2011-01-26 49 8

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Wed 26 Jan 2011 in 49,8:
49.4250478, 8.6546455

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In Heidelberg, on a Neckarinsel (Neckar island), in a conservation area close to a track normally used by the Waterways and Shipping Office and other authorized staff.


The coordinates are in Heidelberg, but on an island in the Neckar, far from the only possible point of entry (save for a boat, which I don't have) via a canal lock a few km downstream. So even if the island is accessible from there (this is not clear, since it (a) is a very improtant conservation area and (b) might still be affected by the recent floodings), it will be a ridiculously challenging expedition, considering the point is less than 3 km from central Heidelberg (as the swan goose flies). On top of that, it will probably be cold (about 2°C) and raining all day. In summary: This will be fun! --ilpadre 01:43, 26 January 2011 (EST)



That day, the rather unlikely case of the coordinates falling on an island in the Neckar was realized. This particular island is narrow and has a length of a few km. The Neckar is split into a southern/western and a northern/eastern part, the former allowing the Neckar to run freely along smaller islands and natural streambanks and serving as an important conservation area and habitat especially for endangered birds, the latter is a canal heavily used for shipping. This canal ends in Schwabenheim, where a lock lowers ships travelling downstream by 8.7 m and both parts of the Neckar are joined again. A 7.2 MW hydroelectric power plant located next to the canal lock makes use of that height difference.

The ship lock in Schwabenheim is the only point from where the island can be accessed. Both sides of the Neckar canal are used by ships for mooring, and staff of the Waterways and Shipping Office needs access to both sides for supply and maintenance. Therefore, a track leads upstream, enabling convenient travel along the whole length of the island (it would otherwise be hardly passable).

After work I cycled to Schwabenheim and found a gate, with signs granting access only to authorized staff. But the gate was open, and since I had no intent of damaging anything or leaving anything behind, I figured it was OK to continue. Following the muddy track (it was raining, of course), I passed a few employees who noticed me but didn't seem to mind me being there. When I reached the coordinates, they were about 7 m off the track, sufficiently close (especially if the bad GPS reception is considered). It would have been possible to fight my way through some bushes to the actual hashpoint, but I didn't want to do any harm by accidentally disturbing a hibernating hedgehog or breaking twigs of young endangered trees.


The way to the coordinates: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=947468 - Note the difference between linear and travelled distance.