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Fri 13 Sep, 2019 6:10 pm
Last month I finished walking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). By any rights walking this in the (early?) twilight years of my career - aged 66 - might have seemed a bit much. After all, it’s 170km long, with huge and grueling ascents and descents. But I did two good things. First I trained hard, lost more than 7kg of unwanted baggage (from my middle), and got as fit as I’ve been in years. Second I went with a group that included four walkers over 70 years of age, three of them women. And the 73 year old bloke was my older brother. There’s motivation to never give up right there!
The good news is, we made it. And what a brilliant walk it is. I’d encourage anyone who’s truly motivated to do this epic walk. I’ve started my write-up of the TMB on my blog (link below),
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 7:48 pm
Good on ya. Hope you got some decent weather. Every time I am in that area, I only get blizzards and monster storms.
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 8:53 pm
Thanks CBee - we were pretty fortunate with the weather. We had 8 out of 10 walking days mostly fine. The forecast wasn’t that good, but it turned out better than predicted. The day we walked over a col out of Italy into Switzerland was very wet, with thunder and hail. But otherwise, a few showers and a fair bit of sun,
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 9:02 pm
Pretty spectacular. I have only done sections but I remember particularly Val Ferret. Very crowded though.
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 10:12 pm
Yeah - this was Grand Col de Ferret for us. If there were crowds we didn’t see them
Mon 16 Sep, 2019 8:02 pm
My second post is now up. Day 2 was hard going, which we (mistakenly) thought might be one of few REALLY hard days. Life’s a bit like that http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/09/the ... ay-up.html
Wed 16 Oct, 2019 1:20 pm
Day 3 of our Tour du Mont Blanc saw us change countries. We climbed over a couple of passes, and suddenly our refuges were rifugio. The story continues on my blog http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/10/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-3-welcome-to.html
Thu 24 Oct, 2019 3:45 pm
Day 4 of the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Most of us have had walking days that seem to ask a lot of us. But at the end of that day you sometimes get to smile through your exhaustion. Day 4 was one of those days for me.
It's probably just as well that I didn't get to choose the route, as I might have been tempted to take a line of lesser resistance. It would be tempting, for instance just to head down the valley and avoid yet another nasty little climb. Had I done that I would've missed some of this wonder! The account of my TMB continues here: http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/10/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-4-among-giants.html
Fri 08 Nov, 2019 10:37 am
Does hard walking sometimes make you feel simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated; wishing both for the walking to end, and yet to never end; and seeing so much beauty that taking another photograph feels a kind of sacrilege? Day 5 of our TMB walk was like that.
When my mind wanders into that kind of territory, something usually drags my gaze back to earth, and on day 5 it was blueberries! We became expert hunter-gatherers of these little blue bliss bombs, tracking them down even as they tried to hide beneath their dark green foliage.
I also got to visit a refuge named in honour of one of my mountaineering heroes, Italy's Walter Bonatti. His book, "The Mountains of My Life" is a classic of mountain literature.
For those following my account of the Tour du Mont Blanc, there's more about day 5 here: http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/11/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-5-of-blueberries.html
Thu 28 Nov, 2019 10:46 am
For anyone interested, there's more in the link below about the walk out of Italy and into Switzerland. http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/11/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-6-mule-in-mist.html
Day 6 of our Tour du Mont Blanc. We were high on a hill, there were goats, maybe even a lonely goatherd. Cue a certain famous "The Sound of Music" song? Nope ... and not even the slightest inclination to yodel. Instead we had rain, mist, hail and thunder all in the one day. At least walking in Tasmania had give me good training for it!
Tue 10 Dec, 2019 4:20 pm
At the end of this day it would be 7 days of walking without a break. Of course we'd had the comforts of refuges and the odd hotel. Still, it was the simple things that seemed to hit the spot.
Day 7 started with proper muesli, had beautiful water along the way, and ended with a Swiss lager. Oh yes ... the Swiss Alps were there too! Happy days!!
For those who want to read more, my blog continues the story here: http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/12/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-7-its-simple.html
Tue 10 Dec, 2019 8:46 pm
Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed the blog.
Traveling with a mule is definitely the way to go!
Thu 12 Dec, 2019 9:17 am
Thanks Joynz - glad you liked it. I'll hopefully finish telling the rest of the TMB story in the next few weeks: 3 or 4 episodes to go!
And yeah, travelling with a mule was great ... mostly. A couple of times we had some concerns about her welfare. We think it was her last trip, as she is getting old. And the load seemed tough on her on some of the long, steep days. But she was definitely a great character ... and the overall trip was brilliant,
Tue 17 Dec, 2019 12:59 pm
Our Tour du Mont Blanc continued, after a so-called rest day. The highlight of our 8th day on the track was the wonderful meadow called Bovine. It was aptly named, as the meadow was full of very happy looking cattle. It helped that the weather was brilliant.
My account continues here:http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/12/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-8-bovine-route.html
Fri 20 Dec, 2019 4:53 pm
There's usually a time on a long, hard walk, when you realise it's going to end. Sometimes, that's when you stop concentrating on your sore legs, your busting lungs, your blisters and everything else that is bothering you ... and you start to try and savour what you're experiencing. Day 9 on the Tour du Mont Blanc was like that ... and oh brother, was it worth noticing where we were and what we were seeing! The account in detail is found here. http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/12/the-tour-du-mont-blanc-9-paying.html
Mon 23 Dec, 2019 4:42 pm
On the final day of the Tour du Mont Blanc, we had to start early to avoid a long, steep, hot climb. It didn't quite work, but oddly enough the climb wasn't as hard as the long, slow descent back into Chamonix.
But before descending, we had a chance to reflect on the whole walk, and to think about the future of wild places like the Alps. For the final blog instalment, read on here http://www.naturescribe.com/2019/12/tour-du-mont-blanc-10-encore.html
Wed 01 Jan, 2020 6:34 am
I devoured your TMB blog. Thank you for the work you put into it. I did the TMB in 2014 and your blog brought back many happy memories- the memories of the exhaustion have disappeared!
Wed 01 Jan, 2020 2:35 pm
Thanks WT - much appreciated. And ...
the memories of the exhaustion have disappeared!
... ain't that the truth! Amnesia is a wonderful - and probably necessary - element of hard walks,
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