A modest proposal

The Alsace/France trip was great.  It was 11 days in total. 150km walking total. Good weather, relatively flat. No injuries. And we got engaged.

Gear

Our bags were between 40l to 45l. I specifically go for bags you can bring as hand luggage on a plane. It was fine for volume, but limited the amount of wine we could bring. Next time I would bring stuffsacks for the Falcon’s clothes. My rubble sacks compressed my clothes nicely and kept everything dry. Weight of the bags with water, food and wine never went over 11KG.

There was a bit of trouble beforehand with the Falcon’s internal frame rucksack warping, on the night before we left, but it didn’t cause any issues walking. She bought it the day before we left, which meant we didn’t test it in any serious way. So aside from that it was good. She returned it for a full refund when we got back. Shame, as it was the best of all the ones we tried. I hope we can get a similar one. The “female fit” bags aren’t a meme for the thicc and tall.

My cheapo bag was as indestructable as ever. Not especially comfortable, and I did feel it a bit more than the Alps as I was less conditioned. I tried on other high-tech bags with more padding and straps, and I was very tempted. I did not bring the side pockets this time around. Nor did I use the MOLLE straps. I got this in 2015, and it’s carried 15-20kg of groceries every week, and done like a month of hiking: https://somecampingstoves.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/berghaus-centurio-45-mmps/

If I was doing it again, I’d probably bring water bladders to go inside the bags, but again, this may have been overkill.

Did not bring walking poles this time, they would have been good to have, but not essential.

We brought maps and guidebooks.

Boots

My new high boots were very comfy, nice to get a pair that actually fit me and weren’t second hand. I replaced the insoles with ones with more arch support. The boots were definitely overkill for walking vineyards, but helped on some of the day hikes we did up the Vosges. In the cities, I wore light runners.

The Falcon fell in love with her low boots, and preferred them to fashion shoes, even in Paris.

Fitness

We did some fast paced walking to prepare, but we already walk 70 mins a day getting to and from work. I would have liked to done some day hikes with the bags, but this was not possible. As the Falcon has asthma, she struggled when it was cold and wet, but did not complain about the pace or sore legs. Impressed by her grit. Nevertheless, she struggled with hills when she had the bag on, and needed a rest every 10-15 mins on some stretches.

We stayed in hotels and wineries on the route, so we dumped the bags when we arrived and did our walking without the bags for the most part. This was more suitable for her level of fitness, and mine.

No back or neck pain. Should have brought some lactase pills, as hard to avoid milk and cream. This took me out of action one evening and left me quite tired.

 

The feels

There was a fair amount of stress about getting engaged on this trip. Our 10th anniversary would take place, and I’d heavily hinted that the Alsace trip would be the time. While looking for the bag, I went ring shopping with the Falcon and asked her to choose a few she liked. I ultimately bought a silver ring with a brilliant-cut sapphire, and tiny diamond pavé shoulders for an excellent price, and used it as a ‘promise ring’ to avoid carrying a giant rock around.

There were several places that would have been good to pop the question. One very memorable day hike here to 3 ruined castles. Our guidebook said they were closed, but people told us they had been restored (to really nice ruins). While in the tower of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Château_de_Saint-Ulrich, we could see the entire Rhine valley and much beauty below. Upset her by not proposing as I didn’t have the ring with me. From then on I had the ring on me at all times.

The route is also took the form of a pilgrimage: we visited many churches and prayed in each for many things.

I finally did ask in Paris, after coming through Rheims in Champagne, at the top of Sacré-Cœer. As a friend said, “Good aesthetics, Strong Catholic overtones, French political penance undertones“. Linked well with Alsace and revanchism. Lots of tears. A very nice moment.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “A modest proposal

  1. My great great great ?great grandfather is from Alsace or Lorraine though not malgre nous. He left right before the Franco Prussian war. He was 20 i suspect he was either identified French and didn’t want to be German or German and didn’t want to partake or just said fuck this whole mess let’s go to America and be a lumberjack.

    Nice story. Even though you made it pretty clear that this isn’t the case I will picture it as you forcing her on a demanding ruck march and her bravely carrying on in order to earn the ring.

    Fifteen minutes per mile, he insisted, or the metric equivalent.
    The Falcon winced under a ruck bigger than her. It was him calling the shots for now – but she would not let him forget this humiliation.

    JK. Sapphire is my birthstone

    1. I like the flash fiction. brb making her do 3×10 squats before sex to associate exercise with lovemaking.

      Discovered in the last year positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative reinforcement. People do what gives them dopamine.

      Seen results too – 3 years ago we did a 5km hike with friends and she was crying, asthmatic mess. This year, able to do a steeper 9km at a better pace and didn’t even shed a tear. She is very keen to go to the Alps and we’ve been enjoying more challenging walks together. I reckon she is about 50% there. 30% there if we do it with the 11kg pack weight.

    1. Would definitely recommend Alsace for this.

      Somewhat lesser known outside France for WW1 and WW2 history too as Coach mentions, overshadowed by the Battle of the Bulge. Many towns have murals celebrating their liberation by Americans, and it was fiercely defended by WW2 German armed forces as it was German soil. Many of the villages fought over ceased to exist post-war it was that intense. Hard to see it now in the peace of the vineyards.

      Hear there was a French tanker who was the only survivor of a penetrating hit and bailed out. The tank was left as a monument, and when he eventually died in the 1990s, his remains were interred inside.

      Also close enough to the Maginot line and some decently sized mountains in the Vosges. Excellent food. Easy to get around even with public transport.

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