany! There is a hiking way named „Grenzwanderweg“ or „Green Ribbon“. You can hike here along the path on which the east german border guards monitored the „Iron Curtain“ between the socialist world and the west.
Now I present you part 13:
It was a long way from the north of the Harz mountains to the north of the Schaal lake. This trekking path isn't one of the great pilgrims ways like the famous "Jakobsway" from the east to the west of Europe. As I described in my former posts it is more like a journey into loneliness where you met empty places, and nature and a lot of trees and animals.
Nobody walks this way, only us. But now, when we left Kneese, a small group of small houses and the vegan Forsthof to wander further north to the shores of the Baltic Sea, the landscape is not only lonely. It seems empty like the dark side of the moon.
Along the Kuhlrader Moor we walk forgotten ways through former restricted areas. While the Cold War this territory was border land, watched by the border police of eastern Germany. A zone from which the residents were evicted with violence and threats in order to make the border safe. 30 years after the fall of the wall in Berlin it's still deserted and lost here.
We walk for hours and we do not see a single person. The 15 kilometres to Carlow, a small village with a church and a tiny pub, where we hope we can get some fresh water, consist only of weathered dirt roads and corn fields. The locals we can't see are smart people: They fight the sharp west wind by planting hazelnut hedges along the fields so we walk our way like in a neverending green tunnel.
Thats nice, but as we reach Carlow all our hopes are lost. The Carlower Hof, the inn we hope to find something to eat and something to drink, is closed. Not about Corona and the pandemic, no. It has payed his price for the decline of the border region. „Closed since juli 2019“ tells a sign in the dusty window.
Running out of water
Unfortunataly it is a very hot day, our water bottles are empty like the street of the village. We have to try to ring some house bells, before a friendly young woman takes pity on us and lets us fill our bottles.
But more problems are to come. As always, we had actually planned to look for a nice meadow outside of town in the evening to pitch our tent. But behind Carlow there is no such place. We walk on kilometer after kilometer, everywhere there are horse pastures or sheep pastures behind fences, corn fields that reach the hazelnut hedge, or strips of forest with dense undergrowth. We only need a few meters of space, but not even that can be found.
We are desperate because even the place at an old mill that we saw on the map turns out to be the garden of an old woman who lives here all alone in the forest. She looks fearfully over the fence, so we say hello, but we'd better move on quickly. The old lady shouldn't be scared.
Stranded in a dark forest
Another mile and another later we stranded in a dark forest, but now we find a sweet meadow spot under an old tree. Nearby an ancient ruin is falling apart, once a customs house, it seems, but that's all. No other houses in reach, no streets, no neighbours. Error. Just as we are about to cook our delicious tomato soup with fresh Carlow water, a dog barks and Peter and his girlfriend Gabriele are standing in front of our not so legal camp site.
At first moment we fear that they might report us to your village sheriff because we are camping illegally. But the two are very friendly and even a little happy to meet two crazy hikers. "There's nothing going on here," says Peter, "there's no pub and nothing at all."
If you want to do something, you hvae to go out with the dog. "But usually there's nothing special out here either." We talk about the decline of nearly everything from the second when everyone here believed that everything would finally get better after the end of the communism era. Is it better? Yes, Peter swears. But good? No, no. Not even almost.
The later the evening, the better our private hiking cocktails. It's a mysterious mix from Carlow water, Absolut wodka and vitamin tablets with grapefruit flavor. Never tried? Your mistake! You should try this one time in your life, because it's the best way to carry a few alcoholic sips with you when you think your luggage weighs more than you do.
When you have drunk a quarter litre of it, the warm, windless evening in the loneliness between the small creek Maurine and the Stover Mühlenbach is twice as beautiful. In the west the sun goes down, behind the tent the sheep graze and a sky full of twinkling stars hangs over us. Perfect night.
A few more pictures for you: