I am back in Berlin, but I am not settling down - I am already preparing my next trip!!!!
Originally I had planned to hike through Europe now, but 2 things will prevent that. First, I have come back way too late from my round-the-world trip. I had planned to be back in May 2009, but after being sidetracked by my cycling partner John I arrived in Germany in September - and that i is way too late for a hiking trip through Europe. And second, the US$ / Euro exchange rate is too good to be missed - at least for Europeans going to the US (not the other way round....).
So my next trip will start in the US. On January 6th I will fly to Miami and hike the Florida Trail (www.floridatrail.org). I know, I know: The Florida Trail is not too popular in long-distance hiker circles. It is totally flat and the 1,100 mile long route through the whole state of Florida still contains about 300 miles of road walk. I don't mind the flatness, but I am not too happy about the road walk. But the Florida Trail will show me an eco-system I have never seen before. I will hike (or better wade) through swamps with alligators as companions. Not to mention the poisonous snakes (but it can't be worse than Australia in that respect...)
I will probably finish the Florida Trail early to mid-March 2010 and once in this area I want to do something else as well. I will probably do some paddling or cycling around Florida or even hike on and continue on the Alabama & Georgia Pinhoti Trail (www.pinhotitrailalliance.org).
Next on the agenda is the Arizona Trail that has only recently been declared a National Scenic Trail (www.aztrail.org). The Arizona Trail traverses the whole state of Arizona including the Grand Canyon in about 800 miles. I have always liked the desert Southwest and I am really looking forward to that trail - especially since it does not contain lots of road walk...
If US immigration has given me another 6 months visa I will have one month left of that period once I finish the Arizona Trail end of May. I still don't know what I will do then but I am sure something interesting will come up.
Next is Australia again!!!! I liked Australia a lot and I missed out on a lot of hiking last time. I had somehow assumed that summer is the hiking season there as anywhere else. But that 's wrong. In most areas in Australia summer is just too hot for hiking and some trails are even closed because of fire danger then. So this time I will come back in their winter time and hike what I missed last time.
First on the agenda is the 1,200 km long Heysen Trail in Southern Australia (www.heysentrail.asn.au). This trail is closed from November to April due to fire danger in summer, so I could not hike it last time (but I have already bought the guide books).
The Larapinta Trail runs close to Ayers Rock smack bang in the middle of the Australian outback. It is very short with 225 km, but I would love to see Ayers Rock and therefore can combine it with some sightseeing and maybe even some cycling.
Another trail I missed last time is the Hume & Hovell Track (www.lands.nsw.gov.au/...tracks/hume_and_hovell_walking_track). It is located in Southeastern Australia and follows the trail of the two Australian explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell for 440 km.
The Australian Alps Walking Track (www.australianalps.environment.gov.au/walktrack/index.html) will be last because of its relative high altitude (for Australian standards). The highest point with 2,228 meters is Mt. Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia. And because of snow you cannot hike this 655 km long trail in Australian winter. I really wanted to hike that trail last time, but the guidebook for it was out of print and nowhere to be had. I would have had to buy the maps and they would have weighed a ton and cost a fortune, so I postponed this hike.
And after all that? I don't know yet. I will not buy another round-the-world plane ticket that time because they are only valid for one year. I will just by plane tickets as I go to be flexible. I will end up in December/January in Australia and can then continue on back to Europe via Asia or back through the US doing some cycling. I will see - and a lot of things can happen in one year. And if you have any inspiration, ideas or advice for me, please let me know.