So Jeff, Gus and I are leaving June 30 to make the Tour du Mont Blanc, where you walk around Mont Blanc in France, starting in Charmonix (or formally in Les Hoches) in France, walking into Italy, then into Switzerland and then back into France. It’s about 120 miles and we’re taking 12 days or so to do it. Returning on June 15. Very exciting. Other trekkers have posted their experiences, which have been very helpful and endlessly entertaining to me. So I’m going to try to do the same thing.
We talked to the fabulous woman at Distant Journeys but decided not to even take their self-guided hike because frankly we want to be able to bail out if we want to. Also we are not purists at all, taking our tone from the British Walking Women who posted a great description of their tour. They blithely took cable cars, buses etc. to cut off bits. We plan to do the same.
For starters, Jeff is a veteran long-distance hiker. He’s Fizz from a 2003 AT thru-hike. He routinely does 20 mile days even now. Our 16-year-old son we have always said was a rubber billy goat. Our first hike as a family was in 1998 up the Fiery Gizzard trail in Middle Tennessee (we lived in Nashville then, Maryland now). He bounded to the top of what seemed then to be a horrid trail and his cheeks weren’t even red and his hair was quite dry. He did 200 miles of the AT through NY, CT, MA and VT in two weeks with Jeff in 2003 and was known as Young Fizz.
So I’m the weak link. I’ve been trying to train since Christmas. I can now do six miles in Little Bennett SP in Maryland in 2.5 hours, but that’s without much in the way of elevation gains. The big thing was that now six miles seems like a short hike. The TMB days are between 9 and 13 miles (without the sweet buses and cable cars) with elevation gains and losses between 1500 and 3100 feet. So last weekend Jeff took me to Dolly Sods in WV, which was absolutely fabulous, like being in Maine or Canada. But it was stormy so we turned back after maybe 3 miles. I was really disappointed but we went to Seneca Rock, which is a strange 1000 foot rock outcropping, and climbed the 1-mile trail up. I don’t know if I’m figuring the ratio correctly, but I think that’s about 1:5. I went up in half an hour without much trouble only seven minutes behind Jeff. So this gave me hope that I can do a bit more than crawl the TMB, which averages 1:10.
We hiked in the Bernese Oberland in 2000, up to the Faulhorn Hotel at nearly 9,000 feet. I did fine on that because it was completely gentle until the last half mile, which was awful. But apparently I am now in better shape. This is good.
So we have NO reservations except the first night Hotel Les Lanchers in Charmonix La Praz and for the shuttle from the Geneva airport. I am totally having to restrain myself and hoping we won’t be screwed. And I didn’t know that Les Hoches is actually before Charmonix on the road from Geneva and thinking we should have just stayed there, but the die is cast.