Next destination: GR11 – The Spanish Pyrenees

For long it has been clear to me that one day I would find myself standing near the border between France and Spain, at the shore of the Bay of Biscay. But instead of crowded and relatively flat road walk or coastal path towards Santiago de Compostela, my own pilgrimage would head east, to the mountains and towards the distant Mediterranean, facing whatever challenge the Pyrenees can throw against .

GR11_Routemap_overview_01(map from OpenStreetMap.org, edited by me)

But on which side of the border, that has been the main question and the answer changing every now and then. As I don’t like that much walking or scrambling on exposed ridges and summits, I quickly excluded the Haute Randonnée Pyrénees, the high route following the highest walkable route through the mountains. After hiking the GR5, walking on French side along the well-marked GR10 has felt like a safe bet, but also less exciting. At the end of this June, I’ll leave Irún behind along the Spanish GR11, hoping to complete the trek from Irún to Cap de Creus, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

The GR11 is a serious trek. Compared to the GR5 it’s longer and according to the Brian Johnson´s guide, includes in total 46km of ascent, on the drier and hotter Spanish side of the Pyrenees. But the trail offers varied landscape, from green hills to a high granite peaks, famous national parks, a visit to Andorra and most of all, magnificient wild camping opportunities.

As usual, unfortunately, I won’t be blogging while on the trail as I try to immerse myself into trail life, to escape from the digital world for a precious while (this is my personal choice and I respect great deal those who see the effort to post while hiking). I don’t posses required electronic devices either. But I hope to be able to publish something interesting before leaving and especially, afterwards.

GR11_Training_schedule_01

Now, I need to begin my transformation from a “couch potato” to a true, light-footed Alpine Ibex! No fancy tricks, just trying to Walk, Bike and Trailrun (trailrunning gives better workout for the whole legs, strengthens ankles and improves balance better than normal jogging) as much as possible, having weekly Football training and couple of Games, and most importantly, doing of ascent/descent drills at the nearby skiing hill (steep, 50m elevation). I don’t plan my training schedule much ahead but just following the progress by writing down what I’ve done. More to follow!

2016_05_19_KAUNIAINEN_training

AVAILABLE NOW – Alone Through the Alps: from Lake Geneva to Nice on the GR5

ARantanen_GR5_ebook_PROMO_04_ENG

The English edition of my GR5 book – Alone Through the Alps: from Lake Geneva to Nice on the GR5, is now available HERE as an Amazon Kindle eBook. If needed, here’s a free Kindle reading application for different devices (PC, Mac, phones, tablets). A PDF alternative can be found at Payhip (requires Paypal or credit card). If having trouble obtaining the book, please contact me at a.rantsu at hotmail.com and we’ll sort it out.

I hope the book will inspire people to explore the magnificient mountain range of the Alps, and not to be afraid of tackling a true Alpine crossing, as a whole or section by section. To support my writing in the future, please feel free to sent me constructive feedback, spread the word if you liked the book or even leave a short review to the Amazon page. Super thanks for all who have been helping in this project, especially there in the copyediting department!

The English edition of Alone Through the Alps, from Lake Geneva to Nice on the GR5

ARantanen_GR5_ebook_PROMO_03_ENG

If the Amazon Kindle publishing platform won’t give any surprising problems, the English edition of my GR5 book will be available soon. It’ll be published first only as an eBook but who knows if creating a paperback copy later on.

And fear not about my English, after my initial translation, I’ve got superb help from a native English-speaker and avid long-distance hiker for copyediting the book!

Remember, it’s not a guidebook but a detailed and lively written travel story of my own GR5 hike which, I hope, will inspire people to explore the magnificient mountain range of the Alps, and not to be afraid of tackling a true Alpine crossing. Stay tuned!