We don’t need no stinkin’ guidebook!
Actually, I don’t think that is correct. But I have been hiking the GR 5 without one. Not intentionally, though. Here’s my story.
I went on the hunt for guides in Amsterdam. Couldn’t find any starting in Hoek van Holland but did find a Dutch one covering Bergen op Zoom thru Luik (Liege). I buy the guide and decide to switch my start to Bergen. Hey, I’m flexible.
The guide turns out to be practically worthless. It’s 12 years old. The trail has moved in some places but the hats not a major issue. The accommodation listing is outdated. Many don’t exist. The phone numbers are incorrect. But even if the accommodations were relevant they are not listed in any meaningful manner, i.e. where are they relative to the trail. Nothing about hostels that are only open on weekends in May. Etc. Etc. Within a few days I tossed it. I did take pictures of two pages that listed villages and towns on/near the trail and the distance between each. I used that and relied on Google Maps and followed the trail markings. I don’t have a SIM card, so any Google Map searches had to be done the night before and saved offline. BTW, with one exception WIFI availability has been pretty good.
I had hoped to pick up a Topo Guide in Liege for the next leg – thru Luxembourg. Unfortunately, no GR 5 Topo Guide. On the 2nd day after Liege, I run into the Dorgans and take pictures of the two pages that list the towns and km for the next leg. I continue as before.
Now I am just over a day away from the French border and I am wide ring what awaits me in France. At this point I feel like if I have a list of towns and distances, I can manage. So, I’m searching for this list. I have the waypoints but that’s not what I want but could use them in a pinch.
And then I come across Wikiloc. I download the app. It’s free but you need to buy a two month minimum subscription to actually be able to use it. I think this could work. I’ll test the first couple of days in France and may stop my hunt for a guide. I only need something to Lake Leman. Beyond that I think I just need to follow the masses. I’ll follow up with an assessment of Wikiloc.