The Last Miles Before the Hundred

Our last conditioning hike of the pre-Tour Du Mont Blanc was completed Sunday. Seven miles out and back on the Falls Lake Trail with fully loaded packs…carrying exactly what we’d be carrying on a typical day of the TMB.

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9:30 am on an unseasonably cool July morning.

The hiking days in the Alps will be longer with much more up and down, of course.

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The TMB is of course one of the greatest hikes in the world, as well as one of our Becauzeitzthere Bucketlist hikes.

Sylvia and I have never walked 100 miles before in a single go, so this is going to be a significant challenge. But we are better prepared for this hike than any we have ever done before. Brian believes himself better prepared in terms of fitness than at any time since he did the full traverse of the Grand Canyon in 2003. He had a trick knee then, too…but not quite as tricky as the one he has now.

Our main concern concern is that our weakest points — our trick and cranky joints — will break down on us, There’s only so much exercise one can do to get it ready without actually inflaming the joint to the point where it goes on strike. Sylvia is treating her ‘cranky ankle’ (crankle) with ice, heat and ‘eastern medicine’ and seems to be making progress.

At the terminus of our hike, Raven Ridge Road, where Sylvia devoured a whole package of Gu I had stashed in her pack.

A hundred miles sounds like a lot. And so it is. But we are counting on a few things, besides just luck and conditioning, to help us on the trip:

  • Lighter pack weight, possible since we are sleeping in hostels each night
  • Two rest days en-route (we could take third, if absolutely necessary)
  • No serious high elevation (high point of the TMB is only just over 8000 feet above sea level.)
  • Few camp chores to do at end of day

Sylvia has struggled with elevation issues especially when laboring under a heavy pack. And Brian fully believes that the camp chores (which inevitably require much bending, pulling and and squatting) can be as much, and sometimes more, damaging to the knees and back as hiking. He truly believes these contributed to his blowing his knee out completely in 2014 after a hike in the High Sierra.

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Another successful shakeout…but are we ready?

We have invested in the best possible gear for this trip including lighter weight packs, lighter weight clothes, lightweight trekking poles and knee braces. Everything we can think of to give us every possible advantage. But ultimately, the route must be walked. The gear can’t walk it for us.

Brian’s Osprey 38L Kestrel in full TMB config incl. a day’s worth of water.

Will we be up to the test? Honestly we can’t wait to find out. It’s STILL out there…

A Hundred Miles Afoot in the Alps.

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