Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Trail and a Refugee

When I went into 'retirement' in the summer of 2013.....I slowly became introduced into the various trails around Germany.  Most are forest trails built for the loggers decades ago, and they've become over the past couple of decades....a heavily appreciated hiking trail system.

Just around the Wiesbaden area alone.....I'd take a guess that over a thousand kilometers of trails exist within thirty-odd miles of the city.  There are probably six different trails that I could take to exit my village and head off in various directions (Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Mainz-Kastel, Limburg, the Rhine River, etc).

There are so many trails around Germany....that people have gotten into GPS-related data, travel advice (eating establishments, inns, and shops), and detailed analysis of the plant and animal life along each trail.  There are literally volumes of data out there, if you simply look for the trail in question.

Oddly, most of Germany's neighbors have done the same thing (Austria and Switzerland to a great degree, Italy and Hungry to a lesser degree).

Back in the 1880s, if you'd said you wanted to walk a trail from Frankfurt to would have been difficult.  Assembling the information and getting the right maps.....a slight challenge....and people would have been suspicious of your intentions.

Today?  With so much could plan a walk from Mainz to Athens, Greece.....and have every single detail laid out.  Coffee shops each mid-morning with a curious local pastry.  A grocery stop in the afternoon for some beef and items for tonight's camp-fire supper.  One stop a week at some inn or hotel for a full bath and comfortable evening's rest.

So, you could easily envision a refugee sitting there in Iraq or Syria and pouring over the data. You could plan a 2,000 kilometer walk from the beaches of Mainz.  It'd take less than a day to get your plan up to a four-star level.  You might want a cellphone, a compass, a tent, some rain gear, some cooking gear, a wire-cutter device for security fences, a language book or two, and a sleeping bag.

Doing this the hard way and walking the whole way? Ok, it might take eighty-odd days.  If you added in a bus everyday and rode the afternoon route?  Maybe fifteen days max.

In the 1880s, you would have needed a map and it might have been tough to acquire several of the maps required.  Today, that map is built into the cellphone.  GPS coordinates easily acquired and used to ensure no wasted time.

A complex walk?  Maybe if you had five or six people in the group who were over forty and in poor physical shape....but the younger kids would take to the hike with no problems.

When you sit and ponder over this impressive's really not remarkable.  In the summer of 2014, I probably hiked a thousand kilometers easily in the Wiesbaden region.  Dehydration might have been a issue on one or two days......but it's not that big of a deal if you plan out your water consumption.

In some ways....this trek that the refugees are accomplishing....turns into a life-changing adventure.  You've left country X and walked across half of Europe, and there's not much for you to worry about except some discomfort along the trail.  Whatever you find in Germany....will be better than what you left.  It would be different if there were no trails and you had simply a wilderness in front of you.  But there's this trail that thousands have walked and you've got some courage in your system.....if they made can you.

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