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This post is about a 19km walk from Tuttlingen to Hintschingen. Lea Geibel and her adorable dog Emmi are walking with me for a bit.

I woke up in a free camp site right in the center of Tuttlingen. Lea and her dog Emmi were in a tent next to me, and before I knew it, Emmi had come over to my tent to cuddle.


I had been following Lea Instagram account for a long time, admiring her from a distance. She was a physicist who worked on environmental issues, and she had done a lot of work in the alpine glaciers. She was also a prolific hiker, having completed a few of the great American trails, some hikes in Patagonia, and the (at the time unfinished) Transcaucasian Trail.

But there was more. Lea, the badass, was an ultralight backpacker, meaning, among other things, that her toothbrush was sawed off. I tried her backpack on one time, and it hardly weighed anything. And get this: Lea made much of her gear herself, on a sewing machine in her room in Switzerland. Including her backpack and her tent. Because that’s how much of a badass she was.


As it turned out, Lea was also incredibly fun to be around. We walked on the Danube cycle path, joking about this and that, basically just talking smack nonstop. At some point we developed an elaborate conspiracy theory about Harley Davidson riders and USB-C powered, laser-controlled, ultra-high-precision microscopic dick-measuring devices. It was awesome.

And when Emmi started feeling tired at one point, Lea gently helped her into her backpack and proceeded to carry her around.


We had met a very nice lady in Tuttlingen. Her name was Erika, and after a chance encounter she had come to the camp site with beers in the evening and again with bread and fruits in the morning. There was a certain travel-hunger in Erika, which she tried to satisfy through bike trips with her husband. I told her about the secret door, and two days later I got an email from her with a picture. Erika and her husband had found it!

the sinkhole

People had been telling us about a place where the Danube vanished in the ground. It was called the Danube Sinkhole, and when we got there, it was really just that: a dry riverbed. The Danube, as it turned out, died here during most days of the year, giving her water, through an underground complex of caverns, to another major European river: the Rhine


the walk from Tuttlingen to Hintschingen:

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