The TMB Just Three Weeks Away! (and of course the French train workers are on strike)

Update on the Tour Du Mont Blanc

So…

We’re just three weeks out from the Tour Du Mont Blanc…our hundred plus mile circumnavigation of Western Europe’s highest peak! The excitement is building for this, the most ambitious thing we have ever done.

Toppen in de Westelijke Mont Blanc-groep: hoogste top de Mont Blanc, rechts de Dome du Goûter, links van de Mont Blanc de Mont Maudit en Mont Blanc du Tacul, daarvoor de Aiguille du Midi.
 

Mont Blanc Photo by Door Tinelot Wittermans, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1317

 

Brian’s ‘Tarzan French’ is improving daily to the point where he now believes he can communicate with any suitably educated chimpanzee we happen upon in France. He is less sure about the actual French people. Sylvia is still ‘fixing to get ready’ to brush up on her Italian. Which means, basically, no communicating with anything, even a chimp, in Italy.

We’re pretty much resigned to the fact that we’re screwed in Switzerland.

We survived one complication so far when our hostel for the last night of our walk – the Refuge Lac Blanc – cancelled our reservation with very little warning. Their stated reason was the hostel was closed for legal reasons and may not open at all this year.

Fortunately, the setback was short lived. We were able to book in a nearby hostel – the almost as spectacularly situated Refuge La Flegere – which almost immediately accepted our reservation. Trouble avoided!

Image courtesy https://www.chamonix.net

But there could be more trouble brewing. We are depending upon a bunch of things happening on the first day of the trip…namely, one airplane taking off and landing when it is supposed to, and five trains (two Paris metro, one TGV and a pair of locals on the Chamonix end) leaving and arriving when they are supposed to. And all this must happen in the space of LESS than 48 hours.

So far so good…all the train bookings are done, and we should be arriving in Chamonix at a reasonable hour on the second evening of the trip (first night in Europe.)

But transportation strikes in the French Republic are common. And in fact, there is a train strike in progress right now.

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/france-rail-strikes-latest-summer-holidays-july-august-sncf-industrial-action-a8419251.html

The strike was supposed to continue up until June 28 but has dragged on, with announcements of new stoppages coming in July. The way it works is, trains come to a stop on scheduled days which are posted in advance. The schedule for April-June is posted online, but so far, no schedule posted for July.

A friend of ours who works for a company based in France has kindly offered to give us the blackout dates in advance as the hike approaches…but our timetable may be in jeopardy. The next fastest way from Paris to Chamonix is a bus that would put us in the hotel after midnight. We must hike the next day. ☹

The only good news is that our trip does have some flexibility built in. We have allowed nearly two weeks in Chamonix which should be enough to move things around as necessary. The only issue is, some hostels might fill up.

We also have the option of taking cable cars or public transportation. If necessary, would shortcut a day ahead.

The only thing we can do is play things by ear.

Meanwhile, our preparation continues. Sunday morning we were rudely awakened at 6:30 am by roofing work going on next door. (Yes. On a Sunday. Barbarians.) Sine there was no possibility of going back to sleep, we decided to go for a walk early on the Neuse River Greenway up to the Falls Lake Dam, before the full heat of day came on.

IMG_4417.JPG
Yes we both now have matching “Kuhl” hats.

At least that part worked out. We caught a glimpse of a pair of bald eagles over the lake…too far away to make for a good picture. But we took some other pictures that came out reasonably okay.

IMG_4418.JPG

Sylvia suffered a minor injury to her ankle during our hike-whack to the top of House Mountain a couple weeks back, but she appears to be improving. Here she is ‘recuperating’ by working on her new crafts store booth in Wake Forest…

IMG_4411.JPG

We still must go for at least one more serious trial hike with our new lighter weight Osprey Kestrel packs. I’ve always liked ospreys. And kestrels.

Osprey By Yathin S Krishnappa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21376478

Common Kestrel 1.jpg
Kestral By sannse – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Saperaud., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=453735

Are we ready for 100 miles of hiking? Only one way to find out. Do it!

Why do it? Because. It’s there and cries out to be done.

2 thoughts on “The TMB Just Three Weeks Away! (and of course the French train workers are on strike)

    1. Thanks John I appreciate the advice. I’ve been told the same by many people. My limited experience in French speaking counties (Quebec) has taught me it’s MUCH more productive to at least show an effort to speak the language rather than just babbling really loud and slow in English (which is my back up plan.)

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