GR5 – DAY25, to NICE

DAY 25, ST. ANTOINE CHAPEL to NICE (airport)

Ascent: 1029 m

Descent: 1618 m

Distance: 40 km

Time on trail: 4:30 – 15:30+

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The night went all wrong. It was too hot to be inside of my sleeping bag but fierce mosquitos took any chance they had to suck my blood. Hours passed by slowly.

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At 4am I got fed up and packed my stuff. In half an hour I was on the move, walking carefully with the light of my headtorch along the path of loose stones. The red moon was disappearing behind the mountain line and the morning began finally  to reveal itself.

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I passed by villages and hills before I began to see the sea more and more. As a final test the sun tried to scorch me making the midday insanely hot.

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There it was, lying just beneath me, the legendary Nice, where many trails and stories end and begin. I had done it and connected the dots; in 2009 I had walked through the Swiss Alps finishing the hike to Lake Geneva, in 2011 I had began the GR20 from Nice and now I had walked the trail between. It was time to raise the hands in the air!

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As my airline charged me extra 40eur for the walking poles, I couln’t take them back home anymore. Instead, I left them leaning to a tree where the trail finishes and street walking begins. It was funny how I felt so sad leaving the loyal companions behind. I hope someone in the need will find them.

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Smile on my face I went straight down to the heart of a big city and tried to navigate my way to the shore. I can’t really express the feeling when there was no more to walk, just a blue flat horizon. After a while I went to swim and tried to wash myself after a sweaty day.

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It was late afternoon and I still wanted to walk until the airport. I followed the sea side boulevard about 6 km before reaching the terminal. I cooked outside the rest of my food before going inside to sleep the last nigth on the hard terminal floor. My flight would leave home the following morning, after an unforgettable one month adventure.

Big thanks to everyone for your support before, during and after the hike! I will write some general thoughts about the GR5 after Xmas but now it’s time to wish Happy Holidays to all of you!

GR5 – DAY24, to ST.ANTOINE CHAPEL

DAY 24, ST.DALMAS to ST. ANTOINE CHAPEL (Utelle)

Ascent: 1155 m

Descent: 1732 m

Distance: 34 km

Time on trail: 5:40 – 16:40

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I was eager to start the day early and climb up to the col right behind the village. The trail went through a dense forest before I saw an open col, Col des Deux Caires (1921m) and the moment I had long been waiting for was there; I finally saw the Mediterranean. Barely though as it was hazy, but there it was, the finish line. I had crossed the Alps alone and I felt quite emotional.

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The next day it would be all over, although there was still some 60km to walk. The trail went through endless forests and cols after another. The walking began to feel pointless after the long waited moment had now happened.

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The day was hotter than before and I was exhausted when reaching finally the hilltop village of Utelle. There was nowhere to camp, so I kept walking one hour further to an old chapel for a possible bivouac spot.

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The last evening on trail was warm, very Mediterranean, and I think I was able to smell even the sea breeze. I didn’t care to pitch my tent as I was quite tired after so many days of constant walking. But I was still ready for the final march – 40 km until the Nice airport! Realizing that made me sad and joyful at the same time; the sole purpose and goal I had had for the last month was now about to come to its end.

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GR5 – DAY23. to ST.DALMAS

DAY 23, REFUGE DE LONGON to ST.DALMAS

Ascent: 1050 m

Descent: 1675 m

Distance: 27 km

Time on trail: 6:30 – 14:45

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I left the refuge before the others. In a nutshell the idea of the day was to cross the deep and forested Vallée de la Tinée, which runs all the way until Nice. Taste of a victory was getting so strong that I felt like flying forward.

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For my disappointment, I was not really able to see the sea yet from this vantage point, but the end of the mountain line!

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In the next village I got suddenly a new friend as the village dog wanted to lead me from Roure to St. Sauveaur sur Tinée, over 600 vertical meters lower. I couldn’t get rid of the dog no matter how I tried. I was a mean friend. The dog clearly knew the path down and wanted to lead me there. I mean it did not just follow me, no no, it wanted to go first! At path junctions it chose few times different paths and I went alone to another directios, some times even 10 minutes, before the dog appeared and led our team again. After one hour I reached the busy town of St. Sauveaur sur Tinée where there was finally too much distraction and our friendship abruptly ended. Perhaps it looked for someone else going back up again. But whenever I remember that day I remember also that sympathetic and funny dog.

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After St. Sauveaur sur Tinée the day began to feel crazy hot under the Mediterranean sun. It was an exhausting last section to St. Dalmas and a nice campsite over there. I was feeling more excited than ever; the next day I would see the sea FOR SURE!

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