Long Haul Trucking
SUP International|Issue 25 - Mid Summer 2019

In the searing early summer continental heatwave, Tuetonic power couple Paulina Herpel and Valentin Illichmann resolved to cross Germany from Dresden in the south east to Hamburg in the north west. Their modus operandi would combine the traction of the locomotive engine with the propulsion of the paddle.

Paulina Herpel & Valentin Illichmann

DAY ONE

Rathen - Obervogelgesang - Dresden

Valentin: Our plan was to journey from Dresden to Hamburg with our inflatable boards always with us, be that floating us down the Elbe or carried in our rucksacks when we would hop on the train to get between destinations. The great thing about this trip was that we never had to double back to return to a parked car, instead the glide would continue in perpetuity. We had never done that before.

Paulina: Our start was a bit spontaneous, we chose an area a few km upstream of Dresden, in the spa village of Rathen. We decided on Rathen because the drive in took us through the Elbe Sandstone mountains and the incredible geo-formations within. We didn’t get paddling straight away, jumping into the water to cool offafter pumping the boards up seemed like a better idea. That was glorious!

Valentin: When we took that first paddle stroke, it felt like the adventure had at last begun. We had come from Berlin, and the contrast to the city was huge. How quickly that we were immersing into the natural world. No more people around us, only huge faces of sandstone rock towering above us as we paddled. Madness! We paddled about ten kilometers in the rising heat, in between diving into the cool river over and over.

Pauline: When the sun went down in the evening behind the deciduous forests, we stopped at a beer garden in Obervogelgesang to toast the end to a beautiful day. However, we still had to take the train to Dresden, because we wanted to experience the sunrise on the Elbe there the next morning.

Valentin: Once we were on the train (and as it would turn out, throughout the whole trip) we were quizzed by our fellow travellers who wanted to know what we were carrying in our rucksacks. Most of them could hardly believe that along with our usual luggage we were carrying two SUP boards with paddles and pumps, they were packaged so discreetly

Paulina: But I have to admit that I was happy about the wheels on my bag. I could have only briefly worn the 15 kilos on my back.

DAY TWO

Dresden - Lutherstadt Wittenberg - Magdeburg

Valentin: We got up at 4 o’clock - very early, but we were full of excitement for the day ahead.

Paulina: Still a bit subdued from sleep, we wheeled our packs through the early morning streets of Dresden. Because it was the weekend, we met plenty of people coming to the end of their day after a big night out.

Valentin: As we walked across a bridge, we saw the black water begin to sparkle beneath the magnificent buildings with the angels on the rooftops. It was a really unique moment.

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