I am planning a major "thruhike" of Europe in the years 2009/2010 and looking for a potential hiking partner for the whole or a major part of the trip.
On this trip I want to traverse Europe on a continuous hike from its Westernmost point in Spain (Cape Finesterre) to its Easternmost point in Turkey (Istanbul) hiking on all the major European mountain ranges.
Here is a brief outline:
Spain: In May 09 I will start at Cape Finesterre and follow the Camino de Santiago to the Pyrenees. I will detour from the crowded Camino to hike in the Picos de Europa National Park. This is an easy start, maybe a little bit crowded on the Camino.
Pyrenees: In June 09 I want to hike along the whole Pyrenees on either the GR 10 on the French side, the GR 11 on the Spanish side or on the HRP along the border. This will be the first highlight of the trip - depending on the route this is a quite challenging hike, but with good maps and a spectacular scenery.
France: In July 09 I want to hike across Southern France (Languedoc and Provence) and connect with the famous GR 5 from Nice to Lake Geneva starting the traverse of the Alps. France has an excellent trail system, so maps and guidebooks will not be a problem. Southern France will be very, very hot but easy walking, the GR 5 in the Alps is challenging, but spectacular.
Switzerland: I will use the Alpine Pass Route (Cicerone guidebook) to traverse Switzerland from West to East. I have hiked that before - you will see beautiful high mountains and a lot of cows...
Austria: By now it will be September 09 and I hope to get through Austria on the Zentralalpenweg (Central Alps Trail) before it starts snowing. This trail follows the highest alpine ridge and will be technically challenging. But there are lower alternatives if the weather gets too bad. In mid-October I want to be around Vienna and stop hiking for 2009.
There are good maps and generally a good trail network in all these Western European countries. I also speak German, French and Spanish, so there will be no communication problems.
The "fun" starts in 2010 in Eastern Europe:
Slovakia and Poland: I will resume hiking in spring 2010 traversing the low and high Tatras in Slovakia and Poland. These are still pretty touristy areas, so there are maps for the most part.
Ukraine: Hiking the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine will be the most adventurous part of the trip. Ukraine has just recently opened up to tourists - you can get a visa, but this is virgin territory for Western hikers. There are hardly any maps and if, they will be outdated and in Cyrillic. Communication will probably be sign language and hiking trails will be old shepherds pathes that are on no map....
Rumania: I want to follow the Carpathian moutains through all Rumania in summer 2010. I have travelled in Rumania before and in some parts of the country you see more horse drawn carriages than cars. Rumania is incredibly poor, but people are extremely hospitabel. And the mountains are unspoilt - there are still bears and wolves, but no tourists. There are some maps and even some mountain refuges, but by far not for the whole route.
Bulgaria: The highlight will be Rila monastery and mountains - I haven't prepared my trip that far, but I can already tell you that there will hardly be any maps and if they are, they will be in Cyrillic....
End of trip: There are two possibilities: Continuing on to Istanbul or instead going through Greece all the way to Crete on the E4. It's still a long time, so I haven't decided yet.
That was a brief outline - if anybody is interested in more details, Nicholas Crane, a British author has hiked approximately the same route and written an incredibly funny book about it called "Clear waters rising". I do not want to follow his route exactly, but use it as a rough outline. Crane is not an ultralighter, but he has a great sense of humour, so I can definitely recommend this book as a great read. It is available on Amazon.
I have hiked the PCT and the CDT before and I want to use the same hiking style: Hiking an average 20-22 miles per day, stealth camping (which is not exactly 100% legal in some countries) and going ultralight.
Any questions ???
Anybody interested in joining me ???
Greetings from Germany,