"Being in lockdown makes you realise how great being outside is!"That's the philosophical view Sidas ambassador Foutrak is taking of isolation. Staying positive, she's using these weeks inside to prepare for the hiking season, fine-tuning her plans and dreaming of new routes. Accompanied by Lily Running and Brice Sarti, our three enthusiasts share their advice on how to start the hiking season on the right foot, as well as their love for little known routes they think are definitely worth a detour.
At a time when we're missing nature more than ever before, here are some tips to make sure you can get back out in there in a happy and relaxed way. Since your feet are your main allies when hiking, it pays to take care of them before, during and after your day of walking. These four tips will help you avoid pain, blisters and bruised toenails when you get back on the hiking trail.
We are not born a hiker, we become one. You have to try your hand at some activities to become an expert, and in hiking, you have to try your feet. Before going on long hikes, training is vital. It's also important to respect the principle of gradual progress in terms of difficulty levels and to tan your feet. Try a traditional remedy to make your skin strong without drying it out. In the days before a hike, alternate between massaging your feet with lemon juice and anti-friction cream every day.
Prevention is better than cure. This saying is all the more true for hiking. That's why:
- Locate the shelters, water points and grocery stores on your map so you don’t needlessly overfill your bag or run out of anything.
- Stop and treat any niggles as you go. Waiting until the evening to treat a blister or black toenail is a guarantee you won't be walking in the morning!
- To take care of your feet, you need the right equipment. A complete foot care kit includes: anti-friction gel to minimise rubbing, recovery cryo gel, and small Silitene-T (second skin) plasters that are light and strong.
Your equipment holds the key to making your hike as enjoyable as possible. A well-equipped hiker is:
- A hiker without new equipment, and with only equipment they know how to use in their bag.
- A hiker with good shoes that are halfway through their lifespan and that have clocked up between 200 and 300km.
- hiker with good insoles to guarantee comfort that pays off over the long term.
- A hiker who walks with sticks to avoid back and knee pain.
For routes that take several days, it's vital to recover after every stage of the hike to make sure you get back on the right foot every morning. For optimal recovery:
- Stick to a very effective routine of a few simple habits outlined here. The list includes repacking your bag and drying your items.
- Take care of your feet by applying first aid treatments to blisters or black toenails, massaging the arches of your feet and wearing recovery sandals while your shoes are airing out after using drying techniques.
Each of our three nature lovers hikes in their own way: on beautiful rolling trails or along sheer ridges, following marked long-distance GR paths or steep tracks, as a form of exercise or a purely hedonistic pursuit, alone or in good company... In all the vastness of the hiking world, these three lovers of open spaces have two things in common: a passion they have become experts in and built their lives around; and experience and curiosity that has led them to discover fabulous hiking routes off the beaten track. They share their love for these little known routes that are well worth a detour. All to help you plan your next expedition!
FOUTRAK : A city-dweller longing for freedom and mountains, Foutrak's hiking CV is as long as the routes she loves walking From Mont Blanc to Annapurna, and from the Vanoise Glaciers to the island of Madeira, she shares her vision and passion for trekking on a detailed and dedicated website, and with a large and loyal community on Instagram.
TOUR DES COULMES "When isolation is over, I think the Tour des Coulmes is the perfect route to reconnect with the nature that we will have missed so much."
"When this gloomy period of isolation is over, I think the Tour des Coulmes is the perfect route to reconnect with the nature that we will have missed so much. Accessible in terms of difficulty and affordable from a budget point of view, this surprising route makes for the perfect weekend trip.
In the south-west of Vercors on the border between Isère and Drôme, the Tour des Coulmes is a peaceful 39km loop with a 2000m positive elevation gain. This quiet route doesn't have amazing views because it's fairly densely forested, but it's a gentle reintroduction to hiking that's well signposted. All this while discovering an amazing area. The walk also has a real cultural dimension since you visit beautiful villages, stop at inns dishing up local products and meet great people."
BRICE SARTI : Brice Sarti is a "mountain artisan". A professional guide and founder of A Piuma, he has been taking groups on the GR20 for nearly ten years. With more than 60 diagonal crossings over the Isle of Beauty under his belt, he has a wealth of hiking experience that few can match.
THE UNIQUE GR20: "A more wild and unique version of the GR20 going above and beyond the classic route, off the beaten track! »
"Even though I’ve trekked around the world, I struggle to think of a more magical hike than those you can do on my island, Corsica. While the GR20 is definitely enormously popular, it's fairly standard and misses out many beautiful spots. So I would suggest a more wild and unique version of the GR20, going above and beyond the classic route, off the beaten track. Follow the GR20 but don't stick to it too closely to find less well-known and less accessible places. Mountain lakes, ridges, and major summits you usually only scratch the surface of...
For example, of the 10,000 hikers who sleep at the Ciottulu di i Mori refuge each season, only a few hundred have the good idea of walking 200m to a ridge from where you can see an incredible sunset... It's the same for the pozzines; these little known oasis-like lawns look like golf courses in the middle of a rocky mountain! »
LILY RUNNING : A (very) accomplished and athletic ultra-trailer, this young woman from Marseille likes running as much as she does walking. Always loving it, always with a big smile. You can practically hear the echo of the Calanques in her voice as she encourages her many fans on social media and her blog to put on their trainers, play outside and make the most of the nature around them with humility and respect.
THE GR 70: "I usually prefer wilder routes in high mountain areas, but the cultural discoveries I made created memories that will last forever."
"The GR70 had a big impact on me. Not necessarily because of the scenery, but more because of the things I discovered on the trail. It came about in an unlikely way as we were on the train when Foutrak suggested we do this slightly crazy adventure for a few days. I said yes without really knowing what it would be like. I usually prefer wilder routes in high mountain areas, but the cultural discoveries I made created memories that will last forever.
It took us 8 days to travel the 250km and 7,000m of positive elevation gain that separates Le Puy-en-Velay from Saint-Jean du Gard. It’s a very gentle GR so I ran 90% of it. What I loved was all the surprising things we came across along the route, which for me is what hiking is all about. We found lots of small villages - every one more authentic than the last! The scenery got more and more beautiful as we climbed, peaking at Mount Lozère. To immerse myself even more in the GR70, I read "Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes" by Robert Louis Stevenson as I went. The writer travelled this famous path in 1878, and actually gave it its name. The book recounts the author's journey. It was funny being able to match his discoveries with mine as we explored the landscape."