Saturday, December 12, 2009

Volksmarching in Germany, 1977-1981

Google Earth image of the areas we Volksmarched. KML file of the sites.

Germans have a great tradition of enjoying the outdoors. Though the weather in Germany is often sporadic and rainy, every weekend (at least in the 1970's), you can find a town or village hosting its weekend Volksmarch (literally, folks-walk). The events are usually 5 km and 10 km hikes through the Stadt, neighboring Walden, meadows, along river trails, past castles (or Schlossen), and anywhere the town planners decide must be a nice stroll. Every town showcases their best views with their Volksmarch.

For every hike, which occurs snow, rain or shine, the registered family is given a map or instructions of what kind of blaze to follow. It was often my brother's job and mine, as kids, to "be on the lookout" for these blazes, usually painted on trees, posted along fences, etc.

All along the trail are rest stops where one can get hot broth, cider, and tea. At each checkpoint, you must get your booklet stamped to show proof that you walked the hike. (This is Germany, after all!) And at the end of the hike you present your booklet to obtain your award, usually either a plate or a hefty bronze medallion.

For the family completing the 5 km trek, your award will be accented in silver; for the 10 km trek, gold. And after obtaining your award, the rest of the afternoon is spent enjoying beer, schitzel and brats in the festival tent, usually to raucous singing and oompah music.

It was really great fun; I still remember it well. Every time we'd set out, we'd take our wired-hair dachshund, Muffin, with us, and she'd proceed to roll in every mud puddle on the trail--that dog loved her mud puddles. I remember the warm taste of the hot broth, a perfect comfort on a crisp German morning. I remember the old-timers, stumbling drunk in their lederhosen and Bavarian hats. We traveled all over central and southern Germany going on these hikes, enjoying the quality family time of a 3-4 hour walk in the woods. And then, of course, there was the joy of a well deserved meal at the end of the walk.

What a great family tradition, and what a way to see a country. As the first plate below says,


Wandern bringt Lebensfreude

which means

Walking brings Joy!


Medals from 1977-1981

Plate from Oberleinach, 1978

Plate from Wendelstein, 1978

Plate from Würges, 1978

Plate from Ochsenfurt, 1978

Plate from Dittweiler, 1978

Plate from Münster, circa 1978

Plate from Haag, 1978

Plate from Bad Soden, Altenheim, Neuenheim, 1979

Plate from Sankt Goarshausen, circa 1978

Page 1, Medal from:
1. Neuhütten, 1979

Page 2, Medals from:
1. Mannheim, 1980
2. Oftersheim, 1980
3. Bergrothenfels, 1978
4. Baumholder, 1977
5. Wombach-Lohr, 1979
6. Grömbach, 1980

Page 3, Medals from:
1. Karlsruhe, 1980
2. Weiler bei Bingen, 1979
3. Epfenbach, 1979
4. Reihen, 1979
5. Waldaschaff, 1979
6. Bügstadt, 1979

Page 4, Medals from:
1. Schlitz, 1979
2. Helmstadt, 1979
3. Leavenworth, Kansas, USA, 1981 (an American Volksmarch sponsored by the Ft. Leavenworth military post)
4. Lichtenfels, 1978
5. Meckensheim, 1979
6. Wald-Amorbach, 1979

Page 5, Medals from:
1. Eppertshausen, 1979
2. Michelstadt, 1979
3. Rippberg, 1979
4. Babenhausen, circa 1979
5. Drehenthalerhof, 1979

Page 6, Medals from:
1. Heidelberg-Ziegelhausen, 1980
2. Obersinn, 1978
3. Walldürn, 1979

5 comments:

Bonnie said...

Scott, this brings back such great memories. Mine are from 1981-1984 though. I'll have to pull them out of the attic and do the same. Really fun to see yours!

Dad said...

It was really great to see our old medals. You should also show a copy of your folksmarch books where you kept track of how many kilometers you marched in total. And Muffin, what a memory. Do you remember that she usually couldn't complete a complete march so I usually ended up carrying her the final kilometer? Volksmarching was a wonderful German tradition that I wish had migrated to the US. We really missed them when we returned to the US.

Mom said...

The "Olympic Medal" Volksmarch medal was one I got the weekend after I had Mike on Tuesday. One of my friends went with me so we could get the medal. I think dad probably babysat. This was a rare outting for me without kids in tow!

The other thing about the medals, kids got the 10km even though they completed the 5km.

Mike said...

It was so much fun... I remembe being disappointed when tehy had tea instead of broth. Iloved the chicken broth.

Lisa said...

Great News! Volksmarching is alive and well in the USA!! I also got hooked on it while stationed over in Nurnberg from 1980 - 1982, and was thrilled to come across a notice in the local paper advertising the Connecticut chapter of AVA (American Volkssport Association). Anyone wishing further information please call 1-800-830-WALK. Happy Walking!

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