Peterle and Paulchen, two donkeys who accompanied us on an exciting donkey walk, live in the Hossingen district of Albstadt.
The hike with the donkeys Peterle and Paulchen was the highlight for me in Albstadt. The wish to go on a donkey hike had been on my list for a long time and so we enthusiastically set off for the agreed meeting point at a hikers’ car park.
Donkeys are not stubborn!
There they were – two sweet and still dry donkey men with their human companions, who would be with us for the next few hours on the Ochsenberg tour.
We carefully made our first contact with the animals. We sniffed them, scratched them a bit and said a few friendly words – you don’t want to leave a bad impression on the animal right away. Peterle and Paulchen turned out to be good-hearted and very cosy animals who were apparently already waiting to finally be able to run away. Peterle is the grey donkey about 118 cm tall and Paulchen is the brown donkey about 120 cm tall. Both were born in 2012 and are now inseparable.
But first there was a short “donkey introduction” with the almost most important topic “Donkeys are not stubborn! Who doesn’t know the saying “…you behave like a stubborn donkey…”, but if you take it exactly, it should be “…you are curious, like a donkey…”. Donkeys are curious animals that need to look carefully and calmly at everything that seems interesting to them. To do this, they like to stop and look at it during the donkey walk. And this can take time … and time … and time … until it becomes uninteresting or something else has a greater attraction. The famous carrot on a hook that Sancho Panza held up to the donkey in Don Quixote doesn’t help either. The only thing that helps is waiting…
The topics “eating during the hike”, “who is the boss at the lead rope” and “everything about donkey husbandry” we experienced during the hike and of course discussed in detail. The two donkeys are specially trained walking donkeys. With a lot of training and even more love they have learned to walk calmly on the lead and to go over obstacles. Cars, bicycles, prams no longer scare them, they are just eyed curiously.
After Peterle had been strapped onto his specially made carrying frame, we started. The carrying frame is not a saddle! You cannot ride the donkeys, and children are not allowed to sit on them during the hike. The carrying frame is needed for the drinks and the snack packs.
On the move with the donkeys on the “Ochsenbergtour” ridge trail
The actual route of the Traufgang Ochsenbergtour is about 10 kilometres long and is considered a panoramic tour with a fantastic view of Albstadt.
The route of the Traufgangtour Ochsenberg is very well shown on the map:
You walk a selected section of the tour with the donkeys. This is because the narrow and uneven paths, while pleasing to hikers, are not suitable for donkeys. So you stay with the animals on the wide gravel paths and walk across the meadows in some areas.
As soon as we had left the car park, we got to know the two donkeys better. Patrick held Peterle by the lead rope and I walked behind him with Paulchen. The first lush green came into sight and Peterle immediately tested who was boss and pulled Patrick towards the meadow completely unexpectedly. The winner was …
It was the same with Paulchen and it took a while until it was clear that it was the human and not the animal that determined the path. On a donkey walk like this, man and animal first have to find their way together and it was very good that we kept getting professional tips.
Wet to the bones…
Our hike took place under difficult conditions. Shortly after the start, heavy rain set in, which lasted until the end. The weather forecast had warned us in advance and we were equipped accordingly. But after 2.5 hours there was not a dry spot on either the donkey or us.
Unfortunately, this meant that we could only glimpse the view from the vantage points and the actual beautiful nature along the route was somewhat forgotten. A view into the Heidenstein cave was possible and some hikers had already sought shelter there. For the children, the donkeys were a welcome change, which brought some additional stroking.
Despite the rain, we didn’t shorten the donkey hike, only foregoing the snack break. The paths became increasingly wet and puddles were everywhere. This was no problem for us and a huge problem for the donkeys. Puddles are one of the real monsters that Peterle and Paulchen don’t like at all. We could only overcome many an obstacle on the path with a diversion through the meadow, where the puddles were not visible. I found it totally exciting to experience the behaviour of the animals and sometimes I couldn’t resist the temptation to try out whether it was possible to cross a puddle.
After almost 3 hours we arrived back at the car park. For us, it was an indescribable and unique experience. It was simply great, relaxing, fun and unforgettable.
Fancy a hike with the donkeys Peterle and Paulchen?
On the website of the Albesel you can find the tours on offer as well as the prices and booking options. The dates are very popular and since the donkeys are not on the road every day, you should arrange dates well in advance.
The donkey walk with the Albesel was an item on the programme of a research trip to Albstadt.