Hiking in pristine nature is slowly growing to be a compulsive passion of mine. After the magnificent experiences from hiking the northernmost segment of Kungsleden last summer, in Sweden, my urge to get on the trail was again peaked for this year.
With my stay in The Netherlands coming to end, I decided to take advantage of a long weekend and the relative proximity of being in Rotterdam to plan a trek in Luxembourg. With an added perk of it increasing the checks on the list of Schengen countries I would have visited.
Keeping this in mind, I started exploring the options for possibilities and stumbled upon a popular, marked, route in Luxembourg — The Mullerthal Trail. It spans 112 km through vivid natural landscapes. The second of the segments, spanning 33 km, was marked “difficult”, but was also more promising in terms of experiences than the first and the last segments. Without much debate this segment was decided.
Once this was done, I was looking for a trekking partner. Two-on-trail is ideal for treks such as this one, in my opinion. When we did Kungsleden, it was four of us, and would always coalesce into two’s and it seemed perfect. I found a trekking buddy in my flatmate (and we’ve grown to be good friends in the run up to and after the trip!); she will be referred to as The Archer, in the remainder of the post, just for fun sake.
The Archer and I planned a 3 night-4 day trip; allotting two days on the trail. With this worked out, what remained was planning the nitty-gritties that came along with a trek. And I enjoy the process of planning and putting things together for a trek together, almost as much as the experience of the trek. An indulgence in its own right one might say.
The initial plan was to take buses, but that seemed to be possible only during odd hours. Instead my trek-pal, The Archer, suggested we use the car-pooling service, BlaBlaCar. And it turned out to be an excellent idea. Instead of hopping trains or taking buses at wee hours, we ended up being ferried to-and-fro Luxembourg city in the same car and it fit our schedules almost perfectly.
Due to delays in planning, we could only get hold of youth hostel for one of the nights. And it opened up an amazing opportunity to stay at an AirBnb service along the Germany-Luxembourg border. Will narrate more about this eventful accommodation subsequently.
Although the trip was for four days, I will only describe the days on the trail — day 2 and day 3 — when we were on the trail.
Day 2 of trip/ Day 1 of trek:
Consdorf — Echternach
As The Archer and I had narrowed down on Route 2 of the Mullerthal trail, we were going to be based in Echternach — a lovely town along the Luxembourg-German border. On the morning of the trek, we took a bus from Luxembourg city (where we had stayed at the youth hostel) to Echternach. After unburdening ourselves, leaving our bags, at this vibrant and amazing Austrian lady’s AirBnb place, we set out back to Echternach Centre to hop onto a bus that would take us to Consdorf. This was somewhere midway along Route 2 and we decided to walk the southern part of the trail towards Echternach for the first day. It would have been about 15 km. It was supposed to be slightly less arduous than the northern segment. So we chose to do this one first to get the trekking rhythm right.
Consdorf is a small village stuffed with fields on smoothly bumped up pieces of land. We joined the Mullerthal trail in about 600 m from the Consdorf Gare (Centre). The first kilometre was on asphalted tracks that led us deeper into the trail after having walked over the sinusoidal terrain.
And here is where, almost instantaneously the trail acquires its character — mainly comprising of tall birches on one side, beaming a green tint into the entire panorama, and a hem of rugged rocks along the other. The trail, however, flows like a brown river in between, curving in all its glory. The terrain left behind by such a trail is not difficult, but has a hard character to it, which is why hiking in (almost) wilderness is fun.
As soon as the big boulders made way to towering crevices and increasingly large caves, the two of us, were easily mesmerised. And we began our spree of clicking pictures. Quite many, I might add. While the landscape was not changing all that dramatically, each new turn brought with it a different surprise. While I could only see intimidating rocks and giant boulders, The Archer beside me was imagining dragons and whales and dinosaurs. Perspectives!
Half way into the trek, we got out into a small town — Scheidgen — and decided to stop there for a break. This is an aspect of trails such as Mullerthal which I don’t really enjoy, that, we abruptly walk into civilization. Nonetheless, after servicing ourselves with a dose of “liquid bread” we were back on the trail, towards Echeternach. This segment of the trail had fewer rock formations when compared to the morning stretch. The terrain, nevertheless, was gorgeous and there’s nothing like too much of it. I wonder how nature is never monotonous!
After a couple of hours of walking along on this stretch trail, we heard loud shout-outs, which we thought were by miscreants unsettling the peaceful ambience. It turned out to be a family looking for two young kids who had suddenly gone missing. They asked us if we had seen them; disappointing them we walked on, hoping they would reunion.
After about 7 hours on the trail, the fatigue slowly started to show in both of us. Slightly more on The Archer, I observed. As any motivated compatriot would do, I tried pushing her to walk more. After some arbitration and an uphill climb by me, we settled on exiting the trek 3 km before our intended end-point.
We were walking along a main road where buses were plying, according to the maps. We decided to hop away from the trail, sliding off the higher level we were along the trail and reached the nearest bus stop — Lauterborn. It was only 2 km to Echternach by bus and we ended up fully in-tact. The target for the day was almost met — not bearing the last 3 km, the purpose of Day 1 of the trek was to get acquainted with the terrain, us getting used to the trail and the rapport. All of which was more than a reasonable success.
Day 3 of trip / Day 2 of trek:
Echternach — Mullerthal
We started out afresh on Day-2 and hit the trail in Echternach by 11 in the morning. It was a warmer day than before, and the trail kicked off with a climb. We gained about 200 m elevation within the first km and that was one going to be the defining character of the northern segment of Route 2. Within the first couple of km we were led near massive rock formations. Climbing these would lead us to view-points and of course, we took them on. There were stony stairs carved out and the views were slightly underwhelming — mainly because of the lush green trees which were blocking our views. Detours such as this became a signature of this segment, wherein, we would walk into crevices or caves, which were exhilarating.
From Echternach, we were approaching another town along the trail Berdorf, but not before one of the most popular attractions along the trail. Amphitheaters etched out from the naturally existing caves. And this was the main highlight of the trek after 1.5 days. When we were walking up to the first caves we heard acoustic guitar reverberate through the trail. A thoughtful hiker had brought along his guitar and was trying out the natural acoustics facilitated by the caves. We spent good amount of time exploring the structures — feeling all content. The Archer, especially, seemed to have found it worthy of the effort we had invested in the trek until that point.
From there on, we soon exited into Berdorf town and stopped by, what appeared to be, a trekkers’ joint. An hour long break ensued, with a couple of beers and a wide ranging, intimate, discussion. It was at the end of the hour when we realized that it was already 18.00 and our target to reach Mullerthal was highly unlikely. We were only half way along the trail, mainly due to the detours we ended up making along the trail and were seriously behind the intended schedule. Nevertheless, one of the eye-candies along the trail was also a small waterfall just near Mullerthal — the town after which the trail is named. It was symbolic to go to Mullerthal and hopefully walk up to the water fall. As the return buses to Echternach were not plying after 21.00, we had to make an impulsive call to hop on to a bus towards Mullerthal via Consdorf (from day 1 of trek). We reached Mullerthal, which was nothing beyond a patch of land with few scattered houses. We realised the waterfall was only about a km from Mullerthal bus stop, and we decided to use our 90 minutes before we would be out of buses to walk to the waterfall.
After having seen massive waterfalls in India and spectacular glacier generated ones in Sweden, I was a bit skeptical if this “small” waterfall would be anything exciting. It proved to be wrong. As with the country of Luxembourg, the waterfall while small, was still pretty. A perfect last vista before completing the trek, we felt. After another stint of pictures at the waterfall and rendezvous with an amicable Dutch couple, we headed back to Echternach by bus.
And that was officially the end of our hike on the trail.
While the trip was still not over, the two days on the trail was the crux of the trip. And it was, deservingly, the most memorable experience to me. I was also surprised that I so enjoyed my time on the trail — fooling around in pictures, braving to climb big boulders, savouring everything that came along the path; all without any unpleasant incidents. Due credit, at this juncture, is also to The Archer for being such a sport all along, and not getting bogged down by the physical stress of hiking, and the bigger burden of laughing at my stupid jokes.
I see these trips as the reward for my “supposed” hard-work leading to them. I also see them as my rejuvenation mechanism. Being lost in nature, in a mild discomfort and bracing the small pains, trying to push the envelope in small ways, is the perfectly fulfilling present I can bestow on myself. And something you should consider too, if you want to get into my good books.
Few more pictures from the trip are below: