At age 66, I felt like the father of the hiking community while hiking around Mont Blanc earlier this fall. But the Tour du Mont Blanc is possible for any reasonably fit hiker, and there were plenty of people on the trail who were older than me.
For newcomers like Shelley and me, it’s wise to be proactive about health and safety. Here are some tips I learned along the way:
Good boots, liner socks, slippery powder and moleskin are essential for soft skin. We became a kind of gear geek – investing in good day bags (aspray), woolen clothes (socks, underwear, shirts) and great hiking shoes. I was not so grateful for wool hats in Europe.
I was skeptical of many “good ideas”, but the two things I finally appreciated were a daily bag of trail mix and my metal water bottle. (I complained about its steep ট্যাগ 40 price tag … but soon realized it was a great price).
I must say, if the weather gets bad and it rains hard, I don’t think most trails will be fun at all. In fact, it would be dangerous. Hiking poles are essential, and even in perfect weather, I would worry about stumbling without my own faithful set.
Eat a solid breakfast. One day we had breakfast without any protein, the climb was hard.
Apply sunscreen even if the weather is bad.
After learning my lessons about other long climbs, I decided from the start to be religious about expanding the Tour du Mont Blanc. I had a routine of six stretches and spent time all day to make sure I wasn’t tight. Very important!
Don’t be a hero. When the skin is hot, wrap it. I did a complete TMB hike without a blister – and then purposely got one in the last two hours.
Good gear, smart and active ways to stay healthy, stretch, and take it easy… it all worked great.
I will share more photos, stories and tips from Mont Blanc in the November 29 edition of Monday Night Travel. Want to come up with? Register now for this fun – and free! – Incidents.