Trails ~ Corsica

GR 20 Cirque de la solitude

The GR-20

Here’s a first footstep into longwalking through Corsica.

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Trails ~ Turkey

webshot at xanthos in lycia, Turkey

The Lycian Way and St-Paul Trail

Every year, more walkers are discovering the walking trails of Turkey. Although the routes themselves evolved far back in history, only in the last decade or so, have they been organized and waymarked for modern day long-distance hikers. There are two principal routes. The first is the Lycian Way (more…)

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Yummy Sleeping

out of the hills to the road

The Miam Miam Dodo Guides to Walking in France

One of the best resources for Santiago pilgrims and other long-distance walkers in France is a series of guides with the funny name Miam Miam Dodo. This is French baby talk that roughly translates to “Yum Yum Nighty Night”. (more…)

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French Trail Maps ~ the IGN

trail across stream, France, 2005

The Espace IGN in Paris

The Institut Géographique National (French National Geographic Institute), or IGN, as it is commonly known, is the principal government mapping agency of France. The IGN creates, updates and publishes a wide range of map products that are available to the public. There are several of particular interest to long-distance walkers who are planning a hike through France. These are described below, but first a few facts: (more…)

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Gear ~ Hammocks

Swinging in the Rain

Just for the record, I love sleeping in a hammock – some of them, anyway. There are some damned uncomfortable ones, made of rope with stretcher bars that make an old canvas camp cot feel like a down feather bed. Others stretch canvas between sticks strung with rope; these are the ones that lead people to think you’re going to flip out and wake up on the floor. Or the ones that make people think hammocks will dislocate your spine. With those rigs, they may be right.

But a true string hammock is a completely different animal. Unlike rope and fabric hammocks, stringers, like Mayan, and Paraguayan hammocks, stretch in all directions in a way that supports your entire spine. (more…)

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Gear ~ Ultralight Shelters

Sleeping in the Great Outdoors

I don’t tend toward camp when walking through Europe, but a fair number of people do. There are quite a few campsites (campings) along some of the GR trails (sentiers), and having your own shelter may be essential in the alpine regions. On the great American wilderness trails, some sort of shelter system is required gear.

For those of our friends who are seeking their own roof over their heads, here’s a nice, consolidated, alphabetical list of ultralight tarps, tents, and lightweight backpacking shelters. (more…)

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Trail Angels

Two angels on the road to Saint-Galmier

They really are looking out for us

One of the greatest, and always unexpected joys of going for a wander, is the people you meet along the way.

This is nowhere more special than in France. The great trails of Europe, the “sentiers de grande randonnée”, have been active footpaths for many centuries, and all along the trails, particularly the ancient pilgrim trails of leading to St-Jacques-Compostelle, various local people do what they can to make the pilgrim’s passage a happy one. (more…)

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Gear ~ Compass

GR trail, France, 2005

Suunto Clipper – 5 grams

On my first grande randonnée, I started off with a compass that was inset on top of the grip of my walking stick. Although it was a very small compass, it was all I required to keep track of which direction I was heading. At unmarked trail junctions it was easy to determine which trail was most likely the one shown on the map, and it was very convenient, because it was always out there in front of me. I just stopped, observed the needle, and moved on.

Unfortunately, it proved not to be very robust (more…)

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Getting Ready ~ Learning French

Angerville, France

Parlez-vous français?

If you’re planning to go to France, especially for the extended adventure of a good long walk, there is no better way to enhance the experience than to speak French as well as possible. Not only does it make travel easier and less stressful, it makes it more fun. You can really get to talk to ordinary people and exchange stories and ideas.

But don’t let a lack of language prowess deter you from hiking the sentiers de grande randonnée. On my first walk, I knew only the bare rudiments of basic French, but just trying to speak their native tongue seemed to bring out the friendly best in people. (more…)

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Getting Ready ~ Video Finder

vineyard trail enroute to Montarcher, France, 2009

Preparing for your next long-distance hike

Here are some videos to get you in gear for the long trail ahead. As we find and review interesting and fun videos, we’ll compile them here. (more…)

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