My year abroad in Florence Italy was coming to an end and I would soon have to return to the states and obtain realistic responsibilities and commitments that any functional member of society holds. It was bittersweet and I knew I wanted to end my time in Europe with a bang. The dreamer in me wanted to spend the whole summer backpacking Europe, and not the kind of backpacking that most people do in Europe; ya know, hop-on-a-train-with-a-backpack-and-go-from-one-country-to-another. I literally wanted to strap on my hiking boots and walk from Italy to Denmark. Maybe a trip for future me. What I did end up hiking I’m not sure if I really even chose, or if it chose me. One day it was just there, on my wall. Well matter of factly one of my good high school friends put it on my wall. Well my Facebook feed. Same difference.
National Geographic “These 10 Hiking Trails Will Blow Your Mind”, it might as well have been a BuzzFeed article or quiz. If I didn’t have a time or location restriction, I wouldn’t have been able to choose one. The Tour Du Mont Blanc was second on the list, and the only one in Europe. Boom, that was it. That was how I was going to end my time in Europe. 110 miles, 10 days, 3 countries, and about 32,800ft worth of elevation change.
Worrisome parents surely imagined every possibility of how things could go wrong without a companion by my side, so my mom flew out to join me for her first backpacking trip ever. Certainly my ambition comes from her. The only stipulation to her joining my trek was that it was mine, she was just along for the ride and would follow my plans (or lack of).
I purchased a book on the TMB, a sort of trail guide, and did a few google searches and mainly just looked at how beautiful the trek was, and that was it. My planning was finished. We would meet in Chamonix, stay the night and start early the next morning. Seemed flawless. I would just read the book as we needed it and follow the yellow signs that were usually visible.
We started early that foggy morning, and we were being passed by so many people! Trail runners, hikers of all ages, some even in their 60’s. Everyone had on small day packs while my mom and I were lugging up all of our camping gear, and probably one too many changes of outfits. It was a very foggy and somewhat discouraging five brutal hours till we reached the top of the mountain where we split the most delicious, bone-filled can of sardines. Anything tastes good when you’re exhausted.
We were basically sprinting down the other side of the mountain in the rain, just happy to be going downhill. Down a road we went, and maybe if I had read the book we wouldn’t have missed the turn off to the trail that would lead us to our next location. Oops. My bad. But my trip, right? We had probably made it three miles down the road and had no option except to turn around and find the trail. My mom wasn’t happy. It was raining, we were tired, and still had at least six more hours of hiking to get to our campsite.
The blessing in disguise was being on a road. I hitch hiked for the very first time with my mom, in France, in the rain. I couldn’t tell you what the gentlemen who let us ride in the back of his truck looked like, but for the story, he was the hottest frenchman I ever did see.
The rest of the day went seamlessly, we made it just in time to set up our tent in the last few minutes of daylight left and enjoyed a hot dinner shared amongst all of the other hikers. We exchanged our trials and tribunes of the day, everyone laughed at the silly, lost american girls, and then we crawled in to our sopping wet tent and passed out in all of fifteen seconds. But this was only day one. Everyday of our 10 day trek would hold its own challenges, each one drastically different from the one before.