The River Treene is a 59mile long rightbank tributary to the river Eider in Schleswigholstein, northern Germany, and runs from Angeln to Friedrichstadt. It was formed 14,000 years ago when the glaciers subsided, you can still see evidence of this on the river banks at the northern part of the river.
From antiquity to middle ages, the Treene , and trading harbour Hollingstedt, served as a shipping route between North Sea and Baltic Sea to avoid the dangerous circumnavigation of Jutland.
Treene is also a resting place for rare migratory birds. The natural, narrow and overgrown river part from Langstedt to Treia has become a popular part for canoeists. From Treia to Friedrichstadt, the river has been widened, straightened and surrounded by dikes, therefor it runs with less of a current. From Sankt Peter-Ording, where I live, the most southern part, Friedrichstadt, is the closest town to access the river.
I started to have an interets in paddling the whole of the SUPable part of the river Treene, when my place of work shut because of Corona and I got my loco Motion iSUP and carbon paddle, knowing I could now conquer more distance in less time with less effort. My first fun run was from Friedrichstadt, called ‘Little Amsterdam’, once owned by the dutch people who built Grachten, the famous dutch waterways, great for SUPing.
Being conscious about my carbon footprint, I always tried to drive to the nearest point, catch the bus to where I wanted to paddle from, then SUP back to where the car was parked.
In times of Corona, this prooved a little tricky, as some of the buses, that I had seen on the internet, weren’t running.
So I ended up SUPing up the river, like a salmon, up to the part where there was a considerable current.
On my first 7,6km (4,7miles) journey on 26.05.2020 from Friedrichstadt to Schwabstedt, I followed the advice from my canoe map of the river Treene and aimed to go on land at the public canoeing site.
Little did I know, that this site was a public but privately run bathing area which was closed due to Corona, and also surrounded by a fence, so there was no way for me to get to the road and catch the bus. Luckily, a workman was on site when I came on land and he let me out to the road through the gates.
For the following journey from Schwabstedt to Wohlde and back to Fresendelf (15,6km/9,7 miles) on 29.05.2020, I had asked Schwabstedt Watersport Club for permission use their Canoeing site to get onto the water, they kindly allowed me to do so.
Once again. I travelled in my Loco Motion up the river, because there was no bus early morning to carry me further north, and the wind was said to pick up during the day.
In the car on my way to Schwabstedt, I suddenly got a strange feeling, I felt for a little while like I could not breathe, and wondered whether my grass pollen allergy was kicking in on this day. When I got home in the afternoon, I saw on social media what had happened to George Floyd on the day.
I continued my journey on my loco Motion 02.07.2020 from Wohlde almost to Treia and back to Hollingstedt (13,1km/8,1 miles), a former trading port and home to many storks in days gone by.
With hindsight, I should have started in Treia and SUPed downstream, but the wind was southerly and I wasnt’ sure how
much it would affect the river, so I decided to travel with tailwind. It was a very serene journey, just seeing cows, sheep, fish, herons, and two canoeists on the way.
There was a little awesome beachy bathing area at Fresendelf with a diving board, but bathing in the river on this bank holiday was forbidden due to Covid 19, so no jumping from the diving board….This was the day when all four policemen involved with George Floyd’s death were arrested.
On 09.05.2020, I for once SUPed downstream from Langstedt to Hollingstedt (29km/18 miles).
I chose the Amigo air for this journey, to be able to navigate elegantly along the many bends of the river. I was a bit unprepared in the way, that I, as per usual, had fitted all of my fins, not knowing that I would get stuck on stones when going over some gentle rapids…thank you Joe for the advice, I now know not to put my fins in next time I choose to SUP on a narrow shallow river with rapids.
I loved this part of the river. At some points, I found the water levels a bit low and tried to always paddle in the fullest part of the river, where it flows the fastest.
You never knew what would be around the next corner, whether you had to quickly navigate along the next bend, or duck really low to fit underneath tree branches, it was a real adventure.
I saw two Kingfishers, an otter, many blue dragonflies, countless midgies, cows, sheep, shorls of fish, herons, ducks and geese, this was my favourite part of the river.
Three times, I left the river, as advised, and carried my iSUP ~ 30m along the river to avoid rapids, which looked like a fun run in a canoe…
It was the longest way I have SUPed so far, 18 miles in 5hrs 20min. I feel I really got to the grips with my paddle technique during the last mile, when I was tired but had to keep going to reach the next river exit point…so my paddle technique became even more efficient, using my lower hand to grip and pull rather than pushing with the upper hand.
It was the day of George Floyd’s funeral. This connection with my river Treene journey will forever stay in my heart and the song for my Treene journeys is Sam Cooke’s A change is gonna come.
Words and photos – Sonja Kappe