The Via Alpina: the solidarity adventure of the NoBadTrekkers

La Via Alpina : l'aventure solidaire des NoBadTrekkers

In a world where bold challenges and noble causes collide, two young men in search of adventure and solidarity embark on an extraordinary journey.

Alexandre and Adrien, two close friends known as the NoBadTrekkers, decided to embark on the epic Via Alpina, a breathtaking journey through the majestic peaks of the Alps. But their adventure is not limited only to the conquest of the mountains, because they also have a commendable mission: to support the foundation for medical research. Their journey thus becomes much more than a simple hike, but a means of contributing to scientific research and making a difference in the lives of people affected by diseases.

Discover the captivating story of Alexander and Adrian, their motivations, their challenges and their moments of triumph as they travel through the stunning landscapes of the Via Alpina.

What inspired you to undertake the Via Alpina to support the foundation for medical research?

We've known each other all our lives and we really wanted to share an adventure together. At first we thought of a backpacking trip, but as time went by we wanted to do something even more unusual. We came up with the idea of walking for an important cause. After contacting the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale, we immediately received very positive feedback. That feedback, and our first meeting with the Foundation, was what finally convinced us to set off on the great Alpine crossing, the Via Alpina!

How did you prepare physically and mentally for this challenge?

First of all, we had to buy quality equipment that was both light and compact. Sleeping bag, mattress, rucksack, tent, technical clothing... we spent a lot of time selecting the most appropriate equipment. We then spent almost 2 months preparing ourselves physically. We went walking 1 or 2 times a week and went to the gym 3/4 times a week to strengthen our muscles. In the end, I don't think you're ever really fully ready, but you just have to take the plunge!

What have been the hardest parts of your journey so far?

We encountered several difficult stages. First of all, I'd like to point out that this was our first trek! It was an extraordinary challenge, because we had to learn everything: how to orientate ourselves, how to set up camp, at what time? Then we realised that we were making slower progress than we had estimated. Finally, some of the stages were very difficult, and mentally we often had our doubts!


What is your most beautiful encounter or experience that you have had along the Via Alpina?

Definitely solitude and encounters with animals. What a pleasure to come across chamois, marmots, eagles...
The feeling of solitude, contemplating the horizon, was truly magical!

What logistical challenges did you face during your adventure?

The first problem was the weight of the rucksack. At between 11 and 14 kilos without water, it was really hard to get used to! Secondly, the Via Alpina crosses the Alps through 8 countries, and only France allows bivouacs (under certain conditions). So we often had to pitch our tents late at night and get up very early to avoid being spotted. Frankly, it was quite stressful. We also had to learn the real life of a backpacker, which sometimes meant learning to live without a shower or any other comfort - it was a real challenge!

How did you manage the moments of fatigue or discouragement during your journey?

At the start of the adventure, the thirst for novelty, the adrenalin and the excitement made us forget everything. We were ready for battle! But as the days went by, we became more and more mentally tired. We tried to put things into perspective as much as possible, enjoying the moment, and realising that we were living an experience that many people would love to do, and that we'd remember it for the rest of our lives. We took it in turns to pull each other up, and we laughed as much as we could - you have to stay positive in all circumstances! Also, every second spent in a warm, comfortable place, or enjoying a good hot meal, was savoured, as it allowed us to recharge our batteries and get back on track.

Were there times when you had to adapt to difficult weather conditions or unforeseen events on the course?

Frankly, the only real problem we had was the weather. We were unlucky, and one rainy day after another was difficult... Always soaking wet, impossible to pitch the tent in the evening, and then there were the difficulties of the environment, with long stages and lots of ups and downs. We adapted as much as we could, trying to get through the drops, and stopping in accommodation when we couldn't go any further. Rain is one thing, but the most dangerous thing in the mountains is thunderstorms. And we had them! The cold was also a problem, with frost under the tent when we woke up some days. Nature can be capricious, especially in the mountains, and we quickly realised that.

What motivates you to keep going when the legs are heavy and the slopes steep?

A roaming experience like the one we had changes the way you think about travelling. We went forward thinking that each day was going to be different, without knowing where we were going to sleep in the evening. You're so much in the present, far from home, in the middle of magnificent landscapes, that you make the most of it. The heavy legs in the morning were a habit. We had plenty of steep ascents and descents, bordering on rock-climbing in places. We often got fed up of walking with our heavy rucksacks on our backs, but we always kept one thing in mind, one objective. To finish the day we'd set out to do, and even to go at a good pace to get to the end in time. We had to push ourselves, get out of our comfort zone, while keeping our goal in mind. It's all in the mind!

Can you share an inspiring or moving story that happened to you during your journey?

At the very start of our adventure in Slovenia, we met a French woman and her family by chance in a small village, and they were absolutely adorable to us. Out of pure generosity, she offered to let us have a shower at her place, and to put us up in a small cottage in her garden. The next morning, she brought us breakfast, including fruit salad, sandwiches and hot coffee. It was more than we could have hoped for! We chatted a lot, and she explained her story to us, why she had come to live in Slovenia, her vision of the world, her children, the difficulties of life. We were complete strangers, but in spite of everything, she was so generous with us in every way, that it really made an impression on us. The kind of person who doesn't have much, but has everything. It's also for this kind of encounter that we travel, and when you're out of your comfort zone, it takes on a whole new dimension.

What impact do you hope to have through your support of the foundation for medical research and what are your next steps after the Via Alpina?

Based on our personal experiences, we felt strongly about walking for medical research. What mattered most to us was that, in our small way, we could raise as much awareness as possible among the people who would be following our adventure. We wanted to raise awareness of the fight being waged by researchers, and add our own contribution to the cause with the donations we brought in for the foundation. If we introduce even one person to the MRF, we've won everything. There are no small contributions, and we're very proud to have walked for this cause! What's next for us? For the moment, it's back to normal life, and lots of rest! It was an experience rich in emotion and twists and turns, and travelling around is something we'd really like to do again in the future. We're not stopping at anything, we'll see where life takes us, but if one day we get the opportunity to set off again in the same conditions, we'll take it!