On the road you often dream of the ideal camping spot. Through Instagram we’d thought we’d found it on the shore of Eibsee. Photos of this beautiful lake at the bottom of Germany’s tallest peak had us planning the ideal few days for the entire trip and each mile at the start was considered a mile closer to this dreamland. Unfortunately, what social media presents and what reality is are often very different. The ideal of ushering the van down a forest trail and pulling over on the side of the lake with just enough room for a hammock between was not to be. Instead the only road ended at a colossus car park under a mammoth cable car, where parking was expensive and camping forbidden. It was fine to walk down to the lake for the day but the problem of where to sleep persisted. The solution remains the greatest decision we’ve made all trip.
We slept on the shore, under the stars.
Dropping what we thought we needed at the closest driveable point to the water, I then drove back to a lay-by up the road as Bani looked after the kit, and trekked back to him. Saddled up like donkeys we carried food, water, beer, clothes, towels, a hammock, a paddleboard and a kayak along the footpath to the waters edge. Inflating both vessels we then filled the kayak with all the kit, hoping it remained afloat, and towed it across the water with the paddleboard.
Inspecting the shore line we eventually settled on a a stretch in a hidden cove, concealed from the main building and the path just by the islands at the far end. Bani was first off and claimed the area as his “barnland”, giving him his first ownership of land and the start of a colony. We still await a reaction from the German government to his monopoly based land seizure. Fortunately for me, I was granted temporary citizenship and went about setting up my hammock as he explored his new territory.
Two perfectly situated trees stood at other ends of our bay. I paddled out to the first with the rope, climbed up and tied it round. Then back to the other tree, and by tying the rope to the ratchet strap I had enough length to make it, and then tighten it up. With the hammock picturesquely dangling over the shimmering water I returned to it, leapt off the paddleboard and onto my swaying seat. I landed with a splash back in the water, yet still in the hammock. Wet and confused I looked up to see the sag in the stretched rope. Determined to have a dry sway, I went about tightening the system. After multiple efforts of climbing higher in trees and tightening ratchets all ended in a watery defeat, I accepted my new invention of the water hammock and that the hammock needed a wash anyway. Thus, the water hammock of barnland was created.
The remainder of the evening was spent lightening our return load by drinking all the beer as the sun vanished behind the dramatic mountain skyline. Watching the colours change across the lake, forest and mountain as the sun disappeared was the best view to help the drinks go down and the red sky finally gave way to glistening blackness of night. High up in the mountains with no light pollution but just the moon and the stars to illuminate the peaks and bounce off the lake was a blissful heaven, until Bani saw a light lower down examining the waters. Jumping up like an alert, well groomed meerkat he anxiously surveyed the actions of the mysterious torch that was flickering across the lakes perimeter. Too sporadic for a late cyclist and too wild for a walker, fears of the “lake police” grew. Worried that the claim to his new territory was being threatened he nervously focused on the light. My entertainment changed from the clear night sky to the tetchy light watching emperor next to me. Following its movement, stressing it would discover him and his land, he remained on look out in trepidation of losing his great empire and having to row and hike back to the van. When the light finally faded away, Bani returned to relaxation knowing his shore was safe.
The rest of the night was spent fixing the problems of the world in preparation for “Barnland” and establishing how the idyllic utopia would run. Hopefully, with better bedding than it’s founder. With no sleeping bags and no camping mats we were left with limited resources to fix up our sleeping arrangement. Resourcefully summoning our inner survivalists we went about gathering the long grass, bringing it down to the rocky shore and piling it up under the tarpaulin. A rock wall had already been fortified to stop strong winds coming from the shore and the bank on the other completed the natural protection. After a couple of weeks of head to toe in the van it seemed we could finally sleep with some space. With spare clothes for pillows and towels for duvets, we led under the Milky Way watching the stars. One of the most incredible night skies I have ever witnessed as the unbeatable clarity and sheer number of stars shone from above. The shooting stars were breathtaking as they darted past the mountains. One unforgettable one seemed to accelerate with a blue flash behind before disappearing altogether. I nodded of to this spectacular show, enjoying the warmth of my beer and the room to stretch.
Bani wasn’t so lucky as his land menacing paranoia continued. Maybe he’d read one too many articles about the resurgence of wolves across Europe, but a sound in the distance refused to let him sleep. He tried to calm himself by focusing on what was in the sky rather than the surrounding forest, but couldn’t let the intimidating noise slip. Running in his head the best defences against wolves from fire sticks to howling back to jumping on the kayak, he was determined to keep us, and his land, safe.
I woke up, listened to the distinct hoot of an owl, told him he’s an idiot and went back to sleep.
The remainder of the night was as equally restless. The plummeting mountain temperatures, the rocky underlay and the refusal of Bani to honour personal space granted multiple opportunities to stare up into the abyss of space. The effect of the beer jacket had worn off and it was down to fetal positions and towels to stay warm. Finally, the sun popped over the mountains to warm us up with a view as astonishing as the sunset and we were free to enjoy the rest of the day swimming, falling of hammocks and protecting the land from invasions of hikers and wolves.