I grew up in Munich, next to the Alps. Mountains is where I go "Ahhh." They are a spiritual home of sorts. Last year I decided (perhaps somewhat selfishly) that I needed to get the kids interested in hiking so we can start to enjoy the mountains together. But tell a kid "We're going on a long walk," you might as well call it a day right there.
Last summer I started operation: Let's Climb A Mountain. Given that Bobby was older (6 at the time), I thought I'd start by getting him excited about the prospect. In the weeks leading up to our arrival in Munich (where my parents live) I said: "Bobby in a few weeks, you and I are going to climb a BIG, BIG, mountain. Just you and me." I elaborated about us being explorers, adventurers, pirates of the mountains, captains of the forest etc. It worked. He started saying things like: "How many more sleeps until we climb the big, big mountain?" And "Is Minu definitely not coming along?" The countdown began... Then one sunny morning last August, we set off on our first ever ascent: The Herzogstand, a 1731m high mountain with incredible views, just over an hour's drive from Munich.
Being just him and me made it special, as I could really focus on him and gauge when he was getting tired and needed distraction by way of songs, counting butterflies, snacks or "spot the eagle" games. To reward his hard efforts, he was allowed to choose a walking stick at the Kiosk at the bottom of the mountain. In Germany, there's a tradition that you can buy yourself a little metal badge featuring the mountain you have climbed, and nail it to your walking stick. Can't wait to add another one this summer...
Top tip: Invent a hiking song to accompany you up the mountain, and use any old tune that comes to your mind as the melody framework. We came up with some seriously warped lyrics but it got us to the top.
Top quote: "Fairies, come take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind, Run on top of the dishevelled tide, And dance upon the mountains like a flame." W.B Yeats, The Land of Hearts Desire