After the previous night's unpleasantness - wait, I just remembered, I totally didn't mention the mice in the goddam ceiling that added to the overall creep factor - I was more than happy to get on the trail relatively early, even if the weather was supposed to stay foggy for most of the morning. Crossing the bridge as quickly as I could, I sadly couldn't manage to make it across the Mosel without a truck coming by and sending up a fine spray of delightful road grease-water - but thankfully my rain gear was okay and I made it through unscathed.
Once across the river, it was time to head uphill for about an hour to a launch pad for hang gliders; there wasn't much memorable about that uphill other than there was a lot of garbage, a severely ugly gravel pit, and an ongoing light rain that all in all wasn't too bad. You could still see across the river valley to the other side from the launch pad just fine, and it was only shortly afterwards that I got any real rain at all, thankfully just in time to hide in a weird octagonal BBQ pit cum shelter thing that felt like it had been officially abandoned at the end of this year's summer vacations and left to fend for itself until the next summer's round of picnics. I had some cheap marzipan chocolate from ALDI, and then it was time to continue.
From there, the trail more or less meandered over to the Spoarkapelle, or border chapel: in the past, the town of Piesport below was hit by some medieval sickness at one point, so they set up this chapel to prevent folks from going any further and infecting themselves. Friendly burghers from neighboring villages would then leave food up here so that their neighbors wouldn't, you know, starve to death. It's always nice to see the good old fashioned Jesus-centric Christianity in a time where it seems like all I hear about it bullshit like prosperity gospel churches and evangelicals suggesting the poor deserve to die for being lazy. But I digress.
I was moderately amused by a statue of the Virgin Mary that sat in a niche carved into the rock and secured by an iron metal grill. To be honest, it seemed like this was Naughty Virgin Mary, who must have gotten busted for sneaking out of her bedroom at night and sneaking down to the Mosel with a bottle of Piesporter Goldtroepfchen to song with that woofy Joseph fella from the coooperage or whatever. Tsk, tsk. Sorry, Mary, you gotta hang out up there in the rock-cage until you come to realize what a naughty, naughty vixen you've been!
From here, it was a short bit downhill past some very, very cool Stations of the Cross that looked like they'd been done by a very modern artist in the Weimar Republic. I wish I knew what their story was! Also present, another restaurant often mentioned in guidebooks that was predictably kind of abandoned looking (but I did hear someone rolling up a window-shutter, so either it's squatters or they're just not open on Tuesdays).
The last couple Stations were already in the vineyards, and the trail slowly made a long arc across the south-facing side of the hill, passing a super cool terroir exhibit that included sample rocks from almost all of the most famous Mosel vineyards. Total wine nerd bait! Eventually, towards the end of the arc, I came across a man and a woman walking their dog and taking silly pictures of themselves. I asked if I could see their pictures, they said sure, their dog barked at me, I said uh I guess not, then! and we smiled, said bye! and kept going.
Up and over the next hill and then there were lots of folks harvesting grapes. A friendly farmer offered to sell me some for $3.50 - hey, they're not free, you know! - and I declined, but he did let me hold a bunch of his Mueller-Thurgau/Rivaner grapes, and to be honest they looked pretty bad - mottled, not very big, and possibly a little bit rotten, so I imagine they have a hell of a time ahead of them when it comes to sorting all of this 2017 harvest mess out back at the winery.
A quick side-trip to a lookout point over the nearby locks, and I tried and failed to drink some gross pistachio-coconut milk I'd bought when I checked my watch without putting the cap back on. Ooops. From there, it was pleasant enough watching the boats line up to enter the locks to continue down the river, but the weather was still cycling between almost-rain and almost-sun, so I figured I had better keep going while it was still dry.
The next amusing thing was a crappily-painted S trail marker along with some old, crappily laminated pages describing an old wall. It looks like some enterprising locals threw together a so-called "ship trail" (really, I have no idea what that meant) to get folks to come visit the area, complete with lovingly printed sheets featuring the best of The Print Shop 1995 with some actually fairly interesting stuff about things along the way. Still, overall? Meh. Things got more interesting when the trail headed away from the Mosel and up and over into another, smaller valley with no cell phone service and a random collection of oddities: an ancient Roman spring, still functional, with kind of garbage-tasting sparkling water; what I'll always think of as a Kneipp bath, or a shallow foot bath with handrails that you're supposed to walk around in because health, but kind of dirty and uninviting; and then, surprisingly, a lot more vineyards hidden up here with better-looking grapes than usual and a lot of bird netting. Hm. And then an empty bottle of sparkling Pinot noir from Selbach-Oster. I wonder if they farm some of their grapes here, or if it's just random debris? No idea. Here, there was also some hand-harvesting going on; heading up and over the next hill (and losing the trail for the first time in days due to a missing sign), I came across two more walkers and then it suddenly started raining an awful lot. Up here at the crest of the hill, there was a tiny tractor with a cable winch apparatus hooked to wine grape bins, which was cool: these vineyards are so steep that you fill the bins by hand and winch them up to collect them. The vineyard workers were all hiding in the tractor and smoking like mad to wait out the rains; I passed 'em and then followed some weird trail routing to wind up on the outskirts of Osann-Monzel, again in vineyards, but this time with new bonus features: loudspeakers with some seriously loud, annoying shrieking that must have meant to scare away birds, and some very shiny, new harvesting equipment that appeared to be vacuuming grapes right off the vines.
And then surprise, you're in town, it's tiny, almost nothing here, a well, a sign, no one on the streets, and then just a few blocks away from the trail is the Gasthaus Marietta, whose friendly owner shook my hand, said that I didn't have to take off my boots (nonsense, they were super muddy, so I asked for some newspaper to wrap them in), and then showed me to my room - or, rather, rooms, because the bedroom has a couch and an armchair, and the foyer has got a fridge, sink, stove, etc. and the bathroom is huge and awesome. And it all cost less than last night did, so serious, Marietta? You're charging too little for a place this nice. I especially enjoyed putting up my feet and watching the landscape from the French balcony... delightful.
I wrote for a bit, napped for a bit, and then wandered around a very little bit before deciding that I was too tired to do much other than eat. There was another restaurant near the place called Zur Traube, but they had signs that basically said don't even think about trying to eat here withou calling us first, and the owner was carrying a Bild newspaper and didn't seem friendly, so I did what I had been planning on doing and just ate at Marietta's family's restaurant a block away. Given that they opened at 18h00, it was a little odd showing up at 18h15 and it not really being open, but hey, small town, not high season, and everyone was chill, so it was cool. Eventually they turned on the lights, found me a table, and I relaxed while a group of eight older folks took their seats at the big table nearby and we all enjoyed some very fine food.
I had a glass of Pinot noir blanc de noirs from the family winery that was very well made; I tried to make it last until my steak arrived, but didn't, so I had to get a glass of their 2011 Pinot noir barrique to go with my pork, onions, and potatoes. Oddly enough, it turned out to be one of my favorites so far on this trip. Not transcendent or whatever, granted, but rich, spicy, plummy, and with definite Pinot-ness, which is hard to find, period, and surprising in an area of the world not well known for Pinot. So, yay. In fact, I decided what the heck, might as well get dessert and another glass of the good stuff, and the apple strudel turned out to be a ridiculously huge plate of not just apple strudel but also vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and then two Oreo-like cookies as well because apparently diabetes is not not an option with this dish. Delicious, granted, but I left feeling like I'd overindulged, which I had, but vacation, so what the hell. Might as well every once in a while, right?
Back at the room, it was shades down, lights out, and off to a very, very restful sleep.