Don Feidner

Vulkan Cycling Trail Northward

Last Update: 6 November 2011

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P1130885 Vulkan Radweg Map

From Hanau, it’s a short flat ride to Altenstadt, the trailhead of the Vulkan Cycling Trail. From there, the trail follows a closed rail line - at first gently, then more steeply 45 kilometers uphill to its highest point on the Vogelsberg at 659 meters passing the palace in Gedern, then meandering its way to the town of Lauterbach, a lovely medieval town on Vogelsberg. After heading toward Fulda, it takes a sharp left turn and continues on the Schlitz River to the town of Schlitz on the Fulda River.

From Schlitz, I followed the Fulda River northward to the city of Bad Hersfeld, and then continued on to Kassel and then to Hannoverische Münden, where the Fulda and Werra Rivers meet to form the Weser. A few kilometers along the Weser is a town called Reinhardtshagen, where the best man at my wedding lives with his family.

The trip was a mere 375 km over four days, but it was a refreshing change to sitting in my office here at home in the Odin Forest.

P1130886 Altenstadt Trailhead

Between Hartmannhausen and Eichen, there are 21 steles cast in iron that line the bicycle path. Wilfried Klaus, the sculptor, designed the steles which are relaxing places to stop along the way. (see photograph right)

After riding uphill for a long time, shortly before reaching Gedern, the darkness began to close in. A campsite on my map had been closed. so I was forced to look for another place to sleep. A small trail went off to the left in the woods – a delightful place with the clearing covered with leaves. It was so peaceful, I decided to pitch my tent there and spend the night.

Little did I know how cold it would become that night. Yes, of course, I had warm clothing with me and put on my ski underwear before crawling into the tent. But the temperature dropped to 5° below zero, and when I woke up in the middle of the night, I looked for my fleece jacket to ward off the cold. I woke up several times before dawn, but I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful view of the sun rising across the frosted field of weeds. The picture below can’t explain the feeling that welled up inside of me – to be free in nature and enjoying the creation that God made for each of us.

P1130887 Stele
P1130891 near Gedern
P1130894 Gedern Moon

Continuing along the trail, I stopped and looked back to the West where I can see the moon, still full, as it was making its way toward the horizon. The sun shined brightly all the next day.

P1130895 castle in Gedern
P1130896 Radweg Gedern

The castle in Gedern was a lovely place to enjoy breakfast, so I parked my bicycle beside the bench and enjoyed the view while enjoying my morning meal. Of course, most people like to eat when they first get up, but I prefer to ride the bicycle for an hour or two before eating breakfast. That way I have a chance to find a nice place to dine where there is a bench or maybe even a picnic table. This was a perfect spot to plan the rest of my journey.

After breakfast I was ready to head down the mountain and found myself on a wonderful bicycle trail. Occasionally, a footbridge would cross overhead, but mostly the trail was very very comfortable and mostly downhill. What made the trail really beautiful were the autumn leaves strung along the pathway.

P1130900 Nebel Rhön1
P1130897 Vogelsberg top
P1130901 Morning Fog over the town

Soon I arrived at a lookout where one could see for many many kilometers into the Rhön Valley. Just a bit further down the Mountain, the fog still lay between the trees. In the next town I came to was cloaked in a white blanket of translucent moisture.

P1130902 Grebenhain
P1130904 12 km sw of Lauterbach
P1130907 Herbstein
P1130908 Autumn Radweg Herbstein

Herbstein in the Sunshine

P1130909 Galgen

About 2 kilometers west of Rixfeld, there are two columns which were built in 1709 for use as a gallows. It is constructed of round sandstone plates 30 to 40 centimeters thick and about 4 meters high. They stand 5 meters apart.

By the round foundation, it is clear that these were constructed for a criminal court. On top, the grooves are used to support a wooden beam, which had to be replaced in 1737 and around the beginning of the 19th century disappeared altogether. There is no historical record of executions on the Rixfeld gallows.

P1130916 Planetenweg n of Bad Hersfeld

Nearly every cycling trip I make in Germany, I come across a planet trail. This one begins near Bad Hersfeld with a large ball, that represents the sun. Each planet is spaced according to its distance from the sun. The first 4 planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars appear relatively close together. Jupiter and Saturn are much further apart. Uranus and Neptune are even further, and far far away I eventually arrived at the tiny planet of Pluto, a little ball on a stand that would be easy to miss, if you weren’t looking for it.

P1130924 Harvesting corn
P1130926 Tractor Plough
P1130918 Fulda Sonnenaufgang

Early in the morning is the best time to see the fog rising off of the warm water of the Fulda River in the cool morning air.

P1130919 Cornfield n of Rothenburg

The farmers were busy harvesting the corn hoping to get it done before the rains come. But, this year, 2011, it still hasn’t rained. As I write this on 6 November, we have 70 Fahrenheit and it is dry as a bone. What a wonderful Autumn.

P1130931 Boxwork Neumorschen

Neumorschen on the Fulda River is filled with homes that have long steps up their living quarters. Why? Obviously, they have experienced a lot of high water on this river.

P1130932 ICE Bridge

An impressive site near Neumorschen is the ICE bridge, where the ICE trains pass by several times each day.

P1130933 Bike Ferry

As I was sailing along on my bike not far north of Neumorschen, I saw the river on the left side turn into a high steep embankment. But there was no bridge. Suddenly, I found myself beside the contraption in the pictures left and below - a bicycle ferry. Great! But the ease with which you can cross a river with such a thing is deceiving. Once aboard, all you have to do is turn the crank and you cross the river, but after cranking 750 times, I was only halfway across the river. The guy on the other side got off the bench and started helping me to crank from his side. My arm was so tired, I couldn’t crank anymore and kept switching from my left to my right arm and back again. Great idea, but best for younger people. I would hate for it to begin raining in the middle.

P1130934 Bike Ferry
P1130935 Near Melsungen

Nice home on the river near Melsungen!

P1130940 Fulda
P1130945 Bridge with frost

I nearly froze in my tent the night before taking this picture of frost on the ground - 5 below zero!

P1130946 Bridge
P1130949 Pilze

About 10 kilometers south of Kassel, I crossed this bridge that was built only for pedestrians and bicycles - beautiful!

P1130951 Bridge
P1130953 Autumn Radweg n of Kassel
P1130956 Fulda Reflection
P1130961 Bike Forest s of FfM
P1130937 Melsungen Rathaus u Cafe

 Melsungen City Hall and Cafe!

P1130941 Fulda
P1130939 Fulda Schleife

A litte further north along the river!

P1130943 Sheep in cabbage

Sheep on a frosty morning eating cabbage in a field!

P1130948 Sterntaler Mädel
P1130950 Bridge 10 km s of Kassel
P1130952 Kassel

Kassel! I wasn’t in the mood for a big city on this trip and rode along the river not leaving the bike path. Besides, I was on my way to visit my friend in Rheinhardshagen!

P1130954 Bridge 17 km s of Hann-münden
P1130958 Green Reflection

As you can see, the colors were stunning along the river. The water was calm most of the way. I spent one night at my friends home, and the next morning, I was on my way with the train back to Frankfurt. The last photograph on the left is in the forest just to the east of the Frankfurt airport as I was riding back home again from the Frankfurt train station - only 50 kilometers to my destination - my home in the Odenwald.


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