When I did my Camino Santiago, I quickly came to the realization how these long hikes (at least over 2 weeks) bring you back to the basics. After everything is said and done; what do you really need?
One, take care of your health. Two, food. Three, shelter. And, finally, human contact. You can’t emphasize enough the importance of the last. On the Camino, I may have walked alone some days but I remember how happy I was to see familiar faces at the end of the day at the gite or albergue. Having a beer with people I had run into previously bit also new people. Commiserating. Laughing. Exchanging cures for sore feet and blisters. Sharing unique encounters we may had that day. These moments sustained you as much as the food.
And why do I bring this up now. I realize how lonely it has been for most of the past 26 days. The exception were the 3 or so days I stayed in the same town as the American couple from Paris. We never walked together but had dinner every night for those three days.
I think that this lack of meaningful human contact as much as the heat, boring hiking, my bad knees and catching a cold wore me out. So, last night I decided to make a change. I had probably another 30 days or so to get to the Alps. I decided to skip this and go straight to the Alps. And do what most people mean when they refer to the GR 5. I took the TGV from Nancy, a town 10 km from Pompey, to Paris. Another TGV from Paris to Bellgrade. And then finally to Thanon-les-Bains where I’ll pick up the trail. BTW, I had to change train stations in Paris. Google Maps was spot on how to get from one to the other via public transportation. And this was with a tight connection. I don’t know how I would have done this prior to Google Maps.
So, what’s all this rambling driving at? It’s been really lonely and long 26 days and I am homesick.