Which direction do we take… Interacting with established hiking associations.
Both our association and the regional and local tourism offices have no interest in the development and marketing of the NST. This includes not granting any sub-marking authority. We maintain our dissenting opinion, and this will not change in the future. We still consider the NST to be a superfluous addition to the hiking world.
These are the statements of a large German hiking association in response to some of our inquiries regarding a discussion offer about the Nord Süd Trail. As you can see, there are not only positive and encouraging responses to report. Why are we sharing this with you? First and foremost, it’s important to emphasize that we are not playing the role of the offended party here; encountering dissenting attitudes from the major hiking associations was to be expected. We acknowledge this as an active hiking community and still appreciate these responses.
When I designed and planned this trail in 2018, it was important to me that the concept of a Thruhiking Trail through Germany could function even without official permission and support from the hiking associations. Suppose I had approached the associations with the idea of the Nord Süd Trail before my hike in 2020 and received rejecting and discouraging responses. In that case, there would still be no NST or similar long-distance trail today. For this reason, I initially refrained from communicating with the associations, not to undermine them but to advance the idea and demonstrate its feasibility.
Are we now ending communication with the major hiking associations? No, of course not! A first, quite positive contact with the German Hiking Association was established last year and will certainly be deepened in the future. It should be reiterated once again that we do not have a conflict with the major German hiking associations. Some of our NST initiative members are members of these large hiking associations themselves and have also learned during discussions at the ‘German Trail Days’ in Bonn that the opinion of the boards does not necessarily represent the prevailing opinion of the numerous members.
Thruhiking represents a comparatively young and vibrant interpretation of traditional hiking – somewhat akin to the punk rock of the trekking world. It embodies the adventurous spirit of taking a longer break in life and setting off equipped only with the essentials. This concept, which has been practiced on the renowned Camino de Santiago trails for some time, is increasingly gaining importance in our current era. Aspects such as sustainability, minimalism, and the desire to reconnect with nature are at the forefront. It is understandable that this new and innovative concept has not yet met with approval from established hiking organizations. Nevertheless, hiking associations will have to embrace change, as they have done in the past. It is noteworthy that many of these associations did not have adequate online presence or were slow to respond to important trends in the past.
As a long-standing and active member of the “Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna 1895 e.V.” (Düsseldorf Gymnastics and Sports Club Fortuna 1895), I am aware of the challenges of initiating change as part of the membership. We have now filled important positions on the supervisory board as the highest body in the club to represent our interests as football fans. If this is possible in such a renowned club as Fortuna Düsseldorf ,it could also be implemented in hiking associations.
So, what is the next step? Instead of cooperating with large hiking associations, we must now gradually and painstakingly seek permission for careful signage from every tourism board, lower nature conservation authorities, or state and district governments. Since we are not interested in the commercialization of the trail, the main focus remains on establishing the trail. Long-term integration or cooperation with the German Hiking Association remains the ultimate goal. The Nord Süd Trail aims not to compete but to strengthen internationally and bring more attention to German hiking trails. In the end, we all share the same simple goal: the joy of hiking.
With that said, “Frisch auf!” (German expression encouraging activity and courage)
Initiative Nord Süd Trail 2024