2009-08-08 48 8
In the Black Forest, in the uppermost part of the Nagold valley, between Erzgrube and Besenfeld on a meadow.
Summary: Went by bike via Bondorf to Nagold, then up the Nagold valley to the hash. Reached hash at 15:40. After 16:00 went further up to Besenfeld, from there down into the Murg valley, finally following that until Forbach. Took a train from Forbach to Rottenburg, did the rest by bike again.
 From Tübingen to Nagold
This time, there wasn't exactly a favourite between my home graticule 48,9 and the 48,8 hash. 48,9 looked a bit more reasonable, though - the point was probably accessible, somehow closer, with public transport nearby. So, since reasonable isn't a valid argument when choosing a geohash to visit, the other one it was.
I wasn't at all sure whether me and my bike would stand such a trip. The bike was the larger problem, since it had been mostly out of operation for technical reasons since the Rossberg hash, and I only had lucked in some temporary fix that was more of a workaround shortly before. In case something went wrong, there would be no nearby train station to push the bike to and get home at least.
I got up around 7, selected some emergency tools and bookcrossing books, and, at 8:50 got on my way. It started not actually very interesting - I could totally have taken the same route as two days before, and took the same as a number of other times before, passing Wendelsheim, mapping two more agricultural tracks before Seebronn, and continuing on a fast trail to Bondorf. Reached Bondorf around 10, which meant I was good in time. Now I was about to leave the beaten tracks I had taken several times before, went on a small detour through the forest for two geocaches (one of which I missed by about 100 m and decided not to go back to try another track), passed Mötzingen and went for Nagold.
Nagold is the name of a river originating in the central Black Forest and forming a valley which was host to the hash. Nagold is also the name of a small town inside of the same valley, at the point where the river turns from mostly flowing east to north, heading for Pforzheim. The Nagold valley is usually considered to mark the border between the Oberes Gäu hills and the Black Forest. I didn't go for one of the more gentle roads down into the valley, as along the steep slope there should be two rather interesting looking geocaches. And since I still was quite good in time, I went for those. Found the first one easily, and found that the second one wasn't far from there - horizontally. Well, but there still is the issue of "vertically", isn't there? Actually there was - and it forced me to guess which way might go down, with the first guess leading into underbrush, and the second being a forest track that went only slightly downhill. Also, it only once had been a well-maintained gravel track - now it was a totally overgrown mess of bushes, only leaving open a footpath hardly wide enough to accomodate a walking human. So nothing that would make a geohashing bicyclist turn around, anyway.
After some time the path intersected with a slightly more official looking but less viable hiking path down, which I took. That one actually lead to the cache I was aiming at, so I went and logged that one, and then tried to turn into town. I had seen a railway level crossing for pedestrians nearby and no idea how else I could get into town from here - so I went for the crossing, expecting some kind of footway on the other side.
I was wrong. But still, a narrow path somehow continued, into what looked like a backyard of some house - but on a second look, might have been a public way, and brought me to some residential road.
 From Nagold to Altensteig (and a bit about timber)
When I finally had reached the town centre, I had used up one half of my time until 4 pm, and covered one half of the way to the hash. That's not what I would call a comfortable timeline, but leaves a realistic chance to get there by the planned time. More so, since the rest of the way promised to go all uphill, but on gentle slopes mostly, and on good ways.
There once was a railway line from Nagold to Altensteig. It was a narrow gauge line, mostly used by commuters to the industries at Nagold and to ship timber. After it was closed back in the 1960s, the track was rebuilt into a bicycle track, which they now are very proud of. Converted railway lines usually make convenient bike trails.
This one doesn't. Ok, there aren't many unnecessary slopes. But the railway had been built just along the road - and nowadays this road is federal highway 28, a two lane highway heavily traficated by both cars and trucks. There aren't that many good roads through the Black Forest anyway. Since there was no choice, that meant to follow the highway for about 15 km. The alternative would have been to go over the mountains without saving any distance, so that wasn't really much of an alternative.
Along the way, I got to visit a rebuilt facility with the non-speaking name of Wasserstube (water room) from the times before the railway had been built, when wood still was shipped by Timber rafting (at least that's the term I found). Here is how it worked:
Above the weir, the river got widened up to create a pond large enough to store and even turn around entire swimming logs. The collected logs got built into a long raft, and when that was finished, they opened the sluice to start the trip and raise the water level so that the logs don't get stuck until they reach deeper water or the next weir. That way, these rafts were brought down the rather small rivers. You can see a shortened drawing of such a raft on the photo of the informational sign (#5 in the lower gallery).
Being the only useful building material for many construction issues, and the only useful source of heating energy, timber was very valuable until the 19th century, and the timber rafts from the Black Forest got as far as the Netherlands, where they were used to build ships. So, whereever you live, if your country has a harbour, it's quite probable that at some time in the past, a ship came along that was built using a tree that had passed this actual point. The fact that the kingdom of Württemberg had large ressources of wood and that it was possible to ship that halfway economical through rafting also had a huge impact on my home town: Historical research claims that if Württemberg had had to import building wood back in the 15th century, it would have been impossible to finance construction of the large university buildings - which means, the university, which totally rules the town since many centuries, probably would have never been founded. And still, the main industries in the Black Forest are timber - and tourism. The other way round, nowadays. But still, I would be making my way through or along several sawmills and meet a number of logging trucks during the day. They are everywhere.
 From Altensteig to the hash
The town of Altensteig was the place where the main road leaves the valley, and actually the last town I would pass for several hours. Weather had changed to full overcast, temperature gone down slightly, but still, if there are two things cycling through the mountains requires you to bring those are decent brakes (don't ask) and water. So I stocked up on food and drinks, and set out into the slightly less civilized. Only slightly, though. There still were decent roads.
There was a recommended cycle trail off the road. It wasn't in such a good shape, but it was acceptable. Until it turned to a path, mostly overgrown. Sounds familiar from shortly before Nagold? Indeed, it does. Slightly later it ended, and a sign sent people with normal bikes (as opposed to offroad) to the state highway, which wasn't more than a rural road with low traffic anyway.
I reached the Nagold reservoir which I had hoped to be a highlight of the trip and found it - almost empty, probably for maintenance work. Well, that was also an interesting sight although not what I had expected. And, to be honest - it smelled like swamps smell in summer. Ugh.
I wasn't sure how good I was in time. I tried to speed up as good as possible, but on a constant light uphill slope there isn't much speeding up. Less even after almost 70 km of cycling. Quickly passed the small village of Erzgrube, whose name means ore mine and points to the long but ended history of mining in that area.
About twenty minutes to four I parked my bike at the roadside, only a few metres from the hash. The hash was on a meadow and a parked car and some acitivity behind a row of trees indicated that people were near - probably the owners of the meadow. Since this also was just near the road, I didn't want to attract more attention than necessary and retreated to the other side of the road where a few logs provided seats. Unpacked the supplies I had bought at Altensteig and had some pic-nic. Does that qualify for a picnic achievement although it was about 50 m from the hash?
At four, I found that just the expected number of other hashers had arrived: Zero, plus me.
 From the hash to Forbach
Back down or further up? The latter would be harder, but more interesting. There was no direct way along the uppermost part of the Nagold valley, so getting to the source would mean some detour. And I had been there before. So I just went up to the next village, named Besenfeld (broomfield). If they really grow brooms there, they hide their fields well, though. I just passed the village, got to the ridge at 805 m, and then started on the race down into the Murg valley. A race that didn't mean too well with my brakes, but at least they didn't go disoperational.
Followed the wild and beautiful Murg valley for a few more kilometres than necessary, along a route that was partly already featured in 2009-04-25 48 8, and doesn't give much more to tell.
I had aimed at catching the 19:18 train from Forbach, and just got there about 15 minutes before that, so had to drop any ideas to visit the town.
 From Forbach to Tübingen (and a bit about train fares)
It had taken me about ten hours for the 100 km to get to Forbach, including all breaks, geocaches and sightseeing stopovers. It took about two and a half for the train to cover just 92 km back until Rottenburg. Those trains aren't actually fast in those mountains, but other transport isn't either. Now, why leaving the train at Rottenburg? Well, due to some local tariff structures a ticket from Forbach to Tübingen is 16.00 EUR with bike, but if you get off at Rottenburg and continue half an hour later, it's 7.60. This difference is well worth the inconvenience. Even so more as if you don't wait and take the next train but just get back on your bike and cover the rest by yourself, it even drops to 3.55. And it doesn't even take that half hour to get home from there.
 Technical data
- Home to hash: 71.20 km by bike
- Hash to Forbach: 29.50 km by bike
- Forbach to Rottenburg: 92 km by train
- Rottenburg to home: 12.65 km by bike
- -> Total distance covered by bike: 113.35 km.
- Lowest point: ~320 m (near home)
- Highest point: 805 m (near Besenfeld)
- Total of uphill slopes: still to be calculated (can't find all necessary maps atm). Probably not less than 800m.
 One picture every 60 minutes
I took one picture just whereever I was at that moment approximately every 60 minutes. Since I started at 8:50, that's always 10 minutes before the full hour. Reached home about 22:20.