2008-08-16 53 11

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Sat 16 Aug 2008 in Schwerin:
53.3351359, 11.6121764

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Expedition map - Stops: Brandenburg, Magdeburg, Braunschweig, Hannover, Hamburg (West), Hamburg (East), Schwerin, Müritz, Uckermark

[edit] The expedition (7)

This one seemed interesting, and it well proved to be. The hash was located on a lengthy island of 8km in the river Elde (not Elbe, that's the other one). No roads were indicated on the island, or in the neighbouring forests. The satellite image showed a very few bridges and a service path along the island. It was pretty clear in beforehand that this would be some kind of natural reserve without access to motorized vehicles. Relet therefore decided to drive to the village of Klein Laasch, on the northern tip of the island, near one of the bridges.

Arriving in the village, he parked the car in a dead end, which he assumed would lead to the bridge. He later found out that there was another road actually leading right to it, but this being that he never came to checking whether the road was closed or not. That being this, he packed his bag for the hike, checked on his socks (they were still wet, but acceptably so), and put on his hiking boots. He met a few locals walking their dogs in the late saturday morning.

The dead end actually ended in a foot trail which led to the bridge. The bridge was a water lock, and the service track was wide enough for cars to pass. There was a boom on the other side, which meant that his parking spot wasn't so bad after all. At this time, relet realized little that he would have to walk for 5km until eventually reaching the hash. Maps are great tools, by the way, if you know to use scales. He checked his GPS several times (turning it off in the meantime, as the battery life is rather crappy), only to find that the hash would be way farther to the south.

Most of the island consists of cow pastures, large areas fenced in with barbed wire and electrified wires, bordered on the one side by the single service path, and on the other by the sluice channel which forms the island. Relets mood sank, as this would certainly put the hash to the far end of a meadow. He wouldn't fancy bothering the cows, even if he's not generally bad with animals. He decided however to walk as close as he could, as first looks are often deceiving.

Relet met a few cows on the way, and found out that at this time of the year, they were accompanied by a mean-looking bull in each pasture. The curious herd followed him along the path on the other side of the fence. Yay for anticipation! The island itself seemed to be a nice spot for picknicks, bathing, parties in the evening, and other activities which required a certain remoteness from civilization and onlookers, as traces of trash and several fireplaces proved.

Somewhere on the path, he discovered a Sign of No Trespassing[tm]. It was posted next to another water gate, across one of the trenches. It actually said that stepping on or using the facilities of the water surveillance board would be forbidden. Another of these signs were posted on the other side of the gate, which meant that the "facilities" were referring to the gate. Anyway, these signs are to be interpreted as "Don't mess with our stuff and continue at your own risk". Which relet did.

The water trench however would, in the continuation, separate the service track from the meadows. After checking his GPS for a few more times and a good hike, he eventually reached the latitude of the hash, still being on the path. A little earlier, the pastures gave way to a bit of forest, with the trench curving in and disappearing between the trees. That, for once, would mean that he could even get a litte closer. He found a clear spot between nettles to enter the forest. Very suddenly, the landscape was totally different. Conifers reached up, leaving a soft bed of needles on the ground. Undergrowth was sparse in some places, and unpassable in others. A few rabbits and a roe were chased around the forest (which was not large enough to allow for an actual escape), as relet scrambled through the long of it. Interestingly, mussels could be found on the ground among the needles - they probably were carried here from the river by birds or other animals.

Relet reached the trench, with no way to cross it. He exited the forest, and went a little further down the road. Another place looked as if people had entered it before, with bent branches and little undergrowth. He gave the forest a second shot and eventually reached a hunting stand at the other end of the forest, overlooking some meadow. The trench would probably be led under ground here, as he was nowhere to be seen. He interpreted this as a very good sign, as hunters and cattle don't mix (lest with collateral damage). Relet asserted the stability of the stand and entered the meadow.

This meadow was not fenced, and he would soon find out why. Again his boots became wet from the thaw. These were waterproof, to his good fortune. Heading back north and west across the meadow, he found again some raptor digging marks. A little further, the grasses grew higher and the meadow turned to marsh. Relet was able to escape some of the deeper puddles, wading through others, to reach - the trench. Fortunately, the trench did indeed disappear in some pipe, so that he was safely able to leave the marsh for the neigbouring pastures. Another hunting stand, and finally - the hash.

Kine were nowhere to be seen, and he quickly crossed the fences to find the hash in the middle of this pasture. He took photos, and left a hash mark for the cows to nibble on. Considering his escape options, he judged against returning through the marsh, and rounded the forest on the pasture. Still no cows, or bulls for that matter. Some empty raptor nests decorated the ground, with trailing marks where the prey would be dragged along. No raptors within sight though, either.

Relet found that the most probable reason for the lack of cows was that the pasture had no entry. Just the electrical fence / barbed wire combination with a thick growth of thorns and nettles and a trench on the other side. Still, he finally managed to identify a place where some animal must have safely crossed the nettles and jumped over the fence. He did the same, successfully making a luck roll for a safe landing on the other side of the fence. He proceeded to trample through the nettles, and jumped over the trench.

Back on the service road, he returned to an earlier found beach and took a refreshing bath. He returned to the car, leaving another hash mark on the boom at the entry of the island. He had some more pasta for lunch and continued on to the next hash.

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