Living Snoqualmie’s Regional Reads: Chris Fagan’s The Expedition

For Living Snoqualmie’s second installment of Regional Reads, I got some much-needed help from local author Lynda Lahman. Lynda kindly responded to my request for help reading local authors and as one herself.

One of Lahman’s books will be the subject of an upcoming article but for now, enjoy her review of The Expedition by North Bend Local Chris Fagan.

I ride motorcycles long-distance and have trained for and competed in numerous endurance events alongside my husband, so opening up Chris Fagan’s book, The Expedition, describing her record-setting trip to the South Pole, was akin to meeting a like-minded soul. The desire for personal growth, navigating not only a hostile terrain but the intricacies of marriage in challenging conditions, and finding resilience repeatedly when faced with adversity were all familiar to me.

However, what was completely different was the intensity of the challenge and the depth of personal commitment to seeing this journey to its completion. I can only stand in awe of what Chris and Marty took on, faced down, and completed.

Local couple Chris and Marty Fagan met while climbing, separately, on Denali. Sharing a passion for adventure, endurance challenges, and experiences as a couple, they took on their greatest quest: skiing unguided and unassisted to the South Pole while leaving their twelve-year-old son with family and friends for the two months it would take to complete the trek.

Supported and cheered on by many in the Snoqualmie Valley as their journey unfolded from December 2013 through January 2014, they became the first American married couple to accomplish their goal.

The outdoors is familiar terrain for Chris: she’s run 100-mile trail races, sailed, biked, and paddled in remote settings. Writing about their epic trip was a different and uncomfortable challenge. It brought out new vulnerabilities and insights, exposing her innermost thoughts and emotions to the public who would be reading and critiquing not only their trip but their decision to leave their son home while pursuing a dangerous and voluntary passion. These were the very things that drew me into her book.

Fagan has an approachable style, with enough details to help me understand the nature of their day-to-day preparation, their struggles, both emotional and physical, and the rugged beauty of Antarctica was captured in her hard-to-put-down story. For those who live in the Valley, the numerous references to local places will bring a smile of recognition, as will the willingness of friends and neighbors who stepped up to make their trip possible.

Most of us will never take on a journey remotely close to what Chris and Marty completed. But what she learned is universal: as a mother, one can still pursue her dreams; being vulnerable creates growth opportunities, and facing tough challenges in one area, and figuring out how to navigate them, can better prepare you for whatever life throws your way.

Since their return, Chris and Marty have been faced with many of the life-altering shifts we all face: a cancer diagnosis; Alzheimer’s claiming the mind, and ultimately life, of a loved one; and launching their son into the world of adulthood. Thankful for the support the Valley has given their family, Chris is now focused on giving back. The Valley, the outdoors, and sports have been a core part of who she is, and wanting to create those opportunities for others has led her to run for an opening on the Si View Metro Parks Board of Commissioners.

The Expedition is currently available in print and e-book wherever you shop for books. An audible version is currently in the works and should be out mid-October. Chris is happy to meet with book clubs, in person, where possible or via Zoom. She can be reached through her website: chrisfagan.net

[Lynda is a mental-skills coach for athletes, having retired after a thirty-plus year career as a family therapist. She is an avid traveler, hiker, motorcyclist, and the first person to finish the 11-day Iron Butt Rally twice as pillion and twice on a solo bike. She’s the author of five books, including ‘The Women’s Guide to Motorcycling’ and her most recent, ‘The Story: of Love, Loss, and Memories.’ Lynda lives in Snoqualmie and is currently working on improving her pickle ball and golfing skills.]

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