This is already second week of October. I was restless again. I somehow wanted to do atleast one trek or a hike in the forest before the winter. As usual looked around and zeroed in on Pfälzerwald e. V. Nature Park . This link lands you at a hotel in the edge of the nature park on Google Map.
How to reach here:
The location is close to Lambrecht. Lambrecht is well connected with Ludwigshafen (Rh) train station and by road. I took train from Osthofen. It took slightly more than an hour for me to reach. I started at 0700 hrs from Osthofen and landed at Lambrecht by 0815 hrs. Osthofen to Ludwigshafen and then take another train to Lambrecht.
When I de-boarded the train, the station was literally empty. The station before Neustadt was better in the sense it was buzzing with many trekkers and tourist groups. For a moment I felt that I landed in a wrong station.
From station, I followed the GPS and reached the spot, only to realise that the spot was a hotel. It is about half a km from the station.
I enquired about the trail, then the lady at the counter looked at me up & down and confirmed that I am in the nature park already. I asked – Trail ….? She said there are thousands of trails marked in the vast forest land and follow any one trail. I was lost.
My expectation was somewhat different. I then realised and recalled my earlier trekking in Himalayan region. It dawned onto me that I have to find the trail myself and follow the marking and I am on solo. No group with me.
The lady at the counter asked me to look at the maps that were available. I just looked and decided take the starting point nearest to me and started off.
History of the park :
Nature Park of the Palatine Forest was created to protect the landscape for the leisure of the people of the surrounding cities, Naturpark Pfaelzerwald. The entire area is protected to maintain its diversity, uniqueness and beauty − and it’s still an excellent site for relaxation.
Very nice lush green forest. Onset of autumn was evident by the colourful trees, shedding.
There are resting places, huts, taverns along the trail. Some are just huts some offer food and drinks
The Ritterstein No. 255 ‘Breite Loog’ PWV is located on a historical border point from the Franconian period. The “Breite Loog” lies on the hiking trail from the Hellerhütte or Lieselottepfad to Lambrecht. Previously, there are some numbered landmarks on the path. Here used to be an over 1000 year old border, namely Deidesheim, Neustadt and the Hambach-Lachener forest. These boundaries met here.
This flat stone gets covered with dried leaves. There are brooms kept there. Some body keeps the stone cleaned.
First few kilometers I did not get to see many people. I was bit concerned. As I moved on I got to see few fellow hikers. I felt like that was a good idea to follow them. I kept on walking and clicking all around. There were few guys cycling as well.
Many of them were in groups. Either family with kids or young and old couple too. Many were with their pet dogs. It was nice to see the family with even small kids.
One of them brought their pet donkey as well.
I believe there about 100 such huts, taverns that offer food and shelter, spread across the region.
I quickly left the spot. I was alone again from this place since all others decided to enjoy some warm food and chilled beer or nice wine. I had brought my own food and being a teetotaller, and vegan plus (I do not take few vegetables also) I hardly eat outside home that too when I am outside of India.
I moved forward, alone. After a while I thought, I should go back to Tavern, take a turn back. Some how I did not feel safe to continue randomly, though I was following the GPS. It was 1400 hrs already.
You can see the spot where I turned back towards the Tavern. From there I thought It would be boring go back the same path, hence take circular path to reach Lambrecht. I decided to take a detour.
I really enjoyed the next two hours of solo walk.
Got lost in the middle of nowhere
At one spot the fork with multiple trail paths leading towards different directions I lost GPS signal. It was trying to reroute and reroute. I was alone and no one was to be seen. It was 1630 hrs. It was getting dark, No GPS, and battery going towards low. I was lost, literally. I just waited there for few minutes to see if some lone soul appears. But not a soul. I was scared, really scared. Cursed myself for not having brought the power pack for the mobile.
I shut off the mobile, believed my gut and took the path that looked like more used that too with tyre marks. I walked and ran for almost in between for a km.
Relief, what a relief……. I saw a couple walking from the other direction. I stopped to take breath and asked them for direction. I do not know German, they do not speak English.
I was still expecting to reach back Lambrecht. I had not realised that I had drifted far off from Lambrecht. See the map , where I was lost and where Lambrecht was. I was closer to Neustadt.
I said repeatedly Lambrecht,,,,, Lambrecht….. They could not get me. They realised that I was asking for direction. I then asked – showing the road, goes to which place with mix of sign language and hotchpotch German.
They understood. They said It goes to Neustadt. But by now I was much relieved. I decided to follow the path and reach Neustadt. I walked almost 5 km further and reached Neustadt. Rest was easy. Took the train reach back home.
I swear that I would not drift into solo trail again with out power pack for mobile as a rule.
What If had drifted elsewhere. The region is vast with large number of trail paths. I could have gone elsewhere and would have to spend the night in the forest. I shudder with that thought.
Look at the number of trails in the region.
A lesson for me and all solo hikers.
Keep the map of the region, possibly a hard copy, in case if you lose GPS or low battery situation.
Never allow your mobile go low on battery. Keep power pack.
Return to your destination, before dark. Never lose track.
But I know, you are on Solo. If something goes wrong, it will go wrong.
God is great, I always believed. I was back home safe.
At the end, the hike was exhaustive but really good. My wish is always to spend time with nature, which was thoroughly fulfilled.