Wednesday, March 20, 2013


While living near the Alps in France a few years ago, I learned about the multitude of "Grande Randonees," or long distance hiking paths, throughout France. In fact, there are 35,000 km (approx. 21,800 mi) of these marked and signposted footpaths.

One specific trail, the GR5, passed near our home on its way 1500 miles from Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands, on the North Sea, down to the French coast on the Mediterranean.

Because I ran marathons, my friends encouraged me to try this challenge as well.  Although hiking through the Alps and running 26.2 miles on pavement are not especially related, the idea of walking from sea to sea, through 5 countries, was just too appealing to resist.

In 2007, I started with the section that appealed to me the most:  south from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean.  It took me 5 weeks of hiking through the Alps to finish up at Menton, France, right on the French-Italian border on the Mediterranean.  I ended up having hiking partners 50% of the time (including my husband the first 4 days), which was quite enjoyable.  But I also discovered how much I enjoyed the quiet solitude of solo hiking.

The portion of the trail in northern France was my goal in 2009.  Beginning in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, I hiked south to Lake Geneva, again for 5 weeks.  This time I went solo, except for a  few days with a new hiking friend, Ravi, and the final day with my husband and our dear dog.

We're now living back in the U.S.  For one reason or another, I have had to wait till April 21, 2013, to complete this journey. My plan is to leave from Luxembourg City again, but this time follow the trail to the north and northwest, through Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland, to the beginning/ending of the GR5 on the North Sea.

And then I'll start planning my next long-distance hiking goal. So many wonderful trails are still calling my name.

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