G3VGR SAAR-HUNSRÜCK-STEIG     Börfink - Morbach      
Fortunately, I felt much better when I woke up. Yesterday evening, I was seriously contemplating abandoning today's long and arduous stage. My enthusiasm returned as I watched from the breakfast room, four herons hunting around the nearest trout pond. It was cold and wet when I left and made my way back up the Trauntal into the forest. The trail wound its way upwards through the trees along narrow paths, past the Ochsenbruch, a raised bog, until I reached the "Siegfried Quelle". As always with legends, there are as many springs where Siegfried was speared as there are lakes where Arthur retrieved Excalibur. As I crossed the road back into the forest, I was surprised by two deer running straight across my path. This was the first wildlife experience after so many kilometres of walking through forests. It was now a long, strenuous ascent to the summit of the "Erbeskopf," at 2677 ft/816 m the highest elevation in Rhineland-Palatinate. It was raining hard, cold and very windy, so I did not dally on the summit, but made my way down the ski slope to the Hunsrückhaus, a winter sports facility located at the foot of the Erbeskopf. Everywhere was closed, so I was unable to find any lunch. Nothing looks as bleak as an out of season ski resort on a wet miserable day.

Due to the rain, the steep downhill section through the forest was quite slippery. After passing the first viaduct of the Hunsrückquerbahn, I met up again with the two thru-hikers near the bottom. The forest had ended and I was now on hill farm tracks near Morscheid. It was pleasant walking down past fields of sheep to the main road. There had been such a cold wind during the last few days, I was very pleased to be sheltered from it. The trail climbed up along a narrow valley, the Edenbruchtal, and I passed under the imposing Hunsrückbahnviadukt near Hoxel, one of the tallest one-story stone railroad bridges in Germany. It would appear the trail organizers obviously wanted to ensure the viaduct didn't pass unnoticed, as the trail carried on to the top of the valley, turned through 360 degrees, then passed under the viaduct again on the other side of the valley. A final, brutal climb up out of the valley brought me to open farmland with wide vistas across the Hunsrück. It had stopped raining again and I sat on a bench for a while, admiring the view. It was another 4 miles from here to my overnight accommodation. I carried on, passing the outskirts of Hoxel until reaching the access road to Morbach

I arrived at the Landhaus am Kirchberg, my stop for the night. The hotel is located almost opposite the 250 year old Historical Oil Mill. This had been another long, gruelling day, made harder by my breathing difficulties. I couldn't easily abandon the trail as I had already made firm bookings. All were located outside small villages with no facilities, so decided I had to just tough out the next two days, placing my faith in the powers of "Vitamin I".

Personally, I wouldn't recommend going barefoot

Trail heading towards Ochsenbruch

Siegfried's Spring

There should be two deer somewhere in this photo

Clearings in the forest near Erbeskopf

Hunsrückquerbahn Viaduct

Farm track near Morscheid

View of Hunsrückbahnviadukt going up the valley

View of viaduct coming down other side of valley

Way up and out of Edenbruchtal

Agricultural panorama near Hoxel

Historic Oil Mill at Morbach

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