Earlier this autumn, four of us – total newcomers on long-distance trekking – walked around Europe’s highest mountain. (On the first day, the big birds of prey hovered over my head. My guess is: they were vultures just waiting for one of us to come down.)
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a 100-mile, ten-day hike – but we cheated a bit, hiking the best 60 miles in six days from Mountain Lodge to Mountain Lodge, catching a local bus through less exciting parts and a “Sherpa service” in France, Italy. And run our bags every day from Chamonix to Chamonix via Switzerland.
This is the first time I enjoyed a piece of Europe with my girlfriend Shelley and we were joined by Sue and David from Minnesota. (I worked with David Preston for 20 years at TPT – Twin Cities PBS. In the world of public television, he is considered a “please drive guru”.)
Each day, we would take a five-hour hike to what the trail signs said – which took us six or seven. Our motto: “Take your time. That’s why we’re here.” Typically, the day begins with a 3,000-foot climb (or “call”) 8,000 feet above sea level.
Part of our pre-trip training was taking steep hikes near the house. On a typical day’s climb of a thousand meters (or about 3,000 feet) at TMB, I would recommend choosing a practice hike with a 3,000-foot altitude gain so you can use it as a reference point. In the state of Washington we had the Mount Sea Trail. We even had a word for a 3,000-foot elevation: “A Mount Sea.”