KS just finished her story for Deutsche Welle about the 66 Lakes Trail. This resulted in a discussion of us going back over the previous posts, including my original intention of this blog. One of the things I realized was I’d failed to do the initial thing I set out to. This blog was supposed to be a helpful source to people who wanted to do the hike but were facing all the unknowns that we did back in January.
So while my Preparation post might give you an idea of what to bring, and what to think about ahead of time. It’s not actually good for covering the very initial thoughts that might go through your head before you commit to spending a day in Brandenburg following around little blue and white markers 🙂
The biggest anxieties I had about the 66 Lakes Trail when I hadn’t done it were:
- Will my phone work?
- Will the trail be on Google Maps?
- Will there be trail markers?
- Is the trail head well marked?
Without knowing these things, I was pretty frustrated. Several blogs and websites talk about the trail from a very high level, but don’t go into the details which mattered to me as an inexperienced hiker in Germany.
Here’s what I can tell you about these issues:
1. Will my phone work?
Yes, usually you will have a signal. But don’t rely on this to be the case all day, and keep in mind your phone battery probably wont last for 8 hours. To save battery, I cached a map of the area into my phone, then turned my cellular network off. This cuts down on juice.
As far as just wanting to be able to make a phone call, I think it’s possible at times, but again don’t count on it always working. Don’t worry though, there isn’t much danger out there to be afraid of! You’re still only 1-2 hours away from Alexanderplatz most of the time.
2. Will the trail be on Google Maps?
No, most of the time it’s not. And it would be hard to plot all the turns and points on it. The WanderKompass.de GPS data does map it all out. But I don’t have a Garmin so I can’t promise that it loads into one properly. We did try using Google Earth but this also took too much battery to work as a good solution. See my answer to #1 above re caching the map though. As this does help. And I suggest making screenshots of the trail to look at in your phone unless you have a conventional map.
3. Will there be trail markers?
Yes, there are usually lots of trail markers. But each trail is maintained by different people, so the methods, markers and signs are not always consistent.
Beware, while we never tried to prove it, at times there are trail signs that indicate the distance to the next town or final destination of that trail –and we believe these are not always accurate!
Also, sometimes there is a turn, or fork in the trail and the markers don’t really intuit which way to go! It’s really frustrating! Just know it happens. No one has gotten lost and eaten by bears, at least not that I’ve heard of. One time we did literally walk in a circle around a town, all the while following the markers…. but aside from that kind of shenanigan, nothing horrible has happened in the last 8 trails we hiked.
4. Is the trail head well marked?
No. While you might see markers in each of the defined starting & ending points. There is no sign that tells you where the trail starts, how long of a hike it is, or any of the other typical hiking trail sign elements. It’s not a big deal, but requires a bit of courage and imagination. Enjoy 🙂
So that’s it for now. I can’t think of anything else that was really driving me nuts. My strongest suggestion is to have a cell phone with data service available. And make sure to keep some battery power on that phone. If you get lost, it might be your best way to get back to the trail.