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Summits of the Vosges massif and Alsatian vineyards

The road going up to the Planche des Belles Filles is very calm and the air is crisp. Even if my steel bike with the racks is still heavy, I could leave the panniers at the bottom of the climb and it makes it much easier to go up.

Mammenn, Chapter 2: Lorraine, Champagne and Île-de-France

I’m making use of a quiet afternoon under the shade to show you, with a bit of delay, the map of the 2nd chapter.

4 days in between the hills of the Jura and green lanes along the Doubs

That’s it! It’s the big day, the departure of Mammenn: 4 months biking and running around France. Months of planning coming to completion. It’s a long weekend, so Nevin can come with me for the first 4 days. After only 1 kilometer, we stop so I can distribute the weight differently. We are not off to a good start…

Mammenn Chapter 1, the home run: Jura, Vosges and Alsace

Tomorrow is the big departure! I’m experiencing a mix of anxiety and excitement. After all these months of planning, it’s finally happening! So here we go with chapter 1: from Lausanne, where I live, to Haguenau, whrere I grew up. It’s a bit like going from home to home. A less intimidating way of starting this big adventure.

Floating meditations in an aluminium canoe

Floating meditations in an aluminium canoe

From here, we have to face our first real portage of the trip. It is quite short but up a steep muddy and rocky trail, crossing several streams. We do a first trip with only our backpacks and dry bags. The last creek crossing is very muddy and my sandals sink in. The feeling of my foot being sucked makes me cringe. But we need to cross again to go back down and get the heavy canoe.
Later on, as we are watching the sunset over a campfire, a bush plane flies above us in the pink and orange sky. The moment is pretty magic.

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Inspiration at Every Turn #1

Inspiration at Every Turn #1

It has been rainy May, so I’ve been putting up together a little article with the things that have inspired me in May for future time spent outdoors. You’ll find some bikepacking adventures here. But also, of course, spring ski mountaineering as well as a bit of running motivation.

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Frozen pop-up palace for two

Frozen pop-up palace for two

I was looking ahead, squinting in an effort to grasp the terrain ahead and determine how to approach the next slope. What would normally feel like a breeze on a clear day, was starting to feel quite oppressive. We were skinning up, engulfed in a thick fog. The first part of the skin up had been easy, we knew the route very well and the surrounding trees gave contours to the landscape. Then we decided to push on a bit, in a direction that was less familiar but out of the way of the popular ski touring route.

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2020. Year of contrasts.

2020. Year of contrasts.

So above all, what I feel at the end of this year is gratitude. For getting to know myself a bit better in front of change and hardship. For discovering and getting the hang of such a powerful way of dealing with anxieties. For the time I was able to spend outside and for such an extensive playground so close to home.

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Up North

Up North

The previous night we camped on the most northern point of the Lyngstuva peninsula, where we pitched our tent on a high spot over the ocean. With only water and islands as far as the eye can see up North, the midnight sun treated us to quite the show. In the morning we lingered at our campsite, soaking up the morning sun. Time flew as we sipped instant coffee and watched a seal play in the waves lower down.

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Instant coffee and weather contrasts: circumnavigating Pizzo Centrale

Instant coffee and weather contrasts: circumnavigating Pizzo Centrale

Looking back on it, these 2 days were pretty much filled with everything that draws me to the mountains and keeps me coming back: the highs but also the lows. The warming sun and the moody fog. The moments filled with pure joy and the moments of doubts. The overwhelming feeling of being all alone under the night sky and the dreadful realization that you still have several hours of trudging through the wet mist.

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Under a sky full of stars

Under a sky full of stars

We could make out the shape of the peaks and glaciers surrounding us. Sunsets are beautiful but there is something to be said for sunrises in the mountain. Enjoying the stillness of the world and watching the light of a new day take over the darkness.

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Finding my outside inside

Finding my outside inside

Right now I’m trying to find a sense in what seems like a crazy non-sensical situation. A purpose in “staying at home”, other than waiting it out. I hope that something else can emerge from that time spent inside. Something more than just a big sigh of relief when I’m finally setting foot in the mountains again. During these days where everybody is struggling to find peace with the situation, with reactions ranging from anxiety to frustration, I’m also on my own quest for meaning and purpose.

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The 3am alarm – Climbing Clariden Vorgipfel

The 3am alarm – Climbing Clariden Vorgipfel

Hidden from the trails by some rocks, the view from where I stand is breathtaking: the first rays of sun are bathing a distant snowy massif in a pink-orangy light. I’m soaking up the moment and I start realizing that this is it. Even if you don’t make it any farther. This is all worth it, worth the 3am alarm on a Saturday morning, worth the pain to try to find the trail in the dark and the cold. This exact magical moment. This is why you’re doing it.

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