Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mont Blanc Bound

The jig is up. All my work projects are finished. The spare keys have been dropped off. Emails have been sent. The fleece is packed and the hiking boots are by the door. Nothing stands between me and the Alps except an Air France flight to Geneva.

Well, that's not entirely true. I still need to go to Fairway and H&H Bagels to buy food for the plane (notice how Fairway always insinuates itself into seemingly unrelated events in my life). And I'm going for a run in Central Park tomorrow morning, as a last ditch effort to pump some strength into my legs before NCT and I hike from France to Italy and then to Switzerland around Mt. Blanc.

I have to admit that my excitement about this adventure is tempered by some trepidation. For example, although we'll be sleeping at mountain refuges and farms, I can't deny one unassailable fact: I freeze when sleeping outside (and yes, sleeping in a lean-to counts as sleeping outside). It doesn't matter how many hundreds of dollars worth of Patagonia/North Face/Marmot/Arc Tery'x I've swaddled myself in--my body shivers and teeth clatter as if I were sleeping in a mountainous refrigerator. Which is why, if necessary, I will be sleeping in the hay above the alpine ibex on this trip (pictures potentially to follow).

This backpack is huge.
One other thing has been niggling at me in the last few days: my backpack is enormous. How an Ultralite 60 liter pack with only two changes of clothes, two fleeces, and three paperback books can appear to require a Sherpa is beyond me, but I'm disconcerted nonetheless. If I could jettison sunscreen, rain gear, socks, 2 liters of water, hiking poles, and a 12oz plastic jar of almond butter then I think I'd be set. But since that's not going to happen, I've accepted that I will look like a pack mule (while moving more slowly than said animal).

And on that note, we're off! Off to encounter chamois and wizened French shepherds, snowy cols and precarious looking gondolas, chocolate, marzipan, shriveled saucisson and deeply unsatisfying breakfasts of white bread and jam (hence the almond butter, for when we bonk twenty minutes out the door). At this time in two weeks I'll be pleasantly exhausted and my quads will be the size of tree trunks. Vive les alpes!

Mt. Blanc, a bientôt!

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