My final thoughts
"I don’t know if there is such a thing as ‘post-trek depression’, but I think I had it when I finally got back home. It wasn’t really helped by arriving to a dull, grey, cool few days in England! (As I write this, the weather has improved considerably.)
I mean, it was nice to be home – of course. It was lovely to see my dogs and my wife - of course (and as I said before, not necessarily in that order.) But the Walker’s Haute Route is such an intense experience; well, it was for me. And I still miss it. While it can be physically demanding (I’ll return to that small matter), it’s just so beautiful. And I had the great pleasure of hiking with some lovely people (and, no, they didn’t make me say that!)
Anyway, you’ll be relieved no doubt to hear that I recovered from my ‘funk’, and I even took the younger dog for a hike over the Coniston range a week later; it was foggy and we got soaked, but it was nice to be out.
So, what? What do I think to the Haute Route? It’s awesome (and I do not use that term in the common, very much overused manner – it is just awesome in the truest sense.) For me, this was almost literally a ‘chance in a lifetime’. I was aware of the Haute Route but I’d pretty much written it off. For starters, it’s mostly in Switzerland and there’s no getting away from the fact that it is therefore an expensive trek to undertake. But more than that, I’m 59 (as of 1 week before I started the hike) and if I knew nothing else I did know that this is a physically demanding hike – no two ways about it. I was looking at less demanding treks to do in the future. So, had I not been (extremely) lucky enough to win the chance to do it, I may well never have done the Haute Route. There’s a moral there, I guess: never underestimate what you’re capable of!
Are you wondering, “can I do it”? Of course, there’s only really one way to find out and that’s to try! Despite my concerns about fitness, I never really struggled. I wasn’t as fast as the seventeen year olds (and I never expected to be), but I do hike a lot. And I’d had my five days in the Pyrenees just before this which undoubtedly helped. But here’s the thing: the ages of our group ran from seventeen to sixty-nine. And we all did it. Some were slower than others, sure, but we all did it. As it turned out, we all hike – regularly. We were certainly what I tend to refer to as ‘hill fit’.
So, do not be put off by the Haute Route’s reputation as a physically demanding trek, but nor should you underestimate it; don’t consider doing it unless you are reasonably fit and you are prepared to walk an average of about 12 miles per day with an average ascent of about 1200m (and some days considerably more than that.) And, you need to be able to do that day after day. It’s a tall order, but it is very doable. And – believe me – if you can make that effort, I guarantee it will repay you in spades; there is absolutely no question about it. You will see vast mountain ranges and beautiful valleys - the Alps are even beautiful when it’s raining! You’ll almost certainly see Marmots, Ibex and Chamois. You’ll be fitter and stronger when you finish; and, more importantly, you’ll have done something wonderful.
I just want to finish by thanking Mont Blanc Treks for giving me this opportunity. As I say, had I not won their competition, I would very likely never have done the Walker’s Haute Route. So, I’m eternally grateful to Sara and the good people of Mont Blanc Treks. I wish them every success for the future; and I hope you, the reader, get the chance to undertake similarly great adventures. For that’s what this ten days was for me: a very great adventure."