A Travellerspoint blog

May 2011: Backcountry skiing in Iceland

Encounters with Polar bears and Icelandic media

5 °C

We went backcountry skiing in North West Iceland, in Hornstrandir. Since the 1950s all farmers have left since the living conditions were too harsh. There is little grassland and the weather is changing a lot.

Impression of Reykjavik

Impression of Reykjavik

Vikings in Reykjavik

Vikings in Reykjavik

The fisherman brought us from town (ca 2000 inhabitants) towards nomans land: since 1950s there are no humans living permanently in Hornstrandir. So we took food for 8-9 days and took off in the silance of nature, fjords, birds and snow.

The fisherman brought us from town (ca 2000 inhabitants) towards nomans land: since 1950s there are no humans living permanently in Hornstrandir. So we took food for 8-9 days and took off in the silance of nature, fjords, birds and snow.

Not just humans are enjoying themselves here

Not just humans are enjoying themselves here

Pitching your tent in the middle of nowhere, backcountry skiing until the sea, nice fjord, beautiful snowfields around you and a soft spot for your tent with plenty of great water.

Pitching your tent in the middle of nowhere, backcountry skiing until the sea, nice fjord, beautiful snowfields around you and a soft spot for your tent with plenty of great water.

One of the southern fjords of Hornstrandir

One of the southern fjords of Hornstrandir

Hornvik. We were welcomed by a beautiful rainbow

Hornvik. We were welcomed by a beautiful rainbow

Enjoying Hornstrandir

Enjoying Hornstrandir

Enjoying breakfast in front of the emergency shelter. It appeared that the polar bear had just been a few km from there... while we were enjoying the play of the zeehonden

Enjoying breakfast in front of the emergency shelter. It appeared that the polar bear had just been a few km from there... while we were enjoying the play of the zeehonden

The beautiful waterfalls, which meant: river crossing!! brrrr

The beautiful waterfalls, which meant: river crossing!! brrrr

The play of the clouds, the fjords, the snow, the company, the surroundings: just perfect

The play of the clouds, the fjords, the snow, the company, the surroundings: just perfect

Enjoying Iceland

Enjoying Iceland

Our fisherman who had dropped us in Hornstrandir, spotted a polar bear in the area where we were back country skiing. Result: they shot the polar bear and checked its stomach on some Dutch tourists...

Our fisherman who had dropped us in Hornstrandir, spotted a polar bear in the area where we were back country skiing. Result: they shot the polar bear and checked its stomach on some Dutch tourists...

Lots of fish, which are being dried in a house special made to dry fish. In Dutch we call it 'stokvis' which is a very appropriate name for fish drying on a stick.

Lots of fish, which are being dried in a house special made to dry fish. In Dutch we call it 'stokvis' which is a very appropriate name for fish drying on a stick.

From Pingeyri you had a beautiful view towards the 'mountains' of Iceland. One really had the impression to be looking at 3-4000ers whereas the mountains were just ca 700 m high

From Pingeyri you had a beautiful view towards the 'mountains' of Iceland. One really had the impression to be looking at 3-4000ers whereas the mountains were just ca 700 m high

The beautiful lighthouse of Flatey

The beautiful lighthouse of Flatey

Flatey, the very tiny island on the Island of Iceland. We were really wondering why the ferry was stopping here, except for entertaining some children living there.

Flatey, the very tiny island on the Island of Iceland. We were really wondering why the ferry was stopping here, except for entertaining some children living there.

Leaving Flatey with the ferry we passed some beautiful basalt stones for which Iceland is well known

Leaving Flatey with the ferry we passed some beautiful basalt stones for which Iceland is well known

Approaching the neat Stykkisholmur

Approaching the neat Stykkisholmur

From Stykkisholmur to Grundarfjördur you have a beautiful drive through lava fields, little mountains mirroring in the water, and small villages along the coast

From Stykkisholmur to Grundarfjördur you have a beautiful drive through lava fields, little mountains mirroring in the water, and small villages along the coast

The Kirkjufell - the symbol of Grundarfjördur - 463m - some say it is the most beautiful mountain in Iceland. Although it is a nice one we did not agree on this view.

The Kirkjufell - the symbol of Grundarfjördur - 463m - some say it is the most beautiful mountain in Iceland. Although it is a nice one we did not agree on this view.

The best trips are those which you do not plan: we saw the vulcano Snaefellsjökul, we saw the weather, we saw the snow and decided to go up there with our skis: wonderful wonderful!!

The best trips are those which you do not plan: we saw the vulcano Snaefellsjökul, we saw the weather, we saw the snow and decided to go up there with our skis: wonderful wonderful!!

We saw the sunset (around midnight) and the sunrise (around 4 in the morning)... from a beautiful little bungalow

We saw the sunset (around midnight) and the sunrise (around 4 in the morning)... from a beautiful little bungalow

The view from the Snaefelsjökul vulcano

The view from the Snaefelsjökul vulcano

After climbing ca 1100 m we reached this strangely formed but beautiful cone which we called the 'buddha'.

After climbing ca 1100 m we reached this strangely formed but beautiful cone which we called the 'buddha'.

The view from the the vulcanic Snaefellsjökul, early morning. The sea is surrounding the vulcano and the vulcano can be seen from Reykjavik

The view from the the vulcanic Snaefellsjökul, early morning. The sea is surrounding the vulcano and the vulcano can be seen from Reykjavik

Skiing down from the Vulcanic Snaefellsjökull (1446m) towards the sea...

Skiing down from the Vulcanic Snaefellsjökull (1446m) towards the sea...

looking to Borgarnes from Hvanneyri where we found after long searching the shop with the typical Icelandic wool pullovers

looking to Borgarnes from Hvanneyri where we found after long searching the shop with the typical Icelandic wool pullovers

Instead of the touristic blue lagoon we went to Reykjanes with the Gunnuhver hot spring

Instead of the touristic blue lagoon we went to Reykjanes with the Gunnuhver hot spring

Posted by Marie-Jose 20.05.2011 15:14 Archived in Iceland Comments (2)

Jan 2011: Senegal & Guinea

sunny 30 °C
View Guinee/Senegal 30 Dec- 9 Jan 2011 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

GUINEE FACTS
Guinee is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world with a BBP/Capita of US$ 350 (2005). Most people live from the land and have their small business selling tea/drinks/food. The almost 10 mln people are mostly islamic (85%). In tiny villages you will find mosques but there were surprisingly many churches around for the 9% people that are christian.
market in Labé

market in Labé

market in Timbi

market in Timbi

market in Timbi

market in Timbi

market in Timbi

market in Timbi

librarian?

librarian?

coca nuts in Labe

coca nuts in Labe

polygamy in Guinee

polygamy in Guinee

market in Timbi, the birds are ready to attack...

market in Timbi, the birds are ready to attack...

mosque of Timbi

mosque of Timbi

hair dresser

hair dresser

How to charge a mobile in a country with hardly electricity: you start a business with a generator...

How to charge a mobile in a country with hardly electricity: you start a business with a generator...

SAFETY IN GUINEE
If you want to avoid tourists, Guinee is an excellent destination. You have to buy a visum beforehand and using the visumshop in NL proved to be very useful for obtaining a visum between Christmas and New year without too much hassle.
On 21 December 2010 a new president has been installed, Alpha Condé, and considering all the t-shirts, posters, slogans etc we have seen, he is popular. As during the elections there was an unstable situation, with a curfew in the capital Conakry, there is currently the same travel advice as for Afghanistan: "advise against all but essential travel". However, we have not had any unpleasant situations and have not felt threatened or unsafe for one single second. There are frequent road blocks where the driver has to pay a little to get through but that is really all we have noticed.

TRAVELLING AROUND
Travelling in Guinea & Senegal is easy. There are 'sept/neuf-places', old peugeots for 7/9 people. These cars are the 'public transport'. System is simple: when the car is full, it leaves. So it could be that you have to wait only for 1 hour or maybe for 6 hours. Or you simply buy the other places which ensures also that you have a normal seat instead of having to sit with 4 people in the back (at the first back row. In the second back row, where you constantly bang your head at the roof, they manage to fit 3 people, excluding the children, at the right front seat they easily place 2 people). This attitude of buying places is of course not very 'backpacker' but budgets become very relative here. It is a few euros for a couple of hours travelling so you easily buy another seat AND you travel way more comfortable.
It could almost a be a Dutch train where everyone is silent and reads a newspaper or listens music. Also in Guinee the people are mostly silent in the car (for hours), even the children. Instead of reading a news paper they are vomitting though...
No rubber anymore, no window, you have to open the car from outside, but the car is driving....

No rubber anymore, no window, you have to open the car from outside, but the car is driving....


Car driving with car: another car had been stripped and was put in 'our' car

Car driving with car: another car had been stripped and was put in 'our' car


learning young

learning young


during our 14 hour drive from Mamba to Labé

during our 14 hour drive from Mamba to Labé


arranging a taxi

arranging a taxi

The road blocks were a quite interesting experience. We counted at least 5 different outfits: police, gendarmerie, military, customs, ... They are all trying to make their living by creating road blocks so that they can collect some money. You pay the driver in advance the full amount and the driver pays at each road block a little bit, its all included. Once we had to follow a military into the hut where we were invited to sit down at the bed where his fellow officer was sleeping, in front of the desk where another officer tried to look intimidating behind a little wooden desk. Brief, they wanted money. Why, because we were in his area now. Our papers were fine, asking for a ticket made little impression and saying that we would call the embassy was not impressing him either. So we both fell silent and were patiently waiting for the next step in the game. Our driver and a passenger entered and the passenger started a long story that he was responsible for us, had been guiding us, had an important position, blah di blah and after a while we could leave. The same gentlemen had told in an earlier roadblock that a boy in our car, who did not had the right papers, was his former student. In the next road block, the former student had become his student, etc.. A man of many professions...

HIKING IN FOUTA DJALON
We came to Guinee to hike in the Fouta Djalon, the mountainous area of Guinee (ca 1100 m). It is full of waterfalls where you can take a wonderful swim and the rock formations and plateaus are really beautiful. At night it gets ca 10 degrees. during the day it can get to 40 degrees celcius at the plateaus. You see a lot of burnt area. There are still vast areas of wood but the fires are burning down quite a bit and also the villages need wood. The villages consist of fula huts and also modern brick houses. During our trekking there were no roads, just foot paths that the villagers use to get from one to another village (for market days). The roads in Fouta Djalon are mostly dirt roads where it is even more pleasant and quicker on a moto-taxi than in a 9-place.
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Since it was the orange season we have been eating endlessly wonderful oranges. Such a delilght to just hit a tree and be able to eat an orange. During our hike people would offer us oranges (already partially pealed to make it easier to eat them). You eat the oranges there when they are green to ensure that they are not rotten. It was easier to get oranges than water!
Going to an area where there are not many tourists means that people react naturally. They are either excited to see a white person of simply continue what they are doing. Especially the children are really excited that something is happening in their village so we have had escorts of the whole village waving us goodbye.
Both the black women and the white woman were quite interested in each other!!!

Both the black women and the white woman were quite interested in each other!!!


the head of village for his official photo...

the head of village for his official photo...


ladies who wanted to be taken on the picture

ladies who wanted to be taken on the picture


the whole village wanted to be on the picture

the whole village wanted to be on the picture


children waving us goodbye

children waving us goodbye

The fula word for white man is 'phoeto'/photo. So we thought each time that they wanted a picture... until we understood they were actually saying, 'hey theres a white person'. I now understand why they reacted surprised when we actually replied with 'photo'.
In some place they were clearly not used to photo cameras. One eldermen of the village wanted a picture to be taken from him and stood there in front of his harvest very seriously (picture above). To look at the camera he pressed his eye to the camera because that is what the photographer had been doing... we explained that he could actually see himself at the screen and did not had to press his eye to the camera...
Brief, hiking in Fouta Djalon was a wonderful experience in a remote area. We understood that there had been about 84 tourists in the last 5 years...
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Especially around Doucki you have really a diversity in the area that you absolutely do not expect. And Hassan from Doucki is an excellent guide with an excellent place where you can stay in nice huts and with great food. We met there also Jim & Maria. Maria had been working 1 year as a nurse for Medecin sans Frontieres and had basically been living under a curfew the whole year and had not been able to see one bit of the country...
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FOUTA-TREKKING
As our Fula knowledge was not so well developed and maps of the area are non existing we thought it wise to go with a guide, so we discussed with Foutatrekking our plans. They indicated that we would have Boubah as a guide, that he would come in the evening to Thimbi and that we could decide per day where we would like to sleep, that we were flexible. A price per day was indicated and they said that the trekking would be 5 days.
However, in the evening there was no Boubah, the next morning there was no Boubah and after many hours waiting we set off ourselves. After a while to our big surprise a car full of people, including other tourists, porters and a whole circus of people arrived. We had indicated that we did not need a porter, only a guide who would arrange food and a sleeping place for the two of us and who knew the way. We had indicated not to be interested in walking with other tourists / people. Brief, we asked where Boubah was, Boubah was not there, and there appeared to be only 1 guide. So, we ended up with a porter who clearly had no clue what's o ever. And who was not bringing anything at all. no food, no tents, no nothing and instead was each time asking us if we had some food, a bed etc. The poor man tried his best to arrange some food in the villages for the three of us. After three days we were done with the trekking (it was really not that far). When we met with the big boss of Foutatrekking it soon appeared that instead of apologising for the inconvience caused, they actually wanted to be paid for the full 5 days, even if we had agreed a price per day, even if we had not had a guide, had to sleep on the bare ground outside (10 degrees celcius) since there were no mattresses (which they had promised to provide).
We ended up at the police station to settle our disagreement. We knew in advance that this meant that we would have to pay. The police officer literally told us that he would never say something against his own citizens... So we paid and left the police officer behind who could continue watching almost naked girls at this tv (one of the very few who had electricity...).

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our 'hotel': fula hut. We discovered that sleeping in the open might seem nice but is rather freezing! 10 degrees

our 'hotel': fula hut. We discovered that sleeping in the open might seem nice but is rather freezing! 10 degrees

TRAVELLING TO / FROM GUINEE
To get to Guinee we flew to Senegal, Dakar and took a car / publi transport / taxi / 7 place straight through Senegal. After a night in the plane we went straight to the 'bus station' which was nothing more but a large area with many many cars. After 2.5 hours waiting/negotiating we left and drove about 10 hours. It was 31 December 22.30 and our driver stopped, turned around and said: 'this is as far as I go, and bye the way, there is no hotel here'. We had no clue where we were, clearly there was no electricity or running water, there were a few houses who did not look too inviting so we decided to sleep in the car. Funny thing was that there was an more than excellent mobile network in this middle of nowhere, so at new year we could make our phone calls and exchange best wishes with friends & family back home.
Next morning we searched a new car who would take us further to Guinee and more specifically Labé. We had breakfast and got into the next car, drove another 14 hours and arrived again at 23.00 in Labé. I slept very well after this 60 hour travelling, not having had a normal bed for 3 days...
here we 'celebrated' new years eve: no electricity, no water but a perfect mobile network...

here we 'celebrated' new years eve: no electricity, no water but a perfect mobile network...


breakfast

breakfast


dat kan hoger...

dat kan hoger...


road block or protection for the traffic sign...?

road block or protection for the traffic sign...?


Raststätte

Raststätte


ferry

ferry

Returning back home appeared not to be easy. Our trip from Dalaba to Conakry (drive of 9 hours), had been really smooth (except for my neighbour + child who both vomitted the whole way...).
market on the way to Conakry: lots of meat. Animals hearts are put on the car for luck...

market on the way to Conakry: lots of meat. Animals hearts are put on the car for luck...


Market on the way to Conakry

Market on the way to Conakry

Arriving in Conakry we learnt that our flight to Dakar had been cancelled. We ended up buying a whole new ticket to Amsterdam! Mohammed from Maroc Air actually gave us a really good price. We had to pay cash so from all our sources we collected money to be able to pay the ticket but managed. However, than all the dollars and euros and senegalese money had to be changed towards the guinean currency so 1.5 hour of bargaining with local money brokers started...
After this the diner in the wonderful resto Isles des Joies tasted absolutely fabolous.
great desert in Resto Joies des Iles

great desert in Resto Joies des Iles


The money we needed to get home... Our flight from Conakry appeared cancelled so we had to buy a complete new ticket to get home... scraping cash from our backpacks and changing money for 2 hours...

The money we needed to get home... Our flight from Conakry appeared cancelled so we had to buy a complete new ticket to get home... scraping cash from our backpacks and changing money for 2 hours...

DAY BY DAY
30 Dec 2010 - Flying Amsterdam - Casablanca - Dakar (Senegal), arrival 4h30
31 Dec - from Dakar by car to Mamba - 10 hours drive
1 Jan 2011 - from Mamba with 4WD crossing border at Koundara - Bhoundoufourou, to Labé - 14 hours drive. Lousy hotel
2 Jan - arrange trekking. Market in Labé, to Thimbi (market), sleep at Mr Bailot, no guide
3 Jan - wait for guide, no guide, to Ninguelande by broken car and moto taxi, hike to Ghikan, Loubeya, village with celebration of children, cross river, swim, sleep outside in Fula hut in Saadi (10 degrees celcius) - hike 5h, ascend 140m, descend 870m, ca 20km
4 Jan - wait for food, cross river, hike to Banking, swim, sleep in house - hike 4h, ascend 227m, descend 77m, ca 16km
5 Jan - hike to Leifita (porter does not want to walk further: he is tired) and Ainguel, swim, discussion with porter on ending trip, phone call with foutatrekking - hike 6h30, ascend 730m, descend 426m, ca 24 km
6 Jan - hike on our own to water falls, to Doucki (Hassan), diner with Maria & Jim - hike 6h, ascend 555m, descend 328m, ca 24 km
7 Jan - hike with Hassan to Canyon, Hyena rock, Indiana Jones World, wait for transport, to Pita, police, to Dalaba, SIB hotel - hike 2h50, ascend 178m, descend 184m
8 Jan - car to Conakry. No flight to Dakar, new ticket, pay cash to Mohammed of Air Maroc, change money, eat at Isles des Joies, fly to Casablanca
9 Jan - fly to Amsterdam

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Posted by Marie-Jose 04.02.2011 16:45 Archived in Guinea Tagged mountains backpacking Comments (0)

Dec 2010: Cape Verde - Santa Antao

sunny 28 °C
View Cape Verde 14-25 Dec 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

LISBON
Thanks to a lousy TAP connection we had to spend one day in Lisbon. Coming from a snowy and icy NL it was very pleasant to walk around in the beautiful city of Lisbon.

the elevator, which has been designed by same guy who designed the Tour Eiffel

the elevator, which has been designed by same guy who designed the Tour Eiffel


lisbon

lisbon


Lisbon

Lisbon

CAPE VERDE - SANTO ANTAO
However, the goal was to go hiking in Santo Antao in the Cape Verdian Islands. To get there you have to be patient. we were on the waiting list for the flight of 5.55 in the morning but luckily we could go on board and after some initial refusal all went fine. The flight brought us from Praia (Santiago) to Mindelo (Sao Vicente), from where we took the ferry to Santo Antao. After discovering that there is only visa in the Cape Verdian islands we changed some money and finally we could start hiking. We ended up hiking around the whole island in 6 days which was really very beautiful, varied with all the different landscapes and the variation of coastal walks and mountain walks made it a great trip. We stayed in hotels or aske din villages where we could sleep. All very easy going and they even cooked a meal for us.
It is really very easy going, people come to you to see where you are from and to show you where you have to go and further mind their own business, they are simply relaxed and warm people. Below a few impressions from our hikes

Day 1 - from Praia to Mindelo (plane), to Porto Novo - Santo Antao (ferry) and hiking from Cova da Paúl to Ribeira Grande. Overnight in Ponta do Sol
Hike 3h, from 1500m to 250m, ascend 174m, descend 1293m

map_Santo_antao

map_Santo_antao


Yeah: we are almost there!!

Yeah: we are almost there!!


our first view by daylight from Cape Verde: fuming sources

our first view by daylight from Cape Verde: fuming sources


View of Santo Antao from Sao Vicente ferry

View of Santo Antao from Sao Vicente ferry


Arriving in Santo Antao

Arriving in Santo Antao


view at Sao Vicente

view at Sao Vicente


The cova de Paúl, crater with now agriculture activities

The cova de Paúl, crater with now agriculture activities


Cova de Paúl

Cova de Paúl


Joris with kids

Joris with kids


Kids enjoying themselves

Kids enjoying themselves

view from Cova de Paúl to Ribeira de Torre

view from Cova de Paúl to Ribeira de Torre


Enjoying our hike down to Ribeira de Torre

Enjoying our hike down to Ribeira de Torre


Ribeira do Torre

Ribeira do Torre


beautifully located villages

beautifully located villages


The interesting rock formation on the way down to Ribeira Grande

The interesting rock formation on the way down to Ribeira Grande


Enjoying a well deserved beer in Ponta do sol

Enjoying a well deserved beer in Ponta do sol


sunset in ponta do sol

sunset in ponta do sol


puppies are indeed cute...

puppies are indeed cute...

Day 2 - From Ponta do Sol to Cruzinha da Garca
Hike 4h along sea, ascend 674m, descent 728m

most animals walk free in Cape Verde but not these poor pigs

most animals walk free in Cape Verde but not these poor pigs


Corvo

Corvo


the beautiful coastal walk from Ponta do Sol to Cruzinha da Garca

the beautiful coastal walk from Ponta do Sol to Cruzinha da Garca


the natural rocks

the natural rocks


another cute village

another cute village


One of the many little shops, which get their supplies often walked in

One of the many little shops, which get their supplies often walked in


the beautiful coastal walk towards cruzinha da Garca

the beautiful coastal walk towards cruzinha da Garca


sunset in cruzinha da garca

sunset in cruzinha da garca


sunset in Cruzinha da Garca

sunset in Cruzinha da Garca

Day 3 - From Cruzinha da Garca to Garca da Cima to Alto Mira
Hike 7h30, from 15m to 1632m, ascend 1500m, descend 1143m

Cruzinha da Garca

Cruzinha da Garca


Cruzinha da Garca

Cruzinha da Garca


Cruzinha da Garca where we spent the night

Cruzinha da Garca where we spent the night


Great canyon from Cha de Igreja to Garce de Cima

Great canyon from Cha de Igreja to Garce de Cima


Joris

Joris


Santa Antao

Santa Antao


Santa Antao

Santa Antao


hiking from Garca de Cima to Alto Mira II

hiking from Garca de Cima to Alto Mira II


hiking from Garce de Cima to Alto Mira II

hiking from Garce de Cima to Alto Mira II


santa antao

santa antao


many many km before the next island/land....

many many km before the next island/land....


Santa Antao

Santa Antao


View before descending to Alto Mira

View before descending to Alto Mira


Beautiful sunset colouring the wall we descended completely red

Beautiful sunset colouring the wall we descended completely red


Best hotel room ever: we stayed at the merceraria and got offered this room which was full of stimulating posters   poster of Maria & Bob Marley...

Best hotel room ever: we stayed at the merceraria and got offered this room which was full of stimulating posters + poster of Maria & Bob Marley...

Day 4 - From Alto Mira II to Curral das Vacas to Casa Luciano
Hike 3h45, from 600m to 1495m, ascend 822m, descend 433m

Discussing our route with the patron of the mercaria

Discussing our route with the patron of the mercaria


Alto Mira II

Alto Mira II


view from Curral das Vacas

view from Curral das Vacas


two little boys proudly with their own made car with two wheel drive!!!

two little boys proudly with their own made car with two wheel drive!!!


the vulcanic view just does not bore...

the vulcanic view just does not bore...


Beautiful view while walking up to Bordeira

Beautiful view while walking up to Bordeira


At Bordeira there was suddenly this huge area full of 'kalk'. One man had made a home in it!

At Bordeira there was suddenly this huge area full of 'kalk'. One man had made a home in it!


Interesting patterns in the rocks

Interesting patterns in the rocks


Santa Antao

Santa Antao


Hiking from Curral das Vacas (next to Cha de morte: interesting name for a village, it seemed rather quiet too...) to Casa Luciano, accompagnied by a tall, nice Elisa

Hiking from Curral das Vacas (next to Cha de morte: interesting name for a village, it seemed rather quiet too...) to Casa Luciano, accompagnied by a tall, nice Elisa


Home of Fidel Castro in Casa Luciano. I never thought that I would once in my life shake hands with a Fidel Castro...

Home of Fidel Castro in Casa Luciano. I never thought that I would once in my life shake hands with a Fidel Castro...

Day 5 - From Casa Luciano to Monte Trigo
Hike 5h15, from 1495m to 0m, ascend 572m, descend 1560m

hike from Casa Luciano to Monte Trigo

hike from Casa Luciano to Monte Trigo


A very strange worm/slak. Eyes on top?? and it moved funny too

A very strange worm/slak. Eyes on top?? and it moved funny too


It is said that in December you have strong winds, well, not when we were there, but this divi divi tree proofs the strong winds

It is said that in December you have strong winds, well, not when we were there, but this divi divi tree proofs the strong winds


Monte Trigo, which can only be reached by foot or boat

Monte Trigo, which can only be reached by foot or boat


The nice view before our last descent to Monte Trigo

The nice view before our last descent to Monte Trigo


Enjoying our view

Enjoying our view


The christmas party of the primary school of Monte Trigo. Lateron this school would become our hotel room...

The christmas party of the primary school of Monte Trigo. Lateron this school would become our hotel room...

Day 6 - From Monte Trigo to Tarrafal
Hike 3h15 along coast, from 0 to 179m, ascend 496m, descend 499m

Coastal walk to Tarrafal

Coastal walk to Tarrafal


View at the Tope de coroa

View at the Tope de coroa


The beautiful coastal hike from Monte Trigo to Tarrafal

The beautiful coastal hike from Monte Trigo to Tarrafal


Tarrafal

Tarrafal


Tarrafal

Tarrafal


Tarrafal

Tarrafal


Tarrafal

Tarrafal


Cleaning fish in Tarrafal

Cleaning fish in Tarrafal


Ladies collecting stones. I guess they collect them for a different reason than I do

Ladies collecting stones. I guess they collect them for a different reason than I do


Romantic sunset in Tarrafal where we stayed at the marvelous Mar Tranquilhado

Romantic sunset in Tarrafal where we stayed at the marvelous Mar Tranquilhado

Day 7 - From Tarrafal to Porto Novo (4WD), from cova da Paúl to Lombo Comprido
Hike 2h25, from 1272m to ca 100m, ascend 155m, descend 1164m

Tope de Coroa

Tope de Coroa


Tope de Coroa

Tope de Coroa


Not sure we were on the moon with this view of Tope de Coroa and all its colours

Not sure we were on the moon with this view of Tope de Coroa and all its colours


Great view with Sao Vicente in the distance

Great view with Sao Vicente in the distance


The Ribeira Paúl

The Ribeira Paúl


Shopping for wood, these ladies were carrying an impressive load on their head, meanwhile chatting and laughing...

Shopping for wood, these ladies were carrying an impressive load on their head, meanwhile chatting and laughing...


Nature is one thing, disco another, but not in Cape Verde

Nature is one thing, disco another, but not in Cape Verde


Santa Antao

Santa Antao

Day 8 - From Lombo Comprido to Vila das Pombas to Pontinha das Janela, Porto Novo, ferry to Mindelo and flight to Praia

Vila das Pombas

Vila das Pombas


The romantic location of the Paúl villages

The romantic location of the Paúl villages


The rock formations against which the houses are built: stunning!

The rock formations against which the houses are built: stunning!


This crossing is going from nowhere (the wall of the mountain) to nowhere (the sea). Interesting...

This crossing is going from nowhere (the wall of the mountain) to nowhere (the sea). Interesting...


The sea

The sea


One last look at the beautiful vulcanic Santa Antao

One last look at the beautiful vulcanic Santa Antao


Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view


The harbour of Sao Vicente

The harbour of Sao Vicente

Day 9 - From Praia to Cidade Velha

Market of Praia, with unions from the Netherlands!

Market of Praia, with unions from the Netherlands!


The Cathedral (!) of 16th century which served then 2000 people.

The Cathedral (!) of 16th century which served then 2000 people.


Contrast: look at the crumbling house, the modern light on solar power and the child playing

Contrast: look at the crumbling house, the modern light on solar power and the child playing


The fortress of the 16th century, used by a number of Europeans (Portuguese, French, British)

The fortress of the 16th century, used by a number of Europeans (Portuguese, French, British)


mountains of Cidade Velha

mountains of Cidade Velha


the little churches of Cidade Velha, once the 'first European city in the tropics', against the mountain backdrop

the little churches of Cidade Velha, once the 'first European city in the tropics', against the mountain backdrop


Cidade Velha

Cidade Velha

Posted by Marie-Jose 28.12.2010 19:29 Archived in Cape Verde Comments (1)

Oct 2010 Nepal part 2: Kathmandu+Pokhara+Annapurna

Part 2 Kathmandu + Pokhara + Annapurna

sunny 23 °C
View Nepal 8 Oct-7 Nov 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

KATHMANDU

Beautiful temples
Kathmandu has an enormous amount of beautiful temples, of which many are concentrated in Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bouddhanat and Baktapur. Consequently that is where most of the tourists are with of course a concentration of tourist shops, bars and restaurants. The Patan museum is good for a crash course on Hinduism and Boudhism. You could see for example beautiful statues of “Ganesh” (who has head of elephant: the head was cut of and instead he got the head of first what passed by which was an elephant…).
As soon as you walk a bit further you are out of the tourist area and you get curious looks from people what you are doing there. Basically Nepal has a beautiful combination of colours with all the colourful dresses, the earth brick houses and I guess the air.

Beautiful Patan Durbar Square (Kathmandu)

Beautiful Patan Durbar Square (Kathmandu)

Interesting Nepalese religious 'art'

Interesting Nepalese religious 'art'

Bouddhanat. See how it is surrounded by houses.

Bouddhanat. See how it is surrounded by houses.

Colourful Nepal

Colourful Nepal

Pollution and transport
Arriving in Kathmandu means arriving in a rather polluted, busy city where people use their horn at least every 2 seconds, no matter if it is useful or not. It does not matter if you are in a traffic jam standing still, they will use their horn anyway. As a reaction Richard (from Mera Peak group, see part 1 of Nepal) got himself a t-shirt and put a sign on it with ‘no horn please’.
I guess that Nepal has a deal with Suzuki as basically every car is a suzuki. And it really is amazing how sturdy the car is. We were going over roads where I would not even consider to go without a 4WD and our little Suzuki would just happily continue, shaking its passengers. In Pokhara initially it seemed that they had a contract with another company but also there are many Suzukis. Tom, who I met in Pokhara, had been travelling over land from UK to Asia in a little Suzuki and told me that he had hardly had any problems at all with his little car.
The other favourite transport mode is the motor. Not so much a scooter but really a motor. I guess that testosterone is the cause of this.

Bikes are very handy for any transport. You can see many many bikes with fruit on them: healthy transport (allthough you need protection against the pollution as you can see), healthy food.

Bikes are very handy for any transport. You can see many many bikes with fruit on them: healthy transport (allthough you need protection against the pollution as you can see), healthy food.

Many festivals
While I was in Kathmandu I have experienced 2 main festivals of Nepal: the Dasain festival which is kind of Christmas for Nepal and which was clearly a family festival: lots of presents are being bought for each other (clothing), houses are being painted to look fresh again, and you see little podia in the neighbourhood. Like back home newspapers are writing how much is being spent this year on the festival. The second festival, the brother-sister festival, felt for me like New Years Eve due to the many fireworks. It starts with honouring the animals, so Binod told me that he gave his dog a good scrub and I have seen many cows being blessed, receiving tikka (the red dot on the forehead), people crawling below them to honour them and giving the cows some extra nice food. The next day the brothers and sisters are honouring each other.

Kind people
Nepalese people are very helpful and friendly. I felt very safe all the time. I have seen several times that lots of efforts were done to return some forgotten bag, papers or whatever to the owner. Nepalese people are way more polite than Dutch people and it was sometimes painful to see tourists being rude and reacting rather aggressive if a for example the airport tax of € 1.70 had to be paid... Mistrusting your surroundings really makes life so much more unpleasant...
It is actually quite interesting to see that it is normal for two men to hold hands but not for a man and woman together.

Housing
Houses in Kathmandu are mostly 3 floors high. Construction works are being done standing on some bamboo. It took me a while to understand the grid of the city. Due to the smog there are not many days at which I was actually able to see the mountains around Kathmandu (which is at 1440m).
View of Kathmandu: my hotel (Summit hotel) for the tourists and the little shaky homes for the inhabitants of Nepal... I sincerely hope there will not be an earthquake in Kathmandu...

View of Kathmandu: my hotel (Summit hotel) for the tourists and the little shaky homes for the inhabitants of Nepal... I sincerely hope there will not be an earthquake in Kathmandu...

Safety at construction work is a bit different in Nepal from NL: just balance on a bamboo and do your job...

Safety at construction work is a bit different in Nepal from NL: just balance on a bamboo and do your job...

ANNAPURNA

After the exhausting trip to the Mera Peak (6476m: see part 1) it was time for some relaxing holidays. I went therefore to the relaxing Pokhara and the beautiful Annapurna valley to do some more trekking :-).

You can get to Pokhara by bus (6-8 hour drive if you are lucky) or by plane (30 minutes). 8 long bumpy hours or 30 minutes with a splendid view, mmmmh difficult choice.... So after a nice morning flight from Kathmandu I spent a nice relaxing morning at the lake side.
The great AsianHeritageTreks.com who had arranged my flight, gave me some tips for a trekking so I hiked the Nayapul-Ghorepani-Ghandruk triangle.

Permits
To be able to go hiking you have to get yourself a permit at the National Tourism Board. Arriving at the Nat. Tourism Board in Kathmandu you enter a typical administration building with several little offices with administrators. If you would expect that you would be able to get some maps or trekking info you are definitely having the wrong expectations. I was surrounded by Nepalese men all filling out forms and attaching lots of passport pictures from tourists and some waited patiently but most waited rather impatiently for the permits. I really did not understand much of the system but very quickly I got my permit and also got rid of a nice sum of money and four pictures. You actually need two permits, one for Nepal and one for the Annapurna region.

Free again
After having spent 3 weeks in a group I absolutely adored my freedom again. It is SOOO nice to just see what happens in a day, to let coincidence enter your life and not having a planned out programme. So nice to be able to choose what you want to eat, at the time you would like to eat, with the people you feel like talking to, to get up at the time you want to, etc etc. I therefore also decided not to take a guide and porter on my hike in the Annapurna but simply carried my own bag (which in many countries is very normal.... but not in Nepal), bought a map and took off...
Still having the -20 degrees celcius freshly in my memory I had taken way too warm clothing to Pokhara and Annapurna region where I was welcomed by 25 degrees celcius. I guess I could have left about half of the content of my bag in Kathmandu... Instead I was carrying ca 16kg. Anyway, it was really pleasant to hike in a nice warm area, having my liberty again and simply enjoy the surroundings and nature. Furthermore I just kept having the reflex 'wauw, a bed, wauw, they have electricity (in for example Ghandruk (Annapurna region) they are having electricity now for 20 years), wauw, there is a hot shower' after 3 weeks without all these..

Nice villages and Annapurna rules
It was really nice to see all the little villages and the agricultural activities. Since it was harvest time, many people were in the fields harvesting lots of grain. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the Annapurna region since it is such a well known valley for tourism. Although tourism is clearly very important I encountered more goats and sheep than tourists and the villages were just very charming and beautiful. Such a difference with the remote Makalu national park area which is much poorer. To ensure stable prices, the tourism association in the Annapurna region has actually made a list with the prices for the food and the rooms, so in all the lodges you can find the same menu. Rooms would range from 1 (!) to 5 (!) Euro per night for which you would get a clean room with a bed, sheets and pillow, electricity, bathroom (ensuite would be 5 euros) with hot shower! Amazing. Actually the lodges appeared to have the rule that when you sleep there, that you also eat there. I discovered this the hard way at breakfast when the lady of the house (granny) was looking very angry at me and refused to take my order for breakfast and clearly wanted to hear sorry from my side before she was willing to take my order. In poor English she told me that the open space in front of my room was from another lodge and that I should have had dinner at their lodge. Can you imagine in Amsterdam that the hotel owner comes to you very angry that you should not have gone out for dinner but should have had dinner at the hotel? Like a real granny she really made you feel ashamed, even when I was simply unaware of this rule and had told them from the start that I wanted to have dinner at the open space. So I said my sorry's and tipped them considerably. Other lodges solved this in a better way with the remark that they would charge a double price for the room if you would not take dinner at their place. In this way it was less problematic and would they still get some income.
Another rule in the Annapurna region is to indicate in advance what you would like to eat and at what time and that you all preferably order the same thing (and at the same time) to spare the use of wood for cooking.

The trekking
The Nayapul - Birethanti - Ulleri - Ghorepani part of the ‘triangle’ is full of small villages. Basically you are ascending most of the time and most of the time this means hiking stairways made from rocks. There is a certain part from the river to Ulleri (1540m) where apparently they have counted the stairways: 3280 stone steps up. I calculated that it is equivalent to climbing a 200 floor building... That day I continued to Ghorepani which is at 2874m. I wonder how many floors that would have been ;-).

The Ghorepani - Tadapani - Ghandruk part of the ‘triangle’ is going through beautiful gorges, nature, lush rain forest. In the beginning you can see the Annapurna range. Also here many stone steps up and down.
Most people stop for the night in Tadapani. I had lunch there and was not too impressed by the village and due to the clouds there was no view so I decided to continue to Ghandruk. I ended up in the lovely lodge Shangri-la with a beautiful view at the ‘old’ Ghandruk, which is the farmers village.

The Ghandruk – Birethanti part of the ‘triangle’ is mostly going down towards the river which means again descending endlessly stone steps. Where on the way up you would meet children in school uniform who are playing or learning, here you would encounter many children who wanted sweets from you. As soon as you would say ‘hello’ (Namaste) they would ask for them.

Map of the Annapurna region

Map of the Annapurna region

Chairs appear to be excellent toys

Chairs appear to be excellent toys

The beautiful Annapurna valley

The beautiful Annapurna valley

You do not see hordes of tourists but you do encounter herds of sheep/goats rather frequently

You do not see hordes of tourists but you do encounter herds of sheep/goats rather frequently

Harvest season with drying corn.

Harvest season with drying corn.

Coming from Mera Peak I was still amazed about having electricity, a bed, a bathroom etc.

Coming from Mera Peak I was still amazed about having electricity, a bed, a bathroom etc.

A wonderful break with a wonderful view after 3280 stairs (equivalent of a 200 floor building...)

A wonderful break with a wonderful view after 3280 stairs (equivalent of a 200 floor building...)

The endless rocky stairs in the lush forest in the Annapurna region

The endless rocky stairs in the lush forest in the Annapurna region

Hiking through the 'dangerous' rainforest from Tadapani towards Ghandruk. On the map is written 'group travel suggested'. Well, it was wonderfully calm... <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Hiking through the 'dangerous' rainforest from Tadapani towards Ghandruk. On the map is written 'group travel suggested'. Well, it was wonderfully calm... :)

Dinner with the lovely family of the Shangri-La lodge in Ghandruk

Dinner with the lovely family of the Shangri-La lodge in Ghandruk

The beautiful views of the Annapurna range (from Ghorepani and from the lovely farmers village Ghandruk)

The beautiful views of the Annapurna range (from Ghorepani and from the lovely farmers village Ghandruk)

Chicken transport in the Annapurna valley with the poor chicken anxiously tattering

Chicken transport in the Annapurna valley with the poor chicken anxiously tattering

The beautiful valley when going down again, while people are harvesting their crops.

The beautiful valley when going down again, while people are harvesting their crops.

The beautiful swings which you find throughout Nepal made from bamboo

The beautiful swings which you find throughout Nepal made from bamboo

The hike in detail

1 Nov Kathmandu - flying to Pokhara - taxi to Nayapul (1070m) - hiking to Birethanti (1050m) - Tikedhungga (1540m)
Sun! Up 549m, down 143m: total 692m. Hike 2h40
2 Nov Tikedhungga (1540m) - 3280 steps to Ulleri (2070m) - Ghorepani (2874m)
Sun! Up 1442m, down 91m: total 1533m. Hike 4h15
3 Nov Ghorepani (2874m) - Ban Thanti (3180m) - beautiful hike to Tadapani (2590m) - Ghandruk (1940m)
Sun! Up 625m, down 1457m: total 2182m. Hike 4h45
4 Nov Ghandruk (1940m) - Kilya - Birethanti (1050m) - Nayapul (1070m) - Pokhara by taxi
Sun! Up 116m, down 1004m: total 1120m. Hike 3h12
5 Nov Pokhara - Paragliding - flight to Kathmandu
6 Nov Summit hotel - flight to Doha - flight to London
7 Nov flight to Amsterdam

POKHARA

Pokhara is a real pleasant and relaxing city. It is really touristy but has a nice vibe. And the location at the lake with a view at the Annapurna range is just splendid.

Peaceful lake of Pokhara

Peaceful lake of Pokhara

The street children of Pokhara try to make a living: after making lots of noice they go with two of them through a ring: pretty impressive

The street children of Pokhara try to make a living: after making lots of noice they go with two of them through a ring: pretty impressive

Sunset with view at Annapurna range in Pokhara

Sunset with view at Annapurna range in Pokhara

Sunset at the lake of Pokhara

Sunset at the lake of Pokhara

After the Mera Peak and the Annapurna hike I was really looking forward to spend a day at the pool. So I searched in Pokhara for a hotel with pool, checked in, went for a swim in the late afternoon sun and was already looking forward to spending the morning at the pool.

Nice encounters
After a nice evening stroll through town with a wonderful sunset I went for dinner in a pasta & nepali restaurant.
Binod, who is working there (restaurant is of his family), started to take care extremely well of me in a very nice way. At a certain point I asked him if he would recommend me to go to place A or B for a drink. Before I knew it, I was sitting on his motorbike and he was bringing me to a bar. Arriving there he said: “these are your new friends: Tom and Liz”. And off he went again to serve the other people of the restaurant, this time with Tom on his bike who was hungry. Life is so full of nice surprises. So I went inside the bar with Liz who appeared to be from Australia and was already a couple of weeks in Pokhara. Lateron Tom rejoined us, who has been travelling 3-4 months over land from UK to Nepal. Binod and his friend Paris joined us as well and we ended up having a great evening.

Vibrant nightlife in Pokhara

Vibrant nightlife in Pokhara

After great evening and day sad to leave Pokhara: Tom, MJ, Binod and Liz

After great evening and day sad to leave Pokhara: Tom, MJ, Binod and Liz

Paragliding
They told me that next morning they were going to paraglide. So instead of relaxing one day in Nepal at the pool, I went paragliding in the Himalayas… One advice: make sure you are not hangover when you go paragliding. One tends already to get nauseous from paragliding but with a hangover it is guaranteed that you are not feeling too well… :-)

The view of Annapurna range while paragliding!!

The view of Annapurna range while paragliding!!

A last relaxing day at Summit hotel in Kathmandu

A last relaxing day at Summit hotel in Kathmandu

DOHA

Flying to / from Kathmandu is interesting as you enter a completely different world. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is a peninsula in the Middle East and is placed in a large sand field. When you arrive, you just see lots of sand, some air strips and furthermore some sky scrapers. During the flight with Qatar Airways you can see all the time on the screen where Mecca is placed.

Posted by Marie-Jose 18.11.2010 07:27 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Oct 2010 Nepal part 1: Climbing Mera Peak (6476m)

Part 1: Climbing of Mera Peak (6476m)

semi-overcast -20 °C
View Nepal 8 Oct-7 Nov 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Like many people I have been wanting to go to Nepal and more precisely the Himalayas for ages. I had the plane ticket for a while but was undecided which mountaineering trip I wanted to do. I ended up doing the highest trekking peak, the Mera Peak 6476m which was definitely a life time experience.
Although this is seen from the other side, it gives a good overview of the mountains. From Mera Peak you can see quite a bunch of them...

Although this is seen from the other side, it gives a good overview of the mountains. From Mera Peak you can see quite a bunch of them...

After a tough day from base camp (5350m) to high camp (5800m) I am enjoying the view.

After a tough day from base camp (5350m) to high camp (5800m) I am enjoying the view.

Being at altitude

How was it? Nice is not a good word. Luckily I had no problems with the altitude in the sense that I had no altitude sickness. However, you feel miserable most of the time. Eating is as difficult as walking, your energy seems rather low and your body simply tells you that it does not like what you are doing. Eric Shipton describes in "Upon that mountain" quite well the feeling:
"I doubt if anyone would claim to enjoy life at high altitudes... There is a certain grim satisfaction to be derived from struggling upwards, however slowly; but the bulk of one's time is necessarily spent in the extreme squalor of a high camp, when even this solace is lacking... Eating tends to make one vomit; ... there is nothing to look at but the bleak confusion inside the tent and the scaly, bearded countenandce of one's companion - fortunately the noise of the wind usually drowns out his stuffy breathing;... I used to try to console myself with the thought that a year ago I would have been thrilled by the very idea of taking part in our present adventure, a prospect that had then seemed like an impossible dream; but altitude has the same effect on the mind as upon the body, one's intellect becomes dull and unresponsive, and my only desire was to finish the wretched job and to get down to a more reasonable clime."
Due to our good acclimatisation we all could go up. One girl had to go down because she was so miserable including vomiting etc but rejoined us again the next day with a big smile and seemed to be feeling best of us all! Some took diamox, some did not.
The play of the clouds never bores. The upper view is from Naijing (3100m). The below view is at Pokhari (5 lakes) (4200m

The play of the clouds never bores. The upper view is from Naijing (3100m). The below view is at Pokhari (5 lakes) (4200m

Exercising for our climb to the Mera Peak was great fun (with jumar, abseilen). in the middle some stuff that we needed...

Exercising for our climb to the Mera Peak was great fun (with jumar, abseilen). in the middle some stuff that we needed...

Hiking from Tagnag (4300m) to Khare (5000m): jumping at 5000m is still possible!!

Hiking from Tagnag (4300m) to Khare (5000m): jumping at 5000m is still possible!!

Great view to the valley we had crossed to get here

Great view to the valley we had crossed to get here

Finally, finally on the snow!!!!!  joehee!!! This is all above 5200m, suddenly you enter in this beautiful world.

Finally, finally on the snow!!!!! joehee!!! This is all above 5200m, suddenly you enter in this beautiful world.

Nice view...

Nice view...

The porters got clothing from the company but were furthermore going up without crampons. Meanwhile you pass the most wonderful crevasses

The porters got clothing from the company but were furthermore going up without crampons. Meanwhile you pass the most wonderful crevasses

The start: getting to Lukla not easy

We lost two days because we could not get on a flight to Lukla. Getting to Lukla is probably more dangerous than the actual trekking. Lukla has an airstrip of ca 300m and the adrenaline is definitely pomping through your body while flying straight at the wall/mountain before landing. We had spent one day waiting at the local airport of Kathmandu. A plane had crashed at Lukla so we could not fly: very reassuring.
20101014_0254.jpg

800 other mountaineers also wanted to get on one of the planes (which seats in general ca 16 people). Since the 3 previous days there had been no flights either. So let's say it was 'a little bit' busy at the small airport. In the end we were willing to rent a helicopter to get there after hearing every half hour 'you might be leaving soon', 'it might take a couple of hours', 'you are leaving within half an hour', etc all with the same result: no departure. Anyway, after 2 days of waiting we got a flight and arrived in Lukla.

There is great security at the local airports: no passport needed, your boarding pass has no name, seat, or any other details, just a stamp with the destination, security furthermore means measuring the bag, a quick touch over your clothes and thats it.
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Interesting to see how ones opinion can change depending where you come from. Arriving in Lukla it seemed like a bit dirty, very poor (100 men waiting at the airport hoping to get a porters or other job) little place. Well, after 3 weeks in the mountains Lukla suddenly seemed a very clean, beautiful, well kept, large town with electricity, shops etc...
20101014_0263aa.jpg

The trekking

Trekking in Nepal means going through forests for ages. There are trees until 4000m and snow in general starts in October only above 5000m. So, in case you are interested in mountaineering you have to go high, very high. Going to the Mera Peak took us almost 2.5 weeks whereas going down took us only 3 days. You have to acclimatise all the time which means that you are only walking 3-4 hours a day, are basically doing nothing and just sitting around most of the time.
Finally hiking!! From Lukla to Puyan

Finally hiking!! From Lukla to Puyan

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The day starts already at 6.30 with tea in your tent (yeah, room service!!) and a washing bowl. The higher you get, the more difficult it is to leave your warm sleeping bag in the morning (advise: take a bottle for relieving yourself at night.... this avoids going into freezing cold at night, stumbling to a stinking pooh tent). You pack your stuff and leave the bag for the porter. At 7.30 breakfast is served and at 8.30 you start walking until ca 11.00 when you stop for lunch. In the middle of nowhere the crew makes a warm lunch for you and after lunch (ca 13.30) you continue for maybe an hour or so to arrive at your destination of the day and acclimatise further. Basically you are being treated as a princess as you do not have to do anything yourself, except walking and eating and especially drinking. I have never been drinking sooo much tea in my life. You need to drink constantly to avoid to get dehydrated. Furthermore our highlight of the day was to play 'uno' with our fellow Dutch group. Dinner is at 18.30 and bed time is 20.00-21.30.
The first day we had lunch in the sun, and it was going to be the last for a week. Meanwhile on our way we would encounter whole pigs, either alive or dead, being transported. The big yaks are rather typical for Nepal

The first day we had lunch in the sun, and it was going to be the last for a week. Meanwhile on our way we would encounter whole pigs, either alive or dead, being transported. The big yaks are rather typical for Nepal

From Pokhari to Khote we had a marvelous view (and some sun!!!)

From Pokhari to Khote we had a marvelous view (and some sun!!!)

The beautiful view going from Pokhari to Khote

The beautiful view going from Pokhari to Khote

Hiking downwards to Khote was rather slippery but also very beautiful with the giant rocks. At the left you can see us descending which gives an idea of the huge rock.

Hiking downwards to Khote was rather slippery but also very beautiful with the giant rocks. At the left you can see us descending which gives an idea of the huge rock.

Going up this slippery trail, some with crampons, some without crampons. It marked the end of the stone trekking and the beginning (finally!!) of the snow/glacier trekking. at 5200m.

Going up this slippery trail, some with crampons, some without crampons. It marked the end of the stone trekking and the beginning (finally!!) of the snow/glacier trekking. at 5200m.

The higher you get, the more splendid the views get. This is on our way from Khare (5000m) to Mera La (5400m). You can see Tekbhadu with its heavy kitchen load.

The higher you get, the more splendid the views get. This is on our way from Khare (5000m) to Mera La (5400m). You can see Tekbhadu with its heavy kitchen load.

It is amazing how little varied our discussion was during the trekking. The main topics are endlessly about toilet visits (or basically trying not to go and grading the toilets), about the altitude (if you are ok, how you feel), about the food & drink (what interesting combination this time, what do you manage to eat this time), about your material (what you will wear, if it is ok (remember that the porters have basically no material at all... and you sit there next to them talking endlessly about coats, mittens, etc)) and of course summit day (how it will be). That is about it.
Luckily I took a picture of the mountain view because it was going to be the last mountain view for a week. Meanwhile we already practiced for 'summit' pictures. Right below we were waiting for lunch, freezing in the rain.

Luckily I took a picture of the mountain view because it was going to be the last mountain view for a week. Meanwhile we already practiced for 'summit' pictures. Right below we were waiting for lunch, freezing in the rain.

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The higher we got, the better view of the Mount Everest we got (behind the porter and left picture)

The higher we got, the better view of the Mount Everest we got (behind the porter and left picture)

The summit

The first time we saw the Mera Peak in the distance, far above us, it is just another mountain. The closer you get, the more awe you get for this immense mountain and you just cannot believe that you will be on top of that mountain in a week time, a few days time, the next day, that day. The closer you get, the more respect you get for the mountain and the more you are wondering why you are actually wanting to climb this mountain.
The beautiful view at the slope towards the Mera Peak, where we will walk as well towards the summit...

The beautiful view at the slope towards the Mera Peak, where we will walk as well towards the summit...

View at the glacier and the Mera Peak. You can see people hiking up the trail towards high camp (5800m) and you can see the actual Mera Peak (6476m).

View at the glacier and the Mera Peak. You can see people hiking up the trail towards high camp (5800m) and you can see the actual Mera Peak (6476m).

View at among others the Mount Everest

View at among others the Mount Everest

At summit day we got up at 2.00 and left at 3.30 (things go much slower at altitude). Basically the sherpas started dressing several of us and checking if all the gear (crampons, harnass, jumar, etc) was well attached. Jeroen discovered that his overmittens of more than 100 Euro were not going over his gloves... so he had to go up with rather cold fingers. We left in the dark but the moon was giving lot's of light. In a silent struggle we ascended slowly, slowly, slowly (biztare) the mountain. What had seemed a not very steep trail, felt actually as a very steep and endless trail. Each time you looked up it just seemed to stay as far away as before. I discovered that whereas my coat had kept me warm until 5800m, it did not seem to manage to warm me now at all. I had put an extra woolen layer so did I dressed too warm or was it just f* freezing cold? I do not know if it was - 20 degrees celcius or colder or warmer but I have really never felt so cold in my life. I guess it must also have been the exhaustion as the day before I had had a tough day going from 5300m to 5800m. I had to use all my willpower to get myself to 5800m and it absolutely felt as a victory to have gotten to High Camp at 5800m. Anyway, soon Jeroen, Thundu (sirdar) and I were walking together: we walked like 20 steps and rested. When we managed to get some energy from somewhere we did another 20 steps. and so we continued. until 6250m, which we thought was the end of the climb, the middle peak as we call it. Arriving there it appeared it wasn't and another steep slope was waiting for us.
SUMMIT DAY: The view is splendid at 6250m with the Mount Everest, the Lhotse, Makalu, the clouds, etc. You can see high camp as a very little rock down below

SUMMIT DAY: The view is splendid at 6250m with the Mount Everest, the Lhotse, Makalu, the clouds, etc. You can see high camp as a very little rock down below

SUMMIT DAY

SUMMIT DAY

Nanda and Richard were already for a while at 6250m. When I got there I learnt that Nanda's toes were senseless, no blood in them anymore and getting a frostbite. Thanks to the rubbing of the toes done by Minga the toes were saved. However, this was clearly the end of the summit day for them. Personally I felt that it had been enough. I had reached 'middle peak' and that was great. We were too exhausted and confused to even make a 'summit picture'. I had to rub the battery of my camera warm before it was willing to make pictures from the view.
SUMMIT DAY: coat, over coat, gloves, over mittens, 2 pair of socks, 2 pair of trousers. It did not prevent that Nanda had almost frozen toes....

SUMMIT DAY: coat, over coat, gloves, over mittens, 2 pair of socks, 2 pair of trousers. It did not prevent that Nanda had almost frozen toes....

Happy faces on summit day: Richard, MJ, Jeroen and Nanda

Happy faces on summit day: Richard, MJ, Jeroen and Nanda

The view was splendid. You could now see the Mount Everest arising above the other mountains and also the Lhotse, Makalu and other 8000ers were in sight. Amazing. Also the clouds down below were so beautiful. The sunrise had been wonderful and it is a picture that I cannot show to you as I was too exhausted to grab my camera and make a picture.
In 'Into Thin Air' is also written that turning around just before the highest summit because you know that you have otherwise not enough energy left to descend, is actually almost more impressive than going to the summit and simply crash afterwards. In my case I had really gone over my limits which I discovered the next day. Going down at summit day - descending 1250m to 5000m - was ok. We were still digesting the day and you can see us really smiling at the pictures. However the next day, which was a reasonable easy day - descending from 5000m to 3700m - I just had no energy left whats-o-ever and had to sit down regularly before I could continue. I skipped lunch and just fell asleep where they let me sleep. My body was really not pleased...
beautiful crevasses

beautiful crevasses

Going down again, enjoying the view

Going down again, enjoying the view

After summit day my fuel to get my feet moving down were many snickers and mars...

After summit day my fuel to get my feet moving down were many snickers and mars...

The next 2 days we had to ascend again to 4600m which we did slowly but steadily. I started to regain a bit of energy and arriving in Lukla was an absolute victory. Suddenly Lukla was such a beautiful city and I just was in awe for all these beautifully coloured buildings, electricity, being able to sit on a chair, having a room with a bed, etc etc etc.

Going back to Lukla meant we had to cross several beautiful passes. We could see in the distance all the valleys we had been crossing.

Going back to Lukla meant we had to cross several beautiful passes. We could see in the distance all the valleys we had been crossing.

Passing Zatwra La (4610m)

Passing Zatwra La (4610m)

Getting closer to civilisation: better path, more colours and unfortunately also more deforestation.

Getting closer to civilisation: better path, more colours and unfortunately also more deforestation.

In the evening in Lukla we had a our goodbye party which was REALLY nice. The goodbye party was also the moment to give the tip to the team of our 8 porters, 4 kitchen staff, 2 sherpa's and our sirdar (guide) who had all worked so hard. Within our group there were a few who wanted to give less than the normal amount, which I felt was a real insult since they can really use every penny. Next to that they had done an excellent job.

The group

Group picture: 7 clients, 1 sirdar (guide), 2 climbing sherpas, 4 kitchen staff and 8 porters

Group picture: 7 clients, 1 sirdar (guide), 2 climbing sherpas, 4 kitchen staff and 8 porters

When I think back of the people there are so many people who come to my mind.
I still think for example very fondly of our 'kitchen staff' Geljen who took care of us the whole time and made sure we would eat and drink enough. As soon as you had taken your first bite of your meal he would ask if you wanted some more. He was always smiling and after trying to convince us to eat/drink some more he would soon pass us with his impressive load of cleaned kitchen tools together with the equally smiling and very friendly Tekbhadu.
Our wonderful Geljen taking care of us: here serving breakfast (rice pudding (ok) or porridge (horrible))

Our wonderful Geljen taking care of us: here serving breakfast (rice pudding (ok) or porridge (horrible))

Our sirdar (guide) Thundu was very good with the staff and always there to advise and support them. New porters would get extra attention and support from him. He would simply sit with them and talk with them and you could see that they have great respect for him. Thundu had always his medicine box at hand whenever anyone had something. On summit day Thundu frequently tried to rub me less cold and even lended me an extra layer (his overcoat). The picture of Thundu's brother Nima Gombu Sherpa is on all 'Everest' beer bottles as he and his 7 brothers have all climbed the Mount Everest several times. Thundu has been 4 times to the summit of the Mount Everst... I actually borrowed boots from Thundu that have been twice to the mount everest already...
PARTY Time!!! Nanda and MJ, Geljen and MJ, Minga and 'my' wonderful and kind porter Laila (with a shirt of mine), right below: Jeroen, Thundu and MJ (the team that went up to Mera)

PARTY Time!!! Nanda and MJ, Geljen and MJ, Minga and 'my' wonderful and kind porter Laila (with a shirt of mine), right below: Jeroen, Thundu and MJ (the team that went up to Mera)

We chatted a lot with our ambitious climbing sherpa Lhakpha who was going to be promoted to sirdar after our trip and who with his 20 years has already a very impressive CV and is really good with people as well.

Unfortunately it was much more difficult to talk to our porters since our Nepali was so poor. It is actually quite shocking to see how many porters and sherpa's have to turn around because they are having problems. It appears that there are quite some porters who come from the lowlands who are often having problems with the altitude. We saw one sherpa being transported down because he had lung oedem. One of our younger boys had to turn around because of altitude sickness. Basically you can see every day people (either tourists or sherpas/porters) being helicoptered out. Either with frozen toes, tooth ache, etc etc. At the beginning of our trip I had asked if porters were having sufficient clothing. I know now that when selecting an organisation you have to check the following elements: 1) what kind of clothing do the porters get (warm (!) coat, trousers, shoes, crampons, sunglasses), 2) what kind of accommodation is being provided for the porters (porters slept often in caves where they could make a fire that would warm them instead of in the dinner tent (where we were so they would have to wait to be let inside and where there was no floor), 3) do they get a sleeping bag, 4) do they have to carry their own food? (very often porters have to carry bags of 2 clients (supposed to be 12.5kg which is often exceeded by tourists: in our group 1 guy had 20kg!!!), stuff for the whole group and their own stuff (food!!, clothing, sleeping material): as a consequence the porters hardly take anything for themselves with them and you see them walking around in half shredded clothing).
The porters

The porters

All glad to have returned healthy we had a PARTY. First tips were given to the whole team, the money they really need and which unfortunately some of our group wanted to give less... incomprehensible.

All glad to have returned healthy we had a PARTY. First tips were given to the whole team, the money they really need and which unfortunately some of our group wanted to give less... incomprehensible.

The porters who carry an incredible heavy load

The porters who carry an incredible heavy load

Chatting with the other groups who were also going to Mera Peak was really nice. I have chatted a lot with the wonderful Australian group with whom I have had a lot of laughs: Juan, Amanda, Jo, Sandy, Kathy, Dilip and Peter. It really was a pity I could not celebrate the goodbye party with them! Juan always managed to say something nice about the rubbish stones that I had picked up :-).
Since we had no Dutch/UK guide we often turned ourselves towards especially Hans from the other Dutch group who has tons of experience. He convinced us that going from Khare (5000m) to High Camp (5800m) and a few hours later to summit (6476m) within basically 26hours was absolutely madness. So thanks to him we discussed with our sirdar Thundu that we wanted an extra night at Mera La base camp (5350m). Both Hans and Jo really cared for us and gave plenty of useful advise if someone was not feeling well. Thundu made a very good decision that Annemiek had to go down (who rejoined us the next day) and he quietly observed us all and took very good decisions.
Playing 'Uno' with Hugo, Bram, Kees and Tanja with Hans and Evert watching us, was an absolutely highlight of our days... Especially to see certain people lose who could not bear to be losing... :-). An extra element was that they managed to sit always in warmer spots than we seemed to be.
Group picture 1: Nice Australian Group. Group picture 2: my group. Need I say more on group spirit?

Group picture 1: Nice Australian Group. Group picture 2: my group. Need I say more on group spirit?

So nice to encounter Heather and Tim in 'normal' outfit (read: no hats, down coats, gloves and beards), which made me realise that I had never seen Heathers actual hair during the Mera Peak trip

So nice to encounter Heather and Tim in 'normal' outfit (read: no hats, down coats, gloves and beards), which made me realise that I had never seen Heathers actual hair during the Mera Peak trip

Thanks to Jeroen we had a lot of laughter in our group. Jeroen walked at a calm pace and always threw in some jokes and was always interested in others. He has managed to calm me (and others!) down and cheer us up at the most difficult moments for which I will be grateful forever. Also Nanda and Richard were very good companions in the group. I was really happy for Annemiek that she felt so much better and could come back after she had to descend and this must have been great for her partner Erwin as well and seeing her learning Nepali was really nice. Quite impressive how fit our 'oldest' team member was (60 years) (although competition seemed to be the only thing that was important for him. On day 1 he started with remarks like: '... will never make it to the top', which obviously does not really help in creating a positive group spirit...). However, after three weeks together we were rather happy to say our goodbyes. Although we have had a lot of laughs together, our group never became 1 group and stayed individuals who happened to be together.

Our first views at Mera Peak!!!! from Tagnag (4300m)

Our first views at Mera Peak!!!! from Tagnag (4300m)

It took us 14 days to go up and 3 days to go down...

It took us 14 days to go up and 3 days to go down...

The surroundings and the villages

The villages we passed were poor and are living mostly from agriculture and the tourists. There are hardly any facilities at all. There are primary schools around but apparently the teachers are of bad quality because they have not received good training and thus it happens a lot that children learn for example the alphabet but are not capable in applying it. The region you walk through is really remote.
Nepali people are extremely friendly, polite and nice. I think they are in general also very beautiful.
Soon it started raining so we got lunch at peoples homes which all seemed to be serving also as tea houses. You can see the meat hanging to dry.

Soon it started raining so we got lunch at peoples homes which all seemed to be serving also as tea houses. You can see the meat hanging to dry.

The trip in detail

10-11 Oct Kathmandu. 11 Oct briefing in hotel (no equipment check, we did it a bit among ourselves and hired/bought some extra stuff at Shona's)
12 Oct Waiting at airport from 6.00 - 16.00. No flight to Lukla
13 Oct Decided to go on a hike to Champa Dev (2278m) in Kathmandu valley instead of probably waisting another day at airport
up ca 700-800m, down idem: total cal 1400-1600m. lowest point 1700m, highest 2392m. hike 3h30 (excl breaks)
14 Oct Flight to Lukla!! (2950m) - hike to Surke (2290m) - Puyan (2775m).
Sun. up 610m, down 566m: total 1176m. lowest point 2280m, highest 2832m. hike 3h30 (excl breaks)
15 Oct Puyan - Kari La (3145m) - Kharte lunch - Panggom (2850m)
Sun+Rain. Up 985m, down 844m: total 1829m. Lowest 2400m, highest 3145m. Hike 4h05
16 Oct Panggom - monastery - Naijing (3100m)
Rain. Up 1493m, down 1357m: total 2850m. Lowest 1900m, highest 3113m. Hike 4h30
17 Oct Naijing - Surke La Pass (3045m) - Danda Kharka (3500m)
Rain. Up 1454m, down 599m: total 2053m. Lowest 2650m, highest 3500m. Hike 3h10
18 Oct Danda Kharka - Zair La (4480m) - Panch Pokhari (ca 4200m)
Rain. Up 901m, down 258m: total 1159m. Lowest 3500m, highest 4480m. Hike 3h47
19 Oct Panch Pokhari - beautiful views in morning - slippery path down in afternoon - Khote (3700m)
Sun+rain. Up 398m, down 978m: total 1376m. Lowest 3400m, highest 4400m. Hike 4h20
20 Oct Khote - cold and rainy lunch - Tagnag (4300m)
Sun+Rain. Up 715m, down 29m: total 744m. Lowest 3700m, highest 4394m. Hike 3h36
21 Oct Tagnag - acclimatisation and exercise day (4300m) - cloudy
22 Oct Tagnag - lunch in sun! at Dig Kharka - Khare (5000m)
Sun! Up 610m, down 58m: total 668m. Lowest 4300m, highest 5050m. Hike 3h36
23 Oct Khare - acclimatisation and exercise day at glacier (5278m) - Khare (5000m)
Sun+clouds. Up 278m, down 304m: total 582m. Lowest 5000m, highest 5278m. Hike 1h50
24 Oct Khare - Mera La pass (5400m) - Mera La base camp (5350m)
Sun+clouds. Up 454m, down 66m: total 520m. Lowest 5000m, highest 5400m. Hike 2h38
25 Oct Mera La Base Camp - High Camp (5800m)
Sun. Up 480m, down 59m: total 539m. Lowest 5350m, highest 5800m. Hike 2h46
26 Oct SUMMIT DAY: High Camp - Mera Peak (6250m) - High Camp - Khare (5000m)
Sun. Up 450m, down 1287m: total 1737m. Lowest 5000m, highest 6250m. Hike 8h30
27 Oct Khare - Tagnag lunch - Khote (3700m)
Sun. Up 33m, down 1274m: total 1307m. Lowest 3700m, highest 5000m. Hike 5h30
28 Oct Khote - Thuli Kharka (4300m)
Sun+Clouds. Up 1100m, down 500m: total 1600m. Lowest 3500m, highest 4342m. Hike 6h30
29 Oct Thuli Kharka - Zatwra La pass (4610m) - Lukla (2950m)
Sun. Up 329m, down 1804m: total 2133m. Lowest 2950m, highest 4610m. Hike 6h49
30 Oct Flight to Kathmandu (1440m) - visit to Everest steak house...
After 3 week of mountain food and lots of discussions of a good piece of meat we went straight to Everest steak house... mmmh: steak flambee

After 3 week of mountain food and lots of discussions of a good piece of meat we went straight to Everest steak house... mmmh: steak flambee

Posted by Marie-Jose 14.11.2010 04:59 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Oct 2010 Germany: Rock climbing in Ibbenbüren

semi-overcast 22 °C
View Ibbenbüren 1-3 Oct 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Finally I am rock climbing more and more.

Springreizen.nl offered this great rock climbing weekend so together with Jacqueline, Andres & Marleen we drove to the campsite where we were welcomed by a very nice campfire. Next morning I discovered that the campsite was actually dubbel the size I thought it was as in the dark you could not see the end of the campsite.
Some considered the request to collect some wood very literally and came back with a whole tree. Also I met with Lieke again, who I had met in Thessaloniki during one of my training courses. The world is soo small!

Anyway, we had a great weekend, hiked Saturday ca 22 km and Sunday we went climbing. I am already looking forward to the next climbing weekend!!

Saturday the wall was too wet so we enjoyed a hike of 22 km

Saturday the wall was too wet so we enjoyed a hike of 22 km


So we are going up here, uhhh....

So we are going up here, uhhh....


Marco seemed to be knowing all the different mushrooms. Left upper corner is the koraalzwam

Marco seemed to be knowing all the different mushrooms. Left upper corner is the koraalzwam


Daphne and Nienke

Daphne and Nienke


very serious weekend

very serious weekend


enjoying the evening

enjoying the evening


Enjoying campfire

Enjoying campfire


Eefje promoting mmmmh van spekjes

Eefje promoting mmmmh van spekjes


Our group

Our group


Maaike going up

Maaike going up


Going  up and going down

Going up and going down


Encouraging, learning, relaxing

Encouraging, learning, relaxing


Eefje with her damaged knee and Nienke

Eefje with her damaged knee and Nienke


It was cool!

It was cool!


Enjoying 25 degrees on 3 October

Enjoying 25 degrees on 3 October

Posted by Marie-Jose 04.10.2010 17:52 Archived in Germany Tagged mountains backpacking Comments (0)

Sept 2010 hiking in Scotland

all seasons in one day 15 °C
View Scotland 9-19 Sept 2010 & Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

==Scotland – 9-19 September 2010-09-19==
My trip through Scotland

My trip through Scotland

WARM WELCOME
Finally after 7 years of wanting to go to Scotland I went to visit Robert & Judith and see the beauty of the country that Robert had been describing to me. He was also the one who teached me the wonders of whisky in this great whisky bar in Rotterdam which unfortunately does not exist anymore.

I was not only welcomed by Robert at the airport but also by a young fox who was strolling around very much at ease in between all this urban violence of roads, people, cars & buildings. At their very beautiful house the warm welcome continued with a nice glass of Islay whisky, Robert showing a complete outfit for me & food for an army and Judith meanwhile very efficiently searching the internet for bus & train schedules, rental cars, etc.

Next morning started my Scottish breakfasts: black pudding, potato scone (very tasty), bacon, toast, egg, beans and sausage. As Judith said: “good walking fuel”. I have to say that I like the Scottish breakfast but 10 days in a row was also enough… .

FOOD and DRINKS
What I certainly did not expect was that the Scottish men in the hostel started to get acquainted with each other by exchanging recipes. In Scotland I would expect some discussion about the weather (lousy anyway), stalking/hunting deer, fishing, politics, but not about exchanging recepies. Very nice discovery I have to say. One guy had brought his whole meal from his own garden. Robert had prepared the evening before a chilli con carne for us. And for breakfast and lunch he managed to have each time something very nice (pork pie, makrel, fruit, soup).
As for beers there seem to be so many local beers that I would not be able to reproduce them. Most are rather light beers though. Isle of Skye has a whole range of them, Belhaven, Sheepshaggers (really!), Black diamond, etc etc.
In a pub it is pretty normal to find a range of ca 100-200 whiskies. Amazing. Where I was already proud to know that I like Springbank, it appeared that there were some 10 different kinds of them, ehhh. Right.

INFRASTRUCTURE
Scotland has a very efficient system to reduce speed on the roads: there is one lane so the slowest determines the speed… However, as there is not too much traffic and with max 60 miles (100km) an hour out of town and 30-40 miles in town driving is pretty pleasant. Especially with the sheeps strolling the road.
There is an excellent tourism infrastructure with many tourism centres and loads of hotels, hostels & B&B’s. I just showed up at places and never had a problem. Also prices are good, ranging from 12 pounds for a dorm bed, to 30-80 pounds in a nice private room in most places.
As for mobile & internet coverage, it is a whole other story. There are many places where there is no mobile coverage, not only on country site but also in villages. However, suddenly your mobile might ring in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain. Internet in general only works in hotel lobbies and not in the rooms, which made me look rather anti social with this screen in front of me.

HIKING IN SCOTLAND
Hiking in Scotland is quite an experience. Why?
- As for weather it seems to be possible to have dry days. I have not experienced them though but have had all kinds of weather really. You can sit in your car and really wonder what got into yourself to actually wanting to hike as your whole car is shaking because of the storm outside with the heavy rain. When you get of your car2 minutes later, there is a nice breeze, nice sun and great weather… I have never used my windscreen wiper so often as in Scotland: on, off, on, off, etc.
- It is great for trailless hiking. There are only few trails indicated on the map. In most cases there is a kind of path but you can easily go of it and follow your own wishes which are absolutely fabulous. Not steep enough? Just go straight up the hill.
- Mountains are low but that does not mean they are easy. If you like some challenges than Scotland certainly has them. Although the highest mountain Ben Nevis is only 1344m there are many challenging hikes, scrambles and mountain climbing. Also in winter it must be stunning. The absence of any signs, the absence of trails on the map, the frequently changing weather with sun, rain, hail, fog, strong winds, the often boggy and swampy terrain and the northern location make that the Scottish mountains earn a lot of respect.
- Compass is not working on Cuillons. Together with the fog, low clouds this makes that your sense for direction and map reading skills are rather important.
- The colours of Scotland are just beautiful with the green grass & some trees, green/yellow/orange/brown grass & ferns, red moss, purple heather, stones in all colours, the many little or bigger waterfalls. This mixture of colours does never bore, be it on the steep slopes or the rolling hills.
- At many places the landscape breathes a wild remoteness and roughness. Although in general a village is not too far away (which can actually consist of just a few houses without any shop), you get the feeling that urban life is very far away.
- From the original habitat of lynx, wolf, bear and reindeer there is currently only deer left. They are there plentiful which makes haunting even necessary. Although there seem to be some efforts to reintroduce e.g. the wolf, there is also quite some protest from the population.

THE HIKES/SCRAMBLING
Which hikes/scrambling did I do:
1) Lochaber: climbing Beinn a Bhric (878m) & Leum Uillein (906m).
16km, 4 hours. Ascending 622m, descending 689m, total 1311m
Robert had carefully planned out a beautiful 3 day hike from Corrour to Fort Williams, climbing some mountains on the way. Corrour is the only place that I know of in the world where there is a train station but no roads, no village, only lots of wild nature, a put and at some distance a hostel. So from urban Glasgow you go straight with one train to the wilderness. The hostel is really cute.

From Corrour, hostel Loch Ossian, we climbed these two mountains, one in the fog and in between with a great view at the moorland (a big swampy, boggy area) where the only road is the railway. Apparently the guys who built the railway were walking for hours (20 miles/32km) to get to the pub and several were frozen to death on the way home… “the strengths of alcohol…”. Another guy shot himself a few years ago on top of the mountain in complete Scottish outfit. It appeared that it was a Frenchman who got so much carried away with a game he played that he actually believed to have become a Scot from 19th century. He shot himself with an antique pistol…

Lochaber: hiking with Robert, standing on our second top: Leum Uillein (906m)

Lochaber: hiking with Robert, standing on our second top: Leum Uillein (906m)


Lochaber: The road to the Isles

Lochaber: The road to the Isles


Lochaber: from Leum Uillein (906m) looking to the beautiful Moorland and Loch Ossian

Lochaber: from Leum Uillein (906m) looking to the beautiful Moorland and Loch Ossian

2) Lochaber: climbing Stob Ban (977m)
24km, 6h45, Ascending & descending ca 750m, total 1500m
In rain and sun we hiked towards the bothy Meaneach. Now I know that basic means really basic: 4 walls and a roof that’s it. No mattresses, toilets, running water, etc. However, it was cosy and nice and had a fireplace (which does not really help in a treeless surrounding ). Furthermore I now also know that the repairs of my rain trousers completely failed so I was walking in a nice wet micro climate inside my trousers… As we could not find a good crossing for a side river we hiked up to the Stob Ban. On top there were loads of white granite stones with a great view, among others to the location where ‘Monarch of the Glen’ has been filmed.

3) Lochaber: The road to the Isles: Corrour – Fort William.
24 km, 5h30, ascending 100m, descending 300m, total 400m
From the bothy Meaneach we walked towards Fort William, which started with fording a ca 10m wide river. Robert had sacrificed himself the evening before with a ‘try-out crossing’ and we found a really low (max knee high) place to cross the Abharm Rath. As we thought we had to walk 20 miles (32km) before 16.00 (to collect my rental car) we rushed through the endless swamps and the cute Steal Meadows (a little gorge) to the Ben Nevis car park where we discovered that we had to walk only 24-26 km so we could dribble on and see the thriatlon passing us (running & cycling. We did not see the swimming in the loch = lake).
The drive to Ardfern was nice and the visit to the Ardfern pub (ca 50 steps from Roberts & judths’ their house…) was a pleasure.

Lochaber: the road to the Isles: looking at Binnein Beag

Lochaber: the road to the Isles: looking at Binnein Beag


Lochaber: the road to the isles: walking to the west, with the beautiful Mamores in the south

Lochaber: the road to the isles: walking to the west, with the beautiful Mamores in the south


Ardfern: enjoying the pub with Robert and Judith which is a few steps away from their home... :-)

Ardfern: enjoying the pub with Robert and Judith which is a few steps away from their home... :-)

4) Glencoe: Bidean nam Bian (1150m) & Stob Coire nan Lochan (1115m) (the Three Sisters)
10km, 4h30, ascending & descending 1200m, total 2400m
After a nice very rainy day in the pub, at the graveyard of Ardfern (celtic artwork with swords & onehorn & Viking ships), discussing peripherality and planning my trips, I went to Glencoe, which is really stunningly beautiful. The exhibition in the visitor centre showed the different types of rock, the creation of Schotland (travelling all the way up the earth), the effects of volcano (after eruption, the earth sinks) and the end of the glaciers more than 12 000 years ago which have smoothened most mountains. Also the massacre of the Mc Donalds in the Glencoe was described.
During the hike I could find all the rocks mentioned at the exhibition and after stumbling with great pleasure into a scree field I soon discovered that this was the wrong way and climbed through & over the river to the right way. I lateron saw that many people made the same mistake. Soon I came to the hidden valley, which indeed is really a hidden valley. Going up the wind became already stronger but on top the wind was I guess 100 kmph. (in forecast 50-75 mph was mentioned). Together with the hail & foggy clouds it made the otherwise not too difficult trail to quite a challenge which I deeply enjoyed. After the second top the clouds suddenly cleared so I could enjoy the view. I found a path down which delivered me in pouring rain a few miles from the car, but a car was so friendly to take the half drown hitchhiking girl on board.
A ca 2 hour drive brought me to Tomdoun hotel which appeared to be a beautiful house with a great bar and nice food. Mike just kept presenting himself as he kept forgetting my name and he managed to be rude most of the time, meanwhile keeping up British politeness which I think is a pretty amazing combination. The Irish Mark played some nice guitar flanked by Adrienne and the German Gerhard & Holger were there for a fly fishing course.

Glen coe: Bidean nam Bian

Glen coe: Bidean nam Bian


Glen Coe: The walk to Bidean nam Bian goes up in between the two of the three sisters: Beinn Fhada and Gearr Aonach.

Glen Coe: The walk to Bidean nam Bian goes up in between the two of the three sisters: Beinn Fhada and Gearr Aonach.


Glen Coe: looking from the lost valley towards the north

Glen Coe: looking from the lost valley towards the north


Glen Coe: Bidean nam Bian while crossing a river

Glen Coe: Bidean nam Bian while crossing a river


Glen Coe: on top of Bidean nam Bian (1150m) with ca 100 km p hr and just before the hail started

Glen Coe: on top of Bidean nam Bian (1150m) with ca 100 km p hr and just before the hail started


Glen Coe: Bidean nam Bian: 2 sec before there was a thick fog. Now the Loch Leven and mountains can be seen from the Stob Coire nan Lochan (1115m)

Glen Coe: Bidean nam Bian: 2 sec before there was a thick fog. Now the Loch Leven and mountains can be seen from the Stob Coire nan Lochan (1115m)


Glen Coe: sun going down

Glen Coe: sun going down

5) Highland Glens: The five sisters of Kintail: Beinn Odhar (878m), Sgurr nan Spainteach (990m), Sgurr na Ciste Buibhe (1027m), Sgurr na Carnach (1002m), Sgurr Fhuaran (1067m), Sgurr nan Saighead (929m), Beinn Buidhe (869m)
14km, 5h30, ascending 1600m, descending 1700m, total 3300m
The next day I could actually see the nice surroundings with its beautiful old trees and remote location. There was actually some sun shining, which of course disappeared when I started hiking the five sisters of Kintail. It is a great hike where you are going up and down and up and down on the ridge. The first half I had a view, the second half I spent in the rain and thick fog. Long live compass and ridge walking (just stay on top ). Just when I had to go down it cleared a bit so I found the confirmation that it was the right direction but then ended up going down for 800m through hip high heather and ferns and having to slide of rocks. Although it was rather tiring it was great fun as it did not really matter if you would fall as the heather is soft. Only the end was a bit tricky with plenty of thorny berry plants. Meanwhile I had an audience of a whole herd of sheep who were very interested in this funny figure coming down where they would definitely not like to go up 
Again in pouring rain and after having had to cross a river I ended up at Shiel bridge and had to hitch hike again to my car. Just when I thought that I would have to walk the whole 9 miles (ca 16km) Martin from Germany stopped and we ended up having dinner in the very nice, pleasant, friendly and efficient Cluanie Inn. The drying room was really great for all my drown gear. The lady who was working while walking around with her 9 weeks old baby impressed me very much as it seems that she stopped ONE day to give birth to the baby and working before and after that. Amazing!!! The French politician/Minister who gave a speech after 6 days could have mentioned her.

The lovely Tomdoun hotel

The lovely Tomdoun hotel


Five sisters of Kintail

Five sisters of Kintail


Five Sisters of Kintail: going up looking South East

Five Sisters of Kintail: going up looking South East


Five Sisters of Kintail

Five Sisters of Kintail


Five Sisters of Kintail: looking east where I came from: Sgurr nan Spainteach (990m)

Five Sisters of Kintail: looking east where I came from: Sgurr nan Spainteach (990m)


Five Sisters of Kintail: after lots of fog a view!! From here I walked a straight line down to the loch through hip high bush

Five Sisters of Kintail: after lots of fog a view!! From here I walked a straight line down to the loch through hip high bush


Professional forecasting in Scotland

Professional forecasting in Scotland


Enjoying the very nice Cluanie Inn with 7 A4 of whisky

Enjoying the very nice Cluanie Inn with 7 A4 of whisky

6) Wester Ross: Liathach: Stuc a Choire Dhuibh Bhig (915m), Bidean Toll Mhuie (983m), Spidean a Choire Leith (1055m)Am Fassarinen Pinnacles, Mullach an Rathain (1023m)
15km, 5h30, ascending 1350m, descending 1400m, total 2750m
Unfortunately I could not hike the Cuillons on the nice island Skye. I wanted to hike the Sgurr Dearg & Coire Lagan, but it was in a thick stable fog and compass is not working in the volcanic mountain. Once arrived at the Slichagan hotel it was too late to start another trip so I decided to drive up to Wester Ross. I took 2 French girls on board who were really the most ungrateful, silent and unpleasant hitchhikers I have ever taken. The drive through Wester Ross was really beautiful with the romantic Lochcarron and other small villages overlooking the sea/lochs. I ended up in the Torridon Inn hotel which was fine but not my type of place. It was close to Liathach though and luckily the weather was not too bad for this scramble hike.
Have you ever been so surprised that you almost fall down (of the ridge)? This happened to me when I was being on top enjoying the view when suddenly somebody behind me said ‘hello’. When you are used not to meet anyone on your hikes this really is a surprise, especially if you have not seen this person approaching and he is just standing behind you. The nice thing about Liathach is going up the mountain, approaching the black rocks, walking on the ridge and especially scrambling the Fasserinen. The rock is pretty steady with lots of grips so that makes it quite easy to climb up and down (with a good head for heights). I have to say that each time I am surprised how easy I find these things, whereas in the books they are described as needing experience. It is such a pleasure to notice that I am becoming more and more advanced.
After the knee wrecking descent I drove along the beautiful coast of Wester Ross and stopped at Dundonnell.

Highland Glens: Castle Eilean Donan, said to be the most beautiful castle of Scotland

Highland Glens: Castle Eilean Donan, said to be the most beautiful castle of Scotland


Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye


Liathach

Liathach


Liathach: looking south to river Torridon and looking down to where I walked up (oh yeah, nice and steep!)

Liathach: looking south to river Torridon and looking down to where I walked up (oh yeah, nice and steep!)


Liathach: view looking to the North

Liathach: view looking to the North


Liathach: View from the Am Fassarinen Pinnacles to the north

Liathach: View from the Am Fassarinen Pinnacles to the north


Liathach: Going up and down and scrambling the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles

Liathach: Going up and down and scrambling the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles

7) North West: Ben Loyal: Sgor Cahonasaid (712m)
11 km, 3h05, ascending 714m, descending 725m, total 1439m
Waking up in again a rainy day and knowing that in the upper northern part of Scotland the sun was shining, made me decide to drive the long way up so I took of at 10 and with a short stop at Ullapool (with the Loopallu festival) I ended up at the stunningly beautiful coast of Durness and at 15.00 in Tongue.
I walked quickly up to Ben Loyal, took the steepest route and after barely 3 hours I was back down again. This time my audience consisted of red deer and as you can see at the picture there were lots of them, seemingly guarding the area.
A drive through a very remote area brought me to Loch Ness.

Ullapool where the Loopallu festival was

Ullapool where the Loopallu festival was


A geological special place due to two different formations (layers in the middle and round in the back)

A geological special place due to two different formations (layers in the middle and round in the back)


Sutherland in the North West of Scotland: wild and remote with a sheep here and there

Sutherland in the North West of Scotland: wild and remote with a sheep here and there


The beautiful northern coast and look: it exists: a blue sky in Scotland!!!

The beautiful northern coast and look: it exists: a blue sky in Scotland!!!


Northern coast of Scotlad, close to Durness

Northern coast of Scotlad, close to Durness


Ben Loyal

Ben Loyal


Ben Loyal: Red deer on the way going up

Ben Loyal: Red deer on the way going up


Ben Loyal: view from the top with the Atlantic Sea in the back

Ben Loyal: view from the top with the Atlantic Sea in the back


Ben Loyal: view from the top Sgor Chaonasaid (712m) at the Sgor a Bhatain

Ben Loyal: view from the top Sgor Chaonasaid (712m) at the Sgor a Bhatain


Ben Loyal: View from the top at the Loch na Creige Riabhaich

Ben Loyal: View from the top at the Loch na Creige Riabhaich


Ben Loyal: While going down I had this beautiful audience of red deer lining up.

Ben Loyal: While going down I had this beautiful audience of red deer lining up.


Ben Loyal: Sgor Chaonasaid (712m): I hiked to the top going up straight up at the left side

Ben Loyal: Sgor Chaonasaid (712m): I hiked to the top going up straight up at the left side


Scottish humor or nature concurring urbanisation?

Scottish humor or nature concurring urbanisation?

Posted by Marie-Jose 20.09.2010 15:13 Archived in Scotland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Sept 2010 France: Mariage de Béné et Ghislain

sunny 25 °C
View Mariage Béné et Ghislain, 3-5 Sept 2010 & Tour Mont Blanc August 2010 & Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Béné avec ses parents et son fils Axel pendant sa dernière soirée avant le mariage

Béné avec ses parents et son fils Axel pendant sa dernière soirée avant le mariage


Les préparations: friseur, manicure, pedicure, maquillage: 2,5 heures...

Les préparations: friseur, manicure, pedicure, maquillage: 2,5 heures...


En rentrant du friseur

En rentrant du friseur


Design fait pour le futur marié (qui s'appelait Emma sur le design au lieu de Béné :-)

Design fait pour le futur marié (qui s'appelait Emma sur le design au lieu de Béné :-)


Préparation pour le mariage veut dire: on boit un coupe de champagne :-)

Préparation pour le mariage veut dire: on boit un coupe de champagne :-)


Béné qui descend en tout beauté

Béné qui descend en tout beauté


Milou avec son chapeau sublime, dangereuse Georgia et MJ

Milou avec son chapeau sublime, dangereuse Georgia et MJ


Session photo dans la domaine de Gravières

Session photo dans la domaine de Gravières


Session photo dans la domaine de Gravières

Session photo dans la domaine de Gravières


La ceremonie au mairie

La ceremonie au mairie


Ghislain qui regarde sa futur femme entrer l'église

Ghislain qui regarde sa futur femme entrer l'église


Axel (au milieu) avec ses deux ans et demi qui est tout attentive et tout tranquille. On voit tout le monde bouger sauf lui...

Axel (au milieu) avec ses deux ans et demi qui est tout attentive et tout tranquille. On voit tout le monde bouger sauf lui...


La céremonie

La céremonie


La ceremonie

La ceremonie


La ceremonie

La ceremonie


Béné qui fait ses voeux devant Maria

Béné qui fait ses voeux devant Maria


Signer le registre

Signer le registre


En sortant de l'église

En sortant de l'église


Le cadeau pour les mariés

Le cadeau pour les mariés


MJ, Milou, Aurélien et Georgia

MJ, Milou, Aurélien et Georgia


MJ, Aurélien, Milou et Georgia

MJ, Aurélien, Milou et Georgia


Le photograph est pris en photos avec Aurélien, Georgia et Milou.

Le photograph est pris en photos avec Aurélien, Georgia et Milou.


MJ

MJ


Georgia, MJ et Aurélien

Georgia, MJ et Aurélien


La table des mariés et temoins

La table des mariés et temoins


Béné et Ghislain pendant un discours

Béné et Ghislain pendant un discours


Benedicte qui danse avec son père

Benedicte qui danse avec son père


Milou et Georgia

Milou et Georgia


Georgia, Aurélien et Milou

Georgia, Aurélien et Milou


Milou et Georgia

Milou et Georgia


Milou, Georgia et MJ

Milou, Georgia et MJ


Aurélien et Georgia

Aurélien et Georgia

Posted by Marie-Jose 06.09.2010 18:40 Archived in France Tagged parties Comments (0)

July 2010 Canadian Rocky Mountains

Prince Rupert - Calgary - Banff - Lake Louise - Yoho - Jasper - Calgary

semi-overcast 23 °C
View Scotland 9-19 Sept 2010 & Mariage Béné et Ghislain, 3-5 Sept 2010 & Tour Mont Blanc August 2010 & Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 & Annecy 23-25 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

CANADA

(the blog on Alaska is now complete as well)

CALGARY
After my 72 hour trip I arrived finally in Calgary looking forward to finally having my own car. It was sunday 11 July, the world cup finals of The Netherlands against Spain and it appeared that my car rental office was closed and the deal I had found was not available anymore but got offered a car for 300 dollars more!! I ended up watching parts of the world cup in a chinese (!) restaurant, and after many calls I found the last car available for a good price from Rent-a-Wreck. I was really happy not to be dependent anymore and being able to leave, stop and arrive whenever I wanted.
Coming from Alaska I was afraid that I would not enjoy the Canadian Rockies anymore but Banff proved to be a pleasant mountain town. Of course everything is about tourism there and I sometimes had the feeling to be in the Netherlands as there are many many tourists, but the style is ok and the setting is great with all the mountains. There was a really nice concert in one of the bars and really enjoyed my evening.

Map of Canadian Rocky Mountains

Map of Canadian Rocky Mountains


Skyline of Calgary

Skyline of Calgary


Calgary, where the Stampede started, The Netherlands lost the Worldcup from Spain, my rented car was not available after the 72 hours of travel and ended up with a 'rent-a-wreck'

Calgary, where the Stampede started, The Netherlands lost the Worldcup from Spain, my rented car was not available after the 72 hours of travel and ended up with a 'rent-a-wreck'


With finally a rented car, to the Canadian Rockies

With finally a rented car, to the Canadian Rockies


The Canadian rockies coming from Calgary

The Canadian rockies coming from Calgary

LAKE LOUISE
Lake Louise is famous and it is a beautiful lake. The huge hotel next to it is a bit a pity. however, the hike to Plain Six Glaciers is nice if a bit easy.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise


From Lake Louise to Plain Six Glaciers

From Lake Louise to Plain Six Glaciers


Plain Six Glaciers

Plain Six Glaciers


Plain Six Glaciers

Plain Six Glaciers


Plain six Glaciers, hike from Lake Louise

Plain six Glaciers, hike from Lake Louise


Moraine lake (after 20 degrees celcius the day before, the 8 degrees were a bit cold...)

Moraine lake (after 20 degrees celcius the day before, the 8 degrees were a bit cold...)

YOHO NATIONAL PARK
Waterfalls, waterfalls, and waterfalls. all different, but all from the same day: Whaleback and Iceline trail. In Jasper it was hailing the size of tennisballs, so I was very lucky with cjust loudy weather.

Waterfalls, waterfalls, and waterfalls. all different, but all from the same day: Whaleback and Iceline trail. In Jasper it was hailing the size of tennisballs, so I was very lucky with cjust loudy weather.


On the Iceline trail this two rocks who are together but separated with of course another waterfall

On the Iceline trail this two rocks who are together but separated with of course another waterfall


Iceline Trail. Left top is from a campsite where you can put your food against the bears

Iceline Trail. Left top is from a campsite where you can put your food against the bears


The water towards the Twin Falls. Left below is where the water actually goes down into the waterfall

The water towards the Twin Falls. Left below is where the water actually goes down into the waterfall


View from Iceline Trail

View from Iceline Trail

ICEFIELD PARKWAY THROUGH CANADIAN ROCKIES
The Icefield Parkway is indeed a very beautiful drive.

The beautiful Icefields Parkway.

The beautiful Icefields Parkway.


Icefields Parkway: 230 km of beautiful mountains, one after the other, all different and all beautiful.

Icefields Parkway: 230 km of beautiful mountains, one after the other, all different and all beautiful.


Athabasca Glacier: they even made busses to go up to the glacier. After being spoilt in Alaska I took a picture, laughed about the mass tourism and continued my road...

Athabasca Glacier: they even made busses to go up to the glacier. After being spoilt in Alaska I took a picture, laughed about the mass tourism and continued my road...


If you think that stone is harder than water: just have a look at the Maligne Canyon: the water has shaped perfect rounds everywhere.

If you think that stone is harder than water: just have a look at the Maligne Canyon: the water has shaped perfect rounds everywhere.


Stones from the Parker Ridge: on top: one side with white spots, the other side with white stripes, kind of fossiles???

Stones from the Parker Ridge: on top: one side with white spots, the other side with white stripes, kind of fossiles???


Stones from the canadian rockies. Left below are garnetts from South East Alaska (wrangell)

Stones from the canadian rockies. Left below are garnetts from South East Alaska (wrangell)


Stones from Alaska and Canadian rockies

Stones from Alaska and Canadian rockies

JASPER NATIONAL PARK
waterfalls, waterfalls and waterfalls, all around Jasper

waterfalls, waterfalls and waterfalls, all around Jasper


Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls


Right: black bear close to Jasper with 10 cars trying to get pictures from the cute bear who is unaware of these paparazzi. Left: brown bear in Denali park with 2 young bears.

Right: black bear close to Jasper with 10 cars trying to get pictures from the cute bear who is unaware of these paparazzi. Left: brown bear in Denali park with 2 young bears.

BANFF NATIONAL PARK - Parkers Ridge
One of the nicest hikes I did was to the Parkers Ridge. I arrived early evening which gave a beautiful light and it was a nice steep hike (if a bit short) with a very rewarding view at the Glacier.

Although the parker ridge is only a short hike it is a wonderful hike (with lots of wind!). I was informed that they saw a grizzly bear just before me, but all I saw were two bighorn sheep and lots of nice nature (glacier, stones).

Although the parker ridge is only a short hike it is a wonderful hike (with lots of wind!). I was informed that they saw a grizzly bear just before me, but all I saw were two bighorn sheep and lots of nice nature (glacier, stones).


Top: Athabasca Glacier. Bottom: Mt and Glacier Saskatchewan, both in the evening with perfect light

Top: Athabasca Glacier. Bottom: Mt and Glacier Saskatchewan, both in the evening with perfect light


Parker Ridge trail with a view at the Saskatchewan Glacier

Parker Ridge trail with a view at the Saskatchewan Glacier


Some nice footprints, guess what is what... there is a grizzly bear footprint from the parker ridge (which just passed before me, I was told), and furthermore....

Some nice footprints, guess what is what... there is a grizzly bear footprint from the parker ridge (which just passed before me, I was told), and furthermore....

BANFF NATIONAL PARK - Healy Pass and Egypt Lake
The Healy pass is known for its flowers and indeed there were many.

On the way to the Healy Pass

On the way to the Healy Pass


Up to the Healy pass you go along many lakes and flowers

Up to the Healy pass you go along many lakes and flowers


Flowersssss

Flowersssss


Lots of flowers at the Healy Pass

Lots of flowers at the Healy Pass


On top the Monarch Ramparts covered with a nice layer of snow. On the bottom the view next to it (both from Healy Pass): the Pharaoh Peaks with  Egypt lake.

On top the Monarch Ramparts covered with a nice layer of snow. On the bottom the view next to it (both from Healy Pass): the Pharaoh Peaks with Egypt lake.


one of the many lakes on the way to Healy Pass

one of the many lakes on the way to Healy Pass


Deer and bighorn / rocky mountain sheep. The male and female bighorn herd separately

Deer and bighorn / rocky mountain sheep. The male and female bighorn herd separately

CANMORE - Lady Mc Donald
The other nicest hike was my scramble up to Lady Mc Donald. Not because it is the nicest scramble around (you have most of the time a view at Canmore) but because it was a scramble. I only learnt two evenings before from Amber, Tyler, Enrique (who had been stuck for days in snow and had to be flown out) that in Canada there is the concept of scrambling, which is basically in between hiking, mountaineering and climbing. They recommended me Mount Temple which indeed looked very nice, but unfortunately there was too much snow so in the end I climbed the Lady Mc Donald which was very nice too, and met with Barkley and Henrike + dog which was really nice.

The scramble up to the Lady Mc Donald. I point to the top where I went. Meanwhile I met some locals, had a nice chat with Barkley and ended hiking up with Henrike and the beautiful dog who went in same speed as I did.

The scramble up to the Lady Mc Donald. I point to the top where I went. Meanwhile I met some locals, had a nice chat with Barkley and ended hiking up with Henrike and the beautiful dog who went in same speed as I did.


Scrambling up to Lady Mc Donald was really nice and steep

Scrambling up to Lady Mc Donald was really nice and steep


Henrike and me on the Lady Mc Donald at the end of our scramble

Henrike and me on the Lady Mc Donald at the end of our scramble

FROM CALGARY TO MINNEAPOLIS TO THE NETHERLANDS
View from Calgary at 6.00 in the morning

View from Calgary at 6.00 in the morning


The canadian Rockies from the sky

The canadian Rockies from the sky


Lake Louise from the sky

Lake Louise from the sky


Arriving back home at 'my' canal with beautiful weather

Arriving back home at 'my' canal with beautiful weather

Posted by Marie-Jose 06.09.2010 18:15 Archived in Canada Tagged mountains backpacking Comments (0)

June 2010 Alaska part 2

Paradise in Alaska: Valdez - Mc Carthy - Juneau

sunny 19 °C
View Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Where to start?
Alaska has impressed my quite a bit for several reasons:

  • Alaska still belongs to nature and hardly to people. A nice saying is: more glaciers than buildings, more wildlife than people, more mountains than stoplights. And it is true. the vastness of the landscape is impressive and I have been in the most populated area...
  • There are in total 600 000 people in an area which is larger than half of the lower 48 US states. 300 000 are in Anchorage, 30 000 are in the state capital ' Juneau' and Juneau can only be reached by boat or plane. There is no road leading to the state capital and that makes it the only one of the States.
  • There are hardly roads and most roads stop after 50-100 km and basically lead to nothing... (if you consider nature nothing). So you have to fly in or take a boat to most destinations. This also makes public transport basically absent and makes going around rather expensive. You need either a big bag with lots of dollars or you need to have friends who are transporting you around.
  • People help each other. Since there are rather small communities and people live out in the wild they are used to help each other. The more basic life becomes, the warmer the people seem to become. It is a pleasure to talk to each other because it could be a while before you meet the next person...

VALDEZ
Although we really liked Seward, Julie and I took the bus, train and boat to get to Valdez. If I would redo something, that would be: renting a car straight from the start. Public transport is basically non existing and you have to be lucky to find out if, when and where the bus is going. In the end we managed to get a good connection. We got our bus ticket from a rather special but friendly lady who seemed to be way more interested in the little street flower she got from a friend than running her business and we almost got on the church bus tour but finally managed to get into the right bus. Does Alaska attract special people? It seems like it as every person I met seemed to have its own story to tell. The train was this cute little train which brought us to colourless and not very interesting Whittier where we took the ferry.
Most interesting of the ferry was our trip through all the ice bergs which came from the Columbia glacier.

By bus, train and ferry from Sewart to Valdez: sailing in between many ice bergs coming from the Columbia Glacier

By bus, train and ferry from Sewart to Valdez: sailing in between many ice bergs coming from the Columbia Glacier

In Valdez it was lousy weather and I guess that also influenced my opinion on Valdez. We were really lucky to get this huge apartment all for ourselves for a good price as there was no hostel and Julie had no camping gear with her.
Good opportunity also to visit the musea and learn about the earthquake of 1964 which basically ruined old Valdez which was situated at the end of the glacier and had a little port. After the earthquake they literally moved about 30 houses from old Valdez to new Valdez (a few miles further). In the museum you can find quite some history as well of the gold diggers who made long trips through snow with very little protection and hardly any facilities. Really impressive and admirable.
Interesting as well was the fur coated fish (see picture). This fish a rare specie and this is one of the very few they were able to catch. Recently they have however discovered that the fish has developed itself further and they have been seen with goretex instead of fur... Alaskan humor :-)

The rear fur coated fish, further the firemens car, the gold diggers and the best rain proof coat of intestines.

The rear fur coated fish, further the firemens car, the gold diggers and the best rain proof coat of intestines.


Some cars are for winter and some for summer... furthermore do not expect a cosy campsite for your RV...

Some cars are for winter and some for summer... furthermore do not expect a cosy campsite for your RV...

COLUMBIA GLACIER: GLACIER KAYAKING
The one thing for which it was really worthwhile to go to Valdez, seperate from the museum, was the Columbia glacier where we did some glacier kayaking. There are basically 2 companies who offer these trips, exactly the same thing, same price but different owners. It seems that the owner of the one used to work at the other company. Bit weird. Anyway, although it was freezing cold in the wind and rain, it was absolutely beautiful to walk and kayak between the huge ice berg chunks which are all different in size, colour, structure. To and from the glacier we saw many wildlife: cute cute cute sea otters (which seem to be very agressive), orkas, sea lions.

Glacier kayaking, freezing cold but amazing!

Glacier kayaking, freezing cold but amazing!


Glacier kayaking in between the ice bergs

Glacier kayaking in between the ice bergs


In the distance you can see the Columbia glacier, with all its ice bergs in front

In the distance you can see the Columbia glacier, with all its ice bergs in front


Glacier kayaking at the columbia glacier

Glacier kayaking at the columbia glacier


Sea lions

Sea lions


sooooo cute these sea otters. furthermore orca &#38; dall porpoises

sooooo cute these sea otters. furthermore orca &#38; dall porpoises

FROM VALDEZ TO MC CARTHY
As there was no bus, train or any other transport out of Valdez, I hitchhiked which was big fun. I started by asking some people at a gas station who clearly were not interested. As there was not much traffic I went to the end of town and was picked up rather soon by a couple from Florida who had been driving all the way up with their RV (Camper) to Alaska. They stayed in contact with their friends (who appeared to be the couple who declined) over the walkie talkie and had whole conversations. Soon we saw Arnaud (Belgium guy who wants to climb all highest mountains in all American mountains) who also needed transport and we took him on board as well. The second car was with a couple who passed first and after a few minutes they came back for me!! They actually turned the car around to take me on board. Really sweet. And then I was in Chitina where the dirt road started to Mc Carthy and where there was hardly any traffic at all. All the cars went just to see the fishing system which is rather genius: two blades turning around (kind of a mill) and taking the fish from the water. REally clever. Anyway, I stayed there for 2 hours and met Alison who lives in Mc Carthy. Very relaxed. We ended by being taking on board by a couple who had built a bunk bed into their car, which resulted in Alison lying at the bottom of the car on a mattress and me on top of the bunk bed just below the ceiling, with a nice view (Alison was in the dark...), and drove like this in ca 3 hours to Mc Carthy, meanwhile of course getting a flat tyre which meant that the whole car had to be unloaded and reloaded.

From Valdez there was no public transport so I hiked with three cars to Mc Carthy

From Valdez there was no public transport so I hiked with three cars to Mc Carthy


Drive through Wrangell National Park. Below the creative fishing wheel: very efficient!

Drive through Wrangell National Park. Below the creative fishing wheel: very efficient!


Drive through the Wrangell National Park

Drive through the Wrangell National Park

WRANGELL NATIONAL PARK: MC CARTHY AND KENNECOTT
Mc Carthy has been the absolute highlight of my trip. Why? I have been wondering how to describe it but I think that it is hard to catch it in words. For me it felt like a modern hippie village. People are happy to be there, interested in each other and you get the feeling that you are totally free in whatever you do. I cannot recall that I felt somewhere so welcome, so free and so connected to a place. Of course a lot has to do with the people. I met so many wonderful people (robin, mike, alison, mark vail, jeremy, justin, brad, nate, andrea, liz, tyler, betsy, terry, hollis, matt, may, kirin, elisabeth, avery & owen, etc). And the people care and enjoy. If I would not have had a plane to catch to go back to work I would have stayed and worked there for the summer. I was supposed to stay one day but stayed in the end one week and really had difficulties in leaving the place and people behind.
Kennecott and Mc Carthy were built for the copper mine and in 1938 the mine closed down and most families left. The old mining buildings are still there and basically both villages consist of some wooden houses/buildings which carry history with them. You can sense that a lot has happened there which is confirmed by all kind of details. At the hotel there are old pictures from magazines from the 1930s with advertisement texts such as 'if you search a husband, buy this cream' with a men saying 'when I saw how soft her hands were I knew she was the one for me'. There is another building which is not being renovated because of some drama that happened there. There are still everywhere old machines and they are currently stabilising the mining buildings to prevent them from collapsing.

the root glacier seen from the hostel where I stayed and picture of Alison with who I hiked and the couple that took us on board

the root glacier seen from the hostel where I stayed and picture of Alison with who I hiked and the couple that took us on board


view at root glacier from the hostel I stayed in Mc Carthy

view at root glacier from the hostel I stayed in Mc Carthy


Lovely Mc Carthy with its simple and old buildings. Population in winter: ca 20. Population in summer: ca 200

Lovely Mc Carthy with its simple and old buildings. Population in winter: ca 20. Population in summer: ca 200


Open mic night where I met half the village of Mc Carthy and enjoyed some very nice jam sessions. Upper pictures: ca 3 in the morning

Open mic night where I met half the village of Mc Carthy and enjoyed some very nice jam sessions. Upper pictures: ca 3 in the morning


The Kennecott copper mine which closed down in 1938 and left behind some beautiful old buildings and old machinery.

The Kennecott copper mine which closed down in 1938 and left behind some beautiful old buildings and old machinery.

This is all placed right next to a beautiful glacier which you can access by walking a few minutes from the village (some people literally live next to the glacier). It is against the scenery of several beautiful mountain chains and to reach Mc Carthy you have to drive over a dirt road for three hours and cross a river over a foot bridge (the inhabitants are strongly against an asphalt road to protect the village). No cars are in town except for a shuttle van. There is one shop which has basically everything from icecream to vegetables to clothing to 5kg pancake mix (!). There is one bar which is called the saloon and where there is every thursday open mic night where everyone who wants can start playing music, jamming around. On Friday people who want play Softball (what were again the rules...uuhh).

Animals in Alaska &#38; Canada: squirrel fight in Mc Carthy, bird in Exit Glacier, and marmot in Banff

Animals in Alaska &#38; Canada: squirrel fight in Mc Carthy, bird in Exit Glacier, and marmot in Banff


Hiking towards and on the Root Glacier with Mike

Hiking towards and on the Root Glacier with Mike


Root Glacier with its blue pools

Root Glacier with its blue pools


Root Glacier with its blue pools and the curves from previous water flows

Root Glacier with its blue pools and the curves from previous water flows


view from and at Root Glacier

view from and at Root Glacier


Party life in Mc Carthy

Party life in Mc Carthy

If you want to have a great independance day, make sure that you are the 4th July in Mc Carthy. It was a great day with all kind of traditional games and a very nice atmosphere although there were many tourists (said the tourist herself... but I really did not feel one there).

A great independence day with traditional games: pie eating (who is quickest), houlah houp, egg tossing etc

A great independence day with traditional games: pie eating (who is quickest), houlah houp, egg tossing etc


Mc Carthy life: playing softball

Mc Carthy life: playing softball

With Robin I went inside the heart of the glacier. Robin had found this 'trail'/tunnel under the glacier which was formed by the water that comes every now and then from the blue pools. It is a pretty amazing feeling to be under the glacier and see how the stones and ice are becoming one, to see the glacier diamonds, to see the water dripping from the glacier and to simply be impressed by the beauty of the ice and the 'tunnel'.

Glacier caving: on top pictures you can see where we went under the glacier. Below the view from the start of the glacier cave

Glacier caving: on top pictures you can see where we went under the glacier. Below the view from the start of the glacier cave


Glacier Caving: amazing to hike UNDER the glacier and see the huge 'ice diamonds'.

Glacier Caving: amazing to hike UNDER the glacier and see the huge 'ice diamonds'.


Ice Caving: Amazing trip with Robin crowling and hiking under the glacier in an almost empty river bed.

Ice Caving: Amazing trip with Robin crowling and hiking under the glacier in an almost empty river bed.


jumping all at once is not easy: Mc Carthy life

jumping all at once is not easy: Mc Carthy life


Spent last evening in Mc Carthy chopping wood, enjoying salads with ingredients from own garden and a wonderful sushi with fresh salmon. mmmh

Spent last evening in Mc Carthy chopping wood, enjoying salads with ingredients from own garden and a wonderful sushi with fresh salmon. mmmh


The Bonanza Mine Trail: walking over the old mine road. In upper left picture you can see the mine. In the lower pictures you can see the root Glacier

The Bonanza Mine Trail: walking over the old mine road. In upper left picture you can see the mine. In the lower pictures you can see the root Glacier


Flowerss

Flowerss


The bonanza mine trail and departure: good bye from Alison (who is stocking up supplies for the village wiht the cart over the footbridge)

The bonanza mine trail and departure: good bye from Alison (who is stocking up supplies for the village wiht the cart over the footbridge)

FROM MC CARTHY OVER ANCHORAGE TO JUNEAU
Maye had offered me a ride back to Anchorage which I accepted and with a very heavy heart I left Mc Carthy. As she had lost the car keys we left a bit later and I was able to hike the Bonanza Mine trail. The drive to Anchorage is beautiful, if a bit long with 9 hours. The next day I took a flight to Juneau and some people were so kind to swap places in order to allow me to have a beautiful view at the Mountains of Wrangell national park. The clouds lifted and allowed some beautiful views of glaciers, glaciers, some more glaciers and of course endless mountains.

The beautiful drive from Mc Carthy to Anchorage, passing many glaciers and with a beautiful light at the glacier. Maye very friendly offered me to join her on the ride.

The beautiful drive from Mc Carthy to Anchorage, passing many glaciers and with a beautiful light at the glacier. Maye very friendly offered me to join her on the ride.


The beautiful, stunning flight from Anchorage to Juneau. How many glaciers can you count there...? I just kept taking pictures

The beautiful, stunning flight from Anchorage to Juneau. How many glaciers can you count there...? I just kept taking pictures


The beautiful flight towards Juneau

The beautiful flight towards Juneau

JUNEAU - SOUTH EAST ALASKA
Juneau is the only state capital that is not accessible by road. You have to fly in or come by boat. I rented a car to be able to explore a bit but basically you can just go some 30-50 miles and the road will end.

Mendenhall glacier at a gorgeous day in South East Alaska where I was informed that it rains all the time... (if you stay longer than an hour, expect it to rain). Well, I guess I was once more lucky.

Mendenhall glacier at a gorgeous day in South East Alaska where I was informed that it rains all the time... (if you stay longer than an hour, expect it to rain). Well, I guess I was once more lucky.


American way of camping: your private parking spot, bench and tentsite. The lovely Dan and Caroll with their huge mobile home (with complete furniture) were hosts. Above Mendenhall glacier.

American way of camping: your private parking spot, bench and tentsite. The lovely Dan and Caroll with their huge mobile home (with complete furniture) were hosts. Above Mendenhall glacier.


At shrine of St Theresa I saw lots of Salmon fish jump out of the water (right above) and enjoyed the peace, meanwhile longing back for Mc Carthy...

At shrine of St Theresa I saw lots of Salmon fish jump out of the water (right above) and enjoyed the peace, meanwhile longing back for Mc Carthy...


flowers from Juneau, Alaska

flowers from Juneau, Alaska


The view from my campsite at three in the morning (top pictures) and in the morning of the Mendenhall Glacier

The view from my campsite at three in the morning (top pictures) and in the morning of the Mendenhall Glacier


Juneau: a church with russian influences and some big houses which show the presence of the Alaskan government in this little town of 30 000 people. I spent most day finding a car though for Canada

Juneau: a church with russian influences and some big houses which show the presence of the Alaskan government in this little town of 30 000 people. I spent most day finding a car though for Canada

FERRY FROM JUNEAU TO PRINCE RUPERT
A ferry ride is a very nice way to see South East Alaska. There are actually quite many cruises but you can really see that the places where there are cruise boats that these have the regular bunch of tourist shops. The ferry gives a less tourist feeling and is very pleasant. The sleeping on the deck was gorgeous and really relaxed. The company of Mark who had been biking around for 3 weeks made it even more pleasant. And it appeared that Carmel had been aswell in Mc Carthy with exactly the same experience and impressions as I had.

My hotel for two nights: the deck on the ferry where I slept perfect with a great view

My hotel for two nights: the deck on the ferry where I slept perfect with a great view


We stopped at Petersburg with its Norwegian influences

We stopped at Petersburg with its Norwegian influences


A stop at Wrangell, where the kids alone are allowed to collect and sell the Garnetts.

A stop at Wrangell, where the kids alone are allowed to collect and sell the Garnetts.


A relaxed ferry trip which ended in Prince Rupert at 5.15 in the morning. I took a bus straight to Prince George, from Prince George to Edmonton and from Edmonton to Calgary: with ferry 72 hours of non stop travelling...

A relaxed ferry trip which ended in Prince Rupert at 5.15 in the morning. I took a bus straight to Prince George, from Prince George to Edmonton and from Edmonton to Calgary: with ferry 72 hours of non stop travelling...

Posted by Marie-Jose 06.09.2010 17:46 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (14)

June 2010 Alaska part 1

Anchorage - Denali - Seward - Exit Glacier

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Hi there,

Alaska is easygoing. Life is simple: you drive a big car, you catch big fish, you eat big meals, you see big animals, you live in a BIG state. are you catching the picture?? In summer when there are tourists around people work hard and in winter they simply enjoy their life in their cabin in the woods where they have 1 generator for electricity and live a simple life. It is rough but easygoing. Is that why I feel so well here? Nothing is a must, appearance is really not important and basically you help each other out when needed and otherwise you leave eachother live their lifes peacefully.

DENALI PARK
After I arrived in Anchorage at 21.00 from Netherlands I found my tent, mattress, waterfilter & watch had been well delivered to the hostel so I was a happy chappy trying it out. Next morning I had no clue what to do, met Julie at the hostel and decided to go straight to Denali park which is a 6 hour bus drive (after 24h travelling by plane...). She is starting her year travelling and we ended up travelling independently together which is fabulous: each does what she likes best but hanging out together is great as well. So she slept in the hostel just outside the Denali Park and I went off the next day camping inside the Denali Park. (again 6 hours in the bus...: that's alaska: everything is far and big).
On the way to Denali we had already a fabulous view of Mt Mc Kinley which is the highest mountain of North America (6200m). First I did not see it until I did not look at the other mountains but looked WAAAAYYYYY up in the sky and saw it towering triple the size of the other mountains: really impressive!! Inside the Park I just kept being lucky as I had a full view of it. I stayed midsummernight in Denali Park with a full view of the Mt Mc Kinley from my tent, only 2 days after flying out from NL and it was difficult to close my eyes since the view was simply stunning: at 3 in the morning it was still light.

Drive to Denali Park with stop at Talkeetna where we saw the Mt Mc Kinley. Do you see it?

Drive to Denali Park with stop at Talkeetna where we saw the Mt Mc Kinley. Do you see it?


Towards Denali park

Towards Denali park


Wildlife in Denali Park

Wildlife in Denali Park


Denali park and polychrome point

Denali park and polychrome point


My new tent and the amazing view at Mt Mc Kinley at midsummernight in Denali Park. Right below is at 2-3 in the morning!!

My new tent and the amazing view at Mt Mc Kinley at midsummernight in Denali Park. Right below is at 2-3 in the morning!!


Great great view at mount mc kinley from my tent (6200m: highest mountain in North America): does not happen often to have this view!!

Great great view at mount mc kinley from my tent (6200m: highest mountain in North America): does not happen often to have this view!!


Denali park tries in an original to keep people from feeding the squirrels. I can proudly say that I was the only one who got the tail of the fox...

Denali park tries in an original to keep people from feeding the squirrels. I can proudly say that I was the only one who got the tail of the fox...

Next night I camped at another place and climbed a mountain. You have NO trails which is so liberating. It is really a very nice experience to just walk around and search for your own way. Of course you should be careful since we are in moose & bear country and actually I encountered a moose at ca 30 m distance who was enjoying its lunch from the trees, so I changed my path and continued in another way. I have seen (from the bus...) all kind of animals: bears, moose, dall sheep, caribou, fox and even a wolf. I was never too much into animals but here I start to really enjoy it.
Anyway, at the pictures you can see the mountain I climbed: the loose rocks were really fun ad the rock is really loose so I did not do the final top since that was too dangerous.

Denali Park. Left below a marmot and a wolf (there are only 68 in the 6 mln ha park...)

Denali Park. Left below a marmot and a wolf (there are only 68 in the 6 mln ha park...)


My hike / scramble to Cathedral mountain: no trail: such a great feeling to hike without trail!!

My hike / scramble to Cathedral mountain: no trail: such a great feeling to hike without trail!!


Hiking safe means watching shit of others... mmmh:  bear, moose and hey, there is a moose just in front of me. I guess I will go left here..

Hiking safe means watching shit of others... mmmh: bear, moose and hey, there is a moose just in front of me. I guess I will go left here..

FROM DENALI TO SEWARD
I met up with Julie again in the hostel (after having had dinner with Chad) and next morning we were really lucky to find a place at a bus which was said that it was supposed to be full. Our bus driver did NOT stop talking.

After two nights in my tent I was welcomed back by Julie in a less pleasant tent. Furthermore our bus driver (see his beautiful moose shirt) managed to chat into the microphone 6 hours without stopping

After two nights in my tent I was welcomed back by Julie in a less pleasant tent. Furthermore our bus driver (see his beautiful moose shirt) managed to chat into the microphone 6 hours without stopping

After Anchorage you drive along the coast which is a wildlife refuge and it is only now that I understand why our ' Waddenzee' in the Netherlands is so special. This is similar but of course bigger: long stratches of seabanks full of ' slib'

From bus to seward at Kenai Island we saw this huge sand banks

From bus to seward at Kenai Island we saw this huge sand banks


Casper is waving hello to the outside world

Casper is waving hello to the outside world

SEWARD
I loved Seward. it is a very simple but lovely fishers village with its own identity. It was really nice to see how they dealt with the fish, cleaned it and how they run a good business on it.

Interesting to see the commercial fishing. The fish they caught will be cleaned and shipped home. In the halibut derby the largest was 150 kg!!!

Interesting to see the commercial fishing. The fish they caught will be cleaned and shipped home. In the halibut derby the largest was 150 kg!!!


boat trip

boat trip


Boat trip

Boat trip


End of boat trip

End of boat trip

EXIT GLACIER
As soon as I got to Seward I signed up for ice climbing at the glacier. It was absolutely amazing and I would like to be able to do this every day: simply being at the glacier, exploring crevasses using your ice axe and having a good time. I really did not want to leave the ice. However, everything is bloody expensive here so I guess I should profit from the minutes / hours I can be on the ice. Anyway I was really happy to notice that my ice cl;imbing skills are really improving!!

plants around Exit Glacier. Left one: beautiful but poisonous plant: the natives would give it to their captives: if they survived they could stick with them

plants around Exit Glacier. Left one: beautiful but poisonous plant: the natives would give it to their captives: if they survived they could stick with them


Hike towards Exit Glacier, close to Seward

Hike towards Exit Glacier, close to Seward


Ice climbing at the Exit Glacier

Ice climbing at the Exit Glacier


The blue blue ice within the Crevasse

The blue blue ice within the Crevasse


Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier

Posted by Marie-Jose 01.09.2010 09:21 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

August 2010 Amsterdan: SAIL

semi-overcast 24 °C
View Tour Mont Blanc August 2010 & Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

SAIL 2010 in Amsterdam!!!

Once in 5 years Amsterdam is being visited by about 50 (historical) tallships from all over the world.
It is a wonderful event since all these beautiful boats do actually attract thousands of larger and smaller boats. Although it is great to simply stroll alongside the boats and enjoy the atmosphere, the beautiful boats and all the music, art expositions around it, etc, the best way to visit SAIL is of course on a boat!!

Therefore I rented - also as a kind of birthday gift/party - a boat: a beautiful huge boat (previously a rescue boat completely renovated) with our super kind captain Jochem & Deborah. We had the most wonderful evening sailing in between all the boats and with a nice fireworks.

Thanks everyone who was there! It was a great evening.

the last boats of SAIL in: about 50 tall ships are visiting Amsterdam

the last boats of SAIL in: about 50 tall ships are visiting Amsterdam


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


SAIL 2010: nice evening with Jantien &#38; Georgia: right below the Statenjacht Utrecht

SAIL 2010: nice evening with Jantien &#38; Georgia: right below the Statenjacht Utrecht


SAIL 2010 on the wonderful boat with our great captain (Jochem bedankt!!!!!)

SAIL 2010 on the wonderful boat with our great captain (Jochem bedankt!!!!!)


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


SAIL 2010: right below the Vespucci

SAIL 2010: right below the Vespucci


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


SAIL 2010

SAIL 2010


Group picture   fireworks

Group picture + fireworks


Enjoying SAIL

Enjoying SAIL

Posted by Marie-Jose 22.08.2010 08:33 Archived in Netherlands Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

August 2010 Fr-It-Sui: Tour Mont Blanc in 9 days

Enjoying a walk around the Mont Blanc: horizontal 150 km, vertical 19 km going up and down.

sunny 24 °C
View Tour Mont Blanc August 2010 & Alaska 19 June - 18 July 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Our Tour Mont Blanc
The Tour the Mont Blanc

The Tour the Mont Blanc

Georgia wanted to hike the Tour de Mont Blanc (TMB) and was looking for a guide. I was very happy to serve as one and so we took off together to hike around the Mont Blanc where you are actually not really seeing the Mont Blanc that often ;-). It is a very varied hike in which you pass many valleys, cols and are being spoilt with many glaciers. Within Europe I have never seen so many glaciers together which was really nice. Since we were not sure if we would find accommodation (we did not reserve) and it was mentioned everywhere that you had to make bookings if you were going in August, we took my tent. It was really nice camping and in general the mountain huts let you put your tent next to the hut (except in Italy where it is forbidden by law below 2500m), but it would have been absolutely unnecessary since everywhere there were still beds available. However, it gave us the choice to avoid very cramped dortoirs. As I had to take my computer as well for some work I ended up carrying ca 16-18 kg.
If you would have to do a part of the Tour Mont Blanc, we absolutely loved the 2nd and 3rd day (the south part and southeast part of the TMB. Also the last day was very beautiful where we had the full day the view of the Mont Blanc.

Since we were going through three countries (France, Italy and Switzerland) I was already looking forward to exercise my French, Italian and German. However, basically anyone is saying 'bonjour' along the TMB. In Italy (Valle d'Aosta) they speak French as second language and in the Swiss part they speak French as a first language. It is funny to notice that as soon as you have a slight accent, most people swap to English which would definitely not have been the case 20 years ago.
The food is however immediately italian in italy (polenta) and as soon as you are in Italy you can order a capuccino, which is not a success if you try to do so in France. The savoie flag is very much similar to the Swiss flag. People feel much more acquinted with their mountain region than with the central government. In the French part you hear mostly complaints ("in the Italian and Swiss part the roads are great because they are dealt with regionally/locally, but in the French part it is all neglected because the 'bobo's' from Paris come only in winter to ski and do not care about good roads in summer").
It was nice to come across a cross-border project funded by the INTERREG programme of which I am expert. It was a bit funny though to find this very new and well kept building with an exhibition on the Mont Blanc after having hiked up the mountain. Not really what you expect in the middle of nowhere...

Below a description day by day with some of our experiences

Day 1 : Friday 30 July 2010. Hiking 5h15, +700m, -1310m, total 2010m, ca 15km.
Good weather. First glaciers.

  • Train Lyon - Les Houches: A very friendly conductor sold us a ticket since the machine could not sell us the ticket due to the fact that according the time plan we would have to change trains 3 times which is too complicated for the machine (!) and as the train was leaving within 10 minutes: long live the machines 'a la con'
  • Les Houches (950m): Supermarket and télépherique Bellevue (nice start… :))
  • Bellevue (1786m): Lunch in the sun (even better start :)). Quite urban through also a tram going up next to the glacier to 2372m.
  • Col de Tricot (2120m): Surrounded by glaciers (Glacier de Bionnassay, Glacier de Miage, Glacier de Covagnet). Steep descend where we met a girl who was afraid of height…
  • Chalets de Miage (1559m): Very good 'tarte aux myrtilles & framboises'
  • Chalets du Truc (1720m): The chalet looked very nice. Is next to Mont Truc (hihi), which apparently means round mountain
  • Les Contamines (1150m): Almost there…. but not yet, endless road
  • Le Pontet (1190m): Very nice camping with very nice hosts, good cheese and closed restaurants. Great picknick. Quickly we were surrounded by Alicia (from Indiana, USA) and Zofar (Pakistan) and 2 exhausted Polish girls. Next morning we woke up in a soaked tent due to the heavy condensation in the Alpes. As the sun peaked over the mountains rather soon, we could leave though with a dry tent.

these cute 'houses' you see everywhere

these cute 'houses' you see everywhere


Glacier de Bionassey and Glacier de Miage

Glacier de Bionassey and Glacier de Miage


Col de Tricot (2120m) and view from it

Col de Tricot (2120m) and view from it


the start of our trip, still smiling...

the start of our trip, still smiling...


lots of flowers

lots of flowers


flowers

flowers


flowersss

flowersss


Chalets de Truc with some strange effects...

Chalets de Truc with some strange effects...


Great tarte aux myrtille, soaked tent!!!   condensation and nice slow breakfast

Great tarte aux myrtille, soaked tent!!! + condensation and nice slow breakfast

Day 2 : Saturday 31 July. Hiking 6h48, +1610m, -910m, total 2520m, ca 20km.
Great weather, very sunny: great and stunning scenery

  • Le Pontet (1190m): We took a slow breakfast. Georgia became good friends with her futur mari Jean-Claude
  • Notre dame de la gorge (1210m): We met again the two Polish girls, busy with taping knees and treating blisters.
  • Chalet-refuge du Nant-Borrant (1460m): Nice view
  • Le Balme (1706m): We had a great picknick enjoying ourselves with looking at the people suffering while climbing. Most were happy to stop and chat with us, especially speedy gonzales (who was running up and down (!!), well, mostly downwards actually, and who likes funny accents from Dutch girls). There is actually a competition in which they are running the Tour Mont Blanc... 20 hours seems to be the record for 150 km going up and down 18 700m... amazing.

Today was also the first time that we could use MJs toy: the UV water filter: worked great!!!.

  • Col du Bonhomme (2329m): We met a japanese group with two local guides who seemed impressed by their speed since they were not too young (oldest was almost 80). Georgia knew 'sajonara', but we had no idea what it meant. They seemed happy though when we said it. Lateron we learnt that it meant 'goodbye'
  • Col de le Croix du Bonhomme (2483m): Super view at 'La Grande Casse' (covered with snow), Crete de Gittes and Roches Merles, with river meandering.
  • Col des Fours (2665m): Absolute great and stunning variant which goes past orange coloured rocks, goes through (old) snow and continues to have a stunning view. MJ continued with her hobby: collecting rocks (very handy when you are trying to travel lightweight).
  • La Ville des Glaciers (1789m): MJ is happy chappy since it is a 'route' and not a 'path' which meant that it is not as well kept as a path and more difficult. We saw a 'steinbock' (chamoix) at the very top of the mountain. Lateron, on the 8th and 9th day we saw many more. MJ got the crazy idea to do another variant which luckily we did not do (would have been many more hours and another 1500m difference). The descent was great. there was a very impressive riverbed where the curves in the stone followed the river. At another point we turned around and saw a beautiful waterfall. At ville des Glaciers the path had been largely hidden due to the work of the farmers
  • Refuge Les Mottets (1870m) Almost there… friendly hosts who were willing to feed us and let us put up our tent next to a ruin in between cow shit (slept perfect! Very soft). We also discovered that after a very nice and nourishing soup that there were still three more courses to go... (goooood food). Great view at the Dome de Miage (3672m).

Notre Dame de la Gorge: baroque style

Notre Dame de la Gorge: baroque style


Nice weather, nice views, nice lunch.... mmmmh

Nice weather, nice views, nice lunch.... mmmmh


flowers

flowers


At the right is the Mont Tondu

At the right is the Mont Tondu


view south from the col the Bonhomme. Some beautiful mountain formations

view south from the col the Bonhomme. Some beautiful mountain formations


Col de Bonhomme (2329m) and view from the col

Col de Bonhomme (2329m) and view from the col


Col de four! with the beautiful colours (2665m), coming from les contamines montjoie (1150m)

Col de four! with the beautiful colours (2665m), coming from les contamines montjoie (1150m)


Georgia getting down from the col de Fours: this was a 'route' and not a 'path'. Really not that much difference: just a bit steeper

Georgia getting down from the col de Fours: this was a 'route' and not a 'path'. Really not that much difference: just a bit steeper


the structure of the rock carved by the water, us at the col de bonhomme (2329m)

the structure of the rock carved by the water, us at the col de bonhomme (2329m)


Amazing geological structure with the help of water

Amazing geological structure with the help of water


stooonnnnees

stooonnnnees


Dome de Miage, and our hike down from Col de Four (from 1150 to 2665m to 1870m)

Dome de Miage, and our hike down from Col de Four (from 1150 to 2665m to 1870m)


View from the col de Fours

View from the col de Fours


Every evening we are being welcomed by the cows and here with the Dome de Miage behind... nice....

Every evening we are being welcomed by the cows and here with the Dome de Miage behind... nice....

Day 3 Sunday 1 August. Hiking 6h15, +1265m, -1180m, total 2445m, ca 18km.
Great weather, very sunny and hot. We saw many marmottes and absolutely stunning scenery

  • Refuge les mottets (1870m): Together with Jill (from Colorado) we had a nice slow start. The Dutch lady left very early (why do they say that we leave late?? We leave relaxed, they leave very early…)
  • Col de la Seigne (2516m): French - Italian border where we saw the Mont Blanc (4808m) in its glory.
  • Alpe inferieure de la Lée-Blanche (2035m): To be able to reach the mountain hut Elisabetta you have to climb up from some ruins of buildings.
  • Refuge Elisabetta (2200m): Great lunch (italian food!!!) with polenta. Enjoying the sun and italian language around us. Jill stayed there and enjoyed the view at the Glacer de la Lée-Blanche.
  • Lac Combal (1975m): Nice wetlands, while we were drewling over the view of all the glaciers: Glacier du Miage (with the two beautiful little lakes at the bottom and the jardin de miage), Glacier du Brouillard, Glacier de Freney
  • Arp-Vieille supérieure (2303m): Nice big group of cows, watched over by a man who was probably wondering why we are doing this hike (we were wondering too…). We were melting in the sun and very happy with the little river
  • Maison Vieille, Col Checrouit (1956m): Received by friendly staff. Since in Italy you are not allowed to camp below 2500m (outside a camping) we took a cute room, had a great meal (mjummie dulce) and discussed my watch with the owner (marie-jose, thats the name of a princess, isn't it... ah those Italian charmeurs...). Rain and thunder in the evening.

Having a relaxed start from Refuge des Mottets, going up to Col de la Seigne - view at Mont Blanc!! (going that day from 1870m to 2516m to 1900m to 2400m to 1900m)

Having a relaxed start from Refuge des Mottets, going up to Col de la Seigne - view at Mont Blanc!! (going that day from 1870m to 2516m to 1900m to 2400m to 1900m)


Panorama to the south. We came from the Col de Fours which is in the middle of the picture

Panorama to the south. We came from the Col de Fours which is in the middle of the picture


Glacier du Miage

Glacier du Miage


Some prayers before you have to hike uphill to get some lunch from Refuge Elisabetta with Glacier de la Lee Blanche in the background

Some prayers before you have to hike uphill to get some lunch from Refuge Elisabetta with Glacier de la Lee Blanche in the background


View from refuge Elisabetta

View from refuge Elisabetta


People enjoying themselves at some remains of snow

People enjoying themselves at some remains of snow


Lac de Combal

Lac de Combal


Glacier du Miage with the Jardin du Miage (the two green longs at the bottom)

Glacier du Miage with the Jardin du Miage (the two green longs at the bottom)


Some are doing the Tour Mont Blanc by mountain bike which becomes often a mountain hike...

Some are doing the Tour Mont Blanc by mountain bike which becomes often a mountain hike...


Lac Combal

Lac Combal


on the road to Maison Vieille

on the road to Maison Vieille


Glacier de Miage with lac de Miage

Glacier de Miage with lac de Miage


Do cows actually know stress?

Do cows actually know stress?


Enjoying life and pasta in Italy: Courmayeur: not a bad place to live.... dream on MJ

Enjoying life and pasta in Italy: Courmayeur: not a bad place to live.... dream on MJ

Day 4 Monday 2 August. Hiking 5h15, +1045m, -561m, total 1606m, ca 17km.
Clouds+sun, lateron some rumbling thunder

  • Maison Vieille (1956m): The Spanish couple asked several times where we would go, and each time we did not know… We started by walking down first part and taking the télépherique in the second part (1 télépherique par jour, ca suffit!)
  • Courmayeur (1226m): After walking up and down town twice we found internet so MJ could check work. Loooong break for Georgia who occupied herself with observing people from the bar. After a nice but not very substantial icecream we headed up in the mountains again, soon being very hungry.
  • Refuge Bertone (1989m): Nothing special so we continued to pass the Carrefour de sentiers (2125m)
  • La Lèche (1929m): It started raining a bit which was ok. However, the approaching thunder worried a bit.
  • Refuge Bonatti (2025m) The best refuge ever (in the Alpes at least): beautiful, good food, great pleasant dorms, showers, drying room. Just perfect. And as a finishing touch: slippers with a nice alpine flower decoration… In our room we met Irish pride: 2 women who were planning to hike 11 hours the next day as busses were not an option... chapeau! The watch appeared again to be the jewel of the evening and got again a lot of attention, this time from a lovely Japanese couple who were travelling on their own through the alpes. The staff was also very friendly to let MJ work with her headlight in the dining room when everyone was sleeping already.

morning view from La Maison Vieille (we are in Italy but the refuge has a french name...)

morning view from La Maison Vieille (we are in Italy but the refuge has a french name...)


Artist impression from Georgia :-)

Artist impression from Georgia :-)


The start of the Mont Blanc tunnel (later we saw the other end... that is.. a few days later) with the pointy Mount Chétif (2343m) and the rocky end of the Glacier de la Brenva

The start of the Mont Blanc tunnel (later we saw the other end... that is.. a few days later) with the pointy Mount Chétif (2343m) and the rocky end of the Glacier de la Brenva


On the way to refuge Bonatti

On the way to refuge Bonatti


purple flowers

purple flowers


wauw

wauw


Diner in the most wonderful mountain hut: refuge Bonatti with pictures of his trips and great footwear

Diner in the most wonderful mountain hut: refuge Bonatti with pictures of his trips and great footwear

Day 5 Tuesday 3 August. Hiking 5h20, +961m, -1308m, total 2269m, ca 17km.
Clouds+sun, nice views

  • Refuge Bonatti (2025m): Our roommates had breakfast at 7. We slept 'late' and had breakfast at 8.00. Since apparently the weather was a bit cold and windy, everyone left in the end around 9.30. Again proof that getting up early does not help…
  • Arp-nouva Desot (1776m): Georgia and I had a nice walking stick fight
  • Refuge Elena (2054m): Nice and warm with nice hot chocolate and super dry sandwiches. All the italians waited for lunch time at 12.30 when suddenly the restaurant filled up very quickly. They were still in worldcup atmosphere as they were selling orange t-shirts… to italians…
  • Grand col Ferret (2537m): Great view of glacier pre de bar and glacier de triolet. The col was as a col in general is: nice but COLD. At the col we left Italy with its nice food and entered a very green Switzerland.
  • La Peule (2071m): Great yourtes (sleeping in hay in a big round tent), nice beer and apple pie
  • Ferret (1705m): We crossed an invasion of 50 cows being looked at by many tourists. We amused ourselves with looking at a group of 12 French people who managed to discuss for 20 minutes about how to hang up the socks and t-shirts in the window. Just like watching television: not that interesting but still amusing.
  • Champex-lac (1460m): Since we walk the Tour Mont Blanc in 9 days we took a bus from Ferret to Champex. You would have to walk with a view at the road anyway. We were looking for the Irish ladies but did not find them. We stayed at the camping and were looking forward to some nice raclette. Instead we ended up with a not very special croute de fromage and not a very special tarte aux myritlles (did they use marmelade?). MJ found a plug for her computer though so she could comment on a report until all the lights went out in the village (22.00 oh yeah).

This represents perfectly the start of the day: it seemed rainy but actually it was really nice!!

This represents perfectly the start of the day: it seemed rainy but actually it was really nice!!


Rainbow while most people are waiting for the weather to clear which was really not that bad at all! (I guess you must be Dutch not to mind rain and wind too much...)

Rainbow while most people are waiting for the weather to clear which was really not that bad at all! (I guess you must be Dutch not to mind rain and wind too much...)


Val Ferret looking back to where we have come from: one of the mountains in the back at the right side

Val Ferret looking back to where we have come from: one of the mountains in the back at the right side


view coming from the wonderful refuge Bonatti towards the valley that we are walking into: at the left Mount Gruetta

view coming from the wonderful refuge Bonatti towards the valley that we are walking into: at the left Mount Gruetta


the 'beautiful' glasses in which we got our fendant, italian charming capuccino and strange housing in Trient...

the 'beautiful' glasses in which we got our fendant, italian charming capuccino and strange housing in Trient...


The hike up to theGrand col ferret (from 1700 to 2537m)

The hike up to theGrand col ferret (from 1700 to 2537m)


At the left the Glacier de Triolet and at the right the Glacier de Pre de Bar divided by the Monts rouges de Triolet. At the left side the Mont Gruetta

At the left the Glacier de Triolet and at the right the Glacier de Pre de Bar divided by the Monts rouges de Triolet. At the left side the Mont Gruetta


Mount Gruetta and the Ferret Valley

Mount Gruetta and the Ferret Valley


From the Grand Col ferret (2537) to Ferret (1700m). See the yourts, MJ collecting stones

From the Grand Col ferret (2537) to Ferret (1700m). See the yourts, MJ collecting stones


The impressive Mont Gruetta which is holding the small Glacier du Gruetta with at the right the Glacier de Triolet

The impressive Mont Gruetta which is holding the small Glacier du Gruetta with at the right the Glacier de Triolet


on the walk to ferret there were many many blue 'kevers'.

on the walk to ferret there were many many blue 'kevers'.


Greeeeen

Greeeeen


Georgia's patience with butterflies with some amazing results!

Georgia's patience with butterflies with some amazing results!

Day 6 Wednesday 4 August. Hiking 6h45, +1207m, -1365m, total 2572m, ca 17.5km.
Great weather, great nice view at glacier du Trient + lake d'Emosson

  • Champex-lac (1460m): Great breakfast at the boulangerie: mmmmmh: tarte aux framboises et myrtilles. Luckily we went first to the supermarket otherwise we would have bought everything from the boulangerie. Meanwhile our soaked tent could dry. The alpes have a lot of condensation so take a tent that is fit for it (maybe not MSR Carbon Reflex 3p, grmbl).
  • Fenetre d'Arpette (2671m): Steep, great, nice climb over rocks. Great picknick lunch which gave some rest to tired knees. Steep but not difficult descent with a stunning view at the glacier du Trient. You are actually walking down next to the glacier, which continues to impress each time. Meanwhile you have a great view at a lake opposite of the valley and with some nice rock piles at your right the picture is just perfect.
  • Chalet du Glacier (1583m): We were looking forward to a nice ice cream at the unfortunately already very closed chalet du glacier…
  • Peuty (1326m): This 'petit'/peuty (as georgia says) village lives from timber lugging, so the gite d'etape was of course of wood. We decided to search for a place with nice food so continued to Trient.
  • Trient (1297m): When we saw the charmless dining room of Relais du Mont Blanc we left and ended up in Gite de Gardienne. Great place if you like dominant hosts. They friendly but firmly insisted that we drank a glass of fendant with them before being able to take a shower (so we were smelling verrryyy nice....). The fendant was great and the glasses with the miniature animals inside (!) were just completing the picture. As we arrived late we missed a special dinner experience in the kitchen of our host where the discussion was lead by the host. Instead we had a very nice diner at cafe Moret.

The Pierriers d'Arpette: kind of stone lawines from the Aiguilles d'Arpette with the tiny Glacier d'Arpette peaking out

The Pierriers d'Arpette: kind of stone lawines from the Aiguilles d'Arpette with the tiny Glacier d'Arpette peaking out


That's where we are going! Fenetre d'Arpette (2665m). Nice knee bending exercise going up 1200m over rocks: nice &#38; steep

That's where we are going! Fenetre d'Arpette (2665m). Nice knee bending exercise going up 1200m over rocks: nice &#38; steep


views from fenetre d'arpette

views from fenetre d'arpette


Going to, being at, and going down from Fenetre d'Arpette

Going to, being at, and going down from Fenetre d'Arpette


Going up to the Fenetre d'Arpette: 2665m: going up, going up

Going up to the Fenetre d'Arpette: 2665m: going up, going up


View from fenetre d'Arpette: we are going down, down into the valley

View from fenetre d'Arpette: we are going down, down into the valley


Plateau du Trient with Aiguille du Tour peaking in the back

Plateau du Trient with Aiguille du Tour peaking in the back


View from Fenetre d'Arpette with Lac d'emosson and the rough rock formations from the Arete de la Lys at the right hand

View from Fenetre d'Arpette with Lac d'emosson and the rough rock formations from the Arete de la Lys at the right hand


Glacier du Trient

Glacier du Trient


Glacier du Trient

Glacier du Trient


Close up of the crevasses of the Glacier du Trient, mmmh, nice for ice climbing??

Close up of the crevasses of the Glacier du Trient, mmmh, nice for ice climbing??


Glacier du Trient from the valley from the closed chalet

Glacier du Trient from the valley from the closed chalet


flowers

flowers


Trient and Le Tour

Trient and Le Tour

Day 7 Thursday 5 August. Hiking 2h30, +870m, -50m, total 920m, ca 7km.
Rain, rain, rain and in the end a resting day

  • Trient (1297m): As it was lousy weather we started with writing this trip down and had a nice morning at the café Moret. When leaving we got some abricots from a nice lady who wished us luck. We would need it…
  • Refuge Col de Balme (2191m): Very rainy ascent. Famous unfriendly reception (Georgia: "quelle caricature") Lady: "leave those bags OUTSIDE" (although it was raining hard…). One guy: "Bonjour Madame, vous allez bien?" (Good afternoon, how are you doing). The lady: "pourquoi, est-ce que ca n'a pas l'air d'aller???" (=why do you ask, does it not look like it..."). We saw at least 6 people come inside and leave immediately.... However, we might have managed to get a glimpse of a smile from her... (oh yeah...)
  • Le Tour (1463m): One advise: NEVER, but NEVER take the télésiège when it is raining hard and windy. But really NEVER!!!!!! My raining pants appeared to be leaking like hell at certain private parts. I think that the 10 minute ride down was equivalent to 8 hours of hiking in pooring rain. We ended up down soaking wet, cold, freezing and as poor little kittens. The hotel Olympique next to the télécabine proofed to be a very pleasant, comforting heaven for us poor city women...

Rain, Rain, Rain from Trient to Col de Balme with this very nice, oh so nice (not really) landlady

Rain, Rain, Rain from Trient to Col de Balme with this very nice, oh so nice (not really) landlady


rain clouds hovering over the mountains

rain clouds hovering over the mountains


Georgia after our télésiège down in rain &#38; wind: BAD idea!!! We were soaked!

Georgia after our télésiège down in rain &#38; wind: BAD idea!!! We were soaked!


From our super cool window in our cute room we could take stock of the weather: visibility 'nul','mieux','pire','on s'en fou'

From our super cool window in our cute room we could take stock of the weather: visibility 'nul','mieux','pire','on s'en fou'

Day 8 Friday 6 August. Hiking 4h30, +1162m, -754m, total 1916m, ca 11km.
Nice weather, sunny+some clouds. Nice view at Mont Blanc Chain

  • Le Tour (1463m): Hotel Olympique was great and we learnt quite a bit about French politics
  • Tré le Champ (1417m): We passed a very cute looking auberge de la Baine.
  • Lac Blanc (2352m): Going up, going up. When arriving at Lac Blanc we had the impression to have arrived in a city: very busy. However, very efficient and friendly service. Meanwhile the Mont Blanc disappeared in the clouds and reappeared.
  • Chalet de la Flégère (1877m): Going down. Chalet de la Flégère was a nice place, very young but good hosts (18years??) and lots of laughter on Refuge col de balme. Met a nice British-America couple (she just moved to London) and a friendly French family who we passed the next day.

nice weather, joehee!!

nice weather, joehee!!


view at chain Mont Blanc

view at chain Mont Blanc


After rain there is sunshine!! Nice hike to Lac Blanc (wasn't it Georgia :-) with lots of stairs: climbing 900m in one go...

After rain there is sunshine!! Nice hike to Lac Blanc (wasn't it Georgia :-) with lots of stairs: climbing 900m in one go...


Mont Blanc playing with the clouds or are the clouds playing with the Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc playing with the clouds or are the clouds playing with the Mont Blanc


Climbers heaven: aiguileete d'argentiere Echelles

Climbers heaven: aiguileete d'argentiere Echelles


Mer de Glace with Mont Blanc Chain

Mer de Glace with Mont Blanc Chain


A group of Chamoix enjoying its view (you can only see one here)

A group of Chamoix enjoying its view (you can only see one here)


Chamonix with a bit hidden Mont Blanc Chain and the Mer de Glace

Chamonix with a bit hidden Mont Blanc Chain and the Mer de Glace


Ok, a picture without the Mont Blanc, the other side: Aiguilles rouges with really purple rocks: nice! mirrorred in Lacs des Chéserys

Ok, a picture without the Mont Blanc, the other side: Aiguilles rouges with really purple rocks: nice! mirrorred in Lacs des Chéserys


View from Lac Blanc at Mer de Glace coming from the Glacier de Leschau ( &#38; Glacier du Tacul which you cannot see)

View from Lac Blanc at Mer de Glace coming from the Glacier de Leschau ( &#38; Glacier du Tacul which you cannot see)


The blue 'Lac Blanc' when there were one second a bit less people than the big masses

The blue 'Lac Blanc' when there were one second a bit less people than the big masses


The 'Mer de Glace' (Ice sea) going down to Chamonix, ending in a tiny tiny lake. I would not like to live in that avalanche zone...

The 'Mer de Glace' (Ice sea) going down to Chamonix, ending in a tiny tiny lake. I would not like to live in that avalanche zone...

Day 9 Saturday 7 August. Hiking 4h30, +782m, -1681m, total 2463m, ca 19km.
SUNNY - no clouds at all, All day view at Mt Blanc

  • Chalet de la Flégère (1877m): No single cloud! BLUE sky.
  • PlanPraz (1999m): Encountered Georgia on the road
  • Col de Brevent (2197m): Great view, nice garlic bread (for 10€). No drinking water so again my waterfilter proofed useful.
  • Le Brevent (2500m): Rocks, again some nice iron stairs to climb, nice and steep!
  • Les Houches (950m): Going down, down, down to catch the train of 14.57
  • (Georgia) Planpraz - Chamonix (1034m): Georgia had a cheeseless lunch after 9 days of cheese and 'enjoyed' city life of Chamonix
  • Lyon (167m): Georgia spoiled me with a nice 'tarte aux myrtilles' and abricots AND some great Beaufort (mmmmh). Our delayed train ensured that we missed our connection, had to spend some time in Annemasse (zzzzh) had a 6hour travel instead of 4hours…. (zzzzh)

I guess they run out of names as these peaks got names such as 'Aig. de fou' (crazy mountain), dent du Caiman, dent du Crocodile, Aig. du Grepon, Aig. des Grds Charmoz, Aig .de la Republique (really!)

I guess they run out of names as these peaks got names such as 'Aig. de fou' (crazy mountain), dent du Caiman, dent du Crocodile, Aig. du Grepon, Aig. des Grds Charmoz, Aig .de la Republique (really!)


The mont blanc at the right, with left the black point: Aiguille du Midi (3800m): a telepherique goes there!

The mont blanc at the right, with left the black point: Aiguille du Midi (3800m): a telepherique goes there!


Glacier Bossons with the... Mont Blanc

Glacier Bossons with the... Mont Blanc


In between chalet de la Flégère and Planpraz, with in the background the ... Mont Blanc

In between chalet de la Flégère and Planpraz, with in the background the ... Mont Blanc


another view of the ... Mont Blanc

another view of the ... Mont Blanc


Mont Blanc reflected in Lac du Brevent

Mont Blanc reflected in Lac du Brevent


From Col du Brevent to Le Brevent you better are not afraid of height... nice and steep!

From Col du Brevent to Le Brevent you better are not afraid of height... nice and steep!


And what do we see here... maybe ... the Mont Blanc

And what do we see here... maybe ... the Mont Blanc

The Tour Mont Blanc and the route we walked   where we stayed overnight

The Tour Mont Blanc and the route we walked + where we stayed overnight

Total hiking 47h08, +9602m, -9119m, total 18 721m, ca 150 km

Posted by Marie-Jose 08.08.2010 14:10 Archived in France Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Juni 2010 Netherlands: Uitje RSO

sunny 22 °C
View UItje ECORYS NL - RSO 4-5 Juni 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Een uitje van werk kan verschrikkelijk zijn. Zo niet bij onze divisie RSO (Regio, Strategie & Ondernemerschap) gelukkig. We zijn erin geslaagd om er iets van te maken waar de meesten zich op verheugen (denk ik althans). Dit jaar was het een groot succes door verschillende ingredienten:
- op een bootje in de zon hangen en beetje vooruit dobberen met ondertussen super catering van beleefde en schattige Lennart en een nogal bijzondere schippersmaat die de gaffel nog net niet op het hoofd van Yiwan liet vallen maar wel het bankje ramde met de gaffel en een tweede keer de gaffel lekker heen en weer liet zwieren terwijl wij er vlak naast stonden. Ben benieuwd hoe lang hij er nog werkt...
- beetje relaxed rondfietsen op terschelling
- supermooie boot waar we ook op sliepen, sommigen met hun tenen uit het raam (was het nou omdat de bovenste bedden wat krap waren of om die Duitsers de mond te snoeren die kennelijk niets anders te doen hadden dan een beetje naar ons te staren, te kleppen en Deutschland liedjes te zingen??)
- we begonnen vrijdag s ochtends ipv smiddags waardoor iedereen al met een goed humeur kwam en niet nog met een hoofd vol werk zat: de stemming zat er direct al goed in
- uiteraard de fantastische film van Elvira (on the boat of zoiets) die ons geheel voorbereidde (waar waren die drag queens nou op onze boot?)
- zonovergoten weekend, werkelijk fantastisch weer
- met overnachting en op de een of andere manier is dat toch leuker (vind ik althans) omdat men wat meer ontspant. Meestal heb je eerst een halve dag nodig om te 'ontwerken' en naar het einde toe ben je alweer bezig met hoe laat je thuis bent etc. Door een overnachting erbij ben je er geheel uit. Reden ook om menig heupje weer eens soepel te laten draaien...

Kortom, we hebben ervan genoten, het is goed voor collegialiteit en het draagt wat mij betreft absoluut bij tot een prettige werksfeer!

groepsfoto RSO uitje juni 2010

groepsfoto RSO uitje juni 2010


Super uitje!!

Super uitje!!


Genieten van de zon

Genieten van de zon


Bootje bootje bootje bootje bootje bootje bootje

Bootje bootje bootje bootje bootje bootje bootje


Laten we onze schippersmaat dan toch maar even helpen...

Laten we onze schippersmaat dan toch maar even helpen...


Onze Ahmed rechtstreeks ingevlogen vanuit St Tropez...:-)

Onze Ahmed rechtstreeks ingevlogen vanuit St Tropez...:-)


tja... simply nice...

tja... simply nice...


even de knopen controleren

even de knopen controleren


Walter &#38; Ahmed

Walter &#38; Ahmed


La vie est belle

La vie est belle


Berend botje ging uit varen...

Berend botje ging uit varen...


Na 7 uur varen dan toch nog land in zicht ...

Na 7 uur varen dan toch nog land in zicht ...


In de huifkar

In de huifkar


Een van de vele mooie juttersverhalen worden verteld

Een van de vele mooie juttersverhalen worden verteld


Een heerlijke cranberry wijn, tuimelaar en kruidenbitter

Een heerlijke cranberry wijn, tuimelaar en kruidenbitter


Terschellings Groene Strand

Terschellings Groene Strand


in de huifkar

in de huifkar


bij het vallen van de avond keert men huiswaarts...

bij het vallen van de avond keert men huiswaarts...


Yiwan, Michel, Leo, het glas van Melanie, Joost, Jan, Marie-Jose, Ilse, Jenny

Yiwan, Michel, Leo, het glas van Melanie, Joost, Jan, Marie-Jose, Ilse, Jenny


Joost, Walter, Atze, Sacha, Manfred &#38; Meri

Joost, Walter, Atze, Sacha, Manfred &#38; Meri


Manfred, Ahmen &#38; Meri

Manfred, Ahmen &#38; Meri


Melanie wordt vermaakt door onze schippersmaat Joost onder toeziend oog van schipper Jan

Melanie wordt vermaakt door onze schippersmaat Joost onder toeziend oog van schipper Jan


In hogere sferen: Elvira, Jenny, Meri, Leo &#38; Ilse

In hogere sferen: Elvira, Jenny, Meri, Leo &#38; Ilse


Leo &#38; Elvira

Leo &#38; Elvira


Yiwan, Manfred, MJZ &#38; Walter

Yiwan, Manfred, MJZ &#38; Walter


Manfred &#38; MJZ

Manfred &#38; MJZ


Meri &#38; MJZ

Meri &#38; MJZ


Toch nog een mistig weekend

Toch nog een mistig weekend


Zie onze fantastische jukebox op de achtergrond

Zie onze fantastische jukebox op de achtergrond


TJa, waar kijkt Atze nou naar?

TJa, waar kijkt Atze nou naar?


relaxed fietstochtje over terschelling

relaxed fietstochtje over terschelling


Gelukkig was het uitzicht op de Duitsers naast ons zeer beperkt....

Gelukkig was het uitzicht op de Duitsers naast ons zeer beperkt....


zo ziet het er dus uit als er geen Oerol is: leeg

zo ziet het er dus uit als er geen Oerol is: leeg


Man aan boord

Man aan boord


Het uitzicht 2 uur na het verlaten van Terschelling West is ... Terschelling West...

Het uitzicht 2 uur na het verlaten van Terschelling West is ... Terschelling West...


Joost &#38; Marie-Jose

Joost &#38; Marie-Jose


Jenny &#38; Ilse: naar achteren met dat zeil, naar achteren!!!

Jenny &#38; Ilse: naar achteren met dat zeil, naar achteren!!!


bootje varen

bootje varen


Bij windstil weer kun je toch nog gebruik maken van de zeilen...

Bij windstil weer kun je toch nog gebruik maken van de zeilen...


En de dames doen het werk...

En de dames doen het werk...


ipv schaapjes bootjes tellen...

ipv schaapjes bootjes tellen...


schipper Jan onderhoudt Joost over de wonderen van de waddenzee

schipper Jan onderhoudt Joost over de wonderen van de waddenzee


onze esperanza op relax koers

onze esperanza op relax koers


Mummi Ahmed &#38; Rianne doen een middag dutje

Mummi Ahmed &#38; Rianne doen een middag dutje


zijn we lekker aan t verbranden?

zijn we lekker aan t verbranden?


is er al land in zicht?

is er al land in zicht?


De meisjes hebben een onderonsje

De meisjes hebben een onderonsje

Posted by Marie-Jose 07.06.2010 16:36 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

May 2010 France: Enjoying life in La douce Lac d'Annecy

Wine, cheese, sun & some hiking :-)

sunny 25 °C
View Lac d'Annecy 20-24 May 2010 on Marie-Jose's travel map.

Hi,

After 1.5 month at home my legs and heart were simply aching for some action & nice mountains.
And finally I found a compagnon who likes to hike as well!!!
So I flew to Lyon to my friend Georgia, catched up some sleep, went to the great shop 'au vieux campeur' where I enjoyed myself with putting up 3 tents (due to my extensive research in the last couple of weeks I actually could start working in any tent shop, so if you need advise on lightweigh tents, give me a call...), bought some maps, had a great beer in the sun and Friday we were off to Annecy.

It was really great weather and simply great to be back again in Annecy & enjoying its surroundings and enjoying our trip. Herewith some pictures.

Still fresh before we started - these savoyard salades are great!

Still fresh before we started - these savoyard salades are great!


why are we actually hiking when we can enjoy the Annecy lake by sitting down... mmmh...

why are we actually hiking when we can enjoy the Annecy lake by sitting down... mmmh...


view at lac d'annecy when climbing to Mont Veyrier

view at lac d'annecy when climbing to Mont Veyrier


we thought we were at the top - well, we were not... yet ...

we thought we were at the top - well, we were not... yet ...


view from Mont Veyrier (1291m)

view from Mont Veyrier (1291m)


and again a nice mountain

and again a nice mountain


my future frontyard - breakfast at the very nice &#38; pleasant hotel Beausejour

my future frontyard - breakfast at the very nice &#38; pleasant hotel Beausejour


my future backyard

my future backyard


coucou

coucou


my future home

my future home


La maison du monsieur Chèvre - The home of Mr. Goat

La maison du monsieur Chèvre - The home of Mr. Goat


View at Annecy &#38; lac d'Annecy - are we not at the top yet?

View at Annecy &#38; lac d'Annecy - are we not at the top yet?


Chalet de l'aulp is a farm you can actually visit and which has a splendid location with views at the impressive La Tournette, the Annecy Lake, etc.

Chalet de l'aulp is a farm you can actually visit and which has a splendid location with views at the impressive La Tournette, the Annecy Lake, etc.


La vache qui rit

La vache qui rit


Klooned animals in France - or was it the wine?

Klooned animals in France - or was it the wine?


Breakfast at the fabulous and great refuge Pré Verel

Breakfast at the fabulous and great refuge Pré Verel


Stress? what's that?

Stress? what's that?


Col des Nantets (1426m)

Col des Nantets (1426m)


Should we take another beer or go hiking again... well...

Should we take another beer or go hiking again... well...


View from Col/Pas de l'Aulp

View from Col/Pas de l'Aulp


The poor goat lost its herd of ca 40 goats which we passed 15 minutes earlier (quite some music from their bells)

The poor goat lost its herd of ca 40 goats which we passed 15 minutes earlier (quite some music from their bells)


View from Pas de l'Aulp with the Annecy Lake in the background

View from Pas de l'Aulp with the Annecy Lake in the background


View from Col de Talamarche at 1850 m

View from Col de Talamarche at 1850 m


Enjoying the evening sun with in the background the Mont Blanc

Enjoying the evening sun with in the background the Mont Blanc


That's where we are going in August: the Mont Blanc!!

That's where we are going in August: the Mont Blanc!!


Breakfast at refuge Larrieux with 2 nice couples

Breakfast at refuge Larrieux with 2 nice couples


Walking back to civilised surroundings - dreaming of a place here and working from home...

Walking back to civilised surroundings - dreaming of a place here and working from home...


again beautiful Annecy

again beautiful Annecy


Beautiful Annecy

Beautiful Annecy

Posted by Marie-Jose 28.05.2010 18:11 Archived in France Comments (1)

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