Publishing A Book Via Lulu

30 Jun, 2010

This post is simply my recipe for publishing a book via Lulu although a lot of it may be relevant for anyone wanting to write up and format a book.

Though to be frank, I’ve had a lot of trouble getting the images printed correctly. With a lot of help from Lulu support we finally got good copies last week. Hence the delay in posting about the  GR5 Honeymoon ebook.

Next time (and there may be a next time!) I think I’d use Blurb since they review well for image printing. I may still use an uploaded PDF with Blurb rather than using their (admittedly very good) downloadable book creation tool since I think I’ll want more control over how it hangs together (plus I believe you don’t get much choice as to the style of cover with that tool – though I may be wrong!).

There is a wealth of instructional material on the Lulu site. But because there are a great many different options, I thought a very specific path through it all might be helpful to someone.

Besides – I wrote all this out as I went along so it seems a shame to waste it!

Recipe for publishing a book via Lulu: Continue reading »

Category :

Big Walk, Entertainment, GR5
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Posted by RedYeti

GR5: The Book – A GR5 Honeymoon

29 Jun, 2010
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As we walked the GR5 we made diaries, audio for me, written for LB. “LB” being a nickname, like “Red Yeti”. Some may be surprised by her actual name. Some who know us have been mighty confused by the “LB” mentioned on this blog!

So, assuming you don’t want to spend silly-money on a real, harback book about our honeymoon, take a look at the:

Free ebook version (you need to register to download) of A GR5 Honeymoon.

Unfortunately the ebook version doesn’t come with the cover that’s on the real book – but that’s at the top of this post – just click the image and you’ll get the idea.

The first Big Walk we did together in the Polish/Slovak Tatra has now faded somewhat in detail with only the pictures, a single, rather retrospective blog entry and the odd good yarn that has been told and re-told to friends to remind us. We didn’t want the GR5, or in fact any other Big Walk in future, to fade so much.

I wasn’t sure that I would remember to make an audio diary every day but with the lack of other distractions I managed it almost without fail.

We then transcribed it ourselves, partly as a way of making it more accessible in future to look back on and partly to add the details that we didn’t think to mention in the original as we went.

And then the project grew…

We added LB’s written diary into the transcription, organised it into a semi-formatted document (using Google Docs which allowed us to both be editing and adding to the same document at the same moment).

We then decided it was very, very “dry” without some photos so they started to come in.

And eventually, we had something not far short of a book. So we decided to go that last mile and create one. Just for us, with a copy for each of our respective parents.

It was completed last November, a couple of months after we returned, but we had quite some trouble getting the images to print correctly.

At last it’s time to “publish” it to the world.

Not that I expect anyone to read it all! But it might be of interest to flick through.

I certainly don’t expect anyone to buy a copy. Particularly since it’s rather expensive. The price that you see is purely the price that the Lulu charges to print, there’s no profit margin on there for me.

But considering it’s around 260 pages with a photos on most of them, and it’s wrapped in a glossy, full colour cover and printed exactly to order – it’s not badly priced at all.

Category :

Big Walk, Entertainment, GR5
16 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

GR5: Walking The GR5 Using Google Street View

06 Apr, 2010

As we walked the GR5, we used a Spot tracker to record way-points along the route. It managed pretty well and only missed one day (oddly, I’m sure it was on…).

As we walked, I had it uploading to a page on the Spot web site so people could track our progress, but sadly it only logged the last seven days of activity. I hadn’t realised that I should have logged in to spotadventures.com and created an “Adventure” so that the way-points could be recorded permanently. The Spot web site, rather like the Spot tracker, doesn’t always have a very intuitive interface.

Luckily though, Google Maps allows you to import several track formats, so in they went. (It only shows 200 track points at any one time; scroll to the bottom of the list of points, in the left hand panel, to see more of them).

The great thing is, since Google Street View has arrived in France, you can see a couple of landmark points on the walk in an “interactive” format:

The start of the walk, just by the roofed-over shelter by Lake Geneva.

Our favourite village, St Dalmas le Selvage.

And the end of the walk, on the tiny beach at the edge of the marina in Menton.

In ordinary map view, try left-dragging the little orange man (in the top left, at the end of the scale) and as you wave him about over the map, the roads that have Street View are highlighted in blue.

Of course, there are only a few points where the Street View images intersect with our walking route, but it’s remarkably evocative to be able to see the route in such detail.

Category :

Big Walk, Entertainment, GR5, Tech
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Posted by RedYeti

GR5: Some Tips On Walking Trips

04 Apr, 2010

This posting is an assortment of “handy tips” for longer trips although some apply regardless of length.

I originally noted them in audio form as I wandered the GR5 and thought “Oh yes – must mention that on the blog when I get back…”

Continue reading »

Category :

Big Walk, Essentials, GR5, Walking
3 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

GR5: The Terrocs Live!

25 Feb, 2010
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I must admit I wasn’t sure that the Terrocs would be up to the whole walk. I’d already talked to Outside Hathersage about getting some sent out to us if we needed them. But in the event, they did the whole 732KM without a problem.

Well  okay the Five Fingers did five days of duty, but the Terrocs were also out on several walking weekends before we left so I reckon they can claim the full mileage.

They’ll be around for a few more trips yet by the look of them. Since we’ve return I’ve put a couple of spots of McNett Seam Grip on each one where the stitching has become frayed but apart from that, they did the job nicely.

The one thing that let them down was that the right shoe has a rather fat seam right where my longest toe is (my second toe). But that was easily solved with a bit of wool stuffed into it. It “felted” to form a comfortable pad that I dutifully put back in place, every time I put them on, for about six weeks.

I was very lucky that Rachel was carrying some (that she never used – amazingly!). She’d bought it very cheaply from Boots (a chemist – not a shoe shop) in the UK. But I know that there’s a firm called hapihike that do a more expensive version, available online. I certainly plan to carry a small wad of wool in my first aid kit from now on.

Would I take Terrocs again? Only if I can’t find an even lighter, comfier shoe in the mean time!

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Category :

Big Walk, Footwear, GR5, Kit
2 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

GR5: Five Fingers, Collapsing Arches and Leg Injuries

23 Jan, 2010
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As I mentioned before, we both love wearing the Vibram Five Fingers. And we still do in fact. But there was a real gotcha that I came across whilst on the GR5 which put the whole trip in jeopardy for a few days.

Ten days into the walk, I developed a spasm in my left calf that stopped me in my tracks. I’d worn the Five Fingers for five of the previous days but had stopped using them a few days before as I realised I was bruising my insole.

GR5-Honeymoon-French-Alps-2009-57-smallThe bruise was caused by wearing the Five Fingers since my left arch arch collapses.

My right arch doesn’t collapse anymore – wearing Terrocs and Five Fingers seems to have strengthened it. It certainly used to collapse, I had to get the “Custom Fit” Superfeet insoles ten years ago. When I was re-assessed by a Superfeet Fitter last year (many years of trail-shoes and some time in Terrocs) I found my feet were hardly collapsing at all. So much for the strange idea that “once your arches collapse there’s nothing you can do about it” that I’ve heard and read several times. So much for Conventional Wisdom.

But my left arch still collapses. So as I took a step and my left foot happened to land with a small stone under the arch, I would initially feel nothing (the stone fitting into the arch).

However as soon as I weighted the foot and “stepped through” with my right leg, the arch would collapse, crushing the toe-flexing tendons of my left foot between the stone under the arch and the bones.

Obviously this made them quite painful. In fact, to my surprise, a visible bruise developed after five days of walking in the Five Fingers.
At that point I decided to swap back to the Terrocs for a few days. In fact I wouldn’t return to the Five Fingers for the rest of the trip. Though I carried them since I dearly wanted to go back to them if I felt I could!

However, because the toe flexors were painful the Soleus muscle in the calf tried to avoid moving them by tensing up (purely a sub-conscious reaction).

But of course I was moving them with each step, so the Soleus was trying harder and harder to stop them until eventually it went into spasm.

It was like getting severe cramp in my left calf whenever I tried to weight it.

Luckily, with three days of rest, and holding the leg in the freezing cold outflow from a pipe in a mountain stream for five minutes in every fifteen, it healed enough to allow me to hobble on. (As I mentioned before, the cold treatment caused great concern with many French people, until a pair of French Physiotherapists arrived! Beware the well-meaning advice of those who don’t actually know what they’re talking about… especially in the mountains. I might post a couple of observations on that one day – it’s an interesting area!).

I was also given some anti-inflammatory cream (Srilane idrocilamide) and pain killers by some very kind French hikers in the La Balme hut (one was a doctor so asked me a couple of questions to ensure I wasn’t being given something that might kill me).

None the less, I didn’t take the pain killers since I didn’t want to mask what the leg was telling me and then further aggravate it. I also avoided using the cream until we hit Briançon a couple of weeks later where I was able to check out its contents on the Internet. The Srilane cream appeared to help but since it was generally healing anyway it’s hard to be sure. But at that stage I was confident I wasn’t re-injuring it and just wanted to keep it calm enough to complete the walk.

It then continued to improve as we walked, with only one extra rest-day in the old town in Briançon when it whinged a little, which was certainly no hardship. And by the end of the walk I could do 25+ kilometres (16+ miles) days without feeling a thing. Further proving that it was the above situation causing the problem (i.e. since I’d stopped wearing them – it improved despite continuing to walk on the leg).

Would I wear Five Fingers on a Big Walk again? Absolutely.

I wore them for five days and they were very comfortable, collapsing left-arch issues aside. Importantly, my right foot was fine and LB’s feet were fine whilst she continued to swap between hers and the Terrocs (wearing the Five Fingers for around 30 percent of the trip in total).

The only reason I had a problem was that, after years of wearing “normal” footwear, my left foot is not yet strong enough. Once it is – comfy long distance hiking joy awaits…

As I wear the Five Fingers more I expect that the arch will strengthen and cease collapsing. Meaning that I can wear them, or perhaps the new KSO Treks, on the next Big Walk.

Category :

Big Walk, Footwear, GR5, Kit
6 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

GR5: The Pictures

23 Jan, 2010

It’s been a while – but heck, developing this lot took me until some time in November. And then I was waiting until I’d had time to play with AutoPano… then I was busy writing up the diary – but that’s a whole other story. Today – at last – the pictures!

We came back with fewer than we expected. Since we were rather concerned that we’d have to spend days and days just deleting the duds, we deleted many of them in the camera, as we went. Which really paid off. I only came back with 1600 images and LB 900. They’ve been pruned down considerably and then pruned further for different audiences (with different levels of interest) using Picasa’s excellent “Albums” feature that lets you create virtual folders of the images and then upload them, so you don’t end up with multiple copies of each image on your machine. (Note that Picasa is an application – it runs on your machine where you can edit and organise your images – it’s not a web site. But, somewhat confusingly, there is a Picasa web site that it can upload your images to).

One hot tip if on a trip with others – get everyone to synch the clocks on their cameras so that if you want to put the images into one album, they all sit in the right order.

On that note, I’d avoid using any “Time Zone Offset” feature of a digital camera in future and instead just set it directly to local time. Having that feature set on LB’s camera effectively meant all her images were out of kilter with mine since they were time stamped in GMT with a local offset that seems to be ignored by image library software. Edit 25/02/2010: Apparently the timezone is not a standard EXIF field – no wonder it doesn’t work properly!

I further compounded the problem by somehow knocking the date in my camera back by a whole day a few days into the trip!

Luckily both Lightroom and Picasa can change the dates in image files using one image as a base-line and setting every other image relative to it.

Without Lightroom and Picasa it wouldn’t just have been a harder job to polish up the images – it wouldn’t have been possible to create a collection of images that invoke the memories quite as well as they do. They’re both excellent pieces of software.

Picasa is all most people need for photo editing and library. It’s also free. Whereas Lightroom isn’t free and does take some practice to get the full power from it (and what power!), but I discovered something that I simply wouldn’t be without if using Lightroom: The Missing FAQ by Victoria Bampton. So many questions, so well answered.

Once the images were developed…it was time to work on the panoramas…

In the past I’ve used the Autostitch (free) for making panoramas but both Duncan MacArthur and Antoine, who we met along the way, mentioned AutoPano Pro (not free!).

It’s incomparable. It makes creating panoramas incredibly easy. Though I would say that I disagree with the instructions and personally prefer the results I get from developing in Lightroom first before using AutoPano. As does Duncan – who am I to argue!

Of course I got more and more interested and ended up buying the Giga version to get AutoPano Tour and then the KRPano Viewer on top of that (of which – more below).

You’ll notice the images are geotagged; you can see where each one is taken as you view them. As we walked we used a Spot tracker to record our progress. We logged in once during the trip to download the tracks (since they are only saved on the Spot web site for 30 days). Luckily we downloaded them in all the formats available because the following recipe requires a gpx file, though I’m sure you can find converters for the other formats online.

So, here’s my recipe for geotagging a set of images with very little effort:

  • Get GeoSetter (it’s donation-ware, and well worth a donation in my opinion).
  • Navigate to the images in the main view.
  • Select them all (Ctrl+A).
  • Hit Ctrl+G to bring up the “Synchronise with GPS Data Files” dialog.
  • Select “Synchronise with a Directory containing Data Files” and navigate to the directory where you have the GPS track logs.
  • Select “Interpolate regarding Shoot Time with Last or Next Position” to have it take a good guess at where you were.
  • I also set the “Maximum Time Difference Between Take Dates and Track Points” to 10 hours: 36000 to get the best chance of a guessed position even when the image was taken well after I turned off the tracker. I could then edit it later (see below).
  • For “TimeZone” I left it at “Local Windows Settings” and that worked fine. But try it on a copy of some of the images and check to see if the timestamps are okay afterwards (Picasa shows them under the image).
  • Hit “OK” and then save all the changed files (they appear in red until saved, when they turn blue). Note that the JPEG images are not re-compressed – so there’s no loss of quality. Only the EXIF data is updated (I checked this myself with a binary file comparison tool – what can I say – I’m an IT consultant…).
  • I then selected a couple of days’ worth at a time in Picasa and went to “Tools” -> “GeoTag” -> “GeoTag With Google Earth” and scrolled through them all looking for any anomalies to edit.
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The whole task took less than two hours, even though I was working it all out from scratch, for nearly a thousand images.

So, enough about how they were created, here are the images from the GR5 Honeymoon:

GR5 Honeymoon Super Fast Forward

And, the panoramas generated from AutoPano Tour (currently packaged as part of AutoPano Giga) and then turned into Flash presentations using KRPano Viewer:

GR5 Honeymoon Panorama Flash Presentations

Currently there are no instructions for AutoPano Tour (they’re writing them!) so in case it helps anyone – here are mine:

  • Make sure it’s Registered (My version keeps un-registering itself – which is annoying)
    • “Register” menu (top-right) will be visible if it’s not registered!
    • Browse to the license file and open it
  • Drag in each panorama and arrange in some sort of logical pattern
  • For each panorama, using the Panorama tab:
    • Set the JPEG quality to 9 (makes a reasonable difference in file size but seems to affect quality very little)
    • If you want better quality output, up the Partial Panorama Width, 5000 seems good
    • Pressing the “Calculate Optimal Size” button makes it the best resolution possible (at the expense of increasing the size of course!)
  • If you want, create hotspots in each image, using the Hotspot Editor (I think this works best if you have doors in the images to move between)
    • Select the image
    • Full screen button (in the Hotspot Editor)
    • Use the right and left arrow icon (far left) to move the editable area and place your hotspot
    • (Right click them and select Delete if you make a mistake)
    • Back on the main window, drag each hotspot to the image you wish to link to
    • Press Ctrl+A to select all so that you can see all the links and check it all flows properly
  • Adjust each image’s Field Of View with the 3D Editor
    • Full screen button (in the 3D Editor)
    • Get the FOV as you want it by clicking and dragging with the mouse and using the mouse-wheel to zoom
    • Right-click -> set as start position
  • Project Properties tab
    • You probably don’t embed all files (it makes a monolithic file to download instead of loading sections on demand)
    • Tick Embed XML
    • Select simpleWithFullScreen.html
    • Select the starting panorama
    • Set the rest of the settings as you like!
  • Export…
  • Upload somewhere!

The friendly dialog box on my site that appears before the panoramas load I wrote myself – the code is easily whipped from my site if you want it! (Though you may have a fun time of it if you’re not fairly familiar with JavaScript/JQuery…).

Category :

Big Walk, GR5, Photography
5 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

Red Yeti Videocast #2: Kit For Camping And Photography In The Alps

25 Oct, 2009
LB-Above-Refuge-de-lArpont-small

This video follows on directly from the last and was, once again, very well filmed by LB.

It deals with the extra kit we carried for camping, the custom-made camera harness that I attached to the GoLite Pinnacle pack I carried (the pack was excellent!) as well as the charging solutions we came up with for the phones, the iPod Nanos and the cameras.

The iPod Nanos, loaded up with audiobooks, were absolutely life-saving when stuck in a refuge with an injury for three days and when getting in to huts early for short days thereafter. But we also listened to them each night before we dropped off to sleep. For about 50 grams each they became almost indispensable to our enjoyment of the trip. We combined the charger for the iPods and the phones, which we would be taking regardless, by taking a mains USB charger so there was no extra weight penalty there.

It beat the heck out of carrying real books. Not only that, you can listen to them in the dark in a dorm room and they’re not loud enough to disturb others.

At the point we made this video the USB phone charger lead was still working. By incredible luck, it broke when we were in the only town on the route where we stood any chance of replacing it.

Even more luckily, when we bought the new one we found that they also sold a mains to USB charger with two outlets instead of just one. That made life much easier. No longer did I have to choose which most needed charging from four items (both phones and both iPods), now it was just between which phone and which iPod.

As Lighthiker noted you need to check that whatever you’re using as a charger has the power to charge a completely flat device. For instance, the USB to Nokia charger lead isn’t just a wire, it’s actually a step-up transformer to give the normal USB output the extra guts it needs to charge a dead phone.

As per the last video, I planned to put links on this posting to the kit I mention but I’m getting rather tight for time. Besides anything in here should turn up in Google – but if you want to know more,  just leave a comment and ask!

The video is broken into three parts (due to YouTube upload restrictions).

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(The pot cosy lid replacement mentioned in part two above worked fine!)

Category :

Big Walk, GR5, Red Yeti Video
5 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

Red Yeti Videocast #1: Kit For Hut-To-Hut In The Alps

18 Oct, 2009
LB-pierra-menta-small

This is a bit of a departure eh?

Whilst we were in the Alps we got talking to many people that wanted to know how we were carrying less weight when camping and lugging photographic kit about than they were when just going hut-to-hut (that is, staying in accommodation, so not carrying a tent).

I’ve already got plenty of blurb on this blog about the hut-to-hut kit I carry from the postings on the Walker’s Haute Route.

But a few things have changed of course, and not everyone likes reading through the postings.

So whilst we were stuck in the same place for three days with a leg injury I thought I’d record a video, running through what I carry.

LB did an absolutely first-rate job or recording it (especially considering she’s never really shot any video of any description before!).

It was only done on a little Canon IXUS 980 IS but I think it’s come out quite well apart from a tiny bit of wind noise at a couple of points.

I”m not sure how many of these I’ll do but there is one more to come, which was shot immediately after this and shows the extra kit needed to go from hut-to-hut up to camping as well as the photographic kit and chargers.

I planned to put links on this posting to the kit but to be honest I’m getting rather tight for time. Besides anything in here should turn up in Google, but if you can’t find something or want to know more – just leave a comment!

The video is split into two parts due to YouTube upload restrictions.

Category :

Big Walk, GR5, Red Yeti Video
9 Comments »

Posted by RedYeti

GR5: And We’re Back…

09 Oct, 2009
LB-GR5-Across-Chamonix-Valley-small

We’re back, and this time we have less photos than we might expect as we were more careful to delete some of the duds as we went. But there are still over 1600 RAW images of mine and 900 JPEGs of LB’s to sort through.

As I did with Iceland, I’ve written up a few memories that really stood out along the way.

Many people have asked us such things as “What was the nicest place?”, “The most spectacular?”, “The best XYZ?” to which we’ve not been able to give a straight answer. There was hardly a “best” anything. So many beautiful and spectacular places and so much excellent French food!

In fact we wondered aloud if we would ever become jaded by by breasting yet another col to find yet another vista of spectacular peaks that we were about to walk through.

Well, when we breasted a col to see larch trees clinging to slopes made fiery red by bilberry in autumn garb, below freshly snow-capped peaks that towered into deep blue skies, we knew that even after six weeks we were still a long, long way from being jaded.

I recorded a lot of these memories as I thought of them, as audio-snippets into my phone. I’d highly recommend it.

I’d also highly recommend keeping your phone in an Ortlieb A6 Document Wallet as they are utterly bombproof waterproofing but importantly they also completely cut out the wind-noise that can otherwise make any recording or phone conversation utterly unintelligible. Which might be life-saving in an emergency.

I also recorded an audio diary though with no intention of publishing it. We are both slowly ploughing through transcribing it. I did plan to have it transcribed by a service I’ve used before but at 250 minutes it would be quite expensive!

Besides, I’d have to heavily edit it and we find that listening to it evokes memories so that a six minute file might take thirty or forty minutes to write-up.

I may then publish it. Though even our parents probably don’t want to read all that!

On the other hand it was the Towner’s account of an Iceland trip that inspired us to go there and next year’s big walk might well be the GR20 that Peewiglet’s excellent write up has partly encouraged us to do. So who knows, someone might like it…

So, here are some memories of the GR5, GR55 and GR52 from Geneva to Menton that we walked for seven weeks, the first two weeks with three friends, Rachel, Rob and Kev:

Rachel not getting any blisters.

“Kev’s scramble” he found on the way up to the Col du Bonhomme.

Rob swapping from big leather boots to New Balance trainers in Les Houches (the boots finally gave-up!).

Walking in mountains so hot that even the soft soles of the Terrocs were able to leave impressions in the tarmac that we occasionally crossed.

Coffee and the first of many tarte aux myrtilles (blueberry tart) in La Chapelle d’Abondance.

The official translation into English of the French weather forecast containing the phrase “persistent scorching heat“. They weren’t kidding.

The meal (banquet!) that included seven cheeses made from their own cows and sheep at the Refuge de Trébentaz (above La Chapelle d’Abondance).

Climbing up to the Col de Brévent in sun so hot that we started referring to it as “The Death Ray” and suddenly being faced with the astonishing glaciers and peaks on and around Mont Blanc (we are pictured there at the top of this posting).

Being at the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme with the Big Walk Crew after I’d talked about the place so much.

Only ever losing one item; my Sport Eyz sunglasses. Which I then swapped for Kev’s pair… and he then found my pair as the Big Walk Crew back-tracked for a day to fly home.

Eating the best spaghetti carbonara I’ve ever had, followed by pear in hot chocolate sauce at the Refuge de Presset. Which is so remote even the water is flown in at the start of the season.

Staying for three days whilst a leg injury healed in the excellent Refuge la Balme and being cheered up by the excellent “Chartreuse Guys“; Antoine, Giles and Matthieu.

Holding my leg in the freezing output from a pipe stuck into the stream for five minutes in every twenty for three days, outside the Refuge La Balme. (This caused great concern with many, many people who thought I should keep it warm. Apart from the two French Physiotherapists who recognised the value of repeated vasoconstriction/vasodilation in pumping metabolites out of my calf muscle and getting it to heal quickly).

Having lunch with Bernard the La Balme’s owner and his friend Bruno the shepherd.

Realising that after a couple of weeks of walking, a twenty five kilometre day with sixteen hundred metres of ascent was about right for an easy bimble.

Finding all other accommodation full and ending up at an amazing Chambre et Table d’Hôte at Maison Coutin with Claude and Franck.

Having a pair of absolutely huge Bearded Vultures land by what must have been a carcass less than a hundred metres from us before taking off and crying at us to warn us away (there are only three pairs in the Vanoise National Park).

Arriving to find the refuge had burned down! (In Les Prioux, Refuge le Repoju – expects to re-open Spring 2010!). Luckily there was another, rather expensive but very nice refuge, only three kilometres further, the Refuge du Roc de la Pêche.

Having a stoat check us out to see if it was safe to return to a kill it had dropped in the road just in front of us.

Meeting our first pair of patous (guard dogs for the sheep) and having one of them do a “Lassie” and approach us whining and looking for affection! It thrust its head under our hands and leant against us – we talked to it and blinked our eyes. Nothing more! They are best left alone. It was happy and led us into the flock.

Deciding that 12:30 was far too early to reach the gîte and pushing on another 16K to make our first 30K day.

Being fed a slap-up dinner in Bramans as guests of Renée and Albert when we couldn’t find anywhere else to eat, thanks to Herman the Belgian PCT Thru-hiker.

Having the USB phone charger break on the morning we stayed for a rest day in Briançon (the old town is gorgeous),  the only town on the whole route where we could have replaced it.

Getting tips on photography and where to get good quiche from Duncan MacArthur.

Doing a “Lightweight Gear Show And Tell” at a high camp with and Antoine and Herman.

Gérard, the owner of the Refuge Maljasset producing a bottle of red wine in celebration of having us there on our honeymoon.

Hearing what sounded like a hang-glider passing right over us and looking up to see an enormous Griffon Vulture passing overhead. It must have had a wingspan of around three metres (nine feet).

Smelling and then seeing, in that order, the first wild Lavender on the route, above St Dalmas le Selvage.

Deciding to stop in the perfect Alpine village; St Dalmas le Selvage. Not because we needed a rest day but simply because we wanted to stay in such a beautiful place.

The home-made tarte aux myrtilles at the Table d’Hote of Claudine Garin.

Chatting to Mat & Sarah, an American couple on a tour of Europe for their honeymoon and hearing amazing stories of Mat’s time in the army and as an entrepreneur.

The smell of warm, dry forests. Mixing pine, spruce, lavendar and herbs in a bouquet as complex as a good wine.

Making five clear weeks of walking without once donning the waterproofs.

Getting pinned-down for an hour and a half in the locked doorway of a berger’s hut by a crazy lightning storm that we couldn’t see coming as it approached from the other side of something we were ascending. We were only two kilometres from the Refuge de Longon!

Drinking chocolat chaud by a roaring log fire when we finally reached the Refuge de Longon.

After the fronts that brought a real feeling of Autumn had passed, putting on the sunblock and the Tilley hats again and feeling like the summer had returned once more.

Coming over a col and… whoa! There’s the Med!

Dipping our shoes in Lake Geneva and then dipping them in the Med!

Meeting LB’s parents and being presented with “medals” and a “completion certificate” outside a bar, on the front in Nice.

But most of all, walking and walking and walking for seven weeks in beautiful Alpine mountains with my beautiful wife, LB.

The glaciers and peaks on and around Mont Blanc were laid out in front of us as we reached the Col de Brévant.

Category :

Big Walk, GR5, Ramblings, Walking
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Posted by RedYeti

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