Hiking Advisor | Fastpacking Eisleck Trail
Organizing an activity for Hiking Advisor has been on my to-do list for a while now. At the most recent volunteering weekend, I met Ivo Vanmontfort, a true DIY-guy who makes his own backpacks and tarps. He is also a very speedy walker, so we teamed up to organise a "fastpacking" weekend to tackle the Eisleck Trail's 104k and 4200m elevation in three days. Ivo took care of most of the organising, so there wasn't much for me to do except showing up on time in a more or less fresh state (which was no small feat after UTS one week earlier). There would be seven of us, Tom who already has experience in ultra-light backpacking and ultra-running, Hans who is in great shape and keen on pushing some boundaries, Karin who signed up to her first multi-day trek (who said taking it easy for starters is a good idea?), Iron-Man Ivan, future Legend Jean-Pierre, and Ivo and myself to guide the group.
Friday evening, I picked up Tom and Ivan straight after work to drive to Angleur and take the train to Kautenbach in Luxemburg, where the Eisleck Trail starts. The traffic is as smooth as one can expect on a Friday evening, but at 10pm we arrive in Kautenbach, where we meet Jean-Pierre at the camp-site. As usual, the bar is just about to close, but we can get one more beer on this friendly campsite. We discuss the coming weekend and share past experiences before we go find a nice sleeping spot next to the river, each of us in a mininmalist shelter. Jean-Pierre opted for a bivvy-bag, Tom has a Nordisk Lofoten tent, Yvan a hammock which alters as a bivvy, and I have my poncho which can be used as a tarp if needed. The following morning we get up early enough for breakfast and head to the station to pick up Karin, Hans and Ivo, after which we immediately start out to enjoy a day of great weather.
The group is split up between "hikers" and "runners", where Karin and Ivo will do the whole route on a fast walking pace. The rest of us do some running in between. The first day we go from Kautenbach to Clervaux, where we camp on camping Woltsdal in Maulusmühle, which has all the essentials, showers, chips and beer. Our pitch is again right next to a little stream, which gives a lot of humidity by the morning. Those who have an open shelter, are spoiled by a gorgeous star-lit night. By early morning, a thin layer of ice has formed on my sleeping bag. Not quite as warm as expected!
The second day brings us across the border between Belgium and Luxemburg and between Rhine and Meuse. All the water to our east flows to the Rhine whereas all the water to the west flows to the Meuse. We also cross the never finished Ourthe Canal. Started in 1827, the goal was to connect Meuse and Rhine, but the digging stopped not even halfway. After 47k and a refreshing rainshower, we reach Engreux. There we spend the night on a "bivak-zone", which is a free campsite without any provision and aimed at hikers. Unfortunately, the bivakzone is really crowded, mostly by people by car. Good thing we have a rainy night, so the amount of noise coming from the nearby campfire is very limited.
After a last nightly shower, we start our third day on the trail early enough to enjoy a beautiful sunset. After a slow start with some stops to sort out the logistics, we get into a good rythm again. We reach La Roche-en-Ardenne with some time to spare, and Ivan and Jean-Pierre are in dire need of cooling down, so they ignore the "no bathing" sign and jump right in the fountain in the city center. After some more chips, we take the bus to Melreux to get the train back to Angleur.
Weekends like these are always to short, but worth every minute. Thanks to the participants, and of course Ivo for planning and organising the majority of the weekend. Hope to see you guys soon!