A week ago tomorrow we caught a flight to Geneva from Amsterdam, followed by a 1-hour bus ride to Thonon-les-Bains on the south shore of Lake Geneva. From there we started the GR5 the next day.
On the flight and bus we noticed a guy with a backpack, also headed to Thonon. Turns out, he was Dutch and going to walk part of the GR5 the coming week, so we had an instant hiking companion. Although we didn’t walk together (he was faster than us) we usually caught up at the end of the day, sat at dinner together, and had many good chats.
Starting from Thonon makes for two hard days to start with. Both days include lots of climbing, especially day 2 with about 1800m steep elevation gain and 7.5 hours of walking. Temperatures in the mid-30s didn’t make it easier. Since then the weather has cooled, including a day with heavy rain.
It feels good to be walking again and after 5-6 days on the trail our bodies are getting used to the walking, the climbing, and the pack-carrying. I think we are now “in shape” again, although that doesn’t mean there won’t be some difficult and hard stretches.
Today we consider a rest day—with an easy 2 hr 20 min walk down into the town of Samoens. We got here at 10:30 and could check into our hotel right away, which was pleasant surprise. It meant showers, real towels, and clean clothes! It doesn’t take much to make a hiker happy.
We’ve met two other people who are planning to walk all the way to Menton like we are, and we hope to continue to run into them along the way. It’s funny how quickly people become like old friends when you do a walk like this.
After our rest day today, we should be ready for our hike tomorrow, when we head closer to Chamonix. I have fond memories of this stage—despite it be a fairly long day. Spending our days soaking up the beautiful scenery and waking up surrounded by mountains is a rich and blessed feeling.