Easter in the Harz

At three o’clock in the morning I wake up to find myself curled up in a ball, pulling the second sleeping bag higher up to my nose. I never thought we were that crazy for planning our first camping trip in April, but as we could hear the sleet pattering on the walls of the tent, I wondered how much more sleep I would be getting if I was tucked up in a bed somewhere. And then I drifted off to sleep again, brain filled with images of maps and plans of marching, light backpack bouncing on my back.

I ended up in this tent, weathering the sleet, snow, rain and rejoicing at the sun, because two months before I had received an email from keen bean and university friend Maddi, declaring that her Easter holidays were “ridiculously” long and demanded some sort of adventure. Did I have time? Of course I did, or at least, I would find it.

Most springs past have seen me returning to the hills; last year I visited both Yorkshire and the Elbsandstein Gebirge and I like to see this as a gentle return to outdoor adventures. Generally the hills are flatter, smaller hills than the outskirts of the Turin, enough to pose a challenge, but also well connected and with easy amenities and paths to ease back into the movement and practice basic navigation skills. We could have realistically chosen any of our usual haunts, or re-lived walks in Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons, or the Peak District. But somehow we focused on abroad. I’m unsure, but I suspect that my desire to explore more of the German National Parks matched up with Maddi’s desire to travel to places unknown. And somehow we did still manage to recreate a classic Lisa-Maddi UK walking trip, just in older, more worn mountains, with more signs.

We met on Friday morning, both standing out in the Airport arrivals lounge due to our bright jackets and sturdy boots. I had kidnapped the car and most of the family’s camping gear, and Maddi was traveling light, with nothing but her backpack and addictive enthusiasm. 

In any case we had a fantastic few days, experiencing all the forms of weather, trotting along several kilometers of path, learning about car maintenance when it started making funny noises, and sharing many conversations.

On our not-walking and departure day we even took the time to see a traditional town, which looks so different from my home area, that I was again reminded of how skewed my impressions of my home land are. Nevertheless the bread and Easter pastries were the same, and amazingly delicious. I filled up, knowing that soon, I would be far away from anything that resembles my favorite multi seed bread.

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