When we moved to The Middle of Nowhere in 2012, it didn’t take me long to work out there wasn’t much in the way of ‘entertainment’ for the kids (Alpine Boy then aged three and a half; Alpine Girl six weeks).
No soft play centres?!? No baby cinema?!? Bugger, now what?!
Answer? Hills. Lots of ’em.
So I found (and lost, and found again) my walking mojo. And my kids had little choice but to be dragged along with me (often screaming, it has to be said).
Hiking as a family at the weekend is just what we do, nowadays, much like visiting B&Q on a Sunday afternoon was just what we did in London. It’s not always trauma-free (nothing in my life ever is), but it’s become our normal.
But it was daunting starting out. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, dragging babies up and down hills. How do you know how far kids can safely hike (and when I say ‘safely’ I actually mean ‘how far can the little sods hike without self-combusting into whingy whiny demons that have to be left at the top of a mountain to be eaten by bears?’). How do you know what STUFF to take? How do you know where to go? How high are you allowed to take a baby? What are the RULES, dammit?! (I like rules.)
Google helped a bit. But not much really, if I’m honest. Mainly because it just intimidated me yet further by showing perfect mamas wandering through the Grand Canyon or shimmying up some rock face with a baby strapped to their back and not a hint of fear in their eyes or vomit in their hair. Or told me that if I took my baby above 1000m she would die that night in her sleep. Neither of which I believed.
So I gave up with Google and listened to my inner Nike. We just did it. We just walked. And we haven’t stopped walking since.
It’s often hell. It’s often a disaster. The von Trapps we are not.
But that’s why I want to share these experiences with you.
I’m not hardcore. I’m normal (kind of). I don’t solo-climb up cliff faces (in fact I don’t climb at all, having fallen at least 30cm off a rock when I was 20, buggering up my ankle. Looking back now it was probably the safest end to a not-very-promising climbing career). I wouldn’t know what to do with a crampon if it came with an IKEA-style instruction book and a YouTube tutorial. And when we moved to France I didn’t own a pair of walking boots, having bought a pair in 1997 that I never saw the point in replacing when they died.
I tell you this so you hopefully can see that if WE can trek with kids up to a remote hut at the top of a snowy mountain and spend the night there, ANYONE can. Honestly, I’m not just saying that.
So here’s my latest blog project: “Alpine Mummy’s Hikes With Kids”. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
It’s not a rule book (hey, I’m still looking for that). It’s not advisory in any way (I am genuinely the last person who should be giving advice on anything which involves kids, believe me). And I don’t have answers to any of the above questions I was so desperately Googling before I took those first few steps. Sorry.
But what this blog will (hopefully) do is give you a taster. It will tell you about some of our more memorable hikes (‘memorable’ for Alpine Mummy doesn’t often have positive connotations. You’ve been warned). It will give very clear examples of what NOT to do if you want an uneventful, smooth, calm day frolicking with your little beauties in the wilderness. As always with Alpine Mummy: if you want to do it the right way, do exactly the opposite of what we do.
I’m hoping that in itself will be helpful to some of you. Hey, maybe it will even inspire.
And if not, at least have a giggle at my expense.