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It’s hard to believe that the Tour du Mont Blanc is supposed to be one of the most popular multi-day treks in Europe. No one I talk to has ever heard of it! Maybe I’m not running in the proper circles. I don’t know many people that own trekking poles.

Old Friends

 

 

Planning the route and hiding from the rain at the same time...

 

Anyway, this ten day hike was a chance to catch up with one of my oldest and dearest friends and her lovely husband and to see some awe-inspiring scenery to boot. We met in Switzerland and set out for ~144kms through three countries. We stayed in mountain refuges – fully functional dorm accommodation with night-time meal included. Hiking on the West coast of Canada (where I grew up) is a different breed altogether. Up in the alps one feels quite civilized. You can shower almost every night! We also stopped though a few towns along the way so we were able to pick up supplies as needed, and to celebrate milestones and new countries with a pint, or a wee bit of fois gras.

This is quite a tramp and it doesn’t take all that long to get into the swing of things even if you’re not that much of a long distance hiker. One of my favourite moments occurred on the second day in. I think we were en route to the Grand Col Ferret (2537m) which marks the border between Switzerland and Italy.  We were slugging up yet another summit, sweat and sunscreen pouring into our eyes, sun blaring down on us, packs digging into our backs.  My good friend Diana casually looks at me, and with a resigned but somewhat enthusiastic smile says, “mhh, and to think…we could have been sailing in the Mediterranean right now!”

I’m fairly certain I stopped dead. “Pardon me??” …confused laughter escaping my parched and sun-burnt lips.

Answering with a casual chuckle and a shrug of the shoulders, “oh yeah, didn’t we tell you? If we hadn’t done this hike we were going to charter a boat and sail around the Med for two weeks.”

As my jaw dropped, she added proudly: “Jeff and I are both Skippers.” Broad smile. My uncontrollable laughter was a reaction to the altitude, I’m sure.

The Mediterranean aside, this was a fantastic journey and although it was many weeks later that any of could fully enjoy cheese or sausage (after eating them every day on the trail), the scenery was enough to put one in one’s place.

We worked really hard through heat, rain, wind and even snow…. and we met some great people too.  It was an amazing experience but I won’t hesitate to volunteer as a deck hand on our next vacation together.

worth a thousand words...

Here are a few pictures from my new home!

c/o N. McNamara

The Castle!

c/o N. McNamara

A Different Angle!

c/o N. McNamara

Lake Wanaka

The Family

The Family

…So much has happened, and we have seen and experienced so many things in the last few weeks, that I am having trouble figuring out what to share!

This time around I have decided that a picture is worth a thousand words…

The Phu Quoc Phantoms

A highlight of the Island of Phu Quoc in the far south of Vietnam included renting bikes to explore the island!

Underwater Cameras Rock!

We spent some time snorkeling too!

Monkey & Me

Monkey & Me - The company was amazing!?!

….What else?  Oh yeah – we saw Hoi An, on the central coast. The beautiful architecture did not go unnoticed as we roamed the narrow lanes.  We spent a lot of time along the  Thu Bon River.

The Thu Bon River, Hoi An

The Thu Bon River, Hoi An

From there we went north to the capital: Hanoi.

Our next direction was back to the coast – Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island.  We spent the night on a boat and a night on an island and it was beautiful and fun and we met some good folk along the way. Hiking and Kayaking  and relaxing on the boat took up most of our time.  The backdrop was breath-taking.

Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam

Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam

The Top of Tower on Top of a Hill on Cat Ba Island

The Top of Tower on Top of a Hill on Cat Ba Island

This is just a small taste of some of the places we’ve had the opportunity to explore.  Vietnam is one of the most diverse and devastatingly beautiful countries I have ever seen.  Before my visa expires we will cross the border to Cambodia.

Another adventure awaits…
but then, doesn’t it always?

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