Hiking report

Weekend hiking trip to Rurberg!

Even before we went to Cochem last time, I had organised this trip to Rurberg. Luckily enough, most of those who joined there decided to come as well this time. It was originally planned for the middle of May, although the weather looked horrible on that weekend. Fortunately, the staff at the youth hostel in Rurberg were flexible enough to allow us to postpone it by two weeks. This weekend, it still didn’t really looked like the best weekend ever with temperature going only up to 21 ℃, but we still went there this time.

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Rurberg being still within North Rhine Westphalia, it still takes 3 hours to go there. The reason is very simple: the railway line connecting Düren and Heimbach, which is the closest train station to Rurberg, goes through a mountainous area. It is actually rather surprising that this line exists in the first place, since along with other stations the final station, Heimbach, is so small that it does not even have its own ticket vending machine (you can buy tickets at the nearby gas station, or on the train, but quite obviously there was no ticket inspector anyway).

Regarding the train ticket, there’s one thing I find extremely confusing. I hope I can describe it comprehensibly here: If you live inside the VRR region and have a ticket which is valid within the VRR region (like Ticket2000, YoungTicketPlus etc.), you can buy an extension ticket to go to the VRS area (around Cologne) or AVV area (around Aachen), but you cannot cross two borders with the extension ticket (i.e. impossible to go VRR -> VRS -> AVV). Our train going over Cologne, we didn’t have the possibility of going to the AVV region with this ticket. But if you look up the price from Cologne to Heimbach, you will see “VRS price”, which made me believe it is possible to go to Heimbach with the extension ticket. Moreover, if you look at the map for the job tickets for the VRS ticket, Heimbach is clearly covered. However, we learned from the train driver that Heimbach is in the AVV area, so we needed a ticket. Here’s how it went wrong: you can indeed buy a ticket for a VRS price, because Heimbach is very close to the border and apparently considered as within a transition area. And the area of validity for job tickets inside the VRS area does not coincide with the VRS area. So comprehensible, isn’t it?

Satellite image from Heimbach to Rurberg

There’s something important to keep in mind: this area, Eiffel national park, is a very famous area for outdoor activities. But of course, it doesn’t directly mean that you can go anywhere and it is good. Especially this time, my trails were nearly random. And if you look at the satellite image, you can actually see that it is massive forest. This is actually a rather dangerous sign. A good example is the area to the north of the Ruhr region, one around Marl-Sinsen, another one from Lembeck to Haltern. Both of them were rather a failure. To this day, I cannot exactly say what was the decisive factor that made them so unattractive, but at least they both took place in the same massively forested area. The same applies to some of the hikes around Wuppertal.

So, to be honest, I had this great fear of offering something extremely dull. On the other hand, I had to transfer some of the payment in the beginning of April, so I couldn’t call off the event either. I had the feeling of actively diving into trouble.

It was already 1pm, when we arrived in Heimbach. We left the city within a few minutes and entered the aforementioned forest. Already from Heimbach it was clear that we were expecting a huge uphill.

It is true that we were going through a forest, but my concern was slightly less relevant: it is true that it was a forest, but it was not as massive as I was thinking. Every now and then we had a great view over the area.

We had an early break today, around when we finished 1/3 of the entire trail. Not that it was too hard. It was simply late when we started. I guess the total distance was fairly okay. At least I learned it from the last weekend hike in Cochem.

In contrast to the violent up and down in the first part, it went very slowly down towards the Rursee (Rur lake). We had then the second break at the Urft dam. This is a relatively famous dam (relative to other dams, since most of them are probably not known to anyone…) built in 1905, so one of the oldest modern dams in the world. There was a café there. With half of the afternoon and the whole evening ahead of us, together with the fact that the altitude difference was fairly challenging, this second break did not appear redundant.

Rurberg is a famous resort area. It is probably a place for grandparents to pass time in summer. In this still relatively cold weather, it was not very surprising that the entire city looked rather empty. But it was indeed pleasant to walk along the water towards the end of the hike today.

The hardest part of the day might have been the last 1 km. As you can see on the komoot map above, the youth hostel was on top of a hill. Of course we went up the entire way on foot. As a matter of fact, there was solely the youth hostel on top of the hill there. I don’t understand why they decided to build it there, especially since we were planning to have dinner in the city.

One great thing about this youth hostel was, however, that the staff were extremely friendly there. I knew that there was no bar and the reception was open only until 10 pm. But they put beer and wine at our disposal (more precisely: we were allowed to order a sufficient amount of drinks beforehand and take back the rest the next day). Besides, we got one seminar room, which was essentially our breakfast hall. So, in the end we did not have to have more than dinner in the city. Additionally, they prepared way more beds than we needed. Good that I didn’t send away anyone before the event.

Yes, Rurberg is a small city, but I didn’t think it was that difficult to find a place to have dinner. In the quest to find a place, we had to cross the city one more time towards the south (essentially going back the trail), and ended up in a Turkish restaurant, where the owner visibly looked delighted by the unexpected number of people arriving all of a sudden.

I guess you won’t be surprised to hear that the evening session went until 2 am. Uno, werewolf, then with less and less people, it looked like the day was peacefully going to an end…

At 4 am, I was violently woken up by the fire alarm. I wasn’t entire sure whether I was still dreaming or not. Indeed, there were people outside, they must have followed the alarm and gone outside themselves. It took me 10 min more to realise that there was no way around. I went out. A few minutes later, firefighters arrived, whose sole work was going through all the rooms and make sure that everyone went outside. Maybe half an hour later or so, we could enter the building again.

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So here’s what happened in the night: there was a wedding nearby. And some people stayed outside, doing BBQ or whatsoever. Anyway at some point the censor in the youth hostel detected the smoke and the fire alarm went off. Certainly people must have been frustrated/angry over what happened, but for me it was more like relief, because I was secretly fearing it was caused by someone in our group.

Compared to the hike in Cochem, everyone looked fit in the morning. While breakfast was between 8 and 9:30, most of us were already there by 8:30. The staff were very much apologetic about what happened during the night, but it looked like it didn’t much affect any of us anyway.

And so, except for Zaman, no one dropped off. He took a boat from Rurberg to Heimbach, going over the lake. It is apparently included in the NRW ticket, so if we come back here, we can think about using it as well. The weather got also much better, so that the trail looked very different from the previous day.

As I found out while going down the same hill, there’s a beach at the lake towards the south. Since it was obviously well maintained, I blindly thought it was a private beach. As it turned out, it wasn’t. I’m pretty sure that there’ll be a horde of people in summer, but definitely this is a place to visit if we come back in summer.

In the map above, you can see a black uphill, which was not as horrifying as it is shown there, but this was the most challenging part of the day today, especially after the hard night.

But the view after that was quite rewarding (almost for the rest of the day). Just like yesterday, we were still in a forest, but we could see the lake every now and then.

Even though this was not a very well established hiking trail, there were still some attractions along the way. It was nice to have these spots, since we didn’t have much energy anymore.

This plateau ended gradually, and little by little we were converging to the railway station where we started. We finished around 3pm, which was rather early compared to other hikes we usually have. But I guess it was good that I didn’t stuff the second day the same way I often did for the weekend hikes. At least we had the usual ice cream at the end of the hike today in front of the train station, while waiting for the rambling train taking us back to Düsseldorf.

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