2016-06-26 48 8
This hashpoint is in dense underbrush in a nature reserve next to the Rhine, in the easternmost corner of France, about 1 km both from the Rhine (and thus the border with the German state Baden-Württemberg) to the east and from the border with the German state Rhineland-Palatinate to the north. At the time of the expedition, the hashpoint and all the area around it is flooded.
On Saturday I was at a wedding in the Murg valley near Rastatt. On Sunday, on my way back to my parents' place I decided to visit this hashpoint, as it was in the easternmost corner of France. Getting there looked easy on the map: Cross the Rhine on the ferry at Plittersdorf, drive along the Rhine to Lauterbourg, cross the border into Germany, park the car at the side of the road and walk one kilometer along a track to the hashpoint, then cross the Rhine again on the ferry at Neuburg. Really easy, what could go wrong?
As planned, I drove to Rastatt and then to Plittersdorf. But then I found a sign indicating a road block on the street to the ferry and shortly after I encountered the road block itself. As the radio news told me a short time later, there was flooding and the ferries were closed. I drove south to the next bridge across the Rhine, crossed it (and the border at the same time), then I followed small country roads in northern direction. In the town of Mothern, the last one before Lauterbourg, the road was closed again (or so it seemed, it might have been only a construction going on). The redirection pointed me towards the northwest. I followed that street until it changed into a small track at the end of the town, then turned around and took another street. For a while I followed the road until I came to Newiller and from there I drove to Lauterbourg. I crossed the border into Germany, drove through Berg and then parked the car next to the road in the place I had planned.
I started walking and passed small ponds. In one of them I saw some animals that looked like rats at first glance but were much bigger. They turned out to be nutrias/coypus, they swam around and cleaned themselves. Then I came to the Alte Lauter creek which doubles as the border. There were lots of mosquitos and I was glad to have brought my jacket with me. I allowed me to protect both my neck and half of my hands but I still wasn't able to keep away all the mosquitos from my head and fingers. I hurried along the track, hoping to get away from the stings. After a while I noticed that the track was leading more towards the west than planned, so I walked along the edge of a field towards the track I had originally planned to take. When I reached the spot where that track should have been, there was none, just the edge of the field and a small fencing. I walked between them (in retrospect, the maps were outdated but I was still walking in the correct place) towards the hashpoint. Because of the flooding, the large pond to the west of me went right up to the fence in some places instead of being 10 meters away. When the pond ended there was dense underbrush. From the signs I had passed I knew that the fencing indicated the limit of a nature reserve anyway, so when I passed the place nearest to the hashpoint I just continued walking. When the field that I had walked alongside the whole time ended, I saw a track lead through the reserve. Happy that I would be able to get to the other side of the densely overgrown area I followed it, only to be stopped after 5 meters because everything was flooded. 50 meters ahead I could see the dike that went past the hashpoint, but those 50 meters of water were too much. I walked further along the edge of the field, circling it in total before the track led me back to my car. I wasn't defeated yet!
After driving for one kilometer I parked the car where the next track started. Following the track I came to the Alte Lauter and thus the French border again. There was a large tractor powering a pump to pump water from the Alte Lauter over the dike into the Rhine that was reaching halfway up the dike already. Walking along the dike I passed many cyclists that were using this part of the Véloroute Rhin (Rhine Cycling Route). After a while I came near the hashpoint again. It was near the dike, only 20 meters into the underbrush. But when I took two steps into the underbrush in a not-that-much-overgrown part, I saw that the flooding was there, too, as the ground was under water. Now I was defeated. So close!
I walked back along the dike to my car, then I drove through Neuburg (this ferry was closed, too), then along the federal route 10 and through Karlsruhe to the Autobahn. After only two small traffic jams I was at my parents' place, with enough time to have lunch and relax a bit before taking the train back to Dresden via Frankfurt. The train ride took 6 hours, that was a bit exhausting after 4 hours in the car and on foot in the morning.
I'm sad that I didn't reach the spot, I still haven't reached a hashpoint in France even though I had been in France during the first few months of geohashing in 2008 (without knowing about it though). In total I walked 7.5 km during the expedition.