The Hike Where He Tried to Kill Me

| November 13, 2015

Wednesday was Veterans Day. Since Paul had off of work, we decided to do something together.  You know, a husband and wife lovingly taking advantage of a day of leisure, together sans the kid. Warning: this blog posts contains some of the swearing that was echoing through the hills on Wednesday.

In the days leading up to Wednesday, I sent Paul this email:

I like the looks of Heppenheim.  There appears to be a hike through the vineyards, too.  Weather should be good enough for walking.  Thoughts?

Paul thought this sounded grand. I personally was looking forward to visiting what looked like a beautiful town, and getting a little exercise hiking a few kilometers to the castle and back.

We parked at the base of the hill and I thought, Huh…that’s a pretty steep little hill there.

Castle up top

Castle up top

I stepped out of the car and watched Paul retrieve his Camelbak from the back seat. I didn’t see mine.

“Did you not bring my Camelbak?”

“No. Did you ask me to?”

“No, but I saw you with my Camelbak out this morning. I watched you fill the bladder. I thought you were bringing it.”

“No, I was filling the bladder to put in mine. I have two bladders.”


Uh, what?

He explained that he didn’t think I should carry a backpack due to my chronic neck and shoulder pain issues. Well, that would seem nice of him, if I weren’t chronically dehydrated, often resulting in kidney stones. Eventual kidney failure? Not a problem.

Then, he does the whole “Well, it’s not like you told me to bring it” while I do the whole “WHY WOULD I ASSUME YOU HAD MY CAMELBAK OUT to STEAL my BLADDER, and not to BRING MY CAMELBAK?”

And so I started hiking without water of my own, not at all comforted by the knowledge that I could just stop Paul during the hike to ask him for some of his.

wine barrel

If I had known what was to come, I would have made a purchase when we passed a wine kiosk open for business.  At breakfast time.  Because Germany.

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

We began the trek up through bright-yellow vineyards. The views must have been stunning just a week or two ago, before most of the leaves fell. Still, the views were lovely this week.

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

Before leaving the house, Paul was calling this a “walk” to the castle. As we headed straight up a nearby hill, I asked if he could tell me what, in his semantically-challenged mind, constitutes a walk versus a hike. This conversation would last, on and off, for about two hours of the hike.

Paul used crazy words that made no sense at all, to defend his use of the (incorrect) word “walk,” while I continued to (correct word) hike up the hill. One of excuses that came up repeatedly: Paul doesn’t like for me to think something is a ‘hike,’ because then I’ll want to carry a pack on my back. You know, a pack containing the stuff you’re supposed to have on your person when hiking. LIKE WATER.

I would just like to note that once, during a hike in Bavaria, for which I was carrying my backpack–ridiculously packed with such unnecessary luxuries as water, food, and first aid supplies –I was the only one equipped to clean and patch up Sequoia after she managed to fall down a hill.

sequoia on a hike

As Paul and I continued on this hike, I was a little surprised when the trails took us away from the castle and into the hills. Actually, these are known as ‘mountains’ here, along the Bergstrasse, or “mountain route.” Having hiked mountainous mountains in my younger days (WITH WATER ON MY BACK), I will continue to refer to these as hills, although they are considered to be a part of the Odenwald mountain range.

I assumed that we would begin to loop back soon. But eventually, we were waaaaaay into the hills; looping back did not appear to be in my future. All the eye could see was more hills. Not the castle’s hills, mind you–the castle hill was a thing of the past.

Have I mentioned we were moving AWAY from the castle?

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

Not in this direction: the castle

Just after we missed a turn that we did not realize we were missing, I casually asked Paul, “How far is the hike you chose?”

“Ten miles.”

“Wait–what?” I am now stopped.

“Ten miles.”

“Miles? TEN MILES? Why would you not TELL someone they’re hiking ten miles?? YOU SHOULD TELL SOMEONE WHEN THEY’RE HIKING TEN MILES.”

I was astounded. That’s GOT to be a RULE somewhere. Like, written in stone. If not, here it is:


That’s The Rule. If there’s only one thing you remember from this blog post, IT SHOULD BE THAT.

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

Paul was unfazed. Paul thought a ten-mile hike through the Odenwald mountain range was nothing noteworthy. I mean, why tell me we’re going to be “walking” (more than) ten miles? It’s not like I would have made a different decision on which fucking socks to wear. It’s not like I would have ensured I would be carrying my own fucking water instead of relying on his. It’s not like I would have PACKED SOME FUCKING FOOD.

Then he says, “I thought you were the one who brought up a hike.”

“Yes. To the castle. From the town, to the castle.”

“Which hike were you thinking about?”


Beautiful. And yet not in the direction of the castle.

Beautiful. And yet not in the direction of the castle.

Seriously, this hike he’d chosen was the opposite of a hike “to” a castle. When I envision a hike to a castle, I see us going uphill, to a castle, which is the midway point before hiking back down to where we’d started.


This hike began at the base of the hill and then left the fucking castle behind, until 9 fucking miles later, when you could see it again but still weren’t there.

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

During one of my fits, Paul suddenly asked if my neon yellow shirt was the color chartreuse, probably as a tactic to distract me from the fact that I had been tricked into a 10-mile hike.

“Uh, no? It’s neon yellow.”

“Are you sure?”

I stop. “Paul. It’s literally the neon-est yellow you can get. Neon.Yellow. Isn’t chartreuse greener?”

“What–you don’t know? Then how do you know that your shirt’s not chartreuse?”


Paul pulls out his iphone and looks up ‘chartreuse’. He points out the yellow chartreuse versus the green chartreuse and asserts that my neon yellow shirt is chartreuse. We hold the phone up to my shirt and prove that color is perception.  Paul, whose perception is dubious, saw chartreuse.

It is not chartreuse.

kari hiking

It is neon yellow.

So.  I mentioned food above? Yeah. Paul brought none. HE BROUGHT NO FOOD.

I didn’t think to carry lunch on my person since I was under the impression that we would spend 1-2 hours hiking to and from a castle, and then enjoy a leisurely lunch in the town of Heppenheim, which we would explore, skipping through the cobblestoned streets, not a care in the world.


bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

Paul had me on a starvation trek. A death march, if you will. (If I had to pick the moment of greatest pleasure that I experienced on the hike, it would be when Paul, around halfway into the hike, said, “I’m getting hungry.” Awwww, poor Paul is hungry.)

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

I wondered if there was food and water in this cottage.

We trudged through leaves up to our ankles.  I will admit, the sound of them was mesmerizing and almost calming.  Almost.

paul hiking

Where’s the trail?

We came across some apple trees. Every single one of them was out of reach. All I could think, every time I passed one, was I wish I could reach those apples. Some trees were down an embankment, surrounded by thorny bushes.  Others lined the embankment above me, taunting me from above. Although I seriously considered doing so, I did not want to pick up the rotting, bug-riddled, half-eaten-by-animals apples scattered around me–I wanted fresh apples.

So I climbed the embankment.

How do you like dem apples?

How do you like dem apples?  I LIKE THEM A LOT.

After gathering some red apples, I rejoined Paul, who had not climbed the embankment. As we hiked on, I mentioned how these apples were going to keep me from dying.

“You could never go on Survivor.”


I did not need this experience to enlighten myself as to my capabilities and levels of tolerance. They’ve been clear for some time now.

We happened upon a town in the hills.  I contemplated staying.  I really have no ties to Dieburg.  I could live in the hills, so long as they fed and hydrated me.

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

Eating apples helped me to appreciate my surroundings. The countryside was lovely, and we came across a couple of deer frolicking through the fields. Seriously, people: my attitude changes after just three apples.

bergstrasse hike starkenburg heppenheim vineyards

We also came across a tree that demonstrated what is happening to my boobs at this age.

(and my butt)

(and my butt)

The slippery leaves covering the ankle-turning gravel were making it impossible to enjoy the downhill portions of the hike.  In other words, downhill was as bad as uphill.  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Wet leaves, stunning with dew drops.

Wet leaves, stunning with dew drops.

Eventually, the castle appeared.  Oh, sweet Jesus, the castle appeared.  Unfortunately, it was still above where we were.  And we were heading downhill.  How, I ask, how was this possible?

This is not the Tunnel of Love. This is the tunnel of "WHY AM I STILL NOT THERE?"

This is not the Tunnel of Love. This is the tunnel of “WHY AM I STILL NOT THERE?”

But soon we arrived at the right hill: the one with the castle on it.

The path to relief

The path to near-relief

We followed a path that was part of a much shorter trail up to the castle. You know, the trail I thought we were taking.

burg starkenburg hessen


Me and my neon yellow shirt

I was hot.  I was sweating.  I was down to a (neon yellow) t-shirt in November in Germany.

And wouldn’t you know, there was beautiful Heppenheim below.

The town I'll never visit



Paul looks out on Heppenheim, the town I will never get to visit.

Paul looks out on Heppenheim, the town I never visited

That night, the Up app notified me that I’d exceeded 30K steps.

Up reading screen shot 30K steps

Yeah, no shit.

The app informed me that I’d gone over 12 miles during Paul’s 10-mile hike.  Mmhmm.

Here’s the summary from Paul’s Map My Ride app, which he did not start until we’d been hiking for a little bit (hence the lack of closing the loop).

map my ride hike bergstrasse

Well, if Paul was trying to kill me, he did not succeed.  I limped home with an aggravated S/I joint, feet sore from inappropriate socks, shoulder pain from the swelling that increases when my blood pressure increases (think: screaming in the hills), and dehydration that would put me down for the count the next day–but damnit, the man did not kill me.

Better luck next time, Paul.


Tags: , , ,

Category: Europe, Germany, Hiking, Hiking the Odenwald, In Germany A Broad blog, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments are closed.