I am starting my world trip with the E5 crossing of the alps from Oberstdorf to Merano!
The day, which I now expect for three-quarters of a year, yes possibly already my whole life subliminally in my innermost longing, has finally come! It is the first of September 2022 and I begin today my world journey. September is often an uncertain time of new beginnings for many people. This month often marks the beginning of new life stages and decisions such as a new job, training, studies, or some other weighty event that will significantly affect the course of our lives. Sometimes these turnings in life cause us to fear and doubt, while others feel excitement and anticipation. No matter which of these emotions it is for each of us, it always takes a certain amount of courage and determination to start something new and embark on an unforeseen chapter and adventure in our lives. So, take courage to all of you out there who are facing a big decision in life, postponing it for another time, or are sometimes unsure and don't quite dare to decide on a path! Nothing is more fatal than the standstill and the shock rigidity!
World trip? What does that mean exactly Norrdine? Have you bought an "Around the World Ticket" and are you jetting around the world to all continents, to many countries and from city to city and living from hotel to hotel? How long will you be on the road, and do you have to work in between to earn money or how do you finance the whole thing? Do you have everything already planned and meticulously timed or do you just let yourself drift and see what happens? And will you ever come back to Germany? These questions and many more were already asked to me in advance and I will answer them in the course of this adventure, as far as I can do so, and take you along on all impressions with all "ups" and "downs", wonderful and unadorned experiences and events on my journey.
This much I can tell you, the rough plan is to travel once eastward around the world!
Those of you who already know me a little, can tell, that I am a mountaineer with heart and soul. It is not just a hobby or an affinity. Experiencing mountains is a philosophy of life for me, which has been deeply rooted in my being for about 11 years. So naturally, during my travels around our wonderful blue planet, I seek out the high mountains of each continent to climb and marvel at the highest and most breathtaking peaks of these gigantic formations. So, I would like to climb the highest and most beautiful mountains of each country and, if possible, climb as many of the Seven Summits and hopefully a few of the 14 eight-thousanders without artificial oxygen. I feel a general, as well as extraordinary admiration for this incomprehensibly beautiful nature of our unique, small blue sphere in this inconceivably and infinitely large universe on land and in the oceans, which is why I am also an enthusiastic diver in addition to being a mountaineer. Because of that my way leads me together with you to the unexpected vivid reefs of the world's oceans and further mysteries that lie beneath the water's surface. On the way to these special natural phenomena, we will of course also encounter land and people and dive unfiltered into the different cultures, eating habits, views, beliefs, and actual life realities of the people living in these different countries to experience them first hand. I can't wait to experience and share all these impressions with you guys.
The journey will probably take about 2 to 3 years at the most. At least that long I can afford to live off my savings and travel without having to earn extra money or work on the side. So I quit my old job and turned down all other offers, like "career" or remote work options, to be able to focus every facet of my existence on this journey and experience. Additionally, I kept my entire fixed expense block to a minimum to save money. Along with this, I gave up my beloved apartment, said goodbye to completely wonderful-hearted people and sold almost all of my possessions. Consequently, this means that I will have to deal with limited resources, so we won't be traveling in the utmost luxury. My style will be quite minimalist in nature. All I own is my backpack along with a 2-person tent on my shoulders and a bag of mountaineering gear that I will send from mountain to mountain. This limited equipment, together with my name, an associated bank account, a passport, and the intangible wealth of experience I have accumulated over the past 34 years, form the basis for this adventure and its unforeseen challenges.
So, unprepared and unplanned, my path always leads me roughly eastward towards the rising sun. On foot, by bus, by train, sometimes by ferry, by a hitchhiker, and if necessary through the air from country to country to the highest mountains, wonderful reefs, sights, and cultures. On the way, I will be inspired by the locals and other travelers with further ideas, experiences, recommendations, goals and destinations and taste the delicious meals and servings of the huge variety of different cultures being prepared day by day for their families.
This way of traveling is, in my opinion, the most exciting, relaxed, and eventful form of travel because you are very flexible and can change your plans spontaneously if necessary. You can simply stay longer in places you particularly like, spend time with people and have conversations you might not otherwise have, and enjoy the moments as they come. You can spontaneously follow recommendations and include a few detours or simply move on when you feel the need to get to the next place.
So, how do we get started and where do we start!!!
Well, I would say very simple! We pack up our stuff, heave the heavy equipment on our shoulders, pull the apartment door closed behind us one last time, and just go and see how far our feet will carry us today! No sooner said than done!
So I walk down the stairs and say goodbye to my landlords. For me, however, they are very special people who have taken me in over the past three years like a part of their family. They have always been open, warm, and supportive whenever I have asked for it. We have often had dinner together and celebrated small events together. In the time that I spent without my family in the Allgäu, they were always there for me and gave me a feeling of "home", security and belonging. It is very hard for me to say goodbye to these great people and I am infinitely grateful for this encounter, which I hope was not the last in my life. Every farewell is difficult and brings a tear or two. This was also the case when I said goodbye to my colleagues at work, whom all accompanied me very lovingly and extremely benevolently day after day. And of course also the farewell to my friends, people who are important and close to me, and my family. You have all been simply great. Every one of you has always been a great moral support, advocate, and critic for me at the same time. Just what I need and meets my need and idea of interpersonal relationships! Thank you all so much for that! I say goodbye to all these people and see you soon and start to take one step after another in this new exciting stage of my life!
Just as I have always imagined, I now just go! I walk the first 1.5 km to the nearest bus stop and already feel with every step how heavy this incredibly large backpack, which I have tried to pack my life for the next 2 years, weighs on my shoulders. "My body will probably have to get used to this new burden," I think to myself and move forward with determination and an overwhelming sense of freedom. I am so infinitely moved by the fact of now being "free" and realize what a palpably extreme scope this moment holds so that now that I am alone with myself, I can no longer hold back my tears. So now the world has me and I am a part of it for the next two years and every day will be different and not characterized by routines. Days in which constantly new challenges, as well as small and large problems come to me and want to be mastered. Arriving at the bus stop and after a short wait, I get on the bus to Immenstadt and then take the train from there to Oberstdorf. From here starts the official part of the Alpine crossing of the E5 to Merano!
From the station in Oberstdorf you can already start directly with the hike. The first stage of the E5 leads about 8 km along the river Trettach, past the Christlessee to Spielmannsau. This place can also be reached by bus. I visit a supermarket beforehand to stock up on enough provisions for the next three days. Energy density and calories per gram and also per volume play an essential role. At the same time, the diet must be balanced between the three energy sources, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. In addition, it should also contain all the necessary vitamins and nutrients and in my particular case also be vegan. This combination will definitely become a challenge, I do not want to suffer from malnutrition in the coming months or lose too much muscle mass. Already start the first astonished looks, because I carry such a huge backpack with me and the first people already start to ask interesting questions and want to know what I'm up to with such a huge backpack. They suspect that I am longer on trips or go and would like to know my story and motives. I sporadically get involved in the conversations, depending on how I feel like it. But one thing becomes clear to me right away. People are very enthusiastic about my project, they tell me that they secretly dream of such a trip and that sometimes they lack the courage to simply let go of their chains. These are very stimulating conversations and I get a feeling for the indecisiveness and longings that lie dormant in people. At the same time, one or the other seems to disagree with their current status quo and is searching, sometimes disoriented, for a solution or a way out of their dissatisfaction. I can relate to these feelings because I kind of felt the same way and realized that I disagree with the way I lead my life and therefore was not satisfied. Does that mean, that I now found the solution and the perfect answer to this problem? Not at all! All I know now is, that I am doing something, that I love and always been dreaming about. I hope and speculate, that I will have enough time in the upcoming two years to carefully listen to my thoughts and inner voice in order to get an idea how I would like to recreate my life in the future. I say goodbye to my conversation partners and leave the supermarket! Well stocked with all kinds of delicacies and again about 3 kilos heavier, I trudge off.
From Spielmannsau, you already get a first glimpse of the valley, which you have to hike up along the Sperrbachtobel to reach the Kemptner Hut northeast of the "Mountains of Good Hope". This part is about 6km long while at the same time climbing 920 meters in altitude from about 980 meters above sea level to 1850 hm. I start the first ascent and already start sweating profusely. The backpack is extraordinarily heavy and still affects my surefootedness and balance at the beginning. I am much slower and more strained on the way than usual because usually, I am on the way with little or sometimes almost no luggage. Fast, light, and agile is my motto on the mountain. With my life packed on my shoulders, this is now not as easy as I am used to. I confidently tell myself that my body and muscles will get used to this load very quickly and I will only come out of it stronger. So I motivate myself, even though I can already feel the aching pressure on my shoulders, and increase my pace!
The trail is initially a short stretch flat and paved and then turns left up the hill into the forest. You can smell the damp leaves and ferns of the forest everywhere and I can hear the constant sound of the river below me. The lush green of the leaves shimmers above me and I breathe the clear, cool air deep into my lungs. I love the feeling of the cool air filling my lungs and lifting my chest. It's as if nature is transporting its irrepressible power directly into my body via the oxygen and strengthening me from the inside out.
After a while up through the greenery, the forest slowly opens up and it becomes clearer.
You cross the river to get to the left flank of the Tobel. I'm glad that it's not too warm today and the sun doesn't burn down on me, because I first have to get used to my new equipment, which is driving the sweat on my forehead pretty hard. The water drips from my forehead and runs down my face, this is probably mainly my own sweat and only to a small extent the light rain and the damp mist in the air.
A bit further and now you have a clear view of the fog-covered walls, mountains, and peaks while recognizing the Tobel, as well as the left of its ascending path! Which leads one step by step along the valley and with each climb higher.
The path is always well-marked and easy to recognize! This part, which leads from Spielmannsau to the Kemptner Hut, should not take more than 3 hours. Further up, you can already see the low-hanging fog covering the peaks and slopes!
It rains and drizzles every now and then, so I stop briefly to pull the orange Raincover over my enormous backpack because the contents should be absolutely protected as long as possible and as well as possible from any moisture. Wet equipment is the absolute nightmare of every backpacker!
Christian and his mother Rosario from Ecuador overtake me and tell me afterward that they thought "look, a guy with a huge orange house on his back is also climbing up this trail". That was then probably me, slowly but surely making friends with his load in the light rain!
However, it can be endured and the rain is very mild, almost refreshing! I appreciate the sun and warmth, but I also love the cool air when it surrounds me.
I already know the path, as I shot along here like a rocket just a few weeks ago, when I walked the Heilbronner Weg from the Rappenseehütte to the Kemptner Haus and down to Spielmannsau. Therefore I know that it is only one last, steep, large right turn up and I will soon reach the Kemptener hut.
There I recognize the hut nevertheless already in the fog! The shoulders hurt a little and the belt presses strongly on my hip, but who said it would be easy?
Finally... well, almost there. Since I am (without permission) traveling with a tent, I climb from here again approximately half an hour upward to the saddle beside the “Mutterkopf”. But before I look times in the hut, charge my cell phone briefly and drink a ski water!
The hut seems to be crowded and the guests are just served dinner. I recognize some of the climbers I or who have passed me and chat briefly with them. After a short linger in the hut, it clears outside and the setting evening sun shows one of its spectacular and magical phenomena in the mountains. The so-called "alpenglow”.
This effect occurs exactly when the sun is about to set and once again casts its last strong golden and orange rays on the highest peaks in the area before fully disappearing behind the horizon, thus heralding the approaching end of the day and preparing the way for a starry night.
I am amazed as every time I may experience this spectacle and hold the moment for you! Afterwards, I continue on the way up to the saddle so that I still find before nightfall a nice, comfortable, as flat as possible, hopefully, dry and suitable sleeping place.
A few meters of altitude it is now again to tackle, even if I'm a little tired. If I had slept more the night before and had not gone to bed so late.
A wonderful view back surprises me with an impressive play of colors on the horizon, while the fog slowly but surely envelops the Kemptner Hut.
Eventually, I reach the saddle and am glad that I can now rest.
The wind whistles now fast and cool over the saddle and carries the dense cold fog from the valley quickly upwards in the height, whereby my hands become cold soon after.
Slowly also my entire body gets a little colder. So I should hurry up and put up my tent!
In addition, I am also slowly getting hungry. Apart from that, I wanted to put up my tent every day in the best case before sunset, so that I have afterward still enough time to write in my book, take care of my equipment and come early to bed, so that I am well rested and start early in the morning into the new stage.
I had built up the tent once again crooked, but for the night that promises to stay dry, it should be enough. I blow up my air-filled sleeping pad and spread my sleeping bag over the mat, which protects me from the cold and uncomfortable ground. I stow my gear in the tent and place my headlamp for the night in a spot in a side pocket of the tent wall where I can always find it in case I need to go out to the green toilet at night. I hang my damp socks and sunglasses on the cord below the tent ceiling and start preparing my dinner. I get the whole wheat bread out of my bag, split the edible ripe avocado in half, and spread the tasty, nutritious and delicious contents on my bread slices. I then slice the cucumber and juicy tomatoes I brought with me to complete my avocado whole wheat bread. A little salt, pepper, and spices over it and ready is my perfect dinner for this day. Afterward, I go out into the cold, do my “necessities” and brush my teeth. The day is now coming to an end and it is already dark outside the tent. My eyes are getting tired and I am almost falling asleep. I motivate myself once more to grab the pen and write down the experiences and thoughts throughout the day, while I am already in my sleeping bag feeling how it becomes warmer every minute that passes. I write one last sentence put my book away and turn my headlamp off.
This was the first day of about 730 more days of traveling around the world. I am currently sleeping in my tent at about 1950-2000hm, feeling comfy and well fed and totally excited what the new day will have in store for me!
I will share that experience with you in my next blog entry!
Feel free to leave me your thoughts and comments about this journey. Are there any further questions I have not answered? Are you interested in a detail I was missing out? Feel free to write in the comments or send me a private message, if you would like to see more or less pictures and videos, text and/or audiocommentary. Whatever it is, feel free to let me know! If you like this experience and find it inspiring, feel free to share it whenever or wherever with your friends and family and/or social media. I will most likely release Youtube Videos about about this journey too.
Greetings from somewhere around the world!