Patience. Sue and I had learned during our pilgrimage across Spain that our perseverance would be rewarded, eventually. I chronicled our trials in Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.
Mont Blanc had stood tall, 15,771 feet, for the first several days of our 110-mile adventure around the Alps’ highest member. But it had hid from our view.
On the morning after the toughest climbing day of our lives, our patience was tested again as we inched up 3,100 feet toward Col de Seigne. The aches from day three worsened, making us wonder how much more we could take. We didn’t say it, but the Tour du Mont Blanc had made us question why we had attempted such a trek.
Then, at the mountain pass, Mont Blanc’s grand pose was the best pain killer I have ever felt. It graciously posed for photographs with us before we stepped from France into Italy, where we picnicked at nearly 8,300 feet in the crisp, blue air and gawked at one of Earth’s wonders.
We knew the third day of our 110-mile trek around Mont Blanc would be our most challenging backpacking test ever. But were we ready? Our first long-distance trek, Spain’s Camino de Santiago, had taught us to be prepared for surprises at every corner and over every hill.
We climbed all morning, 4,317 feet, to an altitude above 8,000 feet. When Sue reached the snowy mountain pass, or col, she was greeted by cloud cover, which closed in quickly, along with a chill. And then came a realization that reminded us of our climb to O’Cebreiro in Spain. But the bad news in France’s Alps was worse than what we faced on the Camino.
We were one col short. Another climb, on slopes steeper than they look in the photos, loomed. Reg was anything but a happy hiker when he turned sideways in the bottom photo to look back at Sue. The path led up, into dripping clouds, around and over rock and ice. Our rubbery legs and aching knees then faced more than 3,000 feet of descent to our hostel in Les Chapieux.
So how have we learned to endure such difficult times? Our lessons began in Pamplona, Spain, as we took the first steps of our monthlong pilgrimage. We tell and illustrate our story in our book, Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows. Click on “trekking slide shows” in the menu to view Sue’s short slide shows from each of our treks.
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