Report on my First Hike with the Sauerlandischer Gebirgsverein
The write-up read "Sunday 7-16-1995, day hike/backpack provision. Meeting place: railway station 8:45, 'Over the Bilsteiner Kopf.' Distance 18 km between BeyenburgEnnepetal-Schwelm. The leader will arrange for group tickets. Leader Ludger Lackner."
I arrived at the main rail-way station at about 800. From their outfits and backpacks I knew right away that was the group I wanted to join. The leader arranged for the tickets or put together groups of 5 per ticket. We took a train to Dusseldorf, changed trains there and then rode on to Schwelm, just east of Hagen. The train ride took just over an hour. As we entered Schwelm, a charming old town in the Sauerland, elevation 352 m, the leader stopped briefly to greet everyone and said that the most important thing was to enjoy the hike and to have a good time. After about 45 minutes we reached a trail that led into dense forest, sometimes along meadows, wheat, oat or rye fields. The slope was very gentle and the people walked at a very leisurely pace, did lots of visiting and talking. I became acquainted with Gerda Schulz, a joyful, radiant bubbly lady, It turned out she knew my mother and father.
After walking about an hour, the leader announced an "apple" break and handed to everyone a beautiful, delicious apple as his treat. It was his provisional hike and it turned out there were many leaders among the hikers to celebrate with this new leader. They were joking and laughing and we had lots of fun. Around noon we climbed a steep trail with many steps which led to the Bilsteiner Kopf. Instead of a register on this "peak," a large square stone block was the bench marker at 285 m. (I couldn't understand this. I had the impression we had gone up, not down.) We overlooked Beyenberg in the Ennepetal (valley), a very beautiful view on a typical German country village. About half an hour later we stopped for lunch. Most people pulled out plastic containers with salads or other prepared foods, not sandwiches which I had. And what I thought struck me so funny - a dessert - of course, a typical pudding or yoghurt cup. Naturally, it was their main meal time. At lunch the leader passed around the sign-in sheet This was all so informal as well as his position in the group during the hike. Only in the beginning was he at the head of the group. He sometimes went to the middle or the back to bring in the others. His wife, however, was definitely the sweep and did a super job of counting and bringing in the rear.
We walked the 18 kilometers in about 5 hours. We returned to Schwalm after 3 pm. Some people got an ice cream or a cup of coffee on the way back to the railway station. We took the trains back just the way we came.
Along the way hikers got off at various stops. This was a fun hike. I met 26 new people and made 5 closer friends. The cost for this whole day was DM 4.40 for my train ticket and I was back home at 6 pm.