First of all – why? Well, why not? We wanted to make a big celebration of turning 50 this year, and what better way to do that than an amazing backpacking trip with the luxury of a warm bed and a bottle of wine at the end of the day? Not to mention some pretty good food that we didn’t have to schlep around and prepare for ourselves. I got the idea for this “50 trip” after a friend took the walking Haute Route several years ago. It sounded ideal.
Almost every summer since 1997 we have taken a backpack or canoe trip – hiking with our kids across Isle Royale, climbing Half Dome, or canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. But the Haute Route presents the added benefit that while you are hiking through gorgeous mountains with tremendous views, you end your day sleeping in a comfortable hotel or dortoire every night. Imagine, no tent, sleeping pads or bulky sleeping bags! Another glorious thought – no stove, cooking gear or bear canister full of heavy Clif bars, noodle dinners and pouches of chicken. Food for a week weighs a lot! How else should a couple of aging backpackers celebrate a half century?
Through this journal, we’d like to document our trip, sharing our adventure with friends and family, but we’d also like to offer advice and information for other potential Haute Route travelers. There is just one “bible” for this trail – the Cicerone Guide by Kev Reynolds: Chamonix to Zermatt, the Classic Walker’s Haute Route. It is a great book that is indispensable along the way, but it lacks information that we wish we’d known. We wrote a journal every night during our trek, noting tidbits that would be useful, arguing with “Kev time” (this is what we nick-named the time estimates for various legs of the journey – something approximating half “Trent time”), and critiquing accommodations and route options.
We hope you enjoy our account of the trip and gain some useful information if you are thinking about walking the Haute Route.