Anton Krupicka was once asked why he ran 200 miles a week, his answer “I never came back from a run and thought ‘Well that was a bad idea’.” The moment we found raspberries we understood his sentiment.
Both the times we have taken a rest day on the GR5, the day after sucked. Maybe it was the expensive organic beer, maybe it was time with friends, or maybe it was just the clean and comfortable apartment but getting up and out the door the next day was HARD! And we only had to get to the car.
After a 2km helping hand from Richard and Veronica, and their wicked camper, we headed up into the mountains. To worsen our moods further the scenery had changed from endless snow capped mountain vistas to endless mountain vistas, ie. we were missing the novelty of the snow. We were stiff from a day of rest and had been piggy at the well stocked supermarket so our bags were ladden.
A 33km day and up until kilometer 30 nothing had lifted our spirits except a 10 minute run through a field of butterflies. We needed something more…
Jeff and I began our endless hunt for urban foraging opportunities while living in Auckland. We once drove around for three hours making dubious calls about which fruit was hanging over fencelines and therefore legally fair game. We could have saved a lot by just buying fruit from the supermarket. But the seed had been sown and ever since we have been on the lookout. There is something that affects the flavour of fruit when you found it yourself…for free. Case in point, the best mango we have ever tasted was foraged across the road from our apartment in Singapore.
We had been seeing wild strawberries on the GR5 trail from Mont Blanc onwards, but after reading stories of poisonous ‘asparagus’ plants in the NZ bush we had been hesitant to pop anything in our mouths. This all changed after seeing an instagram from Aussie trail runner Lucy Bartholomew. If she was picking strawberries in Chamonix then we should too.
So what does this have to do with our shit day? Well at 30km we found strawberries…lots. This helped, but we’d been finding strawberries for days so they were somewhat old news. The foraging gods shone down on us and we got Framboise (raspberries)!!!!
Since then our pace has started to slow, maybe we are getting tired after 500km or so, but more likely it’s because Jeff is constantly looking. As we hit the Mediterranean soil we left the damp, dark strawberry and raspberry territory for figs, apples, blackberries, and plums. Jeff even sustained a foraging injury after narrowly escaping falling down a cliff trying to pick an apple, now that’s dedication.
So next time you have a tough run, or a shit day, find your framboise.
And if you are bored on a Sunday give urban foraging a go.
The Grande Randonné 5 is one of Europe’s premier long distance hiking routes. The full 12 week route runs from the Netherlands, through the French Alps, ending in Nice on the Cote d’Azur. We have chosen the common route of joining the trail at Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) and heading south.
Civilisation, the last of it before Nice/Menton. After leaving the quiet and deserted ex-industrial town of Modane Stage 4 takes the GR5 close to the Italian border via the Valeé Etroite, the former Franco-Italian border where you can get a taste of an Italian style refuge. After an exciting ridgeline climb the GR5 heads into the beautiful town of Briançon, an UNESCO heritage site and a good place to chill and relax. A short encounter with the Queyras range took us through to Majasset.
Distance: 127km over 4 days
Difficulty: Feeling at our best we managed some pretty big days here.