I had the great honour of being the eighth guest of Deux Pas Vers l'Autre on their hike through Southern Europe. My name is Jesse and I live in the Netherlands, where I work as a researcher for a cultural institution. Every chance I get though, I exchange my desk for hiking boots, and the low lands for mountains in various places: Norway, Scotland and the Alps. Last year I hiked 1.500 kilometers on the Continental Divide Trail, one of the long distance trails crossing the United States. The 2PVA Instagram account caught my attention in early 2018, it seemed like such a cool adventure! Several months later I managed to join Nil and Marie for a while. In roughly two weeks in August I got acquainted with the ins and outs of the project and the people behind the project: Nil and Marie. Here are some of the reasons why you should definitely join them for part of their journey (do it!) and why you should maybe think twice before you do.
1. Keeping up
So, I'm a pretty fit guy, I know what it takes to walk in the mountains. But Nil and Marie have over 6 months of hiking in their legs. They have the strength of oxen, the agility of ibex, the perseverance of wolverines. Seriously, be prepared to work your ass off. But know that if you do fall behind... They'll wait for you. Because they're nice like that.
2. Getting dirty
As you might have noticed, 2PVA is about more than just hiking. For example: Nil and Marie consistently pick up trash in nature, collecting 1KG FOR THE PLANET, something they take very seriously. I kid you not when I say that I saw them contemplating descending down a 10 meter ravine to pick up a piece of plastic, you should've seen the sadness in their eyes when it prooved too difficult. So, be ready to get your hands dirty!
If you decide to join Nil and Marie, know that an evening will come where Nil will pull everything out of his pack to let you feel how light it is. 2PVA works with a number of sponsors that specialize in what hikers call 'ultralight' equipment. And thank god for that! Because Nil and Marie carry a LOT of stuff for this trip. Actually, if you have it in you, maybe keep some space in your pack to help them carry a few items every now and then. Or even better: bring a donkey!
4. Boric acid
Spending days and days on the trail comes with rather unpleasant bodily odours. My shoes especially have proven themselves capable of exuding an unbelievable stench (think: dead rat). Since you'll often sleep in close quarters with Nil and Marie, some precautionary measures are advised. Boric acid powder will decrease the odour in shoes dramatically I learned from Marie, so bring some. Although... You know what, bodily odour plays a big role in social bonding, so maybe forget what I said!
5. No posing
Nil and Marie are both excellent photographers, but insisted from the beginning that posing wasn't allowed. A few exceptions: when sponsored products need to be promoted, when the light is just too good to be ignored, when the landscape is amazing but needs a little something in the foreground, when you're bored, when you look too cool doing something dangerous... Actually, now that I think of it, most of the time posing ís allowed.
If you decide not to join for a section of all this amazingness, know that Nill and Marie are working hard to share this journey with people like you: beautiful pictures on Instagram and Facebook, videos about the different regions, interviews with interesting people on Youtube... You name it, they've got it. What you will only notice if you do join them on the trail is how much time this takes. Recording a logbook, flying the drone, editing photos and videos, etc.: be prepared to wait, hang around with the locals, have conversations in languages you can't even say 'hello' in (my Italian conversational skills were tested to its limits when discussing legalisation of drugs with 70-year old Mario), get us some lunch, prepare the route for the next section... Make the most of waiting!
I love hiking, it's seriously one of my favourite things to do. But "there are no easy days" as we say, especially in the Alps. Under pressure I'm sure 2PVA and myself have had our little irritations, poorly timed jokes, misunderstandings, etc. But under the same pressure I got to appreciate Nil and Marie so much, building a friendship in just two weeks! They were super accommodating, even before I arrived and have been generous, honest, fun and thrustworthy throughout the entire time. If everything written above doesn't put you off (it shouldn't), I can only highly recommend joining the 2PVA adventure for a section!
2PVA LOGBOOK 14, KM 3,705 from POMIERI to AOSTA
- Read the previous guest article: ON THE ROAD WITH 2PVA
- Discover all our videos on our YouTube channel