The sound of the Rennsteig Trail
When you can't hear much for a change
Getting away from it all
Right, we’ll make a stop over there, where the trees are less dense and the rays of sunshine seek out the ground like small searchlights. That’s a good place for our first short break. We set off from Oberhof forty or fifty minutes ago, and our destination, Allzunah, is still a few hours away, so a quick breather is only fair. Loosen your laces, reposition your rucksack, have a drink of water; all the things you usually do when you first have a rest. How quiet it is up here! The road isn’t that far away, but you can’t hear the hum of the traffic. Instead, the bees are making quite a racket feasting on the clover blossoms, and somewhere up in the trees a great spotted woodpecker is hammering away.
Anyone who does a lot of forest walking knows how it stimulates the senses. As you’re taking one step at a time and each mile as it comes, everyday life just drifts away. Suddenly you can feel that something is different. The noises we’ve all become so used to in our day-to-day lives are absent. There are no roaring cars, no blaring radios or beeping smartphones. Our world is so noisy, always and everywhere. Even in a supposedly quiet room there invariably seems to be something in the background that is buzzing or humming away. We often don’t even notice it any more. Until you’re all alone on a walking trail like the Rennsteig. Nature has its own sound – and it does us good to hear it.
Getting ready to take it all in
The roar of humankind has fallen silent and a whole new perspective opens up. You adjust your perception from focusing on images to focusing on sounds, and prepare yourself to take it all in. Sometimes you can’t hear anything but the sound of your footsteps. Their muffled thud on the soft ground of the Rennsteig, the clickety-clack as you walk across stones, the squelching noises when it has been raining and the ground is so muddy that your shoes almost get stuck. You can hear the rustling of your clothes, the creaking of your rucksack straps or the coins jingling in your pocket. Then other sounds become more prominent. Insects buzz, twigs and branches snap underfoot, a pine cone falls to the forest floor, or the rising wind catches the top of the spruces. After a few minutes’ walk on the Rennsteig Trail all the hustle and bustle seems very far away.
Forest area at Rennsteig ©Guido Werner, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH
Getting acquainted with the forest
Spruces dominate the area around the Rennsteig Trail. Wherever they grow they don’t leave a lot of room for other trees. Here and there you might find a fir tree. However, those are still small and fenced off to protect them from hungry red deer. The forest is changing. Slowly but surely it is returning to how it originally used to be. But for now it’s the branches of spruces that provide perches for siskins and coal tits. The distinctive song you can occasionally hear is a song thrush. You can read about all of them on the information boards by the wayside. These can be found all along the Rennsteig Trail and tell you everything you’ve always wanted to know, and some things you hadn’t even thought of!
Once you’ve passed the historical Rennsteig train station, it’s not far to Allzunah. The tiny village’s dozen houses appear to have tumbled down the mountainside into the valley. And if your hair has become a bit messy on your way here, you can always stop off at the local hair salon, Frisör am Rennsteig. How’s that for convenience!
More information on the Rennsteig Trail is available on thueringer-wald.com.
Titelbild ©Christopher Schmid