Thursday, 13 August 2015

Explorer Belt 4: Today is the day - THE END!

The girls have now completed 12 projects, walked a minimum of 180km, talked to a variety of people in Thuringia, and finished this part of the Explorer Belt challenge.

Although tired from the challenge, this morning meant the last few kilometres still had to be completed. They were, however, delighted to have an overcast morning which meant their journey was nice and cool. 

Once they arrived at their pick up points - Team A from the Paulinzella Monastery and Team B from the Bunker Museum- it was time for the last few words to be written in their logs and to have one last review of their projects, so that they were ready to hand everything over as soon as their lift arrived. 

Once collected, the teams are for Rieneck Castle where their dinner will be presented to them - a treat they're looking forward to.  Later this evening the assessment panels will read their logs and projects and prepare for the assessments, which will happen tonight and in the morning. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Explorer Belt 3: The Final Stretch!

The teams finally met each other on Day 5 in Blankenstein - a small town where four of the German long-distance hiking trails intersect. The girls swapped stories and, even more importantly, tips for the trail ahead.

The last few days have really shown the human spirit at its best. Sometimes it's the simple things that make all the difference and the last few days have really proven that to the teams.

The offers of showers, a simple cup of tea, a bed for the night, sharing of stories and even the treat of having their clothes washed provided the boost that will push the teams on for the second half of their expedition.

Team A – Katherine and Jemma - are heading to the Fairy Grottoes just outside Saalfeld today to complete their last compulsory project.

Team B – Grace and Emma - have completed all their compulsory projects and are enjoying the hiking towards their final pick up point.

Having met both teams in the last 24 hours, they can hardly believe it's Day 8 already. With many miles behind them, the end is almost within sight!

~ Lorna Finnegan, IGG International Commissioner

Friday, 7 August 2015

Explorer Belt 2: Tears and Triumphs ...

The boot tree near Blankenstein
In the past 24 hours each team was reminded of the challenge that is the Explorer Belt.

We know everyone in Ireland is praying for sunshine but at 33/34 degrees the teams here are praying for rain, or at least a little cloud to cool them on their journey.

Maps of unfamiliar scale have put each team to the test, but as the event continues they are growing in confidence with every step.

Team A - Katherine and Jemma - have completed their project on Kronach and are now heading for the Deutsch Deutches Museum via Blankenstein. They have met many lovely locals along their way including a nice lady on a tractor who wanted to drop them to their destination last night.

Team B - Emma and Grace - were very grateful for the hospitality provided by locals in K├╝nsdorf yesterday. Today they visited the Deutsch Deutches Museum to learn about the former German division. Bear in mind that one of these girls wasn't  even born the year the Berlin wall came down!

Fingers crossed the teams will meet each other on the road tomorrow, possibly around Blankenstein. Here four of the main German hiking trails meet and walkers often leave their boots behind. We hope our teams keep their boots with them! It's hard to believe we are almost at the half way point already ... 
~ Lorna Finnegan, IGG International Commissioner

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Explorer Belt: 1st installment!

Arriving at Dublin airport the teams still had no idea where they would be going. Having been told to meet in Terminal 2 at 9am the teams scoured the departures information in an attempt to figure out their destination. However, the Explorer Belt was not about to give up its secret easily... the teams were actually departing from Terminal 1!

Once everyone had arrived the secret was revealed ... Germany was to be our base for the next two weeks.

The remainder of the day was spent travelling to the heart of our destination in the Thuringia Region of Germany. The teams spent their first night in Schwarzburg - their last night in a bed for the next 10 days.

Morning of Day 1 the nervous excitement began to build. Gear checks revealed well-prepared teams. After breakfast it was time to load up the cars and head for drop off points unknown!

Team A - Katherine Ryan and Jemma Lee - were dropped in Steinheid and are heading towards Kronach to complete their project on the Rosenberg Fortress, which they hope to reach by Day 3.

Team B - Emma Harvey and Grace Cronin - were dropped at the Feengrotten (Fairy Caves) near Saalfeld. They completed their project on the caves and are now heading for the Deutch Deutches Museum to complete their next compulsory project. They hope to reach here by Day 4.

Along the way both teams also have a number of optional projects to choose from. These projects will help bring them in contact with local people in the area.

Teams are checking in with staff each day and morale to date is high!

~ Lorna Finnegan, IGG International Commissioner