Walking in the Clouds

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Your prayers and good wishes worked, because today was much better than yesterday. It probably didn’t hurt that we got 8½ hours of sleep, too, in the serene quiet of the cloister. Even the passionately mooing cows quieted down overnight.

It’s a good thing we were enjoying better spirits, because it was a long day’s walk—35 km all told. For the first half of the day we were in the clouds… literally. We weren’t that high but the clouds were low. It wasn’t exactly raining; it’s more like we kept walking into the rain droplets that were suspended in space in front of us. However, that was just fine, and it didn’t get us very damp or cold at all. We’ve discovered that the chief drawback about rain, surprisingly, is that we can’t use our Pacerpoles. (In case you’ve noticed that they’re a sponsor of ours, let us say here that they didn’t come after us, but we went after them and actually begged them to sponsor us, because we love their poles so much. If you are a serious walker, definitely check them out.) They take a huge burden off the feet so you get much less tired. They also are great for balancing on slippery hillsides… which we needed to do when the navigator half of us missed a turn and we had to take a “shortcut” through the woods. (Presumably, one of these days we will absorb the lesson that a shortcut is never that.) At one point we really had to shoot right down a steep, slippery, and overgrown hillside. Thanks to the wonderful balancing extension of the poles, I only fell once, and trust me that is a remarkable statistic. OK, it really was a bit exciting, but the sort of exciting you wish you had planned for instead of having it forced upon you.

Other highlights of the day included meeting comically friendly goats that maa-ed at us more loudly than you’d think possible; getting our second pilgrim stamp at the church in Auernheim; the discovery of a “forest xylophone” all made of wood by a 4th grade class some years back; zigzagging back and forth across the border between Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg; and picking up dinner groceries at a Turkish shop in the small industrial town of Giengen. The home stretch of 12 km were a bit rough, what with the rain and being tired, so we sang pretty much the whole way to distract ourselves from feet and shoulders. Everything from “Holy, Holy, Holy” and a medley of Christmas hymns and (of course) “A Mighty Fortress” to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” to “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” and “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.” You can sing a lot of songs in 3 hours.

Upon arrival in Stetten ob Lontal, I directed us to the Landgasthof Adler to retire for the evening. No one was there, the doors were locked, and the phone number only reached an answering machine. Nothing puts a wet, dirty, and tired American into an apoplectic fit like the failure of an outfit to observe proper business practices, which means doing everthing to the customer’s convenience. After working myself into a righteous froth I agreed we should try the other hotel in town, Zum Mohren, which answered immediately when I called and assured us that they did indeed have a double room available. We trudged the last 200 m up there, were greeted by a very friendly receptionist, and gladly put down our bags at last in our lovely room.

About four minutes later, the receptionist knocked on the door. She apologized profusely but it seemed to her that we already had a reservation for the evening, made several days ago. Could that be right?

Ah. It was. I had the wrong hotel in the first place. Whoops.

3 thoughts on “Walking in the Clouds

  1. Life is ordinary here in MN with Rally Sunday approaching, 2 out of the 4 of us under the weather, and new Daycare and Kindergarten nearly upon us. I think of you often, and Zeke too–and I wonder, does pilgrimage feel ordinary to you? Surreal? Out-of-the ordinary? Like liturgy? Like lectio? Like life? Love you! Jen

  2. Great story re the hotel, tired expectations and the surprise ending…GK Chesterton said that “it is not the things that people want to remember about a journey that interest him, but the things they’ll never forget!” That’s one of those moments you’ll never forget…thanks for sharing!

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