Rheinsteig Stage 1: Bonn – Rhöndorf 23km

In this article I write about my first stage on the Rheinsteig from Bonn to Rhöndorf. I started at home in Bonn and landed in the Siebengebirge on a clearing in the forest. The highlights of the day: Wild boars in front of my tent and a creepy guy in the forest. The article is part of my Rheinsteig series, here you can find the stage overview.
Day:  August 28, 2017
Start: 11:00 am – Old City Hall Bonn
Goal: 09:00 pm – Clearing in Siebengebirge
Distance: 23 km / 14.3 Miles

Important notes for the 1st stage

Are there shopping facilities on the 1st stage of the Rheinsteig? On the first stage of the Rheinsteig, there are virtually no shopping possibilities behind Bonn except for the day’s destination Königswinter, Rhöndorf or Bad Honnef. For this you have to leave the Rheinsteig. Is it possible to refill water on the 1st stage of the Rheinsteig? On the Petersberg there is a public toilet on about 2/3 of the way in the Steigenberger Hotel to refill water. Until then you pass two small streams from which you could also refill water with a water filter*. Where can I spend the night on the 1st stage of the Rheinsteig? In Rhöndorf and Königswinter there are accommodations, but they are quite expensive. There are no campsites nearby. Emergency camping/ wild camping would be another alternative. How is the marking of the route on the 1st stage of the Rheinsteig? The path is well signposted, so you can’t get lost.

Map – From Bonn to Rhöndorf

May 31, 2018 4:16 pm
  • Distance 22.63 km
  • Time 5 h 51 min
  • Speed 4.0 km/h
  • Min altitude 46 m
  • Peak 347 m
  • Climb 1153 m
  • Descent 1102 m
  • Distance Instructions
Label

The Rheinsteig – Start in Bonn

Today is the first day of my Rheinsteig hike. I am a bit excited because this is my first hike with ultra light equipment. With almost 6 kg (13.22 lbs) of basic equipment (backpack, tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, cooking gear, hygiene, first-aid and clothes), about 3 kg (6.6 lbs) of food for 5 days and 2 liters (67 oz) of water I set off and hope for a great hiking experience. I start directly from home – I live in Bonn 🙂 – and walk to the old town hall of Bonn. This is where the Rheinsteig begins. During the first days it is always difficult to leave everyday life behind you and to find a walking rhythm. So I just walk on and let the path come towards me. After leaving Bonn I move directly in the Siebengebirge and I’m immediately surrounded by nature. It’s a hot August day and I quickly realize that I’m trying to keep house with my water. In spite of thirst I drink very little, which is not optimal. After a few hours I reach the Steigenberger Hotel on the Petersberg. Fortunately there is a public bathroom and I can refill my water bottles and take a short break. A look at my map reveals that my destination of the day, the Walter Guillaume hut on the Geisberg, is only 6 km (3,72 Miles) away. At the same time I realize that I have a small blister and the new shoes don’t seem to have broken in properly. On all my hikes on the Way of St. James I had maybe 3 blisters in total and now the first one after a few kilometres.
The blister points inwards, and I assume that I have chosen my shoes a number too small. Let’s see how that develops. Arrived at the Walter Guillaume hut I take off my shoes, enjoy the fabulous view and breathe deeply.

A creepy guy in the woods

Wisdom of the forest: “Believe me, because I’ve experienced it: You’ll find more in the woods than in the books. Trees and stones will teach you things no teacher can tell you.” BERNHARD VON CLAIRVAUX
The first day is done, I think and look up in amazement when an older gentleman stands in the hut and looks at me. He sits down and starts telling stories without breathing. He calls himself a homeless pensioner and he always sleeps in this hut, but I can sleep with him here. The man warns me, I have to be on my guard, because the mice that live here always crawl into the sleeping bags and pants – but don’t worry, they don’t bite. Worse in his opinion is the marten with its huge teeth and the fox which is always fed by him. The fox is very sympathetic in comparison to the marten, so the old one. He tells me one horror story after another and I don’t feel comfortable at all in his presence. He reminds me of the demon from Paulo Coelho’s book “The Pilgrimage”. When the man starts talking from his titanium heart valve and praises the great wash place at the cemetery, I just want to leave. I say goodbye and be on my way. Now I have only one problem: it’s already 7:30 pm and begins to dawn. 

The search: A place for my tent

All packed up I walk towards Drachenfels and hope to find a place to sleep. While walking I constantly look around and have a queasy feeling in my stomach. The old man really scared me and I don’t want to sleep at the sleeping places he recommended for me and my tent. I reach Drachenfels and experience a beautiful sunset, but at the same time I notice how I start to panic a little. Still no place for my tent found. I leave the Drachenfels in the direction of Bad Honnef and enter the increasingly dark forest. Around 9:00 pm I find a place on a clearing and set up my tent. The clearing is in the middle of the Siebengebirge and not the best place, because the terrain is a bit sloping and I can only keep my balance in a hollow with my right buttock lying diagonally in the tent. So I look for a pleasant pose and fall asleep very quickly despite this uncomfortable position.

The Wild Boar Disaster

In the middle of the night, I’m woken up by a grunt and squeal. There’s a horde of wild boars right by my tent. The pigs grunt, smack, puff, rummage around and chase each other from side to side. I’m lying in my tent and I’m just scared. Purely instinctively I pretend to be dead and hope that the wild boars have no interest in me and my tent. After a quarter of an hour the horde runs away and returns to my tent two more times during the night. A first border experience, because you can’t joke with wild boars. The next morning I collect myself, I’m relieved and happy about the warming sunbeams. The first night cost a lot of energy. My conclusion of the first night: I’ve slept maybe 3 hours, been scared to death, been lucky and found that wild camping in the Siebengebirge might not be the best idea. Maybe now I also have the members of a horde of wild boars as new friends. However, I’m happy the first night’s over. Here it goes directly to the 2nd stage.
I hope with this article I could give you a little insight into the first stage of the Rheinsteig. If you like this article, I’m happy about a Like, a heart or a smile on your face. If you have questions, suggestions or criticism, I’m looking forward to your comments. Greetings, Martin
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Hi, I'm Martin and I love hiking. In 2012 I had my first big hike on the Camino de Santiago. Since then I am hiking addicted and write as HikeJunkie on this blog.
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