HOW TOUGH IS A WALK ON THE GR5?

St Delmas le Selvage. It looks a long way down.

St Dalmas le Selvage. It looks a long way down from here, but it’s where the nearest cafe is waiting.

It’s hard to describe for non-walkers the experience of hiking one of Europe’s great trails, the GR5 over the French Alps.

Here’s my best effort to compare it to an exercise anyone can try at home…

Walk up five floors of your office stairs – about a 15-metre climb if you have 3-metre ceilings. Climb down to the ground floor again. Repeat 24 times. Go out into the street and have a coffee, with a pastry too – you’ve earned it.

A stop for cafe in a cafe in  St Dalmas.

Cafe in a cafe in St Dalmas. Your office coffee may be better, but the street probably won’t have the same charm.

Climb and descend those five floors 25 more times. Don’t rush. You’ve got all day, and there’s more to come…

Uphill for the next couple of hours, but at least the path is good.

Uphill for the next couple of hours, but at least the path is good.

It’s now past your normal lunchbreak time, so go right up to the top floor and stop in the boardroom with the nice view. Eat some sausage, cheese and bread and drink a litre of water. Admire the view for an hour if you like.

Pas de la Cavale, 2671 metres.

Pas de la Cavale, 2671 metres.

Then get back to the task for the day…walking up and down those five floors another 50 times.

Uphill, though it's just a gentle climb.

Uphill, though it’s just a gentle climb.

Sometimes coming down is as hard as going up.

Sometimes coming down is as hard as going up.

Oh, I forgot to mention…to faithfully simulate the GR5 experience, ask a colleague with a watering-can to pour water onto you from above for, say, an hour or two during the day.

If you keep moving you may beat the rain, but you probably won't.

If you keep moving you may beat the rain, but you probably won’t.

Ok, now you’ve done those 15 metres up and down 100 times. That’s 1500 metres in total.

Have a beer. Have two. It’s been a big day. And a good one.

If this post looks off-putting to anyone, I should add that although we’re a fairly active bunch, if we’re really ‘middle-aged’ some world longevity records are in danger. We’re not exceptional athletes and certainly more into pleasure than pain. We didn’t climb or descend as much as 1500 metres every day, though we needed to do it some days at least.

Bottom line, if you think you can manage a stage or two of the GR5, you almost certainly can. Just test yourself out on those office stairs first.

9 Comments

Filed under France, Hiking

9 responses to “HOW TOUGH IS A WALK ON THE GR5?

  1. Tougher than a round of golf then?

  2. You should go to the Picos Richard. All of the above without the watering can – well maybe of an hour on one day, but that’s all out of 7.

  3. Yho! That is impressive! Stunning scenery.

  4. I like the valiant attempt of the comparison……..but, of course, it is only fractionally accurate. We all climb mountains with our brains as well as our feet/legs…….after climbing the office stairs just a couple of times, I would be ‘brain dead’…… Give me a 2000 metre pass to cycle over, and my head would singing and dancing all the way……..

  5. pity you can’t do it on a mountain bike :)

    • Of course there is plenty of hard-core mountain biking in the area, Steven, though I don’t want those guys stuffing up ‘our’ track. In some places there are warning signs where the walking track and MTB track cross or are briefly shared, especially around the ski village Auron.

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