(This is part of a 14-post series. If you landed directly on this page, we suggest you start at the beginning and navigate through in order using the Next >> link at top & bottom of each post. Enjoy and thanks for visiting!)
We enjoyed a relaxing day off in Les Houches—lounging around the Skier’s Lodge, playing with Fiona, and taking the bus to the Chamonix town center for ice cream and a raised relief map of the Mont Blanc massif. Others at the lodge were getting ready to start their journeys and wanted to know all about it. Having put so much into planning and training for it, it’s strange to think that ours is over. Back home, friends and family will be happy to see us again, possibly impressed that we did a trip of this sort with a baby, or possibly not quite as interested in the whole matter as we are.
There is a strange dichotomy to what we feel about the feat of hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc with a baby. In one sense, it was a natural, almost obvious, choice of vacation for new parents who are outdoor enthusiasts—a way to incorporate our child into the enjoyment of our favorite pastime and expose her to God’s wondrous creation while foregoing the more extreme aspects of “roughing it.” In this respect, choosing to embark on this with Fiona seemed strangely normal, like anyone could (and should) do it, not like we did something all that spectacular. At the same time, we feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and epic nostalgia when we think back to our experience on the trail and the memories that will live with us forever. There is a sense that we have pulled off something amazing that others will never truly be able to fully appreciate without doing it themselves.
And so we live in this paradox that we did something great and perhaps unprecedented, yet at the same time something akin to what we believe anyone can do with their passion in life. We hope to inspire others to take hold of an adventure or dream with the same conviction and not use “the baby” or [insert excuse here] as a reason for not living life to the fullest.
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We didn’t dare leave the continent without indulging in one of Europe’s proudest traditions: a quick-layover-turned-24-hour fiasco in London’s Heathrow airport as our terminal was shut down and all flights were canceled. Waiting in unmoving lines with other stranded passengers proved futile, and we had to find a patch of floor to sleep for the night, using foam mats provided by airport personnel to the thousands of us scattered across the floor like refugees. We had to buy our own tickets back to Seattle the next day with promise of reimbursement from the airline, and spent July 4th hopping from airport to airport across the country until eventually arriving in Seattle. A friend picked us up at the airport, and we glimpsed fireworks shows from the highway as Fiona slept on the car ride home.
We went backpacking a few more times that summer. Being in the best shape of our lives, we didn’t want to waste a weekend in the city. Fiona continues to grow and require more wiggle time each day, and getting her to sleep in the tent can be a challenge. We are glad to have done this trip when we did. She may not remember the Tour du Mont Blanc later in life, but it is a joy to watch her unabashedly discover the world around her, realizing that we have and will continue to plant the seeds that give her a zeal for an adventurous life.