Kissing hog. Garlic Rocks. Or Lichtenstein Castle. Sandra’s favorite highlights all sound like they arose straight from a fairytale. One actually does feel a bit like exploring another world, when hiking through her home region Schwäbische Alp in the South of Germany. It’s rare to meet cool girls like Sandra, who love exploring as much as we do. Which is why we are extremely happy to see her amongst our Pioneers now. We had the pleasure to talk to her about what makes an adventure for her, from the obligatory summit to robot band-aids in her backpack.
Hi Sandra! Tell us, who are you and what are you doing when you are not out hiking?
My name is Sandra, I am 26 years old and live in Stuttgart. In 2013, I started a traineeship at the museums of literature of the German Literature Archives in Marbach. I work in literary education, which means I spend my days guiding students, adults and children through the museum and show them manuscripts, letters and the like by Schiller, Mörike, Rilke, Kafka and many more. I also organize special events for exhibitions and come up with interesting workshops.
Which tours do you like the most? How do you decide where to go?
I like tours where I get to see something: Waterfalls, caves, castles, ruins and great views fascinate me! Small destinations, that you can look forward to. And I like exploring spots, that I have only heard and read of before. When you’re directly standing in front of them, it all looks different from what you imagined and it’s great to put together these places with the stories you might have heard. I also need a small challenge on every adventure, be it a steep trail or a high summit – just straight and flat would get boring quickly.
What are you bringing on a Tour?
One or two books are always in my pack, even though I rarely (hardly ever) have the time to read when hiking. One, two, three sandwiches as a solid base, some fruit – which must be cut before (!) or I’ll just bring my boyfriend and his pocket knife along – and a little surprise for the highest peak, mostly chocolate. Robot band-aids for the emergency, tissues and last, but not least, my phone with komoot and the camera in my jacket.
What do you like about being outside?
I love excercising. It’s a great compensation for the desk, armchair and chair, that literary scientists and reading geeks like to spend their days with. For hikes, I don’t mind getting up early on the weekends and for some reason, I never get tired outside…except for my legs, after a while. And I love the open space of nature, which gives you room to imagine so many things: Faces, creatures and animals in rocks or clouds. Footprints, where you can wonder who left them. It’s a place to think and let your thoughts run free or just think of nothing and empty your head.
What do you use komoot for?
At the moment, I mostly use komoot for recording tours and leave the planning to the experts. I like collecting tours, photos and highlights as a traveling map, souvenir and way to remember, like a journal that I can open again any time and get inspiration for new adventures. I especially like the photos and highlights, which put the life into a tour. I also see komoot as a place where inspiration for places, tours and destinations is stored and collected by outdoor fans. I think it’s cool that I now get ready-made tours, including public transportation – saves me a lot of planning and organization.
Your favorite spot beneath the open sky?
That’s a hard one…There are many places that come to my mind and it really depends who I am going with and what I feel like. Close to my home, there’s Stuttgarter Karlshöhe, great for pick-nicks. It’s a small hill in the middle of the city, which doesn’t make carrying the food easier, but the view is worth it and makes everything taste three times as good. Stuttgarter Birkenkopf has a great view as well. A bit of a challenge when running uphill, but again, worth the effort. So actually, any place offers a small challenge to get to, that isn’t too crowded and where you can get a bit of rest and quiet.
Some funny rituals you have developed over time?
Very important: Properly tied shoes! When I bought my hiking boots, I was told to make sure to tie them right. And I actually still do, before I step outside, I am pulling on those laces. On the way back home, I loosen them again. I love my hiking boots and socks, they are reason enough to go out on a tour. Even though in the beginning I thought it was completely overrated to buy boots and socks especially for hiking! Hm, what else…I like to fabulate a bit, while setting one foot in front of the other. About the names of trails, places and mountains, why they look the way they look and all the things that might have taken place there before. And no later than after I have made half the distance, I am thinking about what I’ll have for dinner that day… 🙂
And the nicest tour you have recorded?
The Winter Hike in Bad Urach. It was very cold and everything was white. If we hadn’t had komoot, sometimes we wouldn’t have known if there’s even still a trail below our feet. Sometimes the snow was higher than my knees and I had to make huge steps to keep moving forward. The thermos with hot tea was our best friend during those hours and in the wooden hut above the waterfall we chose the tiniest corner in the back of the hut to unpack our snacks. The waterfall was frozen in some places and we had to take care not to slip on the icy steps. I loved it. The only thing missing was a sled…
Thank you Sandra, for the nice chat. We would love to tie our hiking boots and trudge after you right now.
Sandra also told us about her favorite highlights:
“A castle that looks like it was taken from a book. And in this case, it’s true. The idea for the restoration of the ruins of Lichtenstein in 1842 came from the novel “Lichenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff, written in 1826. It actually looks like a castle in a fairytale, right there by the cliff. The original manuscript of the book is also in our museum. I really like it when such magical places have cool stories connected to them, that accompany you on the hike. Just below the castle there’s a big cave called ‘Nebelhöhle’ (Fog Cave). It’s dark and cold and there are big stalactites. In the book, that’s where Duke Ulrich was hiding from his enemies.”
“The Urach waterfall is one of my all time favorite hiking highlights. You can hear the rustle of the waterfall from far away, while getting closer and closer and hiking right next to it for a good while. I bet it’s great to jump into in the summer, at 30°C in the shade, when the water is still ice-cold. In the winter it was almost frozen over and the stairs were really slippery.”
“I have no idea where that name comes from! But I do know that we had nut cookies there. Summit nut cookies! Even though the peak wasn’t actually that high. But it was a nice last view before getting back to the valley.”
“The name alone drew me in magically! Someone must have had as much fun fabulating as I do. And the rocks really do look like two little wild boars kissing. Even the trail to it is beautiful. Especially in the late summer, when everything is covered in colored leaves.”
“The castle of Hohenzollern is one of those hiking destinations, that you can see from far away and that looks royal and mighty even from there. Everything is tremendous: The high firs, the wide trails, the hills and of course the castle itself. Even from 20km away it has you under its spell. A great destination for longer hikes. It’s easy to rest there for an hour or two, until you have explored all the trails, kings’ and emperors’ statues and little towers on the castle. There are even deck chairs, where you can lie and just breathe and relax, before you are descending back down into the valley.
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