GVN Update: Post-TMB

Since it would appear that the only place in the Alps I’m even remotely prolific – and remotely connected to the WiFi for more than three minutes at a time – is the Geneva International Airport, I should seize the moment and attempt to codify in 1,000 words or less the mountainous events of last two weeks.

I first read about the Tour du Mont Blanc in a Times article from last winter that extols the virtues of this cheese-laden orgy-cum-long-distance-hike. Laden with Epicurean delights, he writes, the TMB bounces from lavish market to lavish market, incidentally circling the entire 105-mile circumference of the Massif du Mont Blanc. Additional perks of the trek, which is traditionally competed in 10 or 11 days, are the casual crossing of borders (France, Italy, and Switzerland), bragging a rights for a combined ascent and descent that equals that of scaling Mount Everest, rabble-rousing in refuges with other randonneurs (hikers), and the ever-faithful fromage.

The article is terrible, with more mentions of the author’s gluttony than of the actual trail; however, he makes the point that in the US, we tend to see trekking/backpacking/hiking as an act of self-denial: Eating the same food every day, using a pinecone to wipe the ass, thinking about all the wrongs we’ve yet to right. Indeed, many of the Americans I met on the trail seemed to have a multitude of Intense Trekking Rules, based on Isolated Experiences and Cinematic Ideals: No Showers, No Joy, No Toilet Paper For That Is Cheating. Whereas I’m more into the European version where you hike 18 kilometers to a place with a hot shower and cold beer. Like, guys: Emile Hirsch DIES at the end of Into the Wild. Had he lugged a kilo of Comte with him to Alaska, or maybe just not set all his cash on fucking fire, he wouldn’t have had to forage for poison berries and could’ve lasted until spring.

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