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Long distance trekking: Aachen - Budapest

Trip ReportJames Hipkiss

Individual hike, over a period of 3 months, from Aachen (at the Dutch - German border) to Budapest. Fully self-sufficient, wild camping, in what can be called one of the worse years for such an undertaking: a very long winter (March to half April 2013) and then an extremely rainy spring (half April until the beginning of June 2013). In short, the trip started at the Dutch-German border in the (volcanic) hills of the Eifel down to the city of Trier (the Eifelsteig). From there through the higher hills of Saarland to Idar-Oberstein (the Saar-Hunsruck Steig), then down to Pforzheim at the edge of the Black forest.

From here I followed the Westweg through the hills and mid-range mountains southwards to Freiburg, then eastwards to Konstanz at the Bodensee (the Querweg) through the Blackforest. The first leg of the trip was mainly accompanied by cold weather snow, above 900 m. often still more than a meter high (did not bring snowshoes). After walking around the Bodensee (northside) to Bregenz (Austria) I planned to walk the Maximilliansweg to Salzburg. However, due to the deep snow and high avalanche risk in the Bayerische Alpen (mid April) I couldnt continue my way a little beyond Hittisau (Austrian Voralgen) near the Austrian-German border and instead made a move to Munich. From Munich I walked to Salzburg, only reuniting with the Maximilliansweg (E4) a little after having past the Chiemsee. From Salzburg I walked over the Voralpenweg (also E4) to Vienna, only avoiding the peaks higher than 1500 m. due to the still persisting high snow levels.

Followed the E4 down south through Burgenland to the Hungarian border. At Koszeg I crossed the border. Then it was over the national Blue Trail, Europe's oldest long distance path, to Budapest. Three months walking, 2 hours flying back... This was the first time I ever undertook an activity like this. An incredible experience, both physically mentally challenging. I had no prior experience, which is why I did it: I always like to put myself into situations where I have no idea how I am going to handle myself. Call it Gonzo-outdoor.

I found that on a walk like this, time slows down to an incredible degree. 3 months, felt more like 3 years, a great change in a life in which it seems the years pass quicker and quicker. So much time and so much more chance to not miss anything! Completely unified with the weather, no escape when ones house is the forest. To me, it was life mag2: whatever is good, becomes great; whatever looks good, becomes deliciously beautiful; what is hard, becomes almost unbearable etc. The best experience of my life so far, though I think I've only gotten a tiny-taste of the (tip of the little) finger, and now want the the whole hand.