My experiences with thru-hiking

Switching To Pen And Paper

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 19 2009

July 19 2009

Today is my last day in Lausanne. I set out for the Alps tomorrow, and I’ve decided not to carry the laptop with me. I need to carry a lighter load when I hit the Alps, and it’ll be one less thing to worry about. It’s also been difficult climbing up rocks and going downhill with a front pack, because I can’t see where I’m placing my feet. I don’t want to be half-blind in the Alps.  So I’m switching to pen and paper, and after the trip is done, will fill up the blog, somewhere in the last week of August. I plan to leave some stuff here at Romeer’s place and pick it up on the way back to London.

So this is the last entry for now. Do come back and read the rest at the end of August, if the blog has been interesting enough for you so far.

I’ve put up a picture of a simple drawing of the map and route of the GR5. You can click on the image to make it bigger.

 

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Party Animal

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 18 2009

July 18 2009

Had another lazy day.

Went to a birthday party at a refuge in the woods. Adrian (Romeer’s friend from work) loves to camp and hike too, and I thought having his birthday party out in the woods was a great idea. There was a big bonfire and a local butcher barbequed for us. I spent most of the evening telling everybody about my walk, and often repeating myself when someone new showed up at the party.

Went to another party in downtown Lausanne and ended up at a dance club, and there’s me wearing my new boots, because I’m trying to break them in. Yeah, I know how to stand out in a crowd, even in neon lights.

Got back at three in the morning. Keeping up with Romeer’s hectic social life is wearing me out, and is tougher than carrying a heavy pack up a mountain.

Shopping

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 17 2009

July 17 2009

Caught the ferry across Lake Geneva to Evian and met up with Ruth. She volunteered to drive me around to some stores to help me find some new boots. There’s no way my old boots will make it across the Alps. I desperately needed a new pair.

After grabbing a Kebab Doner for old times sake and visiting three stores, I picked up a pair of Asolo boots, the same brand as my old boots, but these were much lighter and had ample room in the front for my toes. I think my feet won’t slip and move around too much in the boot, which is a good thing. Let’s see.

Bought the boots at a store called Au Vieux Campeur, which is a local camping store, so I felt good I was supporting local business.

Checked our Ruth’s place, where she showed me pictures of her trip in the Alps and some pictures of the marathons she’s run. She’s run about 50 marathons so far, and plans to bike across the US soon. She’s amazing.

Got back home just as Romeer was heading out for a Seal concert. He tried to call me at the apartment, because someone was offering him an extra ticket for free and wanted me to go, but I wasn’t around, so the ticket went to someone else.

Ate some pizza for dinner and went to bed early. Mmmm, sleep.

Slow Day

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 16 2009

July 16 2009

Walked around the neighborhood and found the grocery store. Picked up some stuff. I’m sure the sofa needed some time off. Romeer had a late night at work, and we decided to stay in and finish some of the food in his fridge. He’s out next week in Los Angeles, and wants me to polish off everything in his apartment, since I’ve lost some weight. So I broke into his box of Pringles. That stuff is good. You can’t eat just one. I’ve tried and failed miserably.

And I’ve also been mainlining Coke Light. I need to take care of that habit one day. Seriously.

Goan Crazy

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 15 2009

July 15 2009

I think the sofa is getting sick of me. Romeer has a very comfortable sofa.

Trying to catch up on the Tour De France, but the French commentary on the TV isn’t helping much. Just reading up on Lance Armstrong makes me nostalgic about Austin.

Eric (Romeer’s friend from his MBA days) picks us up in the evening and we head to an Indian restaurant near some vineyards by the lake. It’s run by a Goan. Norman treats us well to some good food. It really did hit the spot. It was nice to hear the Konkani banter between Norman and Romeer, and boy did Norman have some stories to tell. All of us Goans have some crazy story in our back pocket, except me, of course.

 

Romeer

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 14 2009

July 14 2009

Slept. And slept some more.

Didn’t do much but just lounged around on Romeer’s sofa the whole day.

I’ve known Romeer since my undergrad days in Bombay. We both went to St. Xavier’s College and have had some mutual friends.

It was nice catching up with him and we were up late last night just chatting and chatting.

When he got back from work, we headed to the Blue Lizard to meet up with some of his friends. Every Tuesday this pub has an interesting game. A bunch of hostesses hand out chits of paper, and we’re asked to write messages and secretly send them to girls in the pub. The hostesses deliver the notes and with some unique code know how to track the chits of paper.  So basically you can flirt with a girl in the pub without her ever knowing it’s you.

We had a lot of fun. And we got away with writing the notes in English. Everybody here knows English.

I started an interesting note exchange with a girl with the line: You are the chocolate at the bottom of my Cornetto.

Need to work on my game. Don’t think my skills at putting my tent up in a middle of a storm will impress any of these girls in these pubs.

In Nyon

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 13 2009

July 13 2009

I was really impressed that Nala, Ruth’s dog, walked the five hours to Nyon. She did it like a pro.

Once we got out of the woods, I could feel the sun beating down my back, but I didn’t care. I was walking towards a week off from the trail! I wasn’t too exhausted, but I did need a mental break.

Stopped at Saint-Cergue and picked some lunch, and after checking out the views of the lake and Alps as we walked towards Nyon, we stopped and ate our sandwiches in some shade.

Got to Nyon and Bill helped me buy my ticket to Lausanne. We decided to head to the waterfront and grab some ice cream, and watched all the tourists walk by. It was nice to see Ruth finish her goal: completing the France section of the GR5.

As I mentioned earlier in another post, Ruth had already finished the Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean section two years ago, and after a knee operation, she came back to do the Lorraine, Vosges and Juras section. And she plans to come back in a few years and finish the Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg section one day.

Awesome.

I saw Bill, Ruth and Nala off at their ferry, and caught the train to Lausanne.

Sorbets!

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 19, 2009

 

Jul 12 2009

July 12 2009

Had a quick breakfast and headed out for La Cure with Ruth. We shared the trail with Christine and Christian for some time, starting with a stiff climb up to some cliffs. Got some beautiful views of Chapelle-Des-Bois from up there. Since Ruth and I had an eight-hour walk to La Cure, we said our goodbyes to Christine and Christian along the way, and picked up the pace.

Finally got to Les Rousses and decided to treat myself to some sorbet. Ruth got some really good ice cream with whipped cream. No harm done. We knew we’d burn it off by the time we got to La Cure. You can eat anything on the GR5 as long as you walk your 30 kilometers.

After what felt like forever, we reached La Cure and I met up with Bill, Ruth’s husband. He brought their dog, Nala, along too.  Yeah! More company!

Ruth had called ahead to see if there was any room at any of the gites in La Cure, but they were all full. So I ended up sleeping on the couch in Bill and Ruth’s hotel room. Slept like a log.

The GR5 Diet

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 11, 2009

 

Jul 11 2009

July 11 2009

Ruth and I have decided to walk together these last few days in the Jura. Her husband plans to meet up with her at La Cure and walk with her to Nyon, where they will catch a ferry back to their home in Evian. I, on the other hand, will catch a train at Nyon for Lausanne.

Today, we walked to Chapelle-Des-Bois in pretty good time. Got there by two o’clock. The walk was beautiful and wasn’t too hard, going through lots of meadows.

The gite we got to was great. Chapelle-Des-Bois is a ski resort in the winter, and the area is known for its cross-country skiing routes. In the summer, people come for the great hikes and bike trails.

The gite has a weighing scale and I weighed myself. I now weigh 81 kilos, which is 178 pounds. When I left Austin, I weighed 240 pounds, which is 109 kilos. So I’ve basically lost 62 pounds. Ruth says I’ve pretty much lost a pound a day.

And I still have another five weeks of the trail in the Alps.

I’ll have to stock up on some Indian food in Lausanne. Sustenance!

GR5 Friends

Posted in Hiking GR5, 1500 miles across Europe by onefootatatime on July 11, 2009

 

Jul 10 2009

July 10 2009

Left early with Ruth and headed to the cliffs at Mont d’Or. From there, you can get a glimpse of the Alps and Mount Blanc. I think Ruth had fun seeing me gasp at the sight. It looks beautiful and daunting. She thinks it’s smart that I’ve walked with a heavier pack through Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Lorraine and through the Vosges and Juras, because that’s the training I’d need to do the Alps section.

We reached the town of Mouthe pretty early and met up with Christine and Christian at the gite. I was planning to camp at the campsite next door, but Christian had booked a room with four beds and asked me to use the extra bed.

Mouthe is next to the source of the Doubs, so Ruth and I went there to check it out. It was pretty cool to see all this water gushing out of the rock that eventually forms the River Doubs, and to think we walked along the river a few days ago.

We later had dinner, chicken and sausage stew with vegetables, plus couscous. The dessert was a chocolate pastry in a bed of sweet cream. Good stuff.

Christian and Christine insisted on my paying for my stay and dinner at the gite. I tried to argue, and Ruth looked at me and said it’d make them happy if they treated me.

I accepted their generosity, enjoying the luxury now, knowing I still had more days to suffer in the Alps.