A next section of the German Green Belt/Iron Curtain Trail I hiked together with my mom: 4 days along the former German-German border in the valley of the river Werra. This region is known for salt mining, therefore huge salt mine dumps characterise the landscape („Monte Kali“). They are almost iconic for the area – but with them come that the river Werra is among the most polluted water bodies in Germany. Factories dump their sewage and the salt from the dumps is washed into it. Only very less species adapt to that harsh environment. Even though the water is shallow, you cannot see the ground, also in parts it smells disgusting. Wouldn’t want to dip my toe in it. However, it’s popular among people for kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddling.
While hiking, mom mentioned, that it is astonishing, that there are no signs of the anniversary. I asked her, which anniversary she speaks of. She laughed and said, how I could forget about that it is 30 years ago this year, that Germany got reunited. I realised, even though I have been hiking along the former iron curtain for quite a bit already, that I absolutely forgot about that. All and everything these days is overshadowed by the corona pandemic. We should celebrate that the wall came down and memorise the sacrifices (even the ultimate) and the hardship a society went through on the way to freedom and democracy. Instead, this year, in the summer of 2020, most of the borders worldwide are closed to prevent the spread of a virus, and leaders who are not even worth to mention their names, talk about putting up walls to segregate people. We’ve come far.
Anyways, hiking that trail continues being a journey into history and it continues being an adventure. The trail is overgrown in parts, so you have to navigate quite a bit. But I absolutely enjoy the solitude (no other hikers on the section I hiked together with mom) and to witness how nature recaptures what people once took.