St. Vith

Belgium

Clouds over the Hotel Steineweiher pond.
Clouds over the Hotel Steineweiher pond.

This was my wife & I’s second trip to St. Vith. (The last time was a few months before I proposed in 2006.) We loved the pensione we stayed at, Hotel Steineweiher, that I made it a point on this trip to Europe to go several hours out of our way to stay there again. And if I could throw in some hiking to boot, all the better! :mrgreen:

World War I graves in the St. Vith cemetery.
World War I graves in the St. Vith cemetery.

The weather was miserable most of the time we were in Europe — cold, windy and rainy — and on this day it reached its trough of misery, throwing -1°C (30°F) temps into the bargain. In late May! St. Vith was literally the coldest place in Europe, 10°C colder than even far northerly cities like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. 8-O And, like the moron I am, I started my hike in nothing more protective than a thin polyester REI hiking shirt. :roll:

These bikers were riding WWII-era German military motorcycles. I suspect the Afrika Korps did not fight in 0°C weather.
These bikers were riding WWII-era German military motorcycles. I suspect the Afrika Korps did not fight in 0°C weather.

The St. Vith cemetery is really cool, and I could have easily spent hours there, looking at the elaborate family plots, and the war graves. Instead I took off down the country lane towards Ober-Emmels. It started raining as I arrived, so I hid out under the E42 overpass for 15 minutes. When the rain let up, I continued. I thought about cutting down a faint/bent grass trail adjacent to the E42, but did not want to get in any legal trouble, so continued heading towards Rodt.

Looking back at the E42 as it begins hailing.
Looking back at the E42 as it begins hailing.

About five minutes after leaving the overpass, it started hailing. happy_dance To add to the fun, I was halfway into the hike, so it made as much sense to go forward as back. I ducked into some nearby woods, so at least the trees would provide some overhead cover, emerging near a giant windmill, about when the hail ceased. To save time, and get myself quickly back to the hotel, I cut through an industrial park. Southern Belgium is beautiful, but not that part. ;-)

The woods provided scant shelter, but I took what I could get.
The woods provided scant shelter, but I took what I could get.

The odd thing was, I was actually warmer wet than before getting soaked by the rain/hail. Nonetheless, I hustled back up the Rodter Strasse into St. Vith, and back to the hotel, in mucho quick time. (As reflected in my 3.63 average speed — the best I can remember.)

Needless to say, I canned Wednesday’s planned hike around Bastogne. ;-)

Distance: 5.80 mi.

AEG: 482 ft.

Time: 1h 36m

Flowers on the Hotel Steineweiher grounds.
Flowers on the Hotel Steineweiher grounds.

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