Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On the treshold of a dream


How a few sentences in a novel can let you walk some thousand kilometers! Fifteen years ago I read in a book about the Flemish painter Breughel the description of the emotion Pieter experienced when he crossed the Alps and pulls him in a new world  'Southern Europe'. In Italy I came across many years and recognized  how this country feels so different than Western Europe north of the Alps. I suspected that travel through the region with the Alps as gateway between the two areas could provide a very specific experience. What was fully confirmed during a bike ride through the Ardennes in 2003, Jura, Rhone valley, Queyras, Piedmont, Ligure, Tuscany to Umbria. 21 Days the morning on the bike for a ride that ended in the late afternoon, as a film that is happening for me and at no time was bored.
Then the idea grew that it even slower it would be more intense. A hike as a logical consequence. The same way it would not be. After the French side was the Black Forest is a nice alternative. For the crossing of the Alps, I looked at mountain passes away from traffic and snow obstacles. This made me choose the Kunkels, Safen and Splügen passes. In Italy he GEA or Escursione Appenninica Grande, a 400 km long trail along the ridge of the Apennines between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna to the erremo of La Verna. From this place I can continue the paths that Francis used to follow until Rome. A journey more difficult to organize since the 21 cycling days end up by hundred days if you do it by foot. By bike you ride without many problems about 20 km further to find shelter for the night, not so if you walk in the sparsely populated areas I will cross on my route. You do not need that many roads maps to show you the small little roads suitable for cycling, but the small scall maps to carry backpack is another matter. It was quickly clear that I should make the trip twice. The first virtual tour, a year was needed to find maps and to draw me a trail that could lead me to Rome. Unlike de Compostela routes where you can fall back on a network of refuges and guides you have to find almost everything yourself, at least if you are not traveling the via Fracigena that is about building up this network. Now the first virtual journey nears its end can be started the actual hike: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
The end of my professional job was to read over time, as the turning point for the action to proceed. Given the nature of that career outside the home, this is a bit like coming home. One of the reasons why it was chosen for the direction Rome - Antwerp.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Time to consolidate the plan

It has taken months to go from the original idea to a route plan that’s feasible but still invites me to be changed. For example, following the discovery of a fascinating place not far from the path that has been chosen, a tip from a colleague or yet another late night session 'staring at the map and zooming into Google Earth. A few days ago I reinvented the route through the Po Plain, I changed the passage in the Alps north of Bergamo and I know I can go on with this kind of updates for years.
Meanwhile, agreements are made with friends who offer to walk with me for some days. Something like that is accepted, meeting friends in the beautiful garden that we call Western Europe, it is something not to miss! But my companions have to organize leave, we need to point out a location where we can meet and the way how my fellows can get back home has to be considered.
All this based on a plan built on the necessary assumptions, sometimes made with maps drawn many years ago and for a number of stages never tested against reality. Moreover, the question arises whether the physical requirement that my dream plan  implies is aligned with the capacities of a non athletic person 58 years old.
But No risk - No fun ... I’ve put it all together: Way-points, hights and valleys, distances one can walk in one day, sleeping facilities, public transport, buffer days, and so on. Eventually I got over something on paper, realistic? I can tell within a few months hopefully. Once concrete agreements with third parties are made ​​I will have to stick to main constraints. Anyhow it will be adopted ... For those who already experienced trekking’s in the mountains will understand what is meant by the statement
: Finally it is the mountain who decides.