Section 1: The Balkan Mountains
After dipping your toes in the Black Sea, the first section follows the Kom-Emine route along the Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria. Usually hiked in the reverse direction, this is the oldest and longest mountain trail in Bulgaria and provides a somewhat established path for the first 650km of the TEAR.
Section 2: Bulgaria to Albania
After reaching the summit of Kom Peak, the route descends south from the Balkan Mountains and crosses into Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania. The way has been chosen to pass through official border crossings between countries, while staying as near to the mountains and hills as possible. The area does not have many long distance routes so the TEAR will follow a combination of roads and local paths for approximately 600km in order to reach the start of the Via Dinarica in northern Albania.
Section 3: The Dinaric Alps
The third leg will follow the Via Dinarica White Trail - a recent addition to the world of long distance trails which runs for over 1200km along the Dinaric Alps and connects Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. The trail was designed to stay high and incorporates the highest peak in each country it crosses.
Section 4: The Alps
Synonymous with European hiking, the Alps form the longest and most arduous section of the TEAR. Several long distance routes known as the Via Alpina are pieced together, as well as other world class trails such as the Europaweg, Alta Via dei Giganti, and the Tour de Mont Blanc. The route will travel 1500+km through Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and France and will pass under iconic giants such as the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc before branching off to the west.
Section 5: Massif Central
After leaving the Alps and crossing the Rhone river valley the route takes us up onto the Massif Central and travels along the Cevennes Mountains. A combination of long-established GR hiking routes wind for 800km through forests, canyons, mountains, and villages before dropping south towards the Spanish border.
Section 6: The Pyrenees
Traversing the Pyrenees can be done on the French or Spanish side via the GR10 and GR11, respectively. The Haut Route Pyrenees uses a combination of the two and aims to stay at elevation as much as possible. Regardless of the path taken, after roughly 700km the landscape begins to drop towards the coast. At this point the TEAR veers west into Spain.
Section 7: The Cantabrian Mountains
The final section of the TEAR pieces together over 1200km of various trail networks across northern Spain. After descending from the Cantabrian mountains the route joins the Camino Primitivo, then follows the Camino Frances all the way to Santiago de Compostela. From there we continue to Cape Finisterre - the ancient 'end of the earth', looking out across the Atlantic Ocean.
Dylan's first long distance hike was the Pacific Crest Trail, leading to further thru-hikes including Te Araroa, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Northwest Trail. Other trips include an attempt to hike across the interior of Iceland, and a cycle tour down the east coast of Australia.
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