Monday, August 26, 2013

A Busy Month

Embarrassment:  Having to read the previous entry in order to determine how for behind I am in posting...

My last entry was July 18, about the UCC.  Since then, I have:

July 29 - August 9:  Hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc
August 10 - 11:  Volunteer at Dirty Girls 12/24/48 hour race
August 17 - 18:  Crew and paced for Lee Anne at the Beast of Burden 100 mile race
August 24:  Assistant race director for Creemore Copper Kettle Dash
August 25:  Start cutting firewood (a few months behind on this task)
August 26:  That would be today

Options are to write a brief summary of each event, or to present a rambling discourse on the events, as I see fit.  Guess what!

Tour de Mont Blanc

If I were to assume the stance of a pampered, stereotypical North American, I would mention that I complained to the tourist information kiosks in France, Italy and Switzerland that they should pave some of the steeper sections.  Lee Anne and I (subsequently known as "we") climbed upwards of 4 hours at a time!  The Mont Blanc massive (a grouping of mountains) is very hilly.  Makes the CVC look flat.  On day 3 during the first 4 hours of a 9 hour day, we climbed 1600 meters.  Think of Blackcomb out west and you have a reasonable grasp of the task.  I should mention that we did not take any lifts to get to the top of the col...

The views?  Outstanding!  The food and wine?  Please - a moment's silence.  Describing food in Italy is like trying to explain how beautiful Lake Louise is to someone who has never seen the mountains.  And the coffee, the coffee.  A work of art!  One sip and the hassle of getting to Europe evaporates.  Forget that it is mindlessly expensive.  We had 2 thimbles of coffee in the Geneva airport (I think "thimble" is the correct descriptor in this case) for $13 CAD.  I was a bit shocked after doing the math (after paying), but one sip later, felt it was a bargain.

We did what Macs Adventure calls the "Tour de Mont Blanc in Comfort".  Before you start snickering, I don't like camping.  Technically, I do like camping, but my back and neck do not.  I cannot sleep in a tent.  I have not camped for 12 years because of this.  One key component of the Tour de Mont Blanc is that most people use the Refuges (really really lousy hotels) or camp during the trek.  Macs Adventure put together a package where we hiked most of the TMB, but stayed in hotels.  One night, we stayed in a Refuge, but otherwise, it was a fantastic meal followed by sleep in a real bed.  Perfect!

We got lost on our first day.  Technically, I got us lost, but no one told me there would be more than one col on any given climb.  We got to the top of the col, figured out we were lost, asked some locals for guidance and the one older gentleman said it would be impossible to get where we needed to go today.  I was tempted to tell him we had night gear and could hike the entire night, but figured it would break something in his psyche, to figure out that we could go further than him, if needed.  By climbing over a mountain (not really what I would describe as a shortcut), we managed to get to our destination in 9 hours.  Tough first day!

Hiking "most: of the TMB" in 6 days is a workout.  The problem with staying in hotels is that they are "way down there" and the trail is up around 8000 feet.  A typical day was:  Hike up to the tree line, hike along the tree line, hike down to the next town.  Repeat for 6 days.  But if conditioning is not a big factor, try this one!  The scenery, views, food, wine, experience is incredible.

We have a sobering idea of how hard the Ultra (UTMB) would be.  Considered the toughest ultra in Europe, it would be no walk in the park.  Although the TMB trail does not summit Mont Blanc, 100 people die climbing Mont Blanc every year.  4 people died the week we were hiking the TMB.  I would love to do the UTMB!  I doubt I ever will, as the 166K race has a 45 hour cut-off.

I'm going to break here, but will be back to update from DG to CKD very soon.

Run many, fall down few!

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