Les Grandes Randonnées

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There are a series of hikes crossing Europe called the Grandes Randonnées.

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The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) circles the Massif du Mont Blanc. In the course of this hike one passes through France, Italy and Switzerland. I did this hike solo when I was eighteen, starting in Chamonix. The map above is not mine but shows the basic route with the dotted variante I used. Italy is a bit dry and boring, Switzerland very scenic. I take 8 days, camping with a tent and carrying food, doing none of that fancy refuge stuff. I fall in right away with a group of five French guys in their early twenties from a small town in Normandy. They eat sugar cubes for energy, carry strange squeeze-tubes of food, have scary-bad teeth and do not ever wash. My copains include a student, a baker, a worker, and a priest. I think they feel protective of me because I am younger and my French is only so-so. One night when there are terrible lightning storms they insist that I abandon my little tent and climb in with them in their already too-crowded tent; I do not understand the point but do it to humor them. It is a very exposed spot and in hindsight quite a risky place to be.

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I walked a week on the GR 9 with Tom the summer I turned a sophomore. The red and white painted rock is the universal trail marker for the GR trails.

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That's me with my UCLA t-shirt. Tom and I sit on our packs and bob-sled down the long and steep hill. It works amazingly well.

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Our American-style packs stand out; most europeans carry roundish "rucksacks" that appear uncomfortable.

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Thanks to Tom for my great Hero shot. He carries this esoteric 35mm Swiss camera called an Alpa Reflex.

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I do a solo week hike of another GR, I am unsure which one.

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It is sad to think that a mere 40 years later this glacier has probably shrunk enormously.

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End of the hike, vernicular down the hill to the train and home.