GR5: Stavelot to Vianden

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More of the same, which is nothing to complain about.  Climb out of Stavelot by bike, on foot, and back on the bike towards the top.  The trail often climbs steeply out of town between fencelines, sandwiched between diverse properties.  Further up, forests and farms leave room for a more generous track or trail.  Some great roads and trails exist in these forested hilltops.  It is amazing to find so many signed routes in this county– for walking, cycling, and mountain biking.  Europe is relatively dense with people and things, but an abundance of trails and resources makes adventures like this possible.  The same is true of the vast network of forest service roads in the American west, in contrast to places like Alaska that do not invite visitors by bicycle.  Access is the word.

Access is enabled by facilities and resources.  Roads and trails are required, yet maps and signage must make them known and easy to follow.  The latter require little public funds– maps, signs, and painted blazes are cheap.  Consider that the Great Divide Route is entirely a mapped resource, with no on-the-ground facilities (excepting a few errant signs).  The former, such as paved trails, can be more costly and potentially more valuable, but they should not serve as an absolute benchmark for all projects.  More affordable facilities have the capacity to enrich communities and enliven local economies, even in small towns where money is tight.  Numerous local walking and biking routes are proof that facilities are not always expensive.  

These aren’t answers, exactly, but the questions that come to mind every day in Europe are important.  Why do we have so much money for roads in America, but very little money for human-scale facilities?  Why are many American cities decentralizing, even when we love our losing ‘Main Streets’ and we travel to Europe to photograph and remark at the history?  How long before we invest in ourselves and our communities, as one takes an interest in their own health?

Climbing out of Stavelot.

   

 

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Little used forest tracks, inundated with water.  

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Except for the 4×6′ patch of ground inhabited by our tent.

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In Burg-Reuland, on the border of Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.  Rent and E-bike!  Lots of walking and biking tourism here.

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Drying, eating, cleaning, lubing.

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And back up.

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In Luxembourg, following the Our River.  Red and white blazes have disappeared without notice, although a half-dozen other markings take their place.  Mostly, we follow the radiant sun of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, and various local walking and cycling routes.  Luxembourg is densely crumpled, rising and falling steeply.  For now, it is saturated after months of rain.  A little more like coastal Oregon than Pennsylvania around here.

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The diversity of trail surface is astounding.  Some highly rideable and pleasant, some prickly and challenging.

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Wet from days of rain, swollen rivers serve to soothe tired muscles and launder muddy t-shirts.

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And just before the skies opened again, we happen upon a free camping zone along the road.  This is the first that we have seen like this.  The timing could have not been any better.  As soon as the rainfly was affixed, it poured.

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On pavement on our way to Luxembourg City to connect with a friend.  

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Road construction nudges us back onto singletrack, and some prickly hike-a-bike around a reservoir.  Should have taken the advised road detour.  

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After some delay, we finally drop into Vianden, marked by a castle on the hill.  Finally, sunny skies for the afternoon.

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On our way to Luxembourg City for the national holiday and all-night parties in the streets.  Partying the Luxembourgish way.  

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