Fastpacking The Rheinsteig Trail – Day 1
From Bonn to Wiesbaden, runs the 320 km long Rheinsteig Trail “on predominantly single trails and demanding climbs up and down to forests, vineyards and spectacular views”, as the official website www.rheinsteig.de puts it. I learned about this trail for about 2 years ago. when Heike and I section hiked from Rüdesheim to Wiesbaden.
The Rheinsteig Trail has 23 sections which allow you to start at any place and to descend at any time to the valley (e.g. in case of bad physical condition or bad weather) and to end it early.
So, for this fastpacking adventure, I decided The Rheinsteig Trail has the most ideal conditions. Firstly, because I had some new gear, but didn’t want to focus too much on it. I’d rather focus on the stunning scenery and enjoy this. Bear in mind, this is one of Germany’s little pearls of thru-hiking trails and nature. Secondly, due to the excellent marking, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong. And that makes it, of course, very relaxed. Last, but not least, shelters are very well presented which makes it possible to stay overnight on the trail itself. Very cool…
Ready, set and go?
It was around the 2nd week of May, the whole world was fully under the spell of the news regarding the Coronavirus. After a pleasant train journey, with about 18/19 degrees Celcius and sunshine I start this small adventure in a beautiful village called Rüdesheim. The reason? Fastpacking a part of the Rheinsteig Trail in Germany. According to my previous (hiking) experience over another section from the Rheinsteig Trail 2 years ago, I am promised a fastpacking adventure of multistage running, hammocking, campfire, starry sky and awesome views over the Rhein. I experienced so much more…
The first day was an easy day, from Rüdesheim to Lorch. Unfortunately, something went wrong with my watch and my Osmo Action. Mysteriously both didn’t work or registrate this section. Checking the section afterwards on Google and Movescount, it must have been something around 22K and 700Vertical Meters.
The moment I left home it was more or less cloudy and a bit chilly. So at the arrival and leaving the train station in Rüdesheim I started with a light rain jacket. A light walk, just to get my stiff legs moving and warming up after the train journey. But Rüdesheim is famous because of his vineyards hill, so no way easy warming up. Within 10 minutes the pearls of transpiration were already dripping from my forehead. And by the time I was halfway on my way to the trail, 10 minutes later, my jacket was soaking wet! Time for stop, a clothing re-arrange and head-dip in some water reservoir.
After I cooled down and the first litre of water had been drunk my senses came back again. My initial reaction to that very moment is still clear to me. I shouted very loud to no one in particular: “What a *&%$! way to start fastpacking Richard!” Immediately I knew I had to change my thoughts otherwise this would be the start of a fastpacking adventure with very, very long and hard days… Luckily I succeeded.
Adventurously I continued and ran straight into a monumental statue. A testimony to German history on the Rhine, the Niederwald monument rising above the vineyards of Rüdesheim in the Niederwald. This 12,5 metres high figure represents Germania, with the imperial crown and the imperial sword in the left hand. The Niederwald Monument attracts many tourists and is one of the national monuments of Germany and stands for reunification.
What I remember clearly from my hiking trip 2 years ago was the difficulty to stay hydrated on the trail. Wine is sold almost on any corner on the trail, but water might be a problem. I could decent to a village every time, but the idea is to stay as long as possible on the trail. The plan is to descend to a village just for re-supplying. So this time I bought myself a water filter from Sawyer. That little gear has saved the day so many times during my tour. Will never leave hiking, (trail)running or fastpacking without it anymore!
Finally, after a hard and very warm day, I called it a day. I was sweaty, dirty, tired, hungry and wanted to try out my new cooking and sleeping setup. Luckily I found a nice shed with nobody there where I could camp for the night and…..wash! It surprises me every time again and again how little we need to be happy. A simple, but ICE COLD, pond felt just like a shower after a visit in the sauna… So nice…
Heike made me some dried food dinner before I left. I don’t know if it was the mixture was that good, or the love she’d put into it, but to me, it tasted like dish from a 3 Michelin star restaurant. The hammock was literally a piece of cake to hang up. Much easier as a tent and no problems with ‘creepy crawlers’ on the floor. So after my Michelin Star meal, it was time to try out my new hammock.
It is like they said on YouTube reviews, one needs to find his sweet spot in a hammock. It took me a couple of hours, but I finally found it. And I slept……like a baby. Hammock sleeping has got me hooked, until 3 – 4 o’clock in the morning. I woke up because I was literally freezing and noticed the first light symptoms of hypothermia. Why? Because I thought 0 degrees Celcius was warm enough to sleep without under blanket. Big mistake!!!!