|View from Le Suchet|
I wanted to do a real-life test of some two or three days to test part of our gear, packing and organisation. End of May sounded good. Early enough to make any required changes or improvements. I was hoping to have received the packs and boots for the dogs and it would be the perfect opportunity to test them live. Optimised scheduling and I managed to free up time to set off for a 3-days hike into the wild.The initial plan: leave from home and catch up the Jura Crest Trail at the Mollendruz Pass, then follow the Trail until La Vue des Alpes/Neuchâtel and if timing allows it, walk down to Neuchâtel City. Some 110km and 4'200m uphill. Doable.
Busy bee. Hectic schedule. Started packing at 2pm. Finally on the trail at 4pm. Our 3 days turned into 2.5! The dogs haven't received their new gear yet. Oh well! there are many other parameters to test for now.
Splendid weather. Bright blue sky. Warm. Very warm - keeping in mind that we are Striders of the Great North...! Backpack fully loaded with food for all three Striders for 3 days and all the gear we will be using on the Nordkalottlden - except for the mat, the one I have is definitely to cumbersome. 10kg + 2l of water.
For that day, we hiked all the way up from home (722m) to Châtel (1432m) then run down to the Mollendruz Pass (1180m) and headed down to Petra Felix and up to La Dent de Vaulion (1482m). Already suffering from the heat. And looking for water points. I knew there wouldn't be many places to
fill in my water tanks on that stage but I was at least hoping to find enough cows' water trough along the path. Good news: the Dent de Vaulion restaurant was opened and I could get plenty of tap water there. Pitched the tent right under the summit. Stunning view. Ideal spot.
|Dent de Vaulion - Valley de Joux|
|view on the Alps|
It froze overnight and having no mat, I was pretty happy to have the dogs to keep me a bit warmer...First night, good night. Happy dogs digging holes all around the camp and a hungry strider. I could feel that I left home already tired from last week-end training and a busy schedule. I knew it would be the case and actually thought it would be a good resistance test. But then my body needed to compensate and claimed for more food. The same happened when I did the Alptrekking: after 10 days, I had to eat more and more to compensate for the physical weariness. I am aware of the phenomenon and know I'll have to take on the Nordkalottleden fully rested. I packed the camp and we set off again. Sparta and Nyx were quite mad that morning!
|Gorges de l'Orbe|
|On the way to Buttes|
|Aiguilles de Baulmes|
|Val de Travers - Môtiers|
|Who lost their pants?|
|Cascade - Môtiers|
Day 3Early birds. Feeling good and motivated. I was really getting into the swing of things. And the dogs too: ready to set off again, eager to put the harnesses on. I'd rather have an early start and rest during the hottest hours if need be. I had changed my route: we would climb to Le Creux du Van and then come back on the Crest Trail in direction of Ste-Croix before heading down to Mauborget and maybe Grandson.
I find the Val de Travers absolutely lovely. It has an atmosphere. The gorges, the waterfalls, the green valley and woodland scenes... There is something truly magic there. And it is the land of the Green Fairy... the magical drink. Absinthe. And a famous race called after it, Le Trail de l'Absinthe.
|Creux du Van|
|Creux du Van|
|On the way down to the lake Neuchâtel|
106 kilometers in 2.5 days. 3'500m uphill and 4'000m downhill. Not a bad training session considering the conditions!
Despite her small wound, Sparta didn't seem to be really bothered and the next morning she was all ready to set off again! Nyx didn't even seem to have walked at all: nice and fresh as usual! I am probably the most tired of the three!
This training reassured me in our ability to do it: the Nordkalottleden, we are going to make it!