Taking it easy at the Tour du Mont Blanc – Rick Steves’ Travel . Blog

While the Tour du Mont Blanc is quite demanding, it is not a particularly difficult hike. It’s a long one, with a lot of height gain and loss, and it’s always scenic. On my recent trip around the mountain with three friends, each of us seemed to have a weak spot: knees, toes, or lungs. For some, the challenge was going uphill, and for others (with weak knees), the challenge was going downhill. We coped with it easy, with lots of little breaks.

David, Sue and Shelley and I shared the entire trip in Mont Blanc. But to be free to walk at our own pace, we generally found it better to hike as pairs rather than as a quad. It’s really important to be able to stop and rest without worrying about what other people want or need. Our motto was, “We’re here for the hike – to enjoy the moment, the trail, the mountains – not to race to the hotel.”

For long climbs, firm, smaller steps are best. The trail can be really rocky, and I can’t imagine doing it without walking on poles. The trail signs were great, and the apps made it easy to stay on the trail: just follow the blue dot. I made good use of a high quality printed map. (I would spend some time at night before reading about the hike and getting to know the path on the map.)

While the weather forecast seemed menacing, we did the six-day walk (in September, during the last week of the season) and luckily only had an hour of rain. However, every day we collect rain gear, adding and taking off layers as we gain and lose height. Four days later, we leveled it out, and it occurred to us to rank a beginner, “We’ve mastered this.”

As we hiked in a great circle around a great range of mountains and slept in charming towns every night, it seemed like every day soared over a daunting mountain pass. The night treatment was a picnic under a blanket of stars.

I’ll be sharing more photos, stories, and tips from Mont Blanc in the November 29th issue of Monday Night Travel. Want to come along? Register now for this fun – and for free! – Event.

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