Well, folks, the day you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived(!)
The final in the series of three articles on how my friend Sarah and I hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc with eight week-old Carys has been published. The first two articles in the series covered long-range planning (how to select a destination and train for your trip) and then short-range planning (things like eating, sleeping, water, clothing, diapers, and which kind of baby carrier to use); this last one recounts the trip itself.
I’ve loved all of the hikes I’ve done with Carys – from Colorado to Ireland, we’ve certainly had some adventures. But I’m not sure I have or can top hiking something as incredible as the Tour du Mont Blanc just eight weeks after having Carys.
Before she was born I was worried we would have trouble bonding, but doing that hike with her provided me an amazing opportunity to have her close to me while doing something I love.
People never seem to believe me when I say this, but I swear it was easier for me to hike a long-distance trail than to sit at home with her. I remember having so much trouble getting her down for naps at home but she slept fine in the front pack most of day, and in a variety of beds (and sometimes on a Thermarest) at night. (And we didn’t have too much trouble transitioning her back afterward, either – I didn’t carry her around all the time when we returned home.) There’s something very comforting about getting up and knowing that the only thing you have to do that day is hike, and that there will be a hot meal and a dry bed waiting for you at the end of it.
The scenery, of course, was spectacular. Unlike my Haute Route trip the previous year, where I would hike daily down into one forested valley and up to the next ridge – with views of the next set of peaks – to find my campsite, the TMB hike was mostly along the ridges on either side of Mont Blanc, with opportunities to see a different aspect of the mountain and its companions in the range every time we moved forward.
I was talking recently with someone who asked me to summarize my advice to people thinking about doing this kind of hike with a baby. It took me a while to figure out how to consolidate three articles full of information into a few sentences, but ultimately I got it down to two words:
Plan as much as you can in advance: pick a sensible destination, take everything you might need to deal with situations you think you might encounter; make some wicking onesies so baby doesn’t get wet with your sweat as you hike.
Then, do. Hike. Ask yourself and your hiking companion each day if you’re having fun. If you aren’t, then go sit on a beach somewhere. If you are, keep hiking. And eventually, stop asking yourself if you’re having fun – because you just are.
Hope you enjoy the article.