There is a lot to do in the Harz region, regardless of the season you choose to visit. For the winter sports fans, this is of course one of the recommended areas for traditional skiing and cross-country skiing. The Harz in summer is a haven for cyclists, runners, hikers and general outdoors fans. The beauty of being there is that you are not confined to a single activity, and thanks to globalisation, adventure sports has made its way to some of the dams, like the Rappebodetalsperre (Rappbode Dam).
When you first read about the road trips to the various dams and reservoirs in the Saxony-Anhalt area, you wonder how much of the obscure East German influence you are still likely to find. At least that was my impression. I was a bit suspicious about the photographs on the official website, but decided that there was really just one way to find out. One thing is for sure, you need a car to reach the main dams, and then from the parking area there are hiking routes mapped out that take you around the dam. Time and good shoes are recommended.
The car GPS gets easily confused in the area as well, and in this day and age of Google maps, people hardly ever consider bringing along a good old-fashioned folding map, but I would recommend one as a back-up. The Rappebode Dam is the largest of the eight dams in the Harz, and it does not disappoint.
The landscape surrounding the dam is breathtaking in more ways than one. While walking towards the main access point and entrance, I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard a familiar shout for joy that usually only comes from skydiving or some other crazy adventure sport. I look around and eventually over the railing to find the source of the noise. Bungee jumping! This of course would be the ideal place for it, considering the metal hanging bridge suspended in mid-air that greeted me. Damn! How I wished my shoulder were not injured! A few metres to the left I heard two more gleeful shouts and spotted two people zip-lining down! The perfect place for this! Again, I really resented my shoulder, otherwise you can bet your last cent that I would have been right up there as well.
Since bungee jumping and zip-lining were out of the question for me, I did the next best thing and crossed the hanging bridge. The entrance fee comes at a hefty 6 EUR, but I would have been willing to pay even 10 for the sheer thrill of it all. So with camera in hand, backpack snug on my back, I began to make my way across the bridge. Roughly 1/4 of the way I lost my nerve once the bridge began to sway to the strong winds. I gulped and swallowed my fear, because there was really no way of turning back, especially when I met a grandmother on her wheelchair! smiling calmly up at me and enjoying every minute of it. She wasn’t the only senior citizen there either, the rest were strolling across without a care in the world. This was a very humbling moment, and I moved on, only to encounter a special needs child on his wheel chair being pushed by his father. The child too was grinning ear to ear. After seeing that, there was absolutely no excuse to chicken out.
I reached the half way mark rather breathless, and discovered that this was the access point to the bungee jumping platform. Gulp. I decided to move along quickly, and reach terra ferma ASAP! Much as I love bridges, I seriously have to reconsider my bucket list with all the hanging bridges on it!