Setting out on the trail with Wandermagazin
– It is always nice to have a genuine expert by your side. We are overjoyed that Wandermagazin is supporting us on the journey to the E1|R1 Photo Award, both as a partner and as a recognised expert on all things hiking in Germany and Europe. Anyone that has access to such expert support naturally wants to soak up as much knowledge as possible. For that reason, we had a spontaneous meeting in Hermann’s Country with the chief editor Andrea Engel, for whom hiking is not only a hobby but also a career.
No, she really wasn’t aware of whether she had already been on the E1 or R1 before, she notes at the beginning of our conversation. “Admittedly, in many places the E1 runs together with other regional hiking trails like the Egge Trail or West Trail and so I’ve definitely already got several kilometres on the E1 under my belt. There is definitely a good chance and starting from now on I will pay special attention to it.”
Let’s go! After becoming familiar with the Competence Center for Hiking WALK in Detmold, the next stop is Hermann’s monument. After taking in the breath-taking view out over the Teutoburg Forest it was time for the first round of questions.
At what point does it go from just a walk and become a hike?
Going for a walk is going out for some fresh air, stretching your legs a bit, without much planning, without a backpack – nothing too strenuous. Most of the time a walk for me starts directly outside my front door or at least from a starting point that is not too far away. The time factor doesn’t necessarily play a role here. Going for walks can sometimes last up to three hours. After that it’s a hike. For that, the rucksack gets flung over my shoulder, I’ll get my hands on an overview of the route in advance and I’ll have had accepted the longer access route, but for that the hiking trail also needs have something special to offer.
What is so special about long distance hiking and mountain biking trails?
The tenacity, even when the going sometimes gets tough, and the satisfaction that you made it to the end – through all the highs and lows in between. Giving yourself over to the slower pace of things for a while and letting yourself go. In the end, you are always left with two things: happiness and some insight.
Many people set off on long hikes to sort out their life.
That’s right. All the unique aspects of long distance hikes are undoubtedly also responsible for that.
A prime example of that is the endless hype about the Way of St. James. Does hiking help one to think?
Oh, for sure it can. When you consciously engage with nature, the continuity of you and your movements when on the trail, hiking can unleash astonishingly creative and mental strength.
And on that note, we continued our journey. It was now leading us towards the Externsteine and with that, to one of the largest natural wonders of Germany, a must see for every hiker at least once in their life. I use the time there to ask a few personal questions about what she likes about hiking.
What does the perfect hiking moment look like to you?
I’ve already had so many perfect moments: a great view, a particularly beautiful rest area, the sun being in a particularly beautiful position in the sky, reaching a milestone or even an intense discussion since as all the frills aren’t so important. It’s also often as simple as my husband, my pug and I wandering around together. That is perfect.
Do you like to hike alone? In twos? In groups?
Most of the time as a couple with my pug Lotte. Sometimes also with one or multiple friends.
How do you convince a friend to go hiking with you?
If we want to spend time together, there is nothing like going on a hike together – we can chat, there are beautiful rest areas or places to stop if you haven’t seen the region yet. It’s not hard for someone to get excited given all this.
And which leg of the E1 is particularly enticing to you personally?
Deciding on a leg between the North Cape and Central Italy? Tricky. When I take a look at the map of the trail, with all its various landscapes and reliefs, it seems impossible to pick. The task for the future is to hike the E1 legs that are in Germany.
Having arrived at the Externsteine, the trail leads through the rock formation to the very spot where the European long distance walking trail, the E1, and the European mountain biking trail, the R1, cross. And what better place is there for a few questions about photography and hiking, then the place from which the international E1|R1 Photo Award got its name.
There are many photo competitions. What is so special about the E1|R1 Photo Award?
The plan to bundle together visual impressions from such a large area of European landscapes and countries. I find the idea, that there is a personal adventure on the E1 or R1 trails behind every scene, very fascinating. Also, this is probably the first competition centred around hiking and mountain biking whose subject matter transcends country borders.
Do you always have your camera with you when you are hiking and what are your favourite subjects to photograph?
Yes. My dog at any location on the hike. Apart from that, I always try to capture the character of a trail in the photograph. This often shows up in the details on the trail, whether animals, plants, architecture or a natural wonder, but even a particularly beautiful view or a vast landscape of rolling hills can also be a detail.
When do you stop and take a photo?
When I think: now that is a detail characteristic of this track or this landscape. This is mostly spontaneous and happens very often when on a trail.
How can the photo competition contribute to making the European long distance hiking trails better known?
By compiling and distributing so many personal photos from so many different countries and showing how many beautiful things there are to see on the E1.
Do you have any tips for those aspiring photographers amongst all the hikers out there?
Be on the lookout for something that is special to you on a personal level. It doesn’t always have to be the most technically perfect photo, but just one that spontaneously takes people by surprise. That’s all I could ever wish for.
We are saving the ascent to the Externsteine until next time. For Andrea Engel, it won’t be her last visit to Hermann’s Country. But before we say goodbye, I invite her to play a little game of: would you rather?
The Alps or the North Cape?
Hiking boots or trekking shoes?
Guesthouse or wellness hotel?
Instant camera or mobile phone photo?
Mobile phone photo
Raisin bread or pickert?
You got me there. What exactly is pickert again?
… Just as well that Google is always there to help, as after only a few clicks she decided …
Pickert! The sweet kind though.