“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
We could skip the text in this article and just leave the quote and our pictures as it more or less sums up our hiking experience in Champéry (Swiss Alps) over New Years…But after all, details are more fun:-).
We kickstarted the new year with the wildest hike we ever tried…. A steep, icy and extremely narrow track….. and learned that when it says “Mountain trail” (a yellow signpost with white-red-white tip) the Swiss mean what they write:
“Trails are mostly steep, narrow and in exposed places. Particularly difficult sections are secured with ropes or chains. In certain circumstances streams can only be crossed via fords”.
We did not read this description before we went on our hike….. and admit, that we need to do our homework a little better next time!!
The route sets off in the center of Champéry and leads you to the top (1936 m), where The Croix de Culet cable car has its end point.
Champéry is ideally situated just 2 h from where we live (and 90 min by car from Geneva), and is both a postcard-perfect alpine village and a modern ski, hiking and biking resort. We initially planned to go skiing, but The Weather Gods wanted it differently and provided optimal hiking conditions. Clear blue sky and no wind…
Before we go any further it might be a good idea to manifest our hiking level. We are outdoor lovers and have ever since moved to Switzerland 1 year ago, hiked quit a lot, but we are far from specialists. All of us are in good shape, but we didn’t really have any technical hiking skills before we started hiking here in Switzerland.
We did first part of the trail on December 31th, found it very motivating and decided to complete the full trail on January 1 st. The trail was not that long (10,5 km) and very passable the first kilometers…but then the scenery changed to a very step, narrow and icy track. We were very glad that we brought rope to ensure the safety of our kids (this was actually the first time we ever had to use them).
Our boys (9,13) did a FANTASTIC job – they just walked, embraced the adventure, followed our instructions and didn’t complain one single time. Ellinor (3) was sitting in a backpack ensuring the entertainment all the way (singing…. and was obviously completely unaffected by the trail)…..
We made it top the top……and what a feeling and view…..
But we as parents learned a lesson or two: DO YOUR HOMEWORK!! Make sure you are fully aware about what kind of trail you are entering and where/which difficulties there might occur on the way.
That being said we operated based on some basic principles, that always goes when we are hiking with children:
Tips for hiking with kids
- Always check the weather forecast before you start your hike
- Always have a fun and really cool objective at the end of the hike
- Get your kids involved with the preparation process and wear the right clothes. Have them choose the correct clothing. Teach them about layers and the importance of taking clothes on and off when needed. It’s extremely important for the succes of a hike that your children (and you!!) are properly dressed. A too hot or a too cold child is hard to motivate to walk. Go for functional clothing that dry easily! Our kids have a variety of recommendable clothes from the Danish clothing brand Molo. Their clothes is designed with a specific purpose to keep your child DRY, WARM and VISIBLE from a distance.
- Everybody brings a backpack with extra clothes, water, first-aid kit.
- Be diligent about having everything ready to go long before it is time to walk out the door. The day of the trip needs to be just that—the day you go hiking. Little kids’ schedules don’t have room for running around and trying to pack up right before you leave.
- Embrace the pace set by kids. Make frequent stops. You have to be OK with 1) Not making it to the your specified destination, 2) Not getting a workout in (if that’s your motivation), and 3) Changing plans at the drop of a hat.
- Keeping them entertained is key. So we play games every time we hike. One of their favorites is “The Ice cream” (our own invention… we love ice cream). Very simple game…. Each person on the hike gets to describe their favorite ice cream and one is appointed to be the judge. Most nasty and crazy ice cream dessert wins.
Would we go on at trip like this again?! Absolutely yes!! But we would make a more careful planning of the route to derive the maximum pleasure and enjoyment from it.
Ellinors agrees…but who wouldn’t if you could hike with her attitude and style? The little mountain-fashionista got her self a few very energizing naps on the way….
Champéry Tourism: http://www.champery.ch/
Hiking in Switzerland: http://www.wanderland.ch/en/hiking-in-switzerland.html
Functional clothing for children: https://www.molo.com/