Lahn 2019

The gang of smugglers, Helene Fischer and the bishop of Limburg - a hiking trip on the river Lahn

Dr. Wolfgang Litzenburger

If you go on a hiking trip, you can experience something, even if it is on the Lahn from Wetzlar to Obernhof (98 kilometers). 17 rowers from 4 rowing clubs as well as members of the "Internatio-nal Fellowship of Rowing Rotarians" (IFoRR) or more memorably: rowing Rotarians, started on Friday morning, May 3, 2019, at the Bachweide parking lot in Wetzlar for their 3-day tour on the Lahn, accompanied by the wives of four rowers who provided shore duty. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

The stars, or more precisely the weather forecasts of all available apps, did not look good. Predicted were temperatures in the low single digits, continuous rain - and then also no sun. To make a long story short, the forecasts were all wrong from Friday to Sunday. It was really cold, but except for a few minutes of drizzle on Sunday, it stayed dry during the tour. In addition, on Friday the sun peeked out between the clouds again and again. Also on Sunday sun and clouds alternated. This once again confirmed the old rule that "the weather is made at the boathouse" - and on a hiking trip on the river!

Between Wetzlar and Weilburg (27 kilometers), numerous rapids had to be overcome, so that the helmsmen and women had their hands full avoiding the stones and preventing damage to the boats. However, this succeeded far better than the self-service of the first locks. At each of the first locks, one rower alone took over the locking by hand - and ran his heels sore in the process. He had to walk around the lock chamber more than you can imagine: close the right gate, walk around the chamber, close the left gate, close the left slider, walk around the chamber, close the right gate, on the other side close the left gate and slider, walk around the chamber, close the right gate and slider ..... With so much legwork, locking in manual mode took almost 30 minutes each time, so with 4 locks to Weilburg, it was a significant delay. During the later lockings, therefore, 2 rowers always got out and shared the work. In the end, this "lock gang" managed to lock the boats in less than 15 minutes.

In Weilburg, a stop was made at the local rowing club before heading through the famous ship tunnel to the next lock. The Weilburg shipping tunnel is the oldest and longest shipping tunnel in Germany that can still be navigated today. The tunnel itself was not such an exciting adventure, but the operation of the extremely sluggish lock gates of the first lock behind it was. The rowers waited impatiently in the damp and cold tunnel for
the two "smugglers" finally managed to open the badly dilapidated sluice gate to the second chamber with their combined forces.

The 3 boats of the Mainzer Ruder-Verein continued over various rapids to the stage destination in Vilmar-Aumenau, a landing place for canoes directly at a rapids. The landing therefore turned out to be a real challenge for coxswains and crew and only succeeded because rowers who were not afraid of the water got into the cold Lahn water and put their hands on the boats themselves in order to pull them safely and securely to shore.
The hikers were accommodated in Limburg during the tour, so everyone drove together to the hotel there. In the evening, dinner was served in the Werner-Senger-Haus, the oldest stone house in Limburg. The next morning it rained according to the forecast, but it was decided to continue anyway, but only an hour later than planned. A good idea, as it turned out, because on arrival in Vilmar-Aumenau it suddenly stopped raining. It should come still better. Because contrary to all weather apps it did not rain the whole day!

As in Wetzlar and Weilburg before, a guided tour through the beautiful old town of Limburg with its numerous half-timbered houses was booked for the country service. Arriving at the cathedral square, everyone naturally wanted to see "Tebartz-van Elst's bathtub". Unfortunately, this was not possible, but the participants met the Bishop of Limburg Georg Bätzing, who was just about to leave the bishop's house with his car. Asked if he would be willing to take a photo together, he said of course, got out again, asked where from and where to, posed for the group photo (above right). Afterwards he said goodbye to us in a very friendly manner and drove away in his compact official car. After this encounter of a special kind, nothing could go wrong!

There was not much time left for the rural service in Limburg now, because it had to go to Dietkirchen for the intermediate stage at the Lubentius Church. Unfortunately, it was too cold for an outdoor picnic. Therefore, everyone hoped to be able to warm up in the local restaurant "Altes Fährhaus", picturesquely located below the rock with the church. But the disappointment was great when the door was closed. Like Hansel and Gretel in the fairy tale of the same name, one of the rowers knocked on the little house. Lo and behold, the door opened and Helene Fischer looked out. When asked if we could come in, she said yes, but there was only something to drink - and besides, she scolded, it was not proper to show up at her place unannounced with a group of 20 people.

This Helene Fischer was also breathless, but only because of her high age of 84 years. This
By the way, she has been running the restaurant for 54 years, but now more on the principle of pleasure. At first, she didn't really feel like it, but a female rower with relevant service experience managed to gain her trust. So she stepped into the service of the innkeeper for a short time and took the orders of the participants according to the principle "Frolleinsche, a Pils please" .... In the meantime, (very good) bockwurst and meat sausage had also been found in the storage cellar, which tasted wonderful to everyone when made warm. The accounting of all orders took over again the female service employee of the Mainzer Rudervereins, whereby the sum was rounded up in all mutual agreement clearly upward.

Helene Fischer thought the "fee" was probably a bit too high and decided that €20 belonged in the piggy bank for the Bear Heart Foundation. At the farewell she thawed out completely and "Hänsel", who had daringly knocked on the little house, was kissed on both cheeks. Whether he would have preferred the better known Helene Fischer is beyond the knowledge of the author of these lines. In good spirits and in the certainty of having experienced a genuine original from the Lahn, everyone left the legendary "Wirtshaus an der Lahn" not Helene Fischer, but Helene Fischer.

On the third and last day the stage from Balduinstein to Obernhof was on (20 kilometers) with 3 locks on the program. The weather was a very cold mix of sun, clouds and some drizzle. Arrived at the destination in Obernhof, the "Schleuserbande" overtaxed the Lahn gastronomy once again. For a beer one had to wait already once 30 minutes and with the meal the waiting period was partly twice as long. But nobody got up hungry! But in the end everyone was satisfied and left Obernhof by train, bus and car in all directions home, where they all arrived safely in the evening. And if Helene Fischer didn't die, then ... everyone will be back on the Lahn again.

Hiking route:

  1. Etappe: Wetzlar, Parkplatz Bachweide (KM 12,5) – Weilburg, Ruderverein (KM 39,6)
  2. Etappe: Weilburg, Ruderverein – Villmar-Aumenau, Kohlstraße 1 (KM 54,1)
  3. Etappe: Villmar-Aumenau – Limburg-Dietkirchen, Lahnstraße 1 (KM 73,5)
  4. Etappe: Limburg-Dietkirchen – Balduinstein, Bahnhof (KM 90,7)5. Etappe: Balduinstein – Obernhof, Campingplatz, Bahnhof (KM 110)
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