Packing well for an almost three month trip in the middle of nowhere is essential. The plus with a canoe, however, is that you can pack quite a lot – very different to long distance hikers. My Ally 15 DR canoe has 310kg capacity. Net of 170kg for the weight of Harry and myself (the exact composition shall remain our secret 😉), this leaves us with 140kg for gear & food.
Ideally you don’t use all the 310kg allowance as manoeuvring the canoe becomes harder. Last year on the Elbe I think Laura and myself travelled with about 200-220kg combined. It will be more like 300kg on this trip: ~65kg of my gear (45kg ex canoe, but including water, petrol, etc), Harry’s gear (~25kg ex bike, ~40kg incl.), food (~50kg) and our weight (~170kg). To make sure I emailed the manufacturer (Bergans of Norway), who has reassured me that sufficient margin has been put into the 310kg capacity label.
My Gear list for the Yukon Trip: Total 65kg including Canoe
The few beers last night left some marks by way of a small hangover. I guess rehydrating with beer just doesn’t cut the mustard. A decent breakfast and morning bath in the river, however, helped to revive my spirits.
I got by 9am with target Strehla, some 40km down the Elbe. First highlight was the scenic city of Meissen. Really enjoyed paddling through with great views of the castle.
Just after I bumped into another paddler from the Ruhr area in west germany. We spent almost two hours drifting in slo-mo and talking about paddling and the world. Rather enjoyable. He had started in Bad Schandau and Riesa was his final stop given his 6km/h average was well below the 8-10km he had expected (slow current).
We said good-bye in the village of Diesbar-Seuslitz where i had a lunch break and he went on to Riesa. The lunch was nice, but basic in form of a Würzfleisch and some local wine. After this village the wine region of Saxony ends and the countryside turns completely flat.
The last bigger settlement on today’s journey was Riesa. I have a few good friends that were born here and/or went to school. Also remember the day of the saxons here with Toralf… Well, a clouded memory 🙃.
Weather wise no change. Hot, hot, hot. I musy have applied sun lotion 10 times over the day. Hope it helps!
Yet again i am completely exhausted while writing this. Only difference, it’s a few hours earlier. It goes without saying that both Alex and myself slept pretty well last night (despite the random fireworks of a campsite neighbor). By 6am day 2 was underway (for daddy at least).
Relaxed breakfast and packing up. Takes all a little time with an 8y old and also for me with the extra gear (i go obviously much lighter on hiking trips). On top, the gate closest to the river was locked until we got out 8.30am. 15 minutes later we were paddling again (the plural form arguably incorrect). From Decin it was about 16km to the last Czech village – Hrensko. Funny enough we saw the rivercruiser ‘river allegro’ … My dad used to be the capitain. Here is him performing Jonny cash’s ‘I walk the line’ to his passengers.
I remember the place too well for cheap petrol and cigarette shopping when i was younger. No such interest today. By lunchtime we were paddling in German waters and were greeted by the mighty sandstone hills of Saxon Switzerland… HEIMAT.
Bodycheck: That i am a novice paddler goes without saying. Hence i can feel muscles i didn’t quite know exist. Despite gloves the hands feel the strain and so does my bottom… Somehow i wonder how it will feel on this tiny saddle during my Sultan’s trail bike trip in September. 😲 The other bit is the constant sun exposure. There just no trees on the river 🤣
Before we even stopped for lunch we met granddad again. Bodo had some business in the small village of Krippen and came to greet the canoe team. We agreed where Alex will go off-board today.
Finally lunch (pasta carbonara out of the bag) and a little stretch in the city of Bad Schandau. There is a spot with sandbanks near the Toscana Therme. Really relaxing.
From there it was only a little more than an hour to my hometown of Koenigstein with its iconic fortress towering on the hills. Mum and dad came to pick up Alex and I was off for my solo section. Only 9km to go for today.
Waterlevels (Pegel) vs. Speed of waterflow – the higher, the faster (but current pegel is only 60cm and falling)
Pegel 100 cm = 3,6 km/h
Pegel 240 cm = 4,4 km/h
Pegel 300 cm = 4,6 km/h
Pegel 410 cm = 5,4 km/h
Pegel 550 cm = 6,1 km/h
Pegel 750 cm = 6,7 km/h
Pegel 800 cm = 7,2 km/h
P.S. All for Pegel level in Dresden
The last stretch takes you through arguably the prettiest part of the national park – Rathen and the Bastei. Thankfully the waterflow was decent enough for a little passive paddling to take in the scenery. Simply stunning.
And then i had reached todays target – the campsite of the german canoeing association near Stadt Wehlen. By air, the village i grew up in (Naundorf) is only a stonethrow away. For many years my football team SV Struppen joint forced with the youngsters of Wehlen and on numerous occasions i walked here on mens day (=drunk 🙃). A trip down memory lane.
Good night. Tomorrow off past Pirna and Dresden towards Coswig. So for me the last time in known waters.
Today my canoe journey from Usti nad Labem (CZ) to Cuxhafen (DE) kicked off. After food shopping with mum yesterday, we left Koenigstein about 11am on Sunday and drove over to the start in Usti. First job was to assemble my Ally 15 folding canoe. Took some sweat and just above one hour thanks to many helping hands. Thank you!
From there the journey got underway. Todays target was Decin (a place where they had more goods in my childhood than at home … Long live united Germany) , the last larger city in Czech Republic before the German border. Due to the hot weather the water levels were low at about 80cm (2-3m are normal) and hence not one big ship to be seen (in fact, no other boat at all).
Although the water still flows at 3km/h on average, it was tough going with permanent head winds. Without paddling you basically stand still. When the wind disappeared 6km/h plus were feasible. Sunshine was relentless and so Alex and I reapplied sunblock many times.
The scenery was a mix of the Bohemian Switzerland hills, fishermen, old factories and shipyards and little villages. Plenty of birds also around though the elbe otter we spotted just as he went for a swim was the highlight.
After 4,5h and 24km (5.3km/h average) u reached Kemp Decin. Carrying all the gear up from the riverbank was the last test. Thanks to the kind fella from reception for his help with the canoe. Quick dinner, shower and off to bed.
I feel pretty exhausted. But happy. Tomorrow the first full day and one of the biggest highlights of the trip – my hometown and the beautiful Saxon Switzerland. Nite, nite…