Drei Packrafter mit Hunden und großen Rucksäcken
Nahe River

Multiday Packrafting with Dog

It is November 2021. A long and exciting season lies behind us, with tours and courses well into the fall. But it is not quite over yet. One last time this year, adventurous packrafters will meet for a Multiday Basic Training. Two-legged packrafters and four-legged packrafters. Because this course is different. Not only humans paddle along, but also dogs. Over the year, three LWA participants have sought and found each other who are not only packrafting enthusiasts, but also want to share their hobby with their best, furry friend on multi-day trips. We like such unusual projects!

To this end, in November we are once again at the campsite Nahe-Alsenz-Eck for a visit. Where a few months ago the sun was shining on relaxed campers, now the drizzle sticks to the last motorhomes and abandoned permanent campers' caravans. Almost spooky, such a campsite in the foggy November weather, but somehow also very cozy.

Der Ca,mpingplatz Nahe-Alsenz-Eck und die Nahe im Nebel
The campsite Nahe-Alsenz-Eck in November

At late autumn temperatures of 6-10°C we meet on Saturday morning to devote ourselves to the first part of the course under the canopy of the campsite kiosk: Packing. The big question: What do I need on a multi-day tour? Accompanied by the second big question: What can I leave at home? Piece by piece we pack, unpack, repack. We discuss different packing philosophies and systems and also deal with the next important question: What about the dog? What does the four-legged friend need? Here three experienced dog owners meet, who have already experienced one or the other outdoor adventure with their panting companion, and from whose experience now all mutually profit. Stories, experiences and lessons learned are exchanged, insights are gained and strategies for future adventures are worked out.

The big question: What do I need on a multi-day tour? Accompanied by the second big question: What can I leave at home?

All this with a cozy get-together in typical November weather, supplied with hot drinks by place owner Christoph.

About the author:Johannes auf der Nahe © Land Water Adventures

Johannes has been out and about for a long time and still can't get enough of it. As a trained wilderness guide and passionate outdoor photographer, he has turned his hobby into his profession.

More about Johannes can be found here.

After this relaxed start into the day, it's time to get down to business, at least for a test run with multi-day luggage, boat and dog. There is not much time today, it gets dark early. So we set off for a short walk along the banks of the Nahe, a few hundred meters to a suitable entry point. The conditions are perfect to test the conversion system from walking to paddling, designed for rainy weather. Fortunately, the dogs have been provided by nature with the best functional clothing ever: Fur. They probably just wonder why mistresses and masters squeeze into funny plastic overalls and lie patiently waiting in the wet grass.

Eine Packrafterin steckt ihr Paddel zusammen beim Aufbau auf der Nahewiese
Set up in drizzle - perfect course conditions

Fortunately, the dogs were equipped by nature with the best functional clothing ever: Fur. They probably just wonder why mistresses and masters squeeze into funny plastic overalls and lie patiently waiting in the wet grass.

Packraftaufbau auf der Nahewiese im November
The dogs wait patiently for whatever mistress and master are up to there

Then we're off. Packraft is set up. Luggage is stowed. Now only the dogs must want to take place in the boat. This works very well with one, with the other there are still a few teething problems. But eventually we are on the way, the landscape around us is immersed in a peaceful, almost sleepy mood.

Nature comes to rest and we glide right through it. In addition the dogs, like figureheads they overlook this strange scenery from their colorful boats.

Zwei Packrafter mit Hunden sind im Winter auf der Nahe unterwegs
Finally on the water, all dogs are water fit

Once back at the campsite, this first test is unanimously rated as successful. Now it's time to somehow dry everything as best we can (perfect practice for tours in the far north) and then we sit around the campfire together. When you spend a whole day outdoors like this, you quickly get used to the rhythm of nature. Soon the flames are blazing and cheese fondue begins to melt in a cast iron pot. Coziness from the inside. We don't last long outside after dinner. Weather and darkness soon pull us into bed, which seems much cozier on such November nights.  

Käsefondue über dem Feuer
The best food for gray November weather: cheese fondue and chocolate bananas, straight from the fire
Photo: Robert List

On Sunday, it's time to put into practice what we discussed the day before during a day hike. After a short breakfast in a wonderfully refreshing drizzle, we climb the Rotenfels with our multi-day backpacks packed.

Steeply the path winds through the bare trees and with every step you have the feeling that the backpack would rather run in the other direction. But once we reach the top, a view opens up that is worth all the effort. Thick clouds of fog hide the view around the Rotenfels, but every now and then they briefly tear open and you can see the Nahe, how it seems to hide black and sluggish under the clouds.  What a scenery! I realize once again that you don't have to wander far to feel far away and very small in a landscape.

Frühstück am kalten Novembermorgen auf dem Campingplatz Nahe-Alsenz-Eck
Happy breakfast atmosphere with refreshing drizzle
Ein Mann mit großem Rucksack wandert den schmalen Trail den Rotenfels hinauf

Blick vom Rotenfels auf Bad Münster am Stein im Nebel, im Vordergrund drei Personen und Hunde
During the short, steep ascent, the misty clouds give a clear view of the surroundings every now and then

For the dogs, this hike is a walk. All three are active athletes and used to the movement. We also enjoy the hike along the top of the rock and walk chatting back down towards the entrance.

Drei Personen mit schweren Rucksäcken im Nebel, vor ihnen trinken zwei Hunde aus einer Pfütze
Along the edge of the Rotenfels

Wanderung mit schwerem Rucksack auf dem Rotenfels hinab zur Nahe
Descent towards the river

Arrived at the Nahe you notice that the conversion from hiking to paddling is now easier for everyone. The luggage is quickly stowed away and the situation is no longer so unfamiliar for the dogs. Soon we are all sitting in the boats, wrapped up in dry suits and comfortably warm underwear. The Nahe is dark and sluggish and seems reluctant to move for us one last time before winter.

Set up on the Nahe - the dogs can hardly wait

Drei Packrafter mit Hunden in bunten Booten auf der Nahe
Let's go for maybe the last packrafting tour of the year
Ein grünes Packraft mit Hund und Paddler rauscht durch eine Welle der Nahe
Cold Nahe water on the face

As we pass the foot of the Rotenfels, the view is gigantic as always. However, the rock looks quite different at this time of year. The fiery red porphyry does not shine against a blue sky as it does in summer. It also seems a bit grayer, a bit more colorless, a bit more tired. In contrast, we seem to be from another world in our colorful boats. And I think that's how we feel, too. Hardly a person is on the road, not on foot, not with the wheel and certainly not with the, stop, but there is one with the rowing boat on the way!

The waterfronts, so busy in summer, are already hibernating. We, on the other hand, feel alive in this dreary scenery, the cold air on our faces and the cold water around us heighten our senses and connect us to the landscape.

Packrafter auf der Nahe im November-Nieselregen vor dem Rotenfels
The Rotenfels is already hibernating with one eye and we even meet oncoming traffic

I think it's the last paddle for all of us this year. We happily climb out of the water, pack up our boat for the last time and hike a bit back to the campsite to finish the paddling season for this year.

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