“You have only really been somewhere if you were there on foot.”

Nikolaus Sonntag is a pilgrim and lives by this quote from Goethe.

Pilger Nik auf seiner Reise durch Jerusalem

1,100 kilometres to Poland, another time 550 kilometres to Malta – Nikolaus Sonntag, who also goes by “Pilgrim Nik,” has put in a kilometre or two in his LOWA RENEGADE GTX® MID in the last eight years. During his pilgrimage in April and May of 2017 the boots racked up another 650 kilometres. This time, the devout 61-year-old walked through the Holy Land, past the Sea of Galilee through Nazareth to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho to the Dead Sea.

Why does he go on pilgrimages? Nik hears this question a lot. To him it is the simplicity, a focus on just the essentials, movement, being out in nature, the spirituality – in short, it makes him happy.
Nik’s pilgrimages have taken him for many years through the various countries of Europe. But with this trip to Israel and, especially, to Jerusalem, he fulfilled his life’s dream. In the spring of last year it was finally going to happen: With his LOWA RENEGADE GTX® MID boots, he boarded the airplane to Tel Aviv. From there, he headed to the Kibbutz Dan, which is the official starting point of the “Israel National Trail” near the Lebanese and Syrian border. This is where Nik’s long-awaited pilgrimage to Jerusalem to the south started – even when the actual route of this trail didn’t really go there. Irrelevant to Nik: “It was an unbelievably emotional moment as I arrived in Jerusalem and finally stood in front of the Damascus Gate. To me, it was the entrance to the world, which I had been walking toward for nearly 10 years. Later, at the Holy Tomb, I couldn’t hold back my feelings any longer. I experienced an unbelievable feeling of happiness.” That this trip went a little differently than originally planned due to the high temperatures wasn’t really important any more. Always at his side was his normal 17-kilogram backpack. Compared to pilgrim routes in Europe, the Israel National Trail is not so well developed, which is why one must carry more water, a tent and a sleeping bag.

All together, the route took him along streets and paths, through forests as well as the western part of the desert, past crags and over stone surfaces all the way to Jerusalem – all told, 650 kilometres in 29 days. “It was a wonderful trip that exceeded all of my expectations.”