I met with a group last night that is doing a guided trip in Alsace next year. Several of them went with me two years ago and are excited to return. In fact, one of them said the trip we did was a highlight of her life. Wow. I was inspired and in December, I need to be inspired.
We’ve had early snow and some beautiful days, but winter is always an adjustment for me. Even though I know it’s coming and I look forward to it, the cold, the windy days, the early darkness, these things always push me inward. I stay inside, sit too much, eat too much and eat the wrong things. I get lethargic and wonder if this is it- the place where I get old and stop.
People in cold climates have three winter options. They can bail and run off to Florida or Arizona, stay put and get depressed or they can put their winter clothes on and embrace the elements. The latter requires discipline.
Several days last week I checked out some trail conditions for a possible WTW trip. I pulled my sluggish self out of bed, got dressed, made the hot tea, found my long underwear, packed my winter pack and got in the car. Just getting that far gave a feeling of accomplishment. My first hike was from Cow Creek, day 1 on the WTW. John had followed me to Lumpy Ridge Trailhead where I left a car. He then dropped me off at the trailhead so I could hike one-way. Within minutes of heading out on the trail, my body began to rejoice. With every slow, settled step, it all kicked in. I was reborn and life was good again.
The long winter looms ahead. I’ve already made my three New Years Resolutions. Get out. Get out. Get out.
On to France….
Forty-five minutes after arriving in Kaysersberg the phone rang and I was told my three women had arrived. I met them, got them settled into their rooms and showed them a little of town. We had dinner together in the evening and I hiked with them part of the following day. Their trip was self-guided so after lunch I sent them on their way. I walked away and prayed they would be safe and have fun.
The group in France called Horizons D’Alsace does a lot of trips so their route guide is used often. It’s ok. My route guides are better. I’ve decided to do the route this coming spring by myself and write up an English supplement for people booking the self-guided trip with me. The marked map is pretty good, but there are a lot of twists and turns and I know I can make it easier. Plus- I know where all the bathrooms are.
After leaving the women, I hiked back to Kaysersberg, cleaned up and went to dinner by myself. Tomorrow I’d hike to Ribeauville and back and the next day David would arrive.
In the morning, I looked so forward to this last day of being by myself. It’s not that I don’t like people, but I work with people and I need some alone time to pull it all back together. The day started with the anticipated breakfast. The owners at Hotel Les Remparts once asked me if I wanted to rent a small apartment since I’m usually there for several days and it would have a kitchen. Huh?? A kitchen?? Why would I want a kitchen? I want to be served!!!!
This hotel has a great breakfast room. The style is almost mid-century modern (I got that from HGTV). It’s modern, but old modern. I love the clean lines and the row of big windows looking out at the mountains. Most of all I love being served. Several of my favorite french women rush around bringing baskets filled with croissants and baquettes.
“Phebe, Voulez-vous cafe, tea ou chocolate?”
“Cafe au lait si vous plait.”
Out comes a small silver pot with hot coffee and milk. There’s cheese, yogurt and Nutella at the bar. These women all know me so amidst the rush there’s always a smile, a “knowing” thrown my way.
After breakfast I headed out the front door, down a small lane and turned onto a trail that abruptly took me into the woods and up the hill. It would take four hours through the foothills to get to Ribeauville, another beautiful medieval vineyard town much like Kaysersberg. The forests here is similar to the Black Forest in Germany. It’s Hansel and Gretel with plenty of dark greens and mist mixed with lush summer greens and autumn reds and yellows. The October air is fresh and cool.
I know the way so I arrive just in time to step out of the forests and right into town. My favorite little cafe is two minutes away and there’s an open seat outside where I can squeeze in with my poles and pack and not knock everyone over. The french waiter, wearing a black apron, greets me and hands me a menu. No brown bag lunch and Nalgene water bottle today. I opt for pumpkin soup and a fresh salad with grapes. Hmmmm….I love hiking in France.
There are several options on the return so I do something new and in total hike about 16 miles. Another quiet dinner in Kaysersberg, an evening walk in the vineyards and off to bed. David arrives tomorrow.