When you are in the middle of it, you don't just quit

Simon Schick (27) a PhD Candidate at Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM). He lives together with his fiancé in Dusseldorf. Simon is currently working on the Marie Sklodowska-Curie BioBased Value Circle Project.

"I love hiking; I actually love it so much I once went for a 200 km / 7-day hike with my friend. In 2019 we went from Germany (Ballingen) to Austria (Klösterle). We hiked 30 km a day with a 30 kg backpacks for 7 days. This hike was actually planned by my friend. He does it much more often than me.

As this was my first time going for such a long 'walk'. Before heading out, I did some physical training in the form of 20 or 30 km daily hikes. We were well equipped when it comes to food, maybe even too well... When you have to make so many kilometers, you then realise that some of the things are suddenly dispensable. I will not make the same mistake of taking too many things with me on my next hike.

Once we began our journey, I knew that I underestimated the physical part of it. The first two days were quite heavy for my legs. But when you are in the middle of it, you don't just quit. You suck it up, and you just go with it. We mostly went through established routes, but even then, it was tough. Looking back I still have to think of that one day when it kept raining the whole time. Did you ever had to get up in the morning and your clothes were still wet? Well let me tell you it's not that pleasant. But that's part of hiking. We had to continue to walk, as we were on a tight schedule. Of course, by the time we have reached our next stop we were as good as dry.

Something else I remember is that we have had a lot of laughter and long conversations. We also met a lot of people hiking on our way. Plus, one thing that compensates for everything is the scenery. You don't see these beautiful landscapes every day.

On the way, we were really sticking to the plan. We would start to look to set-up camp at the 29 km mark. Planning is key in these sorts of journeys. Only once did we have a problem with finding the right camp side, and even then, we did eventually manage to find the right spot.

Once we got to our destination point I've laid down my backpack and when I wanted to pick it up one of the arms (of the backpack) broke off. I was lucky that it happened upon our arrival at the destination point. Tip from my side, buy yourself a proper backpack if you are planning to hit the track.

I am currently planning my next hiking trip. This time I will be taking a new path, on a rout I don't know yet. With a new backpack. Who knows maybe I will see you on the trail."

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