Les Grandes Randonnées
There are a series of hikes crossing Europe called the Grandes Randonnées.
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.
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.
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.
Our American-style packs stand out; most europeans carry roundish "rucksacks" that appear uncomfortable.
Thanks to Tom for my great Hero shot. He carries this esoteric 35mm Swiss camera called an Alpa Reflex.
I do a solo week hike of another GR, I am unsure which one.
It is sad to think that a mere 40 years later this glacier has probably shrunk enormously.
End of the hike, vernicular down the hill to the train and home.