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Adjust, Adapt, and Hike On

As someone who loves and puts a lot of energy into trip planning, letting go of my expectations can be hard to accept. The need to adapt is hard for me, but after traveling to Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, I realized that motherhood, and sometimes the weather, has different plans for my adventures. Two different experiences in two different countries have reminded me to go with the flow and embrace unforeseen circumstances. The joys brought from shifting the itinerary and my perspective are continuing to pay off.


In February, my family and I traveled to Liechtenstein, a small country (162sq. km/62.5sq. mi) nestled between Austria and Switzerland. We were instantly amazed by the grandeur of the Swiss and Austrian Alps that seemed to cradle this beautiful country. The weather was crisp and cool, and the sun was shining. Conditions for hiking looked perfect, and despite arriving much later than expected due to a hectic morning and our youngest getting carsick, we were eager to hit the trail.

Adjust, Adapt, and Hike On by Leah Hasse [image is a father and son walking along a mountain lane, mountains in background]

I was set on hiking Sassweg, a trail that begins in one of Liechtenstein’s mountain towns and reaches 1,725 meters. From the peak, one has the option to continue traversing the Alps or to hike to Bergrestaurant Sareiserjoch, a restaurant perched on the mountain with an incredible view of the Austrian Alps. Of everything on my list, it was what I was most looking forward to. The dream was shot down early when our Airbnb host informed us that the only way we could realistically traverse the trail with kids was with backcountry skis as there was still at least a meter of snow on most of the mountain trails.

Adjust, Adapt, and Hike On by Leah Kasse [image a tyoung boy walkind down a mountain meadow, mountains in background]

Handling disappointment

Not going to lie, I was VERY disappointed. Then I felt foolish for my miscalculation. Never in my life have I been around mountains as high. Since I came into my outdoorsy-own in Hawaii, I didn’t realize just how much snow would still be on the alpine peak despite the perfect conditions on the rest of the mountain. I didn’t want to adjust my plans, but since we’re not skiers (yet?), there wasn’t much choice. We needed to adapt to the circumstances.

Instead of hiking on the mountain, we went sledding. Our Airbnb host lent us her sleds, and we took our sons sledding in the fantastically charming ski town of Malbun. It was incredible. We had no real plan – we just went with it. Without a doubt, it is everyone’s fondest memory from the trip.

The next day we made the short trek through a vineyard to see Gutenberg Castle in Balzers, Liechtenstein. It was late in the day, so it was quite cold, but we still had a great time climbing the small hill and running through the field and courtyard. It wasn’t the grand, physically strenuous alpine trek I was hoping for, but it was perfect for us at the moment.

On to Luxembourg

Though our trip to Luxembourg was a month later and the weather leading up to the trip was perfect, our impromptu trip was hampered by rain, wind, and a random burst of snow. Luxembourg, another small country, sits between Germany, France, and Belgium. It is home to the Müllerthal Trail, which is affectionately referred to as “Little Switzerland”. The trail is dotted with fantastic rock structures and caves that seem to appear out of nowhere. The entire trek is over 100 km long, but I had my eye set on the 12 km (E1) portion starting in Echternach, Luxembourg’s oldest town.

Adjust, Adapt, and Hike On by Leah Hasse [image is a young boy hiking up stone steps]

Adjust and Adapt Again

I didn’t expect my four- and two-year-old to cross the entire 12 km on a cold, windy, and intermittently rainy day, but I was hoping to go farther than the two km we did manage. Though the boys were enthusiastic and ferociously conquered hundreds of stairs, the cold slowed them down. When we reached Wolfsschlucht, the first series of awe-inspiring gorges, it began to flurry. We had a snack, and I begrudgingly admitted that our day was done. After reaching the car, we tried to drive to some of the other sections of the trail so it would be a shorter walk to Hohllay Caves. It turned out that all of the connecting roads were closed due to downed trees from the storm. Instead of spending hours on the trail, we used the extra time to explore Echternach, which became one of my favorite European towns.

Adjust, Adapt, and Hike On by Leah Hasse [Image is a gorge with stone steps, family hiking in the distance]

I was thankful for the section of the trail we were able to hike, but honestly, it was a bummer to not be able to continue. I knew that without littles in tow, the weather would have been no problem. Sometimes it’s hard for me to let go of my plans. I am extremely driven and goal-oriented. When I make a plan, I intend to stick to it, and if I can’t, I start feeling like I failed. Those characteristics have a tendency to billow over into parts of my life that are better handled with more grace and flexibility.

Adjust, Adapt, and Hike On by Leah Hasse

Hiking and motherhood both require the ability to adjust, adapt, and move on. Sometimes that means not completing a task you were set on, and sometimes that means accepting that what you want to do will take longer. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great adventure, it just means plans may change.

Celebrating our Shared Experiences

If we had hiked Sassweg, my kids wouldn’t have gotten to go sledding for the first time ever. We wouldn’t have the shared experience of billowing down the mountain on old, handmade Swiss sleighs. If we had hiked the rest of Müllerthal, I wouldn’t have discovered the magic that is Echternach. Sometimes having to adjust feels like accepting defeat. It can feel like a failure, or lack of hard work. When you mix in the responsibility of caring for little ones, it can feel like you’re constantly having to give up what you want and need for some obscure time in the future. But sometimes, adjusting is the doorway to an experience better than you could have imagined.


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