Getting Ready ~ Pre-Walk Checklist
One year timeline to the trail
If you’ve decided to leave your footprints on the sentiers de grande randonnée in France, make your own camino in Spain, or trek somewhere else, here’s a one-year timeline to keep your planning on track and your getaway gone. If you have less time before departure, do what it takes to catch up on the earlier checkpoints.
It’s time to start getting ready. There are a lot of tasks to accomplish and decisions to make in order to realize a fantastic, engaging, life-changing, healthy, robust journey over the land on foot.
: : Note >>> This is the general scheme we’ll be using for our 2011 longwalks. As we move through the year, we’ll update the list, and report on our progress and decisions.
Checklist ~ 12 Months
Commit. Tell your family and friends. Expressing a dream with words is the first step to making it come true. (more…)
Training ~ Weekend Walking
Shortwalking your way to the long-distance trails
Wherever you live, if you’re planning to walk one of the world’s long distance trails, you need to get ready by walking at home. Training is so important, it’s hard to over-emphasize it. In fact, before finishing the rest of this article, you probably ought to get up right now, and go wander around your neighborhood for an hour. I think I’ll do the same …
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Before my first European trek, I decided to take a little tour of my hometown. I mapped out a route to a string of my friends’ homes, which were each a day’s walk apart. Then I called them up and asked if I could take them out to dinner in exchange for a night on their couch. (more…)
Training ~ The Los Angeles Stair Streets
100’s of Great California Walks
When I moved to Silver Lake (Los Angeles) a few years ago, and began prepping for my 2005 walk, I stumbled upon a few of the “stair streets” in the neighborhood. The most famous one is now called the Music Box steps, in honor of the classic, Oscar-winning, Laurel and Hardy film of the same name. (That’s the one where they’re trying to deliver a piano up a very, very long stairway).
Little did I know at the time what I had wandered into. A couple of years later, I discovered the work of Dan Koeppel, another local resident who was intrigued by the stair streets. He went about cataloging them and then designed a single walking route that runs up or down most of them. My favorite comment from his downloadable instruction sheet, describing a view along the way is, “Minaret House, up and right. You’ll be there in five hours.” (That’s training!) (more…)
Longwalk 2011 ~ Chemin d’Arles, part 1
Books & Trail Guides
In 2011, we plan to return to Europe for several weeks of walking in France on the long-distance GR hiking trails, called les sentiers de grande randonnée. The exact route(s) are still being considered, as is the departure date, but we are currently planning to walk along the ancient series of trails known as the Chemin d’Arles (the road from Arles), starting in early Spring. This article covers the FFRP topo-guides, trail guides, and books about the various sections of the GR 653 route. (more…)
How to use a French Topo-Guide
Part 2 ~ Tips for English language walkers
English-language walkers without much familiarity with French may have an extra challenge when hiking the long-distance trails of France. But it is by no means impossible, and may be both educational and fun. Imagine how impressed your family and friends will be when you return home being able to say “kwarh-SOHn” instead of “crah-sahnt” when you order a croissant. With a little effort, and a small dictionary, it is not too hard to figure out the maps and instructions of the French-language topo-guides (trail guides) published by the FFRP, (the French long-distance trail association). (more…)
The FFRP Topo-Guides® of France
Part 1 ~ Introduction to the Best French Trail Guides
How do you find your way?
How do you keep from getting lost?
I’m often asked these questions about my long-distance walks in France and Spain. The reason I rarely lose my way, is that I use one of the many superb trail guides, called Topo-guides® (pronounced “TOH-Poh-Gheed”) that are produced by the FFRandonnée, also called the FFRP, for Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (French Long-distance Hiking Association). These excellent trail guides contain detailed maps, pathfinding instructions, lists of useful resources along the GR® routes (sentiers de grande randonnée), and a wealth of history, culture and wildlife information about the various sections of the trail. (more…)
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…)
French Trail Maps ~ the IGN
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…)
Getting Ready ~ Learning French
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…)