Whether you are going for 3 days or for 1 week, any thoughtful person or specialized website will advise you to plan as carefully as possible your hike. Access, itinerary, distance, height difference, altitude, refueling, stages, weather ... you have to think of everything!
But for a 10,000 km thru-hike of 17 months, concretely, how is it going? We explain in 3 key points how we did it.
Part 1: Knowing what you want
Before launching, try to have the best understanding of what you expect from this walk: a sporting performance, sublime landscapes, bivouacking in an unusual place, or a bit of all?
Here is what we wanted:
From the beginning we decided to cross Southern Europe, to tour the European part of the Mediterranean basin. After having traveled all over the world, our idea was to discover our continent and in particular the countries and regions often unknown: to be amazed by its landscapes, to meet its inhabitants… come discover it all in our Manifesto.
Thus, we already knew, globally, what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go, we only had to settle about 10,000 km of itinerary! Find our detailed route on The Path.
While some great hiking trails have sometimes dictated our path, we have often chosen to deviate from them. Our objective is to meet Europeans and more precisely those we come across in their country, region or village. To meet them, we will sometimes leave the course of the GRs on which we will probably cross more tourists than locals. Meet them in our blog section Faces of the Trip.
For this reason we will also avoid big cities. The Europe we dream of discovering is above all rural, unrecognized, even forgotten. Myth or reality, we also imagine that we can make contacts more easily in small localities.
Crossing these villages will also provide us with an opportunity to get water and food. Even if we plan to spend several days in autonomy, organizing frequent refueling points is essential. We made sure to find villages regularly on our route.
Because every opportunity is a good one to get water and not go dry while hiking, we made sure we noted the sources and rivers that will sometimes be necessary when crossing sparsely populated areas.
We are not going to lie, Spain in August or the Alps in January, it was only half a dream. We have adjusted our timetable and it is partly for this reason that we have set our departure in January 2018. This has the advantage of avoiding the risks of great heat or of finding ourselves playing mountaineers on the Swiss summits in winter.
However, there was no perfect match between itinerary, weather and risks. During winter 2018-2019 for example, crossing mountains in Kosovo might be tougher than we expect! There is no such thing as an infallible itinerary, the ideal is to reduce the difficulty and even dangerous situations to a minimum without compromising on the important stages of the journey.
Our entourage has sometimes advised us to deviate our route to spend the winter in a more mild environment... not to cross some countries... But we must be stubborn, Kosovo and Albania, even in the month of January, we needed to go.
*Our secret ingredient*
3 mysterious places are hidden in this itinerary! We will visit two places that have rocked each of our childhoods. The third is dear to both of us... The opportunity to recharge ourselves in a familiar place, and who knows, maybe with our loved ones.. We won’t tell you more!
Read the Part 2 of the article: Where to find the information? A lot of research and...a bit of chance!