2009-05-03 47 12
In the Chiemsee, about 360m from the shore and 200m from the border of a nature reserve; about 2.5km southwest of a boat rental in Chieming.
Three men in a boat, with four cameras and two GPSes - how do they manage to get to the hashpoint?
We met at Regensburg's central station at 7:30. The ALEX train to Munich had a large bicycle compartment, but only two seats in it, and most of the wall was occpied by wheel bender-style bicycle racks, and as such, unusable. The RegionalBahn train from Munich on to Traunstein (east of the Chiemsee) had a more sensible, but also slightly more crowded, bike compartment.
After arriving in Traunstein around 11:15, we made our way to the lake, with only a couple of stops at unspectacular geocaches. We found the boat rental I had looked up on the web and phoned the previous day, and then went to have lunch at a café-ish restaurant on the shore slightly further to the north.
At quarter to two, we were at the boat rental again. Besides the rowing boats I had asked about, they also offered pedal boats, and rather elegant-looking electric power boats. Nevertheless, we ended up getting a rowing boat because I hadn't rowed in a couple of years but remembered it as being easy (and both faster and more comfortable than a pedal boat)... and the electric ones would have been cooler but less sporting.
As we left the breakwater, a small motorized rescue ship approached, but it waited and let us out of the harbour first. I put the GPS between my feet for navigation and rowed us out onto the lake in the general direction of the hashpoint, which was about 2.3km to the south-southwest. The water was quiet except for a few waves from a tourist ferry stopping at the nearby pier. It was sunny, but a good wind from the southwest kept us cool. A couple of anglers in boats similar to ours were idling about 150 meters from the shore. And indeed, my rowing "skills" were still there, and we went towards the hash at a steady 5km/h; which was interesting to me, because I had never used my GPS on a boat before - never knew how fast we were going and how to navigate to a specific point in the open water.
About 800m from the hash, Hans and I switched places. He hadn't rowed before, but after a minute of the expected initial problems (not facing forward, synchronous operation of the oars and such) he managed it quite well. Zeroing in on the coordinates proved a bit difficult, so I took control again for a bit until we had drifted by within 2m of the spot a couple of times. I stood up carefully and took pictures for the 360° panoramas, then we saw an orange plastic canister (attached to a string presumably fixed to the lake floor) floating in the water a bit southeast of the hash, so we went there and I grabbed it and wrote the inevitable "THE INTERNET WAS HERE. xkcd geohashing 2009-05-03 47 12" on it in pencil. I wonder if anyone reads it before the weather washes away the writing. Should have brought a more permanent pen.
Tomcat rowed us back about two thirds of the way in a slightly less direct way than intended (but we can blame that on the boat's geometry not really working well with his longer legs, which made rowing a bit awkward). Then we switched places again and I maneuvered us back into the harbour, arriving just under two hours after we had left (I had expected the boat part to take more something like three hours.)
Back on dry land, we logged another small geocache, went back to the café to try their (very good) cakes and drink some coffee/iced chocolate; and then started our way around the south of the lake to Prien, where we wanted to catch a train at 19:00. The only planned stop was at a look-out tower with a view of the mountains and the nature reserve in the southeastern corner of the lake, around the mouth of the "Tiroler Ache" river.
At one point, the marked cycle route signs told us to continue south, but the route I had planned based on what looked like the cycleway in satellite imagery wanted us to turn west and go through the nature reserve. Bugs started attacking me as we stopped to discuss the issue, so we went right on along my route. The way was nice, and lead to the main river which offered a "Bayrisch Columbia" kind of gorgeous view to the alps. There was a curious lack of cycleway signs, though. We went south along the river as planned, but then found the path onto a pedestrian bridge next to the Autobahn blocked by a fence! We went east along the fence, looking for a way back onto the official cycleway, but only found a long barbed wire fence with no gates or gaps, right up until the next stream. Apparently the nature reserve is completely fenced on this side to prevent animals from getting onto the Autobahn? Aargh. Not wanting to trace back the last 3 or 4 km, we pushed our bikes onto a dike that lead north along that smaller stream, hoping for a bridge that would allow us to get onto the cycleway we could see on the other side of the stream. That bridge, however, was not to come until nearly 2km (of pushing our bikes along the dike with no recognizable path on it) later, and was the same bridge where we had taken the wrong turn.
Now we had just under an hour left, and about 15-20km to go. Tomcat wanted to give up on the 19:00 train already, but I didn't like the prospect of getting home around 1:00 on Monday morning. So we decided to give it a try, and took up speed. With just a single one-minute stop for a sip of water, we raced around the entire southern shore next to the Autobahn on mostly unpaved tracks that weren't really made for 30km/h cycling, and then into Prien. (Since Hans and Tomcat's electric power-assisted bikes shut off the motor at 25km/h, they, too, had to rely on their own power most of the time here.) ... and indeed, we made it. We arrived just about 5 minutes before the train (a RegionalExpress this time) came in.
This train had several large bike compartments (more than I've ever seen on a train before), but they were all crowded alredy (no wonder, at the end of a Sunday with awesome weather!), so we had to stand in the middle holding our bikes all the way to Munich. From Munich to Regensburg, we were on an ALEX again, where we had to argue a lot and play luggage tetris with three strollers, several small children and angry mothers claiming a priority for using the train's single multi-purpose compartment large enough to (uncomfortably) hold three bikes. We shared our ticket with some girl who, looking at our bikes, asked where we had spent our day; however she had apparently never seen a GPSr before and understood the concept of geohashing only to the extent that it was a kind of game that gave men a reason for an exhausting but fun day trip. (Actually, not that bad, compared to the boat rental guy who didn't seem to get it at all.)