I write to you from the guest bedroom of our house-sit in Langley, Slough, in the UK, half an hour west of London by train.
I do so in hopes of becoming more profound at writing, by documenting some inspiring tales of adventure and cameradery. The coming months will sew a saga (hopefully one worth telling) set in the most remote corners of the montane European wilderness, where many dream of going, but few ever reach.
I am accompanied with a friend who I met traveling the west coast in January 2017, over a pasta dinner at the renowned Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco. We later spent time together during my 7 months in Oregon, hiking the Trail of Ten Falls and Mt. Jefferson Park.
It’s one of those run ins where you feel the universe colluded for the two of you to meet and complete some task together, and all you can do is smile and nod to the universe for its decision and look forward to whatever the future may hold, knowing that previous such reflections of fate led to some of the most fulfilling and memorable experiences.
Along the way, we will encounter hardships, known and unknown; we will have drinks with old friends and come to know new ones; we will push our human shells to their physical and psychological limits; we will come to know ourselves and our kind better; we will come to know the delicate, fragile balance between life and death, and make clearer our lot on this turbulent, beautiful sphere of rock and water that we call Earth (Home), as we hurtle around the sun like electricity spirals around an atom in transit. We will submit ourselves to the serendipity of the pilgrimage and seek out the joy in whichever place we find ourselves in.
Ah yea, the pilgrimage. Here’s the plan:
We’re in the UK until July 2nd (11 days). This gives us time to stock up on any gear we need, and test out our kits. We are house sitting for Basil and Natasha, a lovely pair who are spending a week in the Lake District National Park, and who needed someone to watch their kitties, Bluebell and Francis.
July 2nd, we catch the afternoon train to Paris. We have 24 hours to arrange French cell service and acquire camping supplies not allowed on the Eurostar, while also taking in some of the sights of the city of splendor. July 3rd, we will meet a friend at Gare du Nord station, and we will ride to Murat, the gateway to the Monts du Cantal Region, the glaciated, eroded remains of the largest supervolcano in Europe. We will do a healthy 35 mile shakedown hike along the crest of the old lava fields, ranging from 500 to 1,800 meters.
July 8th, we will ride all day from Le Lioran, a ski resort in the volcano’s mouth, to Hendaye on the Atlantic, the start of the Haute Randonnee Pyreneene. There, we will traverse 900km along the crest of the Pyrenees, spending extra time in the spectacular “haute pyrenees” (high pyrenees), where much of the glacial peaks exceed the “magical” 3,000m mark.
If we survive that, we will celebrate our lives in Barcelona for a day, and then catch the train to Geneva, the start of the Grand Randonnee Five, the Grand Traverse of the Alps. 700km of beautiful Swiss, Italian, and French mountains await. The trail ends in Menton, a few minutes from Niece, where we will soak our feet in the mediterranean, grab a beer, and catch a train back to Paris, then London, and THEN… We will fly to Auckland, NZ, where who knows what awaits. It will be a memorable and fantastic journey, and I can only imagine the resplendence of nature that awaits.