(disclaimer1: in case you find overly enthusiastic words about my shoes this run, be aware, I got them for free. As well as the buffs and the wind breaker that I used a lot on this adventure. I love all three of them. Click on the team red logo to your right for further info)
(disclaimer 2: I speak a bit about the new Suunto S9P. As a fieldtester, I do not really gain any money or get any stuff from Suunto, nor am I obliged to promote anything. But I don’t pay for the test devices. Make of this, whatever you like.)
Since the beginning of reading through ultra list posts and reports around ultra running all over the web or speaking to more experienced runners, I was always fascinated by people running just on their own for days on end. Like Slavic, or Sebastian, or Herrmann. Or all the Vol State Crowd. I so wanted this experience of living on the run, being on the road all day, finding some shelter just when needed, buying food on gas stations on the route. Very early, when I wrote my bio to the ultra list, my fantasy ultra goal was a continent crossing, or at least run in one direction until the ocean stops me. This fire did not subside over the years. I love the races, meeting people, having food and drinks catered, but never really needed this to run long. One of my aims with running was always independence. Self-sufficiency sounds soo good. For this, Corona came around quite well. Races are cancelled, seminars too. No vacation in sight. No way to book any flat for a week of out-time.
This week, it was a cancelled seminar. I already took days off and was about to cancel that as well. Then a thought creeped up. I was planned to be away that week anyway, so I could just take the days and run on my own. The Harz was set for longer, because I want to learn more about the topography for some really crazy project to come one day. So, four days it was. I wanted to do all on my feet, the easiest way to reach the Harz is to Osterode. I love the climb up Hanskuehnenburg, but the idea of running the entire Hexenstieg from Osterode to Thale was better. Also, I could get dinner in Clausthal, sleep some place near Altenau and get breakfast there. Oh well. Sleeping. I invested quite some time and money in good bivouac equipment in the last year. But I never slept that way before. Always in tents. The thought was exciting and scary at the same time. Luckily, I read a fb post of Axel sleeping in an emergency hut, and Micha asking why he did not put the canvas to cover the door and windows. Thanks for the indirect tip! I would use this a lot.
Well, gear. I want these long journey runs to be as minimal as possible, still I am a fan of preparation. Like, being prepared for everything that might come. Running long for years and thorough research on the interwebs made me already quite fit in what I need for long runs. What problems might arise and how I tackle them. My personalized first aid kit is well evolved, nutrition is tested and fine tuned with the right salt pills and guarana powder to not go cold turkey on caffeine in the wild. But this time it was more than running. More than taping feet, changing socks, and preparing a list of supermarkets and gas stations for supply. This time it was also about sleeping outdoors. When I hiked in the past, I went with a 95l pack (the good old Bora95, would get a new one any time this monster breaks, but it doesn’t. It just smells funny since a few years) which could easily reach 30kg of weight. No problem, I am the impersonation of a mule. Not this time. It was about light travel. Running. how much can I carry when running? I had no idea. Still, I wanted to go ultra light with my gear and therefore aquired piece after piece and felt like almost being there (and having no more excuse to not go out on a long multiday run / speed hike). Anyway, as I tend to put my experiences of my runs in these reports for others to learn a bit and for myself to remember for the next outing, this report will cover loads of gear. Some more thoroughly, some only briefly. I apologize to any reader looking for more deep thoughts. So, I decided to put the gear stuff up front, and give the journey later. And while I am onto structure, some concluding remarks in the end and my total check-list of thing to pack and to consider.
When I checked my equipment list, it became obvious, what I already knew. I needed a larger pack. Research was made, I found good reviews on the FKT vest from UD and ordered it for a heavy discount. Only, I was not sure if I could fit everything in it. And time was closing in. So I ordered the FastPack 30 with some bad feeling because it looked too long and would sit on my hip. There was even a hip belt. Then came Rolli’s fb post about a new vest from Instinct (XX20L) that would fit that little extra stuff (food?) that I could not get into the FKT vest that arrived in the meantime. Some messages and that thing was on its way to me. When I got it, I was surprised how thin the outer material was (Cordura? for real?), and that the top pocket was separate and not connected to the main compartment. Well, a bit different from what I am used to, but made more sense with the big front door. Usually, the redundancy of accesses makes the stuff in the pack move around and not really help.
The hugging feeling of the Instinct was really good. Even with quite a bit of load on my training run this seemed nice. Only, my legs complained about the 10kg extra weight. It was nicely secure and distributed, but it was there for the entire running system. I packed the maps for the Harz into the lid pocket before my test run, but figured that pocket will slide around the pack if the upper compartment is stuffed as I would do. So I got it off and left it at home. Also for the real thing.
I am a bladder person. Both the FKT vest and the Instinct favor bottles in the front. I tried my best to get my HydraPak bladder in any of these, and it works in principle. But there are two drawbacks: This takes space of the main compartment away, and the weight is totally unbalanced, concentrated at the back. Having the water in front of my chest would solve this. So I went for two 600ml Hydrapak Softflasks, way less water capacity than usual (which would be 2l), so in my anxiety I not only took the MSR water filter with the hand pump, but also the 2l clean water reservoir, so I could carry 3l of water if needbe.
During the run I made some adjustments to my packing, and over the run it evolved to something like this: Sleeping bag in the top compartment. My replacement long sleeve as a roll in the same compartment for stabilization so the pack would not bounce back and forth. Water in the front, bars, beanie, gloves (if I did not wear them, which was most of the time) and phone below the bottles. While I felt the flatness of the phone on my ribs, I never had any pain from that as I do with the phone pocket in the Nathan vest, I usually wear on long runs. I used the main compartment of the pack for any gear that needed a bit of organization (in ziplock bags, or nylon bags). I love the different pockets around the main opening, so I could have tissues, mask and my ‘wallet’ (a small sealed plastic bag) accessible from the outside, and first aid stuff in one and hygiene stuff in the other pocket from the inside. The flexible net pockets at the bottom held my wind (and partially rain) jacket at one side and the waterproof pants on the other. I would put both on whenever I stopped to keep warm. The middle held my rain coat, that I never used as I always found shelter when the downpour got strong enough to soak me. At the very bottom, with the straps, I had my change of clothes in the pump bag of my matress, rolled up. And I prayed that it was water proof, but did not have to find out yet. All in all, when I put down my pack, e.g. in a cart to go shopping, it looked pretty compact but also big enough for serious business. Somehow I was reminded of the packs and rolls of clothes of carpenters on their traditional waltz.
What I did not like that much from the pack besides the superfluous lid pocket was that the bottle on the black side got stained from remaining color from the brand new pack. I had better washed it before. And the compression straps at the sides of the main compartment were also there to close the upper compartment, so the tighter I got my sleeping bag to keep it from bouncing, the more those straps tried to compress my entirely full main compartment. I understand the idea behind this, but in my case I had a hard time closing the front accesses zipper without loosening those straps again. Oh, and then the clip for the lower straps that held my roll of clothes was pretty hard on the straps as the slit they went through has very sharp edges. But all in all I was totally pleased by the pack which served me well and let me run with my entire household around my chest.
On most of my training runs, I sport four Suunto watches: Ambit3Peak with HR belt, S9Baro, S7 and since a few weeks the unannounced S9Peak. The latter three with beta firmware to test new features, compare performance of HR sensors, GPS chips, etc. No way I would take all four on this adventure. I did take four watches on 50 milers, but in the end every watch adds distraction. The belt had to go, and the Ambit with it. The S7 was a nightmare to recharge on my journey runs to Sibesse or Braunschweig. I had a power bank with me and just put the S7 in my pack once it ran low. Only, once the watch was fully charged, it turned off the power draw and the power bank shut down. Then the S7 was again very low in charge when I finally took it out again. Even though the maps of the S7 would be really handy in the Harz, I decided to leave it at home. The S9B recently got a new power mode (tour) which polls GPS once every hour and is intended for week long hikes away from civilization. Seems like the optimal setting here. Still, I cannot use it for navigation in tour mode as navigation powers up the GPS to 1 second polling. And I was not confident enough to switch navigation on and off to save power. So I put the S9B to tour mode, into my shoulder pocket which might hold a tracker in races that have these and forgot about it until I was done.
The S9P has a smaller display than the S9B, and I was not sure how well navigation would work on this as I did not test it yet and had problems reading the S5’s display with the navigation. In the weeks using the S9P, one thing stood out to me: the battery life was incredible. I did not charge the S9B often, but also wore it only for my training runs. The Peak was my 24/7 watch for a while and before that I used the S7 for everyday stuff and sleep tracking and found those to drain the battery quite quickly. Not so with the Peak. I reacharged it very sparsely, more when I was sitting at my desk anyway and the wrist could use some air. The week prior to this run I had the 20% battery warning on the Peak for the first time. I was pretty surprised. Both by the message and the fact that it was not a common thing like with the other watches. I love the Peak for every day wear as it is small, thin and light. And looks good. The bigger watches always felt a bit odd on my admittedly not very sturdy wrists. The strap with its holes convinced me as I did not get a rash with wearing the watch on the same wrist day and night. Just washing the strap after running and after the night. Only a very few other wrist bands were so good to my skin like this one.
I put my intended tracks on the S9Peak (Home to Osterode, All five stages of the Hexenstieg, some draft how to hike from Thale to Wernigerode, where I had company of my dad, the Harzquerung, and finally some idea how to get home midway of the Harzquerung, passing Bad Sachsa.) and would use it as my main watch. Nah, the Baro would be in the pocket at all times, maybe acting as a backup, so it was like the Peak would be my only watch on this run, because I thought about the S9B more as a tracker than a watch those days. I pondered quite a bit about power. I have a light power bank delivering 10000mAh that I usually use on long runs. But light is not really light here. And I needed a headlamp, where I once said that on any journey run where weight is key, I’d take the LED Lenser H7R with batteries from the supermarkets on the way. But I recently got a Lupine Blika with a secondary battery which could act as a power bank with an adapter. Back and forth, and finally I decided to take the Lupine, with both battery packs, it’s charger for a wall socket, and the USB adapters and cables for the phone and both watches. I also put the big power bank in the drop bag I sent my dad, so I could charge everything on the third day to full. The plan was to use the Peak the entire run and charge it when I put up my bed as I wanted to use it as an alarm to head out early enough not to get caught by someone when sleeping in the woods. And for sleep tracking, of course 😉
On the run, I was really surprised how well I could work with the S9P. First it was in the light theme which is the default, and I wondered why I was able to see the track so well even if the contrast from white to the blue line was not too good compared to the black background in the dark theme. So I switched the second day and did not go back, but still, I had no problems with the light theme at all. I had some corners where I needed to track back 50 meters as I misinterpreted the bends on the blue line, but this was rather rare. And I could always cut through the woods which was way less annoying than going back to the intersection. Real maps would have prevented this.
The battery life was promised around 24h, and I was sceptical about this. All too often watches drained big time when used for navigation a lot. So I expected a battery warning and recharging at some point. But this never came. Upon setting my camp for the first night, the S9P was still at 35%. After a full day of navigation screen. Impressive! I took my time to fiddle with stuff, but apparently charging went pretty quickly. Another 30 minutes of charging the next morning and the watch was full again. Wow. I repeated this pattern for all four days and more and more lost my doubt and more and more forgot to take care of the watch. Much, much different from former experiences for example with the SSU.
When I returned home, and we discussed the teaser video for the S9P it dawned on me that I exactly experienced what this watch will be sold for: Silence of Mind. The watch was a reliable tool which served me. And not the other way round, that I have to baby a device in the hope it would provide information once I need it. No, this was different. I could relax my worries about recharging and dying watches that I was used to in long races. Wow. With the power bank from my dad, I recharged the phone, but both Lupine battery packs still reported full with several recharges of the S9P drawn from one, and several hours of (admittedly dim) light for running and setting up camp. One less thing to worry. Plenty of power in those two packs.
Ok, when I talked in length about the pack and the watch it would be unfair to not highlight the shoes that carried me through all this. I had some pondering over which pair to use. Superiors it was for sure, those are my go-to shoes and I know they carry me over long distances. Only, I change my shoes about twice in a hundred mile race. To get a fresh sole and start over with dry socks and shoes. This will not be possible here. The Superior 4.0 are too soft for me, I tend to slide to the sides in rough terrain. The 3.5 are veterans over long distances, and despite the weight, I like them most. But they had their holes and the outsole was also way different from grippy. So, I took one of the 4.5 pairs I got last year for my Altra team RED membership. Running wise they were fine, and walking worked quite well too. I only had to remember they are no hiking boots and sport no heel. But I learned to hike that way in those shoes some time back already. With all the purchases up front I also got a new pair of Ultra Injinji socks with a bit more plush than the trail version and at crew length. A great decision in this weather.
Getting off the shoes and socks for my first night exposed me to an aweful smell. The rest of the clothes seemed to have survived quite well, stink wise, but not the shoes and socks. Bah! I tried not to think about what the feet will do to my brand new sleeping bag. After the night, I put on the damp socks and had the smell in my nose whenever my fingers got near my face. Darn. Only, it was soo cold, I could not even imagine washing my feet in any of the creeks or canals I found. Well, the canals were part of a drinking water system, so I better not poison them anyway. On thursday I got fresh socks for the hike and changed again before I left my dad. This helped a bit odor wise.
All in all the shoes (putting the stink aside) were perfect for my adventure. I did not have to overthink on them, they just worked.
I took my time on Tuesday morning, was there with Jule until Ilka arrived, and put my last things together. There was no rush. I wanted to reach the Harz, easy. This was at less then 40k. And find a place to sleep after dark. So, plenty of hours. My upper layering was unclear to me for the last days, but once I went off, there must be a decision. The forecast had me take the Merino combination (thin Icebreaker long sleeve, some running shirt (Altra team read shirt in this case) and the thicker pullover from Supernatural. After the first kilometer, I put the long sleeve base layer away, but not for too long. As always I headed out too fast, and told myself that this would do no harm. Well, that’s what I always say…
I found some nice route to Osterode. A bit different from the one I ran some time ago from Salzgitter home, where I passed Goslar, Clausthal and Osterode too. And way different from the bike route I chose last summer for my mini-vacation with Ronja. I recognized some places which was nice. I could throw a big middle finger at the spot where I turned too early last time and found myself crawling under bushes with big thorns, trying to find the trail the boars laid. And losing two chocolate bars. Man was I pissed! Not this time. It was a big laugh at my stupidity to enter the bushes at all that day. And Osterode was in sight. My first pit stop. As I learned there is a single shop in that town, so I directly navigated to it. Put on my mask and filled my arm with all that I could carry (and much more than I could eat in a single session. Darn) and upon checkout was not-so-friendly reminded that carts were not optional. Well, I did not take coins on purpose, no change in my pack to make noise with every step. Still, I had to take the non-optional chip with me that became one of my main tools on this run. Fittingly, it made it into my pants pocket as the only item there. It was cold and windy so I tried to find a spot on the parking place with a bit of sun and ate as much of my goods as I could. Later I saw a sign that masks were required on the entire area, which might explain some of the strange looks I got that I attributed to my odd looks and the amount of food I swallowed.
When I began to shiver I got up and continued my way to the mountains. With a big bottle of ice tea in my hand. The stomach had some work to do, before I could down that one. So I walked through the city, had some problems finding the correct side of the river and finally found the entry to the Hexenstieg. Warm up is over, here comes the real deal. Entering the Harz. Well, walking up an incredibly steep brigde and road after that. I managed to drink all the ice tea, and still had the plastic bottle in my hand. With the sight of some carbage cans I also saw a person on a balcony of that house that I might had avoided on the streets. I took a deep breath and asked if I could dump my bottle, and being addressed, he became much more open and friendly. Uff. Away was the ballast in my hand and on my heart. Nice!
I knew the Hexenstieg was a pretty boring forest road here, but I was on my adventure. This was fun. Getting higher and higher, more and more able to look back the way I came that day, distinguish the land marks of my home turf in the very distance. The weather was crazy the whole day. Very strong winds from the west that pushed me quite a bit on my approach of the Harz. And the occasional drizzle, but never enough to think about a rain jacket. Here, half way between Osterode and Buntenbock, the drizzle came back and became much stronger. I also had to take a dump for some time now, so I looked for a spot to hide. And more or less at the time where I would take out my rain coat, I turned a corner and found an emergency hut. Great! For a moment I argued with myself if it was worth the lost time, but soon realized that this was the exact best moment to take a break under a roof. So I put my pack off and sat down, only to feel my bowels move and demanding for a hop out in the rain. So I did. It was still not that bad, so after a few minutes I was securely back at my pack under cover and took a well deserved break.
As quickly as the rain came, it also disappeared again, giving way to a blue sky. Time to go on. Get out of my wind jackt and rain pants that served me to keep warm and shuffle on towards the next place to buy food and eat. During planning, I always had the idea to go shopping before a night, so I get something for dinner and breakfast and carrying all this to my intended sleeping spot. On the other hand a thought formed in me, why should I need to eat after dark and before running on in the morning, when my intent was to go shopping in Altenau again. Shouldn’t it be sufficient to stuff myself now in Clausthal and have breakfast in Altenau? I then remembered the nice Uni-Doener we ate at when we stayed in Prahljust camping. A warm meal, hey! This set the destination of my dreams but I already felt the distance in my legs. And maybe the weight on my shoulders. So, even if I was pretty near Clausthal, I had to take another break at one of the artificial lakes there. A nice place, but a less nice reason to not move. When I passed the camping site, I was sad to see the nice forest on the other side of it’s lake to be torn down, as many parts of the Harz due to the Borkenkaefer.
Anyway, I made my way to the Uni-Doener and had Halloumi. And a large portion of fries. In the sun, in front of the university library where I had eduroam 😀 This was gold.
After the meal, I walked through campus to get to the supermarket, only to find myself pretty wrong. I shifted the thought of simply continuing back and forth, but was too eager for a Weizenbier that I tracked back and got to the supermarket. Still full, I only got the beer, 2l of water and three chocolate/cereal bars at the checkout. Boy was my stomach still stuffed from the food. I had a very hard time to drink the beer and after refilling my bottles, I still had half a liter of water in the big bottle. What do with this one? I simply kept it in my hand and jogged on. This felt a bit crazy, especially as I needed to carry the bottle for longer until I reached civilization with its trash bins again. Darn.
I knew the Hexenstieg from Clausthal to the Dam and was looking forward to the canal section to come. It was calm and peaceful as ever, only me shuffling my way along it, with the slushy bottle in my hand. Daylight faded more and more, and I had to pay attention to roots, but did not want to take out the headlamp yet. The dam itself was light again and the following trail section too as many trees were cut down here (as almost everywhere). Again the trail went into an intact section of the forest, the signs told me that Eisenquelle with its hut came closer and closer, and I finally reached it, just when lighting was gone entirely.
It was a big hut. With some fine gravel floor. I was happy for the footprint canvas I could put between the sharp stones and my all too thin Thermarest Uberlite. Setting the Tarp as a door required some creativity with attaching ropes, but I managed to cover the bigger part of the door and one of the windows and put a bench in front of the door to keep predators out. Hah.
How do you dry clothes on a camping trip? Yes, put them in the sleeping bag. Well, the socks did not make the cut. But the rest did. And I put on my spare tights and the turtle neck longsleeve that served me so well on many winter runs as a pyjama. Some pushups helped me get into the sleeping bag with a bit of body warmth so that I got warm rather quickly. But the night was horribly cold. The clothes I wore did not heat up as I wanted and the clothes of the day stayed damp and cold the entire night. Then I figured my boldness with configuring the sleeping bag to have more downs in the upper part than usual and less in the lower part might seem smart at first, but has the drawback that I had almost no isolation once I rolled a bit to the sides. Also I learned that intentional shivering does a good trick to generate some warmth the sleeping bag can give back then.
It felt like I was more awake than sleeping. I woke up from being cold every now and then. Some shivering, adjusting the bag and my legs position (mind that I tend to shift them around like mad the night after an ultra…) and I was sleeping again. It became day outside of my shelter and I heard foresters work nearby. Only, I had no desire to leave the sleeping bag out into the cold and put on my damp clothes. So I laid there for a while until I heard some voices and thought, I should rather not be blocking the hut for everyone else. In the end I was laying from 10pm to about 8am. Wow. My initial plan was to sleep from midnight to five or so and depart before dawn. Well, my plan was too to find nice spots along the way and sleep a bit during the day. No way in this freaking cold weather.
The weather. I finally hopped out of my warm cocoon and into the mess of running clothes from yesterday. Ate the bars from last evening and drank the remainder of water in the big bottle. Oh, I brushed my teeth. Luxury! When stepping out the hut and reassembling all my stuff, I was surprised that my legs did not complain the tiniest bit. Wow, after 70k yesterday. Beginning to run was a bit stiff, but I could resume running shortly after, got warm and found my legs rested quite well over the long night. Impressive! I made my way along the outskirts of Altenau and decided against dropping into the village for food, as I had enough bars with me to survive a day, and my two softflasks were still full. And I was neither hungry nor thirsty. On I went but after a kilometer the weather turned for the worse. Snow. Darn. I tried to ignore this, but it was getting on my nerves. Mostly the thought that I should take out my rain coat, but did not want to stop for this and fiddle with the pack. Then came a small hut, closed, but with a bench under a small roof. I sat down, watched the snow and asked myself how this will go on now.
The snow faded and I went on, thinking about the bigger hut along the way which should come a kilometer further. After some turns I found it, smiled and thought that this place might have been more cozy than the last one and hopped over stones and roots up a small grade, only to find the snow getting way more dense now. I stood under a tree for a while, but realized that this was no real cover and I have to get down those 100 meters into the hut again. I was a mixture of annoyed that I was not supposed to proceed as fast as I wanted and some indifference that I should not hang onto plans when stuff happens. This was what I wanted. To be thrown at with obstacles and handling them. So I did. Resting another hour in a hut, a mere 5k from my start that day, the Brocken and the endless winding of the Hexenstieg all still in front of me. Not started early that day, and now stuck here. And too bold to get food and water once I could. Supply was still plenty, I did not need anything that moment.
After endless waiting, the sky cleared a bit and I resumed running as good as possible. At first trying deperately to keep my feet dry, but quickly letting go of this idea… Once the final source of the canal system was reached there were two ways, one of which seemed more direct and with less elevation change but marked as closed both on the signs and on my hiking map. Well, somehow this reads to me as a challenge, so I took it and was partly disappointed as numerous fallen trees made progression very hard and slow, but partly joyful as the trail itself (when there was no tree in the way) was very nice along the grade.
Up at Torfhaus, I tried my best to find a water source, but not successfully. Maybe I could have asked someone, but again in my wicked ways I thought I was fine. When running down the road to continue to Brocken I was shocked by an immense lightning strike not too far and very loud thunder. Oh, oh. Was I about to Summit the biggest hill of nothern Germany? Better take cover. I found a bus stop with some glass windows (and a wide open door) but at least some wind cover and a roof. As this storm seemed more serious than the other stuff that happened the morning, I got out my sleeping bag, got out of my shoes and socks and simply sat there waiting out the storm. What was I doing here? Wasn’t this adventure supposed to be fun?
As I learned with this weather, nothing takes forever, not even the serious thunderstorm. I just lost more time, and shifted my access to water and food further back in the day. Darn. Once the snow was gone, I reassembled my belongings and hopped around puddles over the plain between Torfhaus and Brocken. I knew, the Goetheweg will at some point merge the route of the Brocken Challenge, and I was eagerly waiting for this to happen. I was running towards Dreieckiger Pfahl anyway. Somehow, I did not recognize the way at all. Maybe too little snow? Or a mushed brain? The forest road became incredibly steep with these not-so-nice tank reinforcements and it somehow dawned on me that this must be the ramp up to the railroad tracks. Huh? Well, I take that over being 3k further away from my next aim, the Brocken summit. But not recognizing anything of the way was a bit puzzling, maybe frightening to me.
The trail along the tracks was, as I remembered hard work, but not endless. Reaching Brockenstrasse, I shortly stopped whether I really should summit, or simply continue the Hexenstieg down towards warmer climate and food. But I had to take revenge for February. I grit my teeth and turned left. Upwards. Also, I met people. A first for a very long time that I thought myself the only person in those mountains. Apparently, I reached the eastern part now. I can tell this from how the people approach me. Of course the Brocken has a very mixed crowd of tourists. But with this weather people taking the work to get there were a special breed anyway. I got greeted more and exchanged a few words here and there. Words of respect, and concern to be out in that weather. You don’t get this with Wessis often.
Two told me that they had a hard time reaching the summit stone because of the wind. And so it was, I really had to concentrate to stay on my feet and make progress against the strong winds. But I managed. And took photos. And a short video which turned out hilarious as I tried to say a few words, but the wind had my hood flapping so vigorously that my voice was not perceivable at all. When I tried to leave that place, I stumbled upon the direction plate for Helsinki and stopped again to take a picture as a greeting to my Suunto friends! 1300k is not that far… Hm? Some day…
Now came a section I knew from the Brocken-Marathon. Overall it was funny how many known places I visited these days. And how many kilometers of my route I already ran before. It is a funny feeling in my mind when known places connect via foot routes. I remember my past visits, but the connection with other places has a certain new tickling sensation and lets me see those places in a different angle.
I knew I had to take the Brockestrasse easy. I destroyed myself more than once here. But running went so fine. Smooth asphalt, slight downhill, seemingly forever. Only, this time I did not think about the 4h mark to beat coming down to Wernigerode, but just me progressing on my chosen path towards new unknown sections of the Harz. I took a photo break on the road, more to stop me from running too fast or long for my legs, then actually the motive of the photo, which was dead trees like everywhere around here. Oh, the dead trees had some surprising effect. Where the Brocken Marathon (and many of my other visits to the Harz) had me in the forest at all times, I could now see the topography around me, understand why the route of the race and the Hexenstieg took weird turns. There was actually a steep drop off to the left, I never saw before.
Along my way, after I left the race route, I passed by a very interesting rock formaton with ladders to climb on, and I was greeted with a majestic view of the eastern Harz. This was a vast to explore. Wow. My secret crazy project got a lot less likely at this point. By this time, I already drank quite a bit of my 1.2l that I had since I emptied the bottle this morning. And ate most of the bars I had with me. But there would be a refill station soon, no? I passed Schierke already, but had no intention to get down there, only to climb up to the Hexenstieg again. Drei Annen would be close. Oh, and I figured there’s a Supermarket in Elbingerode, which looked like a minor detour to my run. OK, skip Drei Annen and head to Elbingerode. Gosh, leaving the route was no fun. All this was extra, just to get something to eat and drink. And it was uphill. Well, a bit. But, uphill! Also, the deficite on food and water came to me now. I was cold, annoyed, tired, the legs did not cooperate as I wanted. And the detour was 5k out. And back! I could cut across the Steinbruch to reach the Hexenstieg at Koenigshuette again. The final detour would only be 8k this way. But still. DETOUR!
I was not in a good spot when I finally reached that village. Mind that I was now in hostile, high incidence territory Corona-wise. Somehow I did not find myself welcome here. I bet it was 99% my inner state. And me snot rocketing onto their sidewalk might not have helped. Anyway, I reached the holy land of Edeka and again bought much more than I could chew. Potatoe salad, an ice-cream, two buns, many, many cereal bars, a beer, 2l of water and 1.5l of some Guarana soda to refill on caffeine, a large bottle of some nut/fruit smoothie, some nuts, cashews as I remember. Everything in a cardboard box. I wanted to take a seat in the sun outside and eat and drink. Only, there was no sun. I must have missed a real downpour as everything was wet when I looked out the shop window. And it was dark. And really windy. I took my time in the market to refill my bottles, get the bars out of their boxes and distribute them in my pack, but at some point, I had no more excuse, I needed to get out there again. So I did. And was so miserably cold. Unable to really think of a strategy, I plodded on, with my treasure in my arms, at some point opened the beer and drank, while tumbling across the main street westwards to the end of the village. Must have been quite some sight. I was eagerly waiting for some epiphany how to get out of this situation. I did not want to carry the box for the next 30k. When I was about to despair, I found a bus stop. recently flooded by some fools, but from the smell, it was soda, not piss. You cannot think of a less nice place to stay. But it had a dry bench and some sort of wind protection. No sun though, which was peeking through the clouds again.
I got up frequently for my pushups. This was generating soreness already. Darn. But squats were much more painful This was so goddamn cold here. I stuffed my face with as much of the potatoe sald as I could. Downed the smoothie and got everything I could into the pack as my stomach made clear it was full. Hm. I did not drink any of the soda. I put the entire bottle in my clothes roll and attached it to the hook again below my pack. This seemed to work, but later I had a hard time with this bundle to shift left and right, and eventually fall out of the straps. And the additional weight was noticeable. The ice cream was almost melted, but given my temperature management this was a plus. I was still in a very bad mood when I left this bus stop and tried to find my way through the valley to the Hexenstieg again. Brain turned off and simply plodding along, the wind in my face, I went on auto pilot until I finally reached the tiny valley that hosted the Hexenstieg. Being on track again, and having the feeling of actual progress on my way made instantly or a better mood. Funny. In some village I dropped onto another bench in a bus stop, this time facing the sun and with less wind when the snow/hail/rain comination took up again. Here, I could recharge a bit. Eat some chocolate bars and rest my legs.
Resuming the run, I managed to get more and more joy out of the run. The sights were nicer, the sun warmer, the trails easier, the legs lighter. Just kidding. Well, it felt much better. And I was glad to feel that way. But progress was hard work. My shoulders complained from the weight, as did my legs and feet. The constant up and down along the Bode was nice from a landscape perspective but made me go much slower than I would have liked. But I had no time goal. Eight in the morning, I wanted to be in Thale at the train station to get my dad. Until then? All fine. I found a small hut in the Bodetal on the map more or less right in front of Thale. This was my aim that day. Having more and more villages around the Bode and the occasional barrier lake made for enough variety in my surroundings that I did not really get bored. The sun was setting at some point, but I was still happy going on. In one village, the sun threw its rays along the street, and it was obvious that those were the last for today. So I found a streetlight to lean against, got out this soda bottle (Only in hindsight, I can ask myself, why, oh why did I take soda? Oh the burping…) and crackers and enjoyed the last warm bit of the day. Continuing was a hard shuffle, but the break was worth every minute. When it got 9pm, I got a bit nervous because of the Ausgangssperre that was in place here. But jogging was allowed until midnight as long as you were alone. All check. Still, I did not want to answer the question how I will get home until midnight. I was just happy that no one asked.
Night fell completely when I reached the last village before the wild Bodetal with nothing but river, rocks and this one emergency hut mid way. Hopefully. I saw pictures of sections where balconies led the trail around rock formations when the river would not allow for a proper trail at the side. So I expected the valley to be entirely this way, and I wondered how on earth a hut will fit that. But the balconies were rare, most of the time there was exquisite trail, and the river deep down left of me. No misstep here. Yes, it was a long day. And I ran yesterday also a longer distance. Was I tired? Not so much. More excited. This was a magic place. I got all on my own. And I managed to run all the way of the Hexenstieg. Well, almost. But this was the fun part, which tops the journey off. I loved it.
I was really surprised when I saw a hut with a sign that Thale was still quite a bit away. So I looked at the hiking maps on my phone and saw that almost in Thale was in terms of the entire way of the Stieg. This was my place. And I would get to do the last 5k next moning. I just have to get up half an hour earlier. Setting up camp seemed like routine already, I got better in sealing the entrance, did not take my running clothes into the sleeping bag and wore just a boxer short to keep warm. This night, I fully realized the problem with having the underside of the sleeping bag much less filled. With every turn in the night, and there were many, I had to shift the sleeping bag around me. Add sweaty skin to that and you can imagine how much of a struggle this was. But the adjustments paid off. I was a lot warmer this night. When my alarm went off on 6:30 I was again surprisingly well rested. Began the day with brushing my teeth, washing my upper body in that bloody cold creek entering the Bode here, some eating and drinking, taking a dump and again, I was on the trail.
In my planning I always imagined jumping in a lake to clean, wash my clothes like every day etc. Not possible in this mess of a weather. I was glad, that the stink did not annoy me too much. Well, only the feet. But I got new socks this morning and will change into merino socks once I had my drop bag. And later have another pair of fresh socks for the remainder of my adventure.
Hopping down the Bodetal was a blast this morning. The wind was kind of gone, the sun was there, somewhere. I was looking forward to my change of clothes and the supermarket in Thale. And my dad of course 😉 Funnily I was at the station in the exact minute the train arrived. After some words, we walked to the glory of civilization and I could get water, some sweet and salty buns and 2l of ice tea (caffeine without soda!) from Aldi. Hooray!
I had to battle a bit with my state and not being at full abilities, but we managed quite well to decide about a route (along the edge of the Harz. Over the Teufelsmauer and then between forest and fields until Wernigerode. ) and also nailed the correct exit of Thale which was not too obvious. The Teufelsmauer did not disappoint. Great rock formations, a long rim to walk on, sometimes secured with rails, but mostly as is. We found a nice place for a longer break to rest and eat and finally climbed over the Grossvater down to the next village, well town. It was striking how expensive each and every house must have been a hundred years ago. This was a rich region. For sure.
After the monastery, I somehow had the idea to hop over the first hills of the Harz to reach Hasserode with the start of the Harzquerung and still see some forest and hills. Well. We worked our way over the ridge only to see the castle of Wernigerode at a strange angle. This was not Hasserode. Another look at the map revealed, I was wrong one valley. Darn! We climbed that hill for nothing and had to leave the valley into the city center anyway. This navigational error got to me. A track on the watch is way better than a short glimpse on a paper map (and not paying full attention…). The remainder until the city was hard for both of us. In the end, we would have made 30k together. Quite impressive for a hike in itself. But I was not done for the day. We took some time on a sunny bench where I sorted my stuff, decided what to hand over and what to keep of both my pack and the drop bag. I got out of my comfy hiking clothes and back into my admittedly not dryer running clothes. Ugh. We parted and I went on to the Supermarket in Hasserode, got more water, ice tea and sweet and salty buns (I realized that bakery stuff was much more what I craved than the high density bars I got in my pack. That was kind of a new experience.) and tracked towards the start of the Harzquerung. Pah, this was again back to the city? No! But I saw that there was no way to cut short so I shuffled along the railroad tracks almost to our Appartment for the Brocken Marathon for some years and up the hill. Until I reached the beginning of the next blue line on my watch somwhere at the end of some small street. Nice place for a race start. The first kilometers were all steep uphill. What did I expect? Walking was OK after eating and drinking.
I was again in progress mode. Wanted to make as much distance before the night fell as possible. Maybe until Benneckenstedt? The start of my route home when leaving the Harzquerung? Probably not. But I wanted to try. The last day was supposed to be my longest, distance wise. Depending on where I went. So I could make some ground here. If only I could run. The beginning was steep and lateron the trail was full of tree stuff. And then, the route was entirely blocked by trees. Like unpassable. I first climbed the grade, then stumbled across a field of stumps and slid down in harvester tracks that were little streams from all the rain. No, this way, I would not progress much.
The guy I passed on the river dam with his telephone got me pretty soon after, and again I was heartwarmed by ‘Hallo Sportsfreund!’, the sign of eastern friendliness. Accepting all weirdness that I might bring up. Helping with directions. It felt like he would propose his hallway for my camp for the night. I love this!
With the night came pain in my feet that told me a break was in order. I checked the map for huts before, but now decided for one of them and tried to reach it as fast as possible. Did not work. Not behind this corner. Still not. Not here. I was in a section of dense healthy forest of needle trees. Saw more wildlife tracks than human footprints. Yes, this was a hiking trail. No, there were not many people using it. At some more muddy section I also saw paws of some pretty big cat imprinted. Lynx! Where were the wolves at in the Harz? I felt pretty vulnerable here. Also being already injured did not make me feel better about my position as prey. Finally, the hut appeared. Well, some hut. Wasn’t this supposed to be at a T intersection? Oh, there are two huts. Should I go on and take the other, the planned? No. This one must do. No more steps today.
It was very dirty. In the sense of dirt, dust. Not many people here. I again perfected my skills of shutting the entrance. And put my stinky socks right at the entrance. Everybody should know that a human is in this spot. In a funny mood I also marked the spot in front of the hut when taking a leak. This should do. No wolf or Lynx is so stupid to attack a human. So I hoped. Laying stuff out was more and more routine. Became more and more efficient. After the sticky night before, I opted for boxers and my spare runnig shirt this night. And I seemed to have found the sweet spot being able to roll in the sleeping bag and staying warm.
I woke up to a loud tapping. Until I was fully awake, I identified it as water dropping onto my ground sheet. No! It was heavily raining and the hut had several bigger holes in the roof. I checked, the water was not wetting my equipment, just running between camping mat and ground sheet, and dripping into a forming puddle next to my head, splashing the occasional drop in my face. I could live with that. Last night in the outdoors. What got wet, got wet. I did not really care. And so could also fall asleep again to the sound of dropping drops and the wetting of my face.
Starting over the next day felt very free. No real pressure to be anywhere at any time. Well, I needed to get home, but I still had not decided how. Use transportation or try to make it on feet? There was a certain itch to finish the Harzquerung to see all of it. And Nordhausen to home also sounded like a nice endeavor. Perhaps doable as this was the first day, I got miles in from the very beginning of the day. Come on, that would just be a hundred k for the day. Piece of cake! I just let got of any pressure and ran the blue line. Curious what I will see along the way. I saw mostly dead trees and foresters cleaning up the huge fields that were dense forest a few years back. Pretty depressing. But also looking like a start over for nature. Got rid of the monoculture and started from scratch. OK, mankind still has a say in this and plants trees that seem fit for that area, or are supposed to generate the most revenue. This mixture of busy, industrial like spots within a sea of almost dead space was surreal. Blame my state after three and a half days or running.
Suddenly, the landscape looked healthy again. Nice forests with mixed trees, valleys, rivers, the occasional village. This was fun. And beautiful. I was afraid of the ascent to come. It looked brutal on the elevation profile and Dirk told me the second climb destroyed him once at the race. When it finally came, I found myself in the ultra mode. Left foot, right foot, repeat. A level section came, I ran a bit. Then the second climb. Well, not different from the first one. But I imagine this can crush your soul if you thought you are done already. Left, right, left, right.
I reached the summit with its impressive lookout tower. Impressive by height, but more because it was entirely open. Just some steel bars and stairs with see through gaps. OK, let’s test my courage. I hate stuff like that. Well, as Jan put it nicely, I am not afraid of heights, but I am highly sceptical of them. I made it to the middle platform, just above the tree tops and the wind got stronger. I could have simply taken out some more clothes and continue, but my knees were weak already from half the height, I could see what I wanted to see. And I told myself that I already had a lot of miles in me, so maybe it was not so important to prove to myself that I am able to cross my own boundaries? I was convinced and got down again, the harder part as I had to look down. But I managed. Wohoo!
Getting down the last mountain was both nice as it got warmer with every meter down, there was less hills to climb in my way now, but also a bit saddening, as this meant leaving the Harz, and somehow ending my adventure. The rest was hard work to get home. Not an adventure any more. But first I had to deal with thirst. Yes, my two bottles of water could be sufficient for almost a day of running, if I ration, but do I really have to? Nordhausen was still a stretch to go, and I wanted to empty those bottles. And here was running water, with no agriculture upstream. Why did I not use the water filter yet? Somehow, I did not dare. But now. I took off my pack, got out the filter and the flasks and found a nice spot to stand over the little creek with clear water and filled the bottles. Drank one and refilled. I should have done this way more often in the last days. Note to self for next time!
Rolling into Nordhausen was fun. I imagined being in the Harzquerung and running the last bits. Met more and more people who were really friendly. Well, most of them. I felt welcome. When the track made a turn onto the sports ground and there was a big sign that this was no public area, I felt a bit bad, but in my imagination there were all the people who just finished the race, there was a finish line at the end of the corridor, cheering, chatter, end so on. This place was loaded with it. Well, I met a single person, apparently from maintenance, but he greeted me happily, and I thought he might have the same images in his head as I do. This was great. If only, I could drop here and catch some ride home… Laying on the grass for an hour. The sun was warm and the overall athmosphere was really great. Finished. After I found an open exit to the sports ground I realized how warm I was. I took off the pack and all my bunch of shirts that somehow seemed to have melted into one over the days. Also with my back. Yes, my back. There was a pain on the skin. Some rash developing under the layers. Not able to breathe under the pack. Or on the sleeping pad. There was no real drying or air for almost four days now. No break, not even in the night. Getting out of this stuff was a huge relief. My back skin was so happy! Not so much when I got back into the Tshirt and pullover and put my pack back on, but this was so much better, that I wondered how I could have endured this situation before. [Now, as of writing, over two weeks later, I still have this itching on my back. I frequently do the Balu and scratch my back on the wall or whatever I find. Maybe some hair grew in? This is definitely the most long term damage I did those days.]
Well. There were another 65k till home. 70 if I wanted another refill station on my way. Hm. What if I run to Duderstadt, the supermarket along the way. The one I had a stop at on my quest to Braunschweig? Closing another thread of the cob web of my trails? Sounds good. Also, there is a bus from Duderstadt to Knochmuehle. 1k from home. Much better than the train from Nordhausen and 6k from the main station home. I plotted the route and found Duderstadt to be a tad over a Marathon away. That’s easy. I have plenty of time. I checked on the bus schedule and found the last one to leave at 10pm, the second to last shortly after 7pm. Huh? Well, I should be able to take this easy. Hopping along the nice river park with elks laying under a tree (really! Or was it reindeer?) I checked if Duderstadt was on total lockdown, which could have made my plan impossible, but it was not. Great! A new plan. Off to the local supermarket!
Again I got a big amount of food and drinks. But the weather was less hostile. Maybe a bit windy (that would turn headwind, when I went westwards), but I found a nice place on some steps in the sun and somehow wind protected. This was a good place for a longer break. I took off my shoes, laid out all my edible stuff, and slowly worked my way through all of this. It was a bit of stuffing myself. But I took my time. Still in that afterglow of finishing something great. The imaginary Harzquerung, but also my adventure through the Harz. On my own. Over nights. Carrying all my stuff. Surviving crazy weather. I did it!
By the time I downed everything I did not want to put in my pack (it had become a habit to tie a paper bag with one or two buns to the compression straps to the side of the pack for later), I reassembled and had a look on the watch. 15:30. OK, this was a late lunch. And it was necessary to take my time. Doing the math had me like ‘a six hour marathon is easy’ and there would be another 30 minutes of buffer. Fine. But some section in my head compared this to my pace over the last days. Well. 6h is doable, but not without some pushing. Darn. But the remainder was flat. No? Headwind! But sun. And no technical trail but either road or farm road. Easy. Still not convinced? Hm. Maybe I push a bit more in the beginning to get some leeway for later? Fine. Then go ahead!
This worked all too well. Long stretches of asphalt farm road that I ran entirely. Some rain drops? Don’t care. And on. Pushing. Didn’t I once say that when slow running becomes painful, fast running might still work? I was overtaken by a mountain biker, who slowed down and asked me if I wanted some company. This was nice. He was complimenting my form and state, but I think that even at the end of our common way he did not really get what I was doing, or better, what I did do. I liked the company, but declined him showing me how to continue towards Duderstadt, but insisted on going my route. Later I was wondering a lot if this was a good idea or not.
The way got more and more hilly, and I dreaded the bumps in the elevation profile to come. I took hills as they came, but got more and more stressed in my pursuit to build up time. Why? I dunno. I just could not stop. Get half way done. 21k in 2.5h. Would leave me with four hours for the remainder. So I pushed. And on some (nice) ridgeline I realized the toll this was taking on me. I had the thought in my head for awhile now: Better hurry to push the breakdown point as far as possible. I knew this was crap, but I was unable to react to that insight. Maybe the days on the run did a thing on my brain. I stumbled on. With a more and more prominent pain in my right shin/ankle. At almost 20k in my final push I broke down. Pushing on was so stupid! I wanted a bench, some place to sit. Only found a Hochsitz, but it did what I wanted. Time to eat the buns, drink (should I ration water?), eat some chocolate. Stretch, retie the shoes with using one hole less on the ankle. Always with a look at the watch. Can I afford this?
This was not a deathmarch per se. I ran every now and then. Maybe even 50% on level and downhill sections. But it was painful. I checked the map and found I could cut short the last hill, by running a bit different. Maybe a tad longer, but through a valley. As it seemed. Here, I found a crazy hill, or was this a mountain already? All man-made from earth a company dug out. A huge thing. Nicely lit by the fading sun. Fading sun. There was my anxiety back. I need to make ground. Push. And push some more. Through my pain. About this time Kathrin checked in on me. How I was doing. Well, I told her how I held up and what my plans were. She affirmed that she would rescue me anywhere. Even at a bus stop in Duderstadt, so I no longer had to keep an eye on the departure of the last bus. This felt great. Thanks! With elevated spirits, I passed the village behind the artificial mountain only to see that I have to go up a hill to leave it. Shit. I did and pondered whether to drop down below the saddle on the other side into that village and climb out of it to my forest road, or climb further on this road and then have downhill until the forest? I stood there for a minute, maybe two. Then turned upwards and shuffled on. This was a wider road in the Eichsfeld. Where people are known to drive pretty ruthless. So, I better get my ass off the road again. Running was definitely no fun, but manageable. Reaching the top and hobbling down again, I looked down into the plains and saw Duderstadt. A lifetime away. Well, 10k. Maybe as the bird flies, but I think it was 10k on my route. All downhill. Some hills in between, but I would just run them down. But this seemed so far. And I figured, I could no longer take a single step without sharp pain. Neither walking, nor running. This was for quite a while now, but I could ignore it. Not any longer. Not with the distance so before my eyes. This sight broke me. I began to cry, and hobble on, but a thought got more and more loud: Ask for help! Kathrin would get me. Even here.
All I needed to do is tell her. So I did. Dropped with the finish in sight. Well, you can see the Brocken from Mackenrode… But, again? Quitting after I was almost done? Was this getting a thing? Should I bite through, just to not create a quitting streak? I would have my string on the map hanging. No attachment to another one I laid in the past. But the pain and my unavoidable drop was so obvious. I did not want to go on on stumps, cry my way to Duderstadt. This was not worth it. I had my finish already in Nordhausen. All my adventure was a success (well, crazy, but I managed. So I call it a success.) and all I was doing here was cutting off two hours of misery and maybe prevent some more permanent damage.
At the intersection I retracted into the forest, well, the battlefield a harvester left behind. I was used to this mess by now. Took an overdue dump. Changed into the least stinking clothes (even brushed my teeth again) to be suitable for a passenger seat and not having to use the trunk. Then I ate and drank whatever pleased me and caught my eye. I was comforted with a very nice and long sunset at my prime position. But once the sun was gone, the cold creeped up. I had to resume moving. So I crawled down to he road and positioned myself at the car park of this Hotel at some intersection in the hills behind some small town. Pushups were fine for a while, but I am not too trained to do this longer. I stretched, which was fine. And at some point, I started to sway, and take up some sort of dancing. This was well possible with my feet. Nice. The light faded, and I hoped with every car turning around the corner to be Kathrin. And finally she appeared. To the rescue! Dropping my pack which had been adnated to my back for so long. Dropping myself into a nice and warm and soft seat. Off my feet. Put the shoes in the plastic bag, I asked her to bring for safety reasons. Airing the feet (that just got the replacement socks). Getting warm (!) tea (!). What a luxury. I am not good in asking for help. And I am not good at receiving it and not feeling bad about it. Kathrin told me over and over that it was fine and her choice. I just felt so blessed and unable to express my gratitude. Thanks again!
The ride was in the usual haze after a long run. I told stories, maybe very incoherent, wandered in my thoughts, bathed in the relaxation from no longer needing to run or walk. A very nice and calm time. Getting dropped off directly at my door was one of the many reasons to favor the ride over the bus. So, there I was where I started this thing almost four days ago. So much has happened. I am grateful for every bit. (Well, except for Elbingerode, I still hate that place 😉 )
Oh, the title. It’s a saying on the Ultra List (Hi Markus!) when it comes to people with strong backgrounds go into multiday running, and fail. The only way to train for multi days is doing multi days. That’s simply it. For me this saying carries the idea ‘head out already!’. Don’t talk, run! Or some synonymous slogan of some sports company.
What I learned:
– I can survive (and run) on pretty little food and water
– My gear works
– It’s the legs that complain most with a pack (and mostly on uphills)
– The survival mode does not help me reach my inner self. I just function.
– get water! And drink much more. Why to I carry a filter anyway?
My List of gear
photos of hiking maps on the phone
put routes on the watches
put water sources as POIs
Bag Balm to arm pits and crotch/crack
prepare tape snippets
treat feet with Minks oil, two nights
boiled potatoes, salt
change of running clothes
Clothes to wear:
black Nike tights old
Altra Superior 4.5
dirty girl gaiters with added velcro
plush socks, Injinji Ultra
Buff for the neck
Buff as a hat
Suunto S9 Peak
In the pack:
tape, Leuko- and Kinesio precut for nipple taping
tweezers, ticks and splinter
patches for the camping mattress
health insurance card
tooth brush (cut), paste
Thermrest Uberlite R
Cumulus custom sleeping bag
Hilleberg Tarp 5
8 lightweight tent stakes
ground sheet, SeatoSummit
Marmot inflatable head pillow
Injinji trail socks
change of shirts: short (Altra/WAA), long (Campagnolo)
Kwark Powerstretch pullover
3 good Buffs
Campagnolo acryl gloves
Powerstretch mini skirt
rain coat, Raidlight
rain pants, Raidlight
wind breaker Altra/WAA
Lupine Blika with two battery packs and USB adapter (both ways)
charging cable for iPhone, both watches
S9B in the pack in locked Tour mode
2x 600ml Softflask
MSR filter plus 2l reservoir
Hydra Pak Speedcup
Spork, leightweight camping knife
it was too cold. (1deg at night, 7-8 at day, but snowstorms, very high winds!)
Did not use the rain coat
washing and drying of clothes was impossible.
Had problems to filter water. In my head.
Did not use the knife
One small tin of bag balm is sufficient
Feet get really nasty!
The sleeping bag is fine in 1deg cold, but it is no fun.
The Uberlite is so great!
Maybe find a ground sheet that is less slippery to use for sitting
attach the pillow to the sleeping mat!
Merino wool stinks less. Really.
Two pairs of gloves next time. They get nasty when I have to wear them at all times.