Alpine Hiking Adventure GR5 - Summary and Photos Days 1-2 Thonon les Bains to Chalets de Bise

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Monday 25 July 2016

Alpine Hiking Adventure GR5 - Summary and Photos Days 1-2 Thonon les Bains to Chalets de Bise

Having just fiubd a decent eniugh WiFi signal tinupload some photos, I wanted to take this opportunity to catch up on our hike so far since we left Thonon-les-Bains on Saturday. In total we have covered around 45km, ascended around 2.5 km and descended 2km! Below are my daily notes alongside some of our faviurute pics of the first 2 days. Don't forget to scroll down for day 2 below the first set of photos.....

Day 1
The story of our first day trekking along the GR5 has, for me, been the story of the kindness of strangers. Practically we have walked a total of around 5 hours, with an initial 4 hour chunk followed by an hour after dinner. Our route has taken us primarily through forests from Thonon, with occasional views over Lac Leman and ultimately to Bioge where we have stopped for the night after around 600m of ascent and 400m of descent. Thankfully, the weather was kind, with the forecast showers staying away. Yet it was the kindness of people we met that will stay with me the most. First the amazing couple who allowed me access to their toilet in the mountain hamlet of Reyvenoz when I started having accidents after dinner and the public toilet was closed (special mention to the incredible bean noodles we had for dinner!!) Based only on our halting French and Esther's ingenious pre-written request on card they let a strange sweaty hiker into their home. Secondly the wonderful outdoor guide who, when we asked if we could pitch our tent on his field, directed us instead to one of his colourful, spacious and pre-built teepees where he is allowing us to sleep for free.  It is exactly what we needed and not a moment too soon either. We may only have walked 5 hours but our bodies are still getting used to the trail and our packs are especially heavily laden with tasty food from the UK. I expect we'll sleep well tonight!

Day 2
So, if I had to sum up our second day of trekking in just 3 words then I'd probably choose 'uphill', 'uphill' and 'lessons'. The first 2 are fairly self explanatory (I know it's technically just one word but it warrants being said twice after today). During the 8 and a half hours of total walking we chalked up we climbed around 1900 vertical metres, descended 900 metres, covering close to 25km of trail from Bioge to our overnight tent base at Chalet de Bise. Yet for all the struggle the views were amazing, at least when we could take them in.

And this is where the lessons came in. The day started steeply through forest and mist keeping us cool, followed by some flatter sections and then some pretty incessant climbing for pretty much the rest of the day.  For the first 4 hours or so all was well. We stopped for a good lunch break, carried on and then after around 5 hours of total walking Esther's energy took a plunge. In the past this would almost certainly have led to friction building, finger pointing and sometimes shouting....none of which ever helped. But today we were able to put into practice some of the great techniques we have learned from the books by John Gray, author of Mars and Venus. For my part I did my utmost not to become Mr Fix it and downplay Esther's struggle. For her part Esther encouraged me and reassured me I wasn't doing anything wrong, she'd tell me if she needed my help. Then because of being able to stay present and in harmony we even managed to draw out lessons about thru-hiking, what we liked, what we'd change, what we both really want. It was a very beautiful application of things we have been learning lately.

Finally, it also helped to consider what we were most grateful for today. For example, as luck would have it, the higher we climbed all day the higher the mist hanging over the region just retreated. When we reached 1000m the mist was at 1200m. When we reached 1200m, it was higher still. Even when we rounded a col at 1935m toward the end of the day the dark threatening clouds remained over adjacent peaks but never overhead. It is only now writing this in the tent that the rain has finally arrived. We have been very blessed with the weather. It was also a treat to see Chamois at almost 2000m altitude hopping across rocks and, of course, the staggering views we have enjoyed.

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