David arrived in Kaysersberg after the long, busy summer. The next morning we took off following the same route to Ribeauville that I had taken except we continued on to Thannenkirch.
Let me tell you a little about this trip, what it was and how it was planned.
We normally pick a long-distance trail in France in the spring and fall. We especially like the Vosges Mountains of Alsace and the southern areas of the Cervennes west of Provence. Our choice of trail must have several things. First, a good long-distance trail with available maps. Second, it must be negotiable weather-wise during our chosen time of year. Third, it must have available (and open) lodging and food. And fourth, we must be able to manage the daily distances.
Getting in and out is also a consideration especially to me. I hate ending out in the middle of nowhere and wasting days traveling to get to our airport city. This is one reason I choose Zurich so often. I actually enjoy spending a night there and getting to the airport to super easy.
Alsace is always a good pick for us. We have to be careful with the weather in the fall as it’s pretty far north and winter can come in late October. We’ve hiked the area often and know it well so we decided to hike north of Kaysersberg to a few familiar towns then cross over the mountains to the west side for something new. Our route would turn south for several days before crossing back over the mountains to Thann where there would be a train to Zurich.
Alsace abounds with good trails and lots of them, good lodging, very good food and not too many people especially this time of year. It was a good plan. David picked the towns during the summer…. and here comes the kicker. He had a new map app called View Ranger. You get the app then you can purchase hiking maps from different places. He had used it in the spring when he and Paul Neidringhaus went to southern France and had raved about how wonderful it was although I vaguely remember him telling me they ended up in the wrong town one night. He downloaded several Vosges maps and then used his finger (a very accurate method) to determine how far it was from town to town. Once he had a basic route, I set out to find lodging. There wasn’t always something available in the selected town which meant choosing something nearby.
There was a lot of, “Oh I’m sure it will work.”
Once we had it all on paper I started booking. There were a few snags but nothing insurmountable. This trip had another added aspect. Over the last several years David and I haven’t had much time to travel together. Footpaths and the WTW have been so busy that often I went to France, guided several trips and returned home. David would then go to Europe and hike with a friend.
I so looked forward to these two weeks and hoped that they would be fun.
The first couple of days went pretty well, but then the challenge began. Bound and determined that the new app was the best thing on the planet, David had left the paper maps (which I urged him to bring) at home. While the map app was a great new invention with it’s GPS positioning, it had several problems. The app showed the main GR5 route, but often that was the long way. It didn’t show other routes marked with triangles and circles nor did it show all the surrounding towns which made it difficult to make altercations to the route. For me it was often like hiking in the dark. I could never actually see the map unless I was looking straight at the phone and when David would point to something and tap it, the zoom would jump around. To make matters worse, the mileages turned out to be really long due to the not-so-accurate finger measurement. Days were short and getting shorter- there was no time to make mistakes.
I had arrived in France after an extremely busy summer and was tired of working out problems. I just wanted to hike. At one point after hiking most of the day “who knows where” I found myself coming unglued. I was up ahead hiking as fast as I could and realized once again that something was wrong. I wanted to scream at David.
Then a small voice tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Really? What good will that do?” David was trying so hard. Having a hysterical wife crying in the road wasn’t going to help. I began to think about it. I love long days- everyone who hikes with me knows that. I would have hated getting in a 3:00 and hanging out. This could be fun, but I had to decide to make it fun.
I did just that. I laughed loudly, studied the route the night before, brought my language skills to the table, lost all my pride in approaching people for help and became an expert hitch-hiker.
What happened? We had a BLAST. We were often the only people staying somewhere so I started calling each morning to reconfirm our reservations at the next stop. I told them that we were Americans and we would arrive on foot. I wanted them to get the picture (and not put the food away). Sometimes we arrived right at dark and yes, they were all waiting for us. One woman was on the phone. We walked through the door and she said, “They’re here!”
I have a few stories to tell and I’d like to tell you about the area. I’m also very interested in the development of this app which at times was truly amazing.
To be continued…[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]