G3VGR Saar-Hunsrück-Steig     Conclusion      



Some years ago, the German Hiking Institute instituted the concept of a "Premium Hiking Trail". To gain the coveted seal of approval, a trail has to meet quality criteria in 34 categories including terms of the trail's condition, natural beauty, cultural sights and signposting system. By choosing to walk a Premiumweg, the hiker can be assured that the trail will meet expectations. This trail certainly more than met my expectations. Despite the poor weather and becoming ill, I really enjoyed walking the Saar-Hunsrück-Steig. There isn't one poor or even merely average stage on the trail. The diversity of scenery and points of interest on each stage made each day one to look back on with satisfaction. I visited two of the tourist offices along the route (Mettlach and Losheim) and they were very informative and helpful. I did feel hotel costs were rather expensive compared with other trails I'd walked. Usually, the maximum I've paid has been €45 for B&B. On the Saar-Hunsruck-Steig, I tended to average around €50 per night, with an excessive €58 in Nonnweiler.
The Stages
The remoteness of some of the stage points caused me some problems with provision of lunch as I was rarely near a bakery or shop to obtain provisions. No cafes were open at other locations. I assume they would all be open after Whitsun. It is probably wise to arrange packed lunch options with the hotels along the route. No doubt, the accommodation options and facilities will increase in the future as the trail already attracts 100000 walkers annually, so that will promote growth in facilities. The signposting is quite incredible. It was rare to not be in view of one of the distinctive markers anywhere on the trail. I don't have a favourite stage. All are interesting with their own charms.
My old Merrell Moab lightweight boots had to be pensioned off before this trip. I didn't buy direct replacements as recent customer reviews implied that quality of the Moab has deteriorated over the last year. Instead, I bought a pair of Meindl Respond Mid XCR boots during a sale at Go Outdoors. These boots were quite comfortable straight out of the box, however after changing the insoles to Sorbothane ones and wearing Falke TK2 socks, they felt as comfortable as a pair of carpet slippers. The Goretex waterproof lining ensured my feet stayed dry on the trail. I also purchased a Deuter Speedlite 30 lightweight backpack in another sale at Blacks. This pack affords more capacity than my Osprey Talon 22 with very little extra weight penalty. My total packweight was 7 Kilos and the Speedlite carried it comfortably. With my Goretex waterproofs, I'm quite content hiking all day in the rain. As is said, "There is no such thing as bad weather, merely inadequate clothing" Having endured years of cold, wet hands when walking in the rain, I decided to invest in a pair of SealSkinz Waterproof Mittens. These really made a difference. They kept my hands warm, but not hot, so were comfortable to wear the whole day.

Instead of taking my Garmin GPS, I decided to use my iPhone instead. I downloaded the excellent Saarland Tours App to both my iPhone and Nexus 7 tablet. The app has 1:25000 topographical maps of each stage, as well as stage information, which I saved offline to both devices. A waterproof case was purchased for the iPhone and it all worked well as my primary GPS with the offline saved maps. I also saved much other information relating to the trip in PDF format onto the tablet. This solution worked out much lighter than carrying paper documentation, although I did take the Publicpress Map. My Lumix LX5 was used for photographs, along with a lightweight tripod and some filters. Using the Nexus 7 with an OTG connector, I was able to back up my photos daily to both the tablet and a USB flash drive. Very few hotels (one only!) provided free Wifi to allow me to also upload my photos to Dropbox.

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