NST – An image film
When I saw the documentary film „Durch die Wildnis Amerikas 3.000 Kilometer zu Fuß auf dem Appalachian Trail“ a few years ago, I was captivated. I really wanted to embark on such a long journey, although it didn’t necessarily have to be in America. So, I began searching for comparable long-distance trails in Germany. To my surprise, I found nothing similar in Germany. Searching on Google using terms like “Thru-hike Germany” yielded almost nothing, except for one video I found back then:
Westweg – An Adventure In The Black Forest
There were thousands of films, gear videos, and documentaries about the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and I had watched them all. However, this film by Frank about his Westweg Tour was the first and only thru-hiker film from our country at that time
And for me, it was also the starting point of Soultrails, my own YouTube channel. How could it be that there were no channels in Germany about thru-hikes and ultralight gear? So, I just started…
Luckily, I met Frank on the NST in Hegau, and we talked almost exclusively about filming and the fascination of thru-hiking. When I had the idea for a kind of promotional film about the NST, there was no doubt that Frank was the perfect fit for this project. He didn’t hesitate for a second and was wholeheartedly on board. I believe that’s one of the special aspects of the Nord Süd Trail – everyone can contribute, get involved… It’s a trail created by hikers for hikers.
Frank Hikes :
“Since I read the book ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Bill Bryson in 2010, I got hooked on thru-hiking. I joined various forums, got myself the necessary gear, and in 2011, I set off on my first long-distance hike. I was filled with so much enthusiasm that nothing could have stopped me. Everything was just as I had imagined it in my dreams. I slept in my tent or in the shelters and was fortunate with the weather. My first hike on the Westweg was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had. I took countless photos of the trail and the shelters to help other hikers with their adventure planning. But something was missing!
“Instead, I would have much rather captured everything in moving pictures. So, a year later, I decided to film my next tour. I didn’t really think much about the quality of the footage, and I didn’t even have a tripod with me. So, I considered this adventure in the Vosges as a learning experience.
In early 2015, my girlfriend Jennifer from the USA gave me a new camera as a gift, so I could film again that year. I decided to hike the Westweg once more and this time, capture everything. Thus, my very first real film about a long-distance hike, ‘Westweg – An Adventure in the Black Forest,’ was born. Originally, I had no plans to release it. However, after I sent the film to Jennifer, she convinced me to upload it on YouTube. I agreed to have it on her channel, and it’s still available there to watch.
A year later, I decided to create my own YouTube channel. Unfortunately, after an aborted tour in 2019, I made a serious decision to give up filming. I had also lost my passion for hiking temporarily, but it didn’t last long. About three months later, I participated in the Megamarsch in Stuttgart and completed the 100 kilometers with the same enthusiasm as I did the Westweg, finishing in 20 hours and 30 minutes. At least I hadn’t lost my passion for adventure.
In the late afternoon of September 19, 2020, I met Soulboy above the Schleifenbach Waterfall near Blumberg in the Black Forest to accompany him for a few days on his thru-hike of the Nord Süd Trail. Our conversations often revolved around gear, but more and more, the topic of filming came up as well. When we both arrived in Singen and were waiting at the train station for my train, Soulboy urged me to start filming again. For me, it’s a great passion, but if the joy is missing, you won’t achieve good results. I promised him at the platform that I would reconsider everything.
So, I spent the next few months reflecting on my feelings.”
I started thinking about possible equipment at some point, informed myself, and watched countless videos. About three months after that conversation, I bought my first new camera. Shortly after, I purchased a second one. I planned a new tour and thought about how and what I wanted to film. As soon as I set out, I noticed that my passion had returned. Often, I filmed more than I hiked and didn’t make much progress. In the first few days, it was already dark when i
reached my planned overnight spots. Soulboy had convinced me to film, and so I was fully committed again with all my heart. I created a new YouTube channel to share this journey with everyone.
After hiking the alpine variant of the Nord Süd Trail in the summer, I received a request from Soulboy if I could make a short film about the NST. I didn’t even hesitate for a second and immediately agreed. Originally, I wanted to hike the Zweitälersteig in the Black Forest, but that trail wasn’t going anywhere. I traveled to various locations along the NST and had new experiences myself. I often witnessed sunrise and sunset at special places along the trail. During this time, I also met the Wandermaus, the first thru-hiker of the Nord Süd Trail. We stayed in constant contact, and I informed Soulboy about my filming locations, showed him short clips, and involved him in every step of the development process. Not only in the filming but also in the editing and post-production, I put my heart and soul into it. This was because the trail and the whole project had become dear to my heart. Through this experience, I also got to know the diversity of the trail and our country. And all of this happened in such a short time. Just imagine experiencing all of this in one go, on one trail…
It's a long road,
he is worth it – always! My thanks go to Frank and his YouTube channel „Frank Hikes“, a channel that actually deserves 1000 times more subscribers and attention. After all, Frank was one of the first YouTubers to pick up on the topic of thru-hiking in Germany. I can only encourage you to check out his channel. And if you enjoy it as much as I do, consider subscribing or leaving a kind comment. There aren’t many idealists left who put so much effort and work into providing all of this content for free.
Update 2023: Meanwhile, Frank “Freestyla” has discontinued his YouTube channel. However, he continues to contribute his expertise and knowledge to the Nord Süd Trail initiative. We will collaborate on many cinematic projects related to the NST in the future.
The old making-of video has been re-released on the Soultrails channel.