Thursday, March 6, 2008

The big trip

How it all started:

I have always been travelling a lot, but in 2004 a new chapter of my life started: I had been fired from my job and instead of working I decided to fulfill a big dream of mine: thruhiking the PCT. (www.pcta.org)



After 5 months + 1 day and 2,650(= 4.300 km)
I had become a northbound thruhiker and seriously addicted to long-distance-hiking.



I came back to Germany, found a new job, worked too much and couldn't get hiking out of my mind. So I tried hard and finally made it true in 2007: I got leave of absence to hike the CDT (www.cdtrail.org)!






This time it took me 5 months - 1 day and about 2,750 miles (= 4.400 km) to complete my southbound thruhike.

While hiking the CDT something else happened: My employer was finally fed up with me and my hiking plans and fired me. When I received the news at a public phone at a gas station in Wyoming I was incredibly happy. Beside receiving a nice severance pay this would enable me to do more hiking! Being fired was the best thing that could have happened to me in that situation.

I came back to Germany, collected my severance pay, cancelled my apartment and started making plans for the big trip. And that's the plan now:



The plan:

April and May 2008:
Cycling across Europe on the Eurovelo 6 (www.eurovelo6.org)

I wanted to do something else beside hiking so I decided to try cycling as well. I have never done such a long bike trip, so I wanted to do my first trip in a "civilised" environment, where technical problems can easily be fixed. Also I wanted to stock up on culture before embarking on the rest of my trip.

The Eurovelo 6 connects some of the main river bike pathes of Europe. It starts at the French Atlantic coast and follows the Loire River, crosses Burgundy and joins the Rhine river at Mulhouse. It then follows the Rhine up to the Bodensee, where it leaves the Rhine to join the Danube river at its source. It follows the Danube all the way to its mouth in Rumania, but I will just go as far as Budapest, from where I will try to somehow work my way back to Berlin.

early June 2008:
Paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (www.bwcaw.org)

Again, this is something new I want to try out. I have never done an extended paddling trip and I don't have much clue about paddling either. But luckily an old PCT friend of mine volunteered to come along and so we will be paddling in Northern Minnesota for 2 weeks.

mid-June 2008 - mid-November 2008:
southbound AT thruhike (www.appalachiantrail.org)

This is a must: After thruhiking the PCT and the CDT already, I just have to do the AT to complete my triple crown. In order to avoid the crowds and accomodate my other plans, I will be going southbound.

December 2008:
thruhiking the Bibbulmun Track in Southwestern Australian (www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au)

It's winter now on the Northern hemisphere so I have to go south to go on hiking.

The Bibbulmun Track is Australia's AT: It is about 1.000 km long with AT-style shelters and water tanks all along the way.

January 2009:
thruhiking the Australian Australian Alps Walking Track
(www.australianalps.deh.gov.au/parks/walktrack/)

This is a 650 km hiking trail in Victoria and New South Wales.

February 2009:
Cycling the Giro de Tasmania (http://www.biketas.org.au/giro.php)

I will spend any time left in Australia cycling around. I have not finally decided on where exactly to cycle, but a good choice seems to be this trip across Tasmania.

March and April 2009:
Cycling across Japan:

After spending so much time in Western countries like the US and Australia I want to spend some time in completely different culture. And as Japan is a relatively expensive country cycling and camping seems to be a sensible and cheap way to get around. I have already attended a Japanese language course and got more and more excited about Japan: It seems to be a very fascinating and also extremely safe country.

My plan is to cycle the 88- temple pilgrimage in Shikoku. This 1.400 km pilgrimage is traditionally done on foot, but because 90% of the route is on paved roads, I will cycle it.
(http://www.shikokuhenrotrail.com/)

Any time left in Japan I will be cyling "Length of Japan" (http://www.japancycling.org/v2/cguide/part1/).
By the way: I will be there during cherry blossom time...

April/May 2009:
Back to Germany!

Now I will have to decide: Do I continue travelling or do I become a responsible German citizen again and start working?
If I decide to continue travelling I will probably attempt an European thruhike from one of the
Westernmost points in Europe (Cape Finisterre) to the Easternmost point Istambul. The route is inspired by Nicholas Crane's book "Clear Waters Rising". I will just give a rough outline as this is far in the future and a lot of things can happen in the meantime!

May to October 2009:
Western Europe

Starting in Cape Finisterre in Northwestern Spain I will follow the Camino de Santiago all the way to the Pyrenees. I will then traverse the whole length of the Pyrenees either on the French (GR 11) or Spanish side (GR 10). The route then continues through France through the Cevennes and the Provence (GR 4) where I will join the GR 5 from Nice to Lake Geneva. I will cross Switzerland West to East on the Alpine Pass route
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpine_Pass_Route).
The rest of the summerseason I will be traversing Austria on the Zentralalpenweg all the way to Bratislava.

Summer season 2010:
Eastern Europe

My route would then continue through the Tatras in the Slovak Republic and Poland, then crossing into the Ukraine and following the Carpathian mountain range through Romania. It continues south through Bulgaria and the Rila mountains from where I can either
continue on the European long distance hiking trail E4 (www.era-ewv-ferp.com) through Greece to Crete or follow Nicholas Crane's route to Istambul.

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