|On of our daily itinerary cards. This was a long day.|
|Niamh soaking up the sun at a much needed rest stop on day 5.|
|Navigating the snowiest pass on the route. I had a couple of heart in throat moments.|
|The Frenchman and Niamh|
I was discussing the tiger story with a friend of mine and he said--the trek was your strawberry! This Mount Blanc trekking trip was a gift to my daughter too. At 8 years old, she has experienced more of life's realities than most do in adulthood. She has weathered everything from coping with an absent father to fleeing a war. Along the way she has developed the resilience required to navigate this transient international life we have been living. She has dealt with the heartache that comes with saying goodbye many, many times and the more recent lesson of learning how to cope with not being accepted and embraced for who you are and what you offer. It is for these reasons that I seek out activities that will give her the most profound sense of self I can. It is my way of arming her for life's trials. If she can say to herself--'I hiked nearly 100km through the Alps in 6 days when I was 8 AND I loved it!'-- then she can tell herself she has the fortitude to make it through all kinds of challenges--physical and emotional. I want her to know what lies within and make the best use of it. This should help her to truly believe that what she thinks of herself matters a lot more than what others may think of her.
|One of the many signposts along the route.|
The strawberries and the tigers: I asked my daughter for moments that she loved on our trek, she said, 'I remember looking back down deep into the valley back to where we started that morning. It was so far!' I asked her how this made her feel at the time, she said, 'Proud, tired, happy.' I asked her what was one of the toughest moments. She described hiking up a very long, very steep Roman road. It was a long road but thankfully it was shady. We learned to appreciate the shade as we were very fortunate to have clear, sunny skies every single day we hiked. We finished just as a major heat wave was hitting Europe. I'm not sure how we would have managed with wind and rain on some of these high trails. We couldn't have asked for better conditions for an 8-year-old's first trek.
|Niamh and the hiking buddy she made along the way.|
|Niamh communing with the locals at Refuge Mottets.|
Because of the people we met all along the way, we never felt lonely or bored or sad. We never once doubted what we were doing. We were often tired and our muscles were sore yet we were happy. Everyone we encountered was so thankful for the opportunity to be on those trails. Sure people spoke of blisters and sunburns yet they were all quite content. We met so many friendly, interesting and intelligent people along the way and saw so much astounding beauty that if my feet hadn't hurt so much I think I would have gone around the whole thing again. I hope that someday we will!