Since the first overnight didn’t go so wonderfully, I figured that by the end of March the weather should be better. The next two tours are the only two along the way that must be done together anyway because there are no public transit connections in between. This time I even emailed a campground in advance to make sure they would be open. The plan was to hike 19 km (11.8 mi) to Waldcamp Seeblick on the Neuendorfer See and then continue 27 km (16.8 mi) to Halbe. Again, I had no takers for camping this week and with no transit it would be impossible for anyone to day hike with me. I didn’t mind doing another solo weekend, as long as the weather held up!
Unlike most trails which take a while to get away from civilization, tour 12 quickly jumped into the woods and took me along the water of the small and large Glubigsee. The guidebook suggests hiking this trail during July when the weather is perfect for swimming. As I jealously took photos of all the attractive beaches along the way, I’d have to say I couldn’t agree more. I was wishing it was warmer and that I had brought my swimsuit on this hike instead of the last one.
On the banks of the Springsee I passed a few camp grounds before following the stream at the end to the next lake. Many of the lakes in Brandenburg are interconnected via streams, creeks, and canals. Starting at the Scharmützelsee in Wendisch Rietz, all of the lakes thus far were connected and would continue to be linked all the way through the big and small Melangsee and Tiefer See. I couldn’t believe my luck with the weather and was in no rush to arrive since I had all day to hike.
After walking the length of the Neuendorfer See, I arrived in the village of Neuendorf. Before turning eastward to come around the south side of the lake, I saw a sign saying that the 66-Lakes-Trail was closed from this point and that there was a detour around to the village of Leibsch instead. Oh no, no, I thought. I didn’t want to get to Leibsch until the next day and the campground was less than a kilometer away! I decided to go on anyways to see if there was really any reason for the way to be closed.
I came to a creek with a bridge over it. There was a man sitting on the balcony of a hotel overlooking the water. A pesky sign in front of the bridge said that it was closed. It looked fine to me. What a silly sign. This is Germany; if the bridge is really unsafe to cross, it would be blocked in such a way as to be impassible. Surely the man would yell out if I were to begin to cross a bridge I would fall through. As if interrupting my thoughts, someone crossed the bridge from the other side.
How ridiculous, I thought as I crossed the bridge. With the lake visible on my left, I walked the half a kilometer towards the camp through some lovely marshland. As the campground came into view, I stopped suddenly. I was at the edge of another stream where it appears a bridge used to be. Possible options began to run through my head. It’s too deep to wade through with my backpack on. It’s too wide to jump across and even too wide to throw my backpack across if I wanted to swim. It doesn’t look like it gets narrower in either direction. I do not want to walk all the way around to Leibsch and then back to the camp (8-10 km!).
I remembered seeing a phone number for the campsite in the email reply I received. When I called up, a woman quickly answered the phone. I explained to her my situation, that I could see the campground, and asked if she knew a shorter way around than the suggested route that I could accomplish by foot. After a little bit of deliberation she said, “Wait a second, my grandson will come and pick you up! Just wait back by the hotel.” Incredulous at this generous offer, I hurried back to the hotel and in no time a car pulled up. The young man helped me put my backpack in the trunk and we drove back up the west side of the lake, which I had hiked earlier, and around the east side to the camp. I couldn’t believe how kind and helpful they were! During the short ride we discussed why I spoke German, why the bridge was out, and the dangers of walking off the trail in the marsh.*
When we arrived at the camp, I was able to choose any spot I wanted. The name doesn’t lie – Waldcamp Seeblick means “lake view forest camp”. I pitched my tent under some pine trees not far from the edge of the lake. The view of the sunset over the lake was incredible, but I had forgotten that the wind would blow off the lake in the night. It was again a little chilly (and windy) for camping, but I at least didn’t have to pack up frozen tent poles once the morning sun came up.
Tour 13 would be one of my favorites of the entire trail. The guidebook boasts that during tours 12 and 13 there are 16 lakes in view, 8 of which are hiked along the shore, 9 are uninhabited, at least 5 have beaches, and several have extremely clean water and don’t allow boats. In the early morning hours of the hike, I saw an old Trebbie driving through a farm field and a windmill that had been turned into a house. Then I went a few kilometers through a field on top of a dam next to the Dahme-Umflut-Kanal.
I fell in love with the next lake that I came across – the Köthener See. It was so beautiful, clear, and quiet, with an island in the middle. I could imagine fixing up one of the few old houses there and being able to kayak every week as well as becoming more familiar with the other many lakes in the area.
The trail takes a detour from the Köthener See for a little while to pass by the Pichersee, Mittelsee, Schwanensee, Märchensee (fairy tale lake), and Wehrigsee before returning to its north shore, where I stopped on a dock for a rest.
Leaving my newly beloved Köthener See, I continued westward along the canal for a good 5 kilometers before heading through Märkisch-Buchholz. Then it was another 5 kilometers through a dense pine forest before suddenly being spit out at the train station in Halbe. Although I was exhausted and quite happy to relax in the warm sun while waiting for the train, tour 13 had been excellent. I wish it wasn’t as difficult to get to because it has a multitude of landscapes, long stretches of trail along the water, enticing swimming holes, and great campgrounds!
* To avoid this mishap in the future, just hike down the east side of the lake instead of the west side. If you intend to spend the night in Leibsch, take the suggested alternate route posted in Neuendorf.