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Delaware Wandervögel

Celebrating 50 Years of Hiking!

UPCOMING HIKES (Subject to Change)

For information contact Hans at hpzinger@gmail.com
or by phone at 443-553-4270

Mason Dixon Trail in Elk Neck State Forest - Saturday, May 4, 2024 10:00 am
Meet in North East for a section hike of this trail
From Elkton take Route 7 towards North East
Turn left on Cemetery Road, go 1/4 mile and turn left into the cemetery
Park at the northeast corner of the cemetery
Refreshments afterwards at Woody's Tacos and Tequila

Black Forest Trail - Saturday, June 1, 2024
Three Day 42 mile Backpack Trip
Contact Hans for Details

Hikes tentatively planned for the first Saturday of the month


Hiking is an extremely popular German Fuss-Sport. Anyone traveling in Germany will encounter individuals or groups of people dressed in comfortable clothes and sensible shoes walking at a good pace for miles and miles, just for the sheer enjoyment of being outdoors! In fact, Wandern (hiking) has been a favorite pastime as far back as when people still lived within the confines of walled cities with their narrow streets, unpleasant smells and day-long noise. Hiking became more widespread at the beginning of the 20th century. In Berlin, the youth movement called Wandervögel (Migratory Bird) formed after 1901 and soon spread to other regions. The movement was envisioned as an alternative to the stiffness of the uniform-wearing bureaucracy of the Prussian Empire. Dressed in shirts with soft collars and loose pants, carrying rucksacks and Zupfgeigen, or mandolins, young men and women enjoyed hiking through open fields and meadows, cooking simple meals over open fires, and sleeping in hay barns or tents along the way. Their songs, collected in the Zupfgeigenhansl criticized or ridiculed any institution that hindered freedom of expression, but they had no formal political agenda. The influence of the Wandervögel remained strong in Germany throughout the century, and hiking became almost a national sport. Advocacy for environmental protection and an appreciation for folk art and music also had their roots in this movement.

At the old German Hall, Saengerbund members often met at 6 o'clock in the morning in order to spend a day hiking in the country. Not long after the Delaware Saengerbund opened its doors in Ogletown, a small group decided to go hiking together. Not surprisingly they called themselves the Delaware Wandervögel. On October 14th, 1973, just like their predecessors, they met at the Saengerbund at 6 o'clock in order to drive to the Reading area. It was a beautiful fall day, perfect for hiking the Appalachian Trail from Port Clinton to the Hamburg reservoir and on to Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle. Along the way, the walkers enjoyed beautiful vistas over the surrounding area. Members on this first hike were Wolfgang Conrad, Alida Cutts, Alfred Escheu, Richard Leaning, Andy Olivier, Elard Scharffenberg, Sandy Schreier, and younger members Freddy Escheu, Jr. and Glen Schwoegler. "We had such a good time in spite of our blisters and Muskelkater (muscle pains) the next day," remembered Alida Cutts, "that we decided to do monthly hikes." One member was usually responsible for selecting the trail, and those interested signed up in the Bauernstube. Destinations included the New Jersey Pine Barrens as well as St. Anthony's Wilderness, Hawk Mountain, French Creek State Park, and various sections of the Horseshoe Trail and Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Whenever the hikes were near Reading, the hikers stopped at the Reading Liederkranz for a nice cool beer and dinner, and even stayed for a Fasching ball one night.

Sometimes overnight outings were planned, for example to the Adirondacks for hikes in snow and ice, to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountain trails in the spring, or to Pennsylvania in early summer to hike among the mountain laurels. Two hikes became an annual tradition, to the Pinnacle in October and to French Creek State Park on New Year's Day. The hikers' children also discovered the joy of hiking and singing. Visiting relatives from Germany often joined the group and marveled at the beautiful wild countryside at Kelly's Run and the Susquehanna River Valley. When the Delaware Wandervogel celebrated the twentieth year of hiking together, a brass Sierra cup was engraved for each member to mark the occasion.

The group still meets each year for the traditional New Year's outing to French Creek State Park. There, in front of a warm fire in the shelter near the firetower, they have time to reminisce about the many miles and adventures of past years. With thankful hearts and thoughts of the future, the group intones the Andachtsjodel, the Solemn Alpine Yodel, before heading down the mountain. Wandern macht froh - Happiness is hiking! It only takes a good pair of hiking boots and a leader with a map!

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Last Modified: Friday, 26-Apr-2024 22:31:01 EDT