Volksmarch column, Sept. 20, 2012
September 19, 2012
For the first torch walk of the season, head to Kützberg, west of Schweinfurt, Germany, on Saturday. Let’s hope this is the first of many torch walks this year.
Start the 5-kilometer route between 7 and 8 p.m. There will be regular walks Saturday starting at 2 p.m. and Sunday between 7 a.m. and noon. The address for the start hall is Kärnersweg 27. A B-medal is the prize.
• One of our favorite walks takes place in Luxembourg this weekend. On Sunday you can walk in Wiltz, where in the past the routes have wound around the hills overlooking the city and the castle. Wiltz was the former headquarters of the Army’s 28th Infantry Division and the site of desperate fighting during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. A walk through the countryside around Wiltz will give you an appreciation of the difficult terrain the soldiers had to contend with during the fighting. When you add the terrible winter conditions, you can imagine their ordeal.
• Our trip to Heidelberg for the final volksmarch of the Heidelberg International Wandering Club reminded us of the famous phrase from Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was the best of times because of the wonderful weather and the large turnout in spite of other activities available in the area.
Jochen Munz of the Heidelberg club tells us that there were 2,643 start cards sold on the two days of walking — the most the club has sold in a long time. The winner of the Commander’s Cup was the European Regional Medical Center with 140 walkers. The largest walking club to attend was the Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club with 91 walkers. We saw several tour buses in the area, including one from France that brought walkers to the event.
At the start we saw many old friends. As we talked with people around the hall, it reminded us how it was also the worst of times. After 38 years, the club is closing down. No one knows exactly what the future holds, but this was most likely the last big two-day event for the HIWC. The club is officially chartered through next May, so it will still have trips and meetings. There might be a guided walk in the future, but this is just one of many decisions to be made.
Staffing the many areas of the start hall, as well as the checkpoints, were approximately 150 volunteers. Lorraine loved the lavender T-shirts worn by the volunteers. On the front of the shirts was the picture used on this year’s mug. Many of the volunteers wore name tags that said they were visiting from the United States. These were former members of the HIWC and came back for the club’s final event.
On the trail, we saw many familiar sights that brought back many fond memories. The grapes on the vines and the towering sunflowers were just two of them. At the first control point we saw Mike and Sue Capp, along with other volunteers, stamping cards and serving food and drinks. Mike and Sue were the “president and first lady” of the club, and even with the movers coming to pack them out the following Monday, still found time to volunteer. As they go back to the United States, we wish them the best of luck and hope they find another walking club near their new home. We all will miss their hard work and dedication, not to mention Mike’s monthly presidential message in the HIWC newsletter.
As we continued on to the second control point, we recalled the long, steep climb ahead of us. We had forgotten how long this incline was, but the memory came back fast as trudged along. The pretty old houses gave way to the forest, but the trail continued upwards. Eventually, we came to the second control point and took a brief break. We didn’t want to stay too long, because we knew what was back at the start hall —- good food!
Once back at the start hall, we put our plan into action. We got our IVV books stamped and picked up our mugs. Lorraine found a table while Bob got the food. As we ate our Grillwurst and fries, Lorraine chatted with a few members of the Stuttgart German-American Wandering Club.
Being the last event, there was a huge demand for the mugs given out as the prize. The demand was increased by the beautiful weather. HIWC vice president Rob Floyd was dismayed when the mugs were gone by noon of the first day. Rob told us, “We ordered the same number of mugs as last year and that was enough for both days.” As a person who ordered too many mugs once, Bob has to add that the last thing a club needs is several boxes of unsold mugs.
We managed to keep the sadness beneath the surface at this event because of the many friends we have made and good memories we have of Heidelberg volksmarches. We’re not sad because it’s over; we’re happy because it happened.
Email volksmarch information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO AE 09752.