Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eifelsteig


If you look at my route on the map you will realise that the Eifelsteig is quite a detour for me. Why did I go so much out of the way to hike it? Well, first of all I have never hiked or even been in that part of Germany before. But most of all I was curious to see the location of the famous "Eifelkrimis" or "Eifel crime novels". I think it all started with author Jacques Berndorf, whose real name is Michael Preute. His alias is actually the name of a village in the Eifel and a place I hiked through on the Eifelsteig. He started writing crime stories that are all set in the Eifel - and became a great success! Right now 2,2 million copies of the Eifel crime stories have been sold and I am one of their biggest fans although I always listen to them as audio books. Berndorf is not only a great writer, but also a fantastic reader! Of course I was mostly listening to Eifel crimes while hiking the Eifelsteig...

But I am not the only Berndorf fan. The whole thing has taken off so much that there is a "Eifelkrimi-Trail" now, a Eifel crime hiking trail that takes you to some of the locations of Berndorf's Eifel novels. In Hillesheim various guides offer tours to those locations and there is a crime cafe called "Sherlock". After so many Eifel crime stories I was expecting to find corpses behind every tree but so far no such luck! But after finishing the Eifelsteig I guess that this German region definitely needed the "crime incentive", because otherwise its towns and villages are rather drab. Almost all the houses and farms are definitely very 60's and 70's - there are hardly any timbered houses that I had so much admired in Hesse! Here coloured glass brick windows, 60's design and bugling deers paintings still rule.

Maar
But as boring as the towns are as great is the nature stuff. I have to admit that the route of the Eifelsteig has been very cleverly chosen. Plenty of forest, long stretches along rivers and green everywhere! Naturewise definitely the best trail I have hiked on this trip. An interesting geological feature where the lakes in extinct volcanoes called "Maar" - thus also the name "Vulkaneifel". I especially liked the long river stretches, for example along the river Lieser. Mostly the trail is routed along single file trail high above the river which overs spectacular views. And that not only refers to the Lieser but to almost all stretches. The slogan of the Eifelsteig makes sense: "Wo Fels und Wasser Dich begleiten" ("Where rock and water accompany you").

But unfortunately, not only rock and water were following me but also fighter jets of the German air force. Very close to the Eifelsteig is the German air force base of Buechel. When I did some research on Buechel I had to learn that this is the only place in Germany where the US store atomic bombs which of course are protected by American troops. When I was hiking there everyone seemed to be happily indulging into air maneuvers. The noise of the fighter jets was incredibly. Every day 30 to 40 jets were flying above my head and whenver I thought the spectacle would be over now the jets were returning and creating more noise. I must admit that it really bothered me and I wonder how the locals are dealing with it.

Another fact that made hiking complicated was the rain. By now I had sort of gotten used to the rain and because it was usually just a light but constant drizzle it did not bother me so much any more. But unfortunately all this rain had turned the trails into mud slides. My shoes and pants were just dirty and I gave up on washing my pants. The biggest problem was not slipping! I have not been successful all the time and slipped various times - but luckily not in the steep stretches where I could have hurt myself badly. In the end I looked like a pig fresh out of its wallow.

The Eifelsteig is deservedly very popular and I kept meeting the same hikers all the time. While I spent the night in my tent they stayed in hotels and were slackpacking. I usually love sleeping in my tent but now another problem has turned up that puts me off camping in German forest: Ticks! I had had a huge tick problem on my hike through Germany last year and was sort of relieved that so far I had rarely spotted any ticks. Unfortunately this changed a couple of days ago: Ticks had come out with vengeance and I have already found ten on me. Ticks in Germany carry Lyme disease and I am not really looking forward to antibiotic treatment again.

But despite ticks and fighter jets the Eifelsteig is a great trail: I can definitely recommend it!

2 comments:

Basti said...

Da spaziert die Christine quasi an meiner Haustür vorbei und ich merk's erst ein Jahr später…
Und das, wo ich mich doch fast regelmäßig auf dem Eifelsteig rumtreibe!
Vermutlich hab ich da grade aber eh noch die Schottischen Highlands unsicher gemacht und hätte Dir dann sowieso kein Stück Kuchen zum trail bringen können.


p.s. Ich kann Dich beruhigen: Mittlerweile wird weniger geflogen (dafür gibt's mehr Zecken). ;-)

Anonymous said...

@ basti: sie war wohl eben erst da. :-)

@christine: ich bin den letzten Frühling auch gelaufen und war auch sehr positiv überrascht von der Gegend. Den Part im "Nationalpark" hatte ich mir zwar urtümlicher vorgestellt, aber das wird wohl noch ein paar Jahrzente dauern bis das wird.