30 May 12: Eslarn to Wildstein


Distance 15 km. Climbing 320m total

Since I was a young girl, I have had a fondness for soft-boiled eggs. Cooking them just right is hard enough at home; it seems to be the impossible dream when traveling. Of course, eggs for breakfast – in any form – is something the French simply do not do, unless in Normandy where they have learned about the tastes of British holiday-makers. So you can imagine my surprise when the breakfast buffet this morning included soft-boiled eggs! And since the chicken coop was just below my bedroom window, these were literally “fresh from the hen”. The yolks were such a deep, intense yellow-orange, so tasty. I asked Frau what these are called in German: weich-gekocht eier (weak-cooked eggs).

The late spring bloomers are still going strong in the gardens here: the purple June Rhodadendron, Dutch iris, peonies and something that looks like a crepe myrtle but, given the winters here, is likely an ornamental something else (has watermelon-pink blossoms shaped like crepe myrtle ). Also today I saw the first daylilies, a sure sign that summer is upon us.

Just as I was about to congratulate the local hiking club on how well they had marked the route, I missed a turn and went astray on my way out of town. This was the first of two such opportunities to sort myself out using the gps track today.

Passing through the little village of Gaisheim, I was struck by the duck pond. Mind you, this was not just any duck pond. There were duck houses – both single and condos. There was a one meter electric fence all the way around. And there were ducks – all sorts, at least a half dozen different varieties. Maybe some other larger waterfowl also. Altogether the most elaborate duck pond I think I have ever seen.

The route today was rolling meadows (near the towns) and forested hills between. Two long but gentle climbs kept me occupied most of the day. I was doing rather well, I thought, recovering from the second misdirection (which put me on the bicycle route and was probably a bit shorter, with lovely valley views, even if asphalted).

During my second noon halt I heard thunder nearby. Now, when you are walking in dense forest it is really hard to ever catch a glimpse of sky to see what the weather is doing. But I took the cue, wrapped up my rest break, dug out the poncho and put on the pack cover. Putting the poncho on, over the pack, is something of a gymnastic routine when walking solo, so I don’t like to leave it until the last minute. Then there were a series of thunder showers for the remainder of the afternoon. These were real cloudbursts (sorry, people, just because I live in Seattle does not mean that I do real rain!). I would find dry spots under the trees to wait out the worst, then continued to make progress between times. Emerging from the forest at last, I see the town below, and a storm cloud with lightning above. And there I am on an exposed hillside! So I quickly head downhill.

Wildenstein is a small place, with maybe 200 residents. They have two gasthaus but one was closed (Pfingsten is taken seriously here in Bavaria). So I was very fortunate to find the other open. A simple plate of local sausages and kraut, and a local beer, was satisfying. Afterwards, Frau and chatted about our family histories. She has relatives in Seattle. And the same year my grandfather emigrated was a similar story in this town: the crops failed, there was no food and no work, and several young men went to the US. She lost a great – uncle in WWI; no one saw him die and so he was always listed as Missing. The family was never able to find a trace of him. This was similar to my own family story.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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