Winter Wandering with little Kids
When children are unfamiliar with the cold and snow, a walk in a snowy winter wonderland can be a disappointment rather than a Christmas card joy.
Naturally you will know the temperament of your kids well and whether they have the capacity to persevere with a little hardship such as walking through soft snow. Sometimes staying on a well packed snow trail is a better choice. Let them wander at their own pace.
First important factor is, the cold. You already know about dressing in lots of layers and this applies for your children too. The first layer should be a thin long sleeve and leggings. Items made from merino wool or polyester are the best choice. Avoid Cotton since it absorbs a lot of moisture but does not dry well.
A fleece and another pair of trousers, such as sweatpants, work as a second layer. Then the outer layer of a snowsuit or snow pants with a matching winter jacket is essential.
Also carrying a spare warm woolen jumper is also a good tip, as is a spare pair of mittens. Thick mittens are better than gloves as the fingers help to keep each other warm. I prefer mittens myself over the top of thin under gloves.
Threading a piece of wide ribbon through the sleeves inside the jacket and then attaching the mittens loosely, can help children from losing these essential hand protectors. Their tiny hands get cold super fast.
A proper winter hat , not made of nylon, and a woolen scarf will help keep out the cold. Footwear must be waterproof, warm and breathable such as Gortex. Simple gumboots do not work and feet will freeze very fast. Choosing something with a good gripping sole is also key to being able to help drag a sled and walk uphill. When trying out footwear, get your kids to run in them, since that’s what they will want to be doing in the snow.
Next is the weather and time of day. Think about where the sun will be. In our beautiful Lautebrunnen valley, a walk along the farm road to Stechleberg mid winter is best during the middle of the day. Direct sun will be around 10:00 to 13:00 due to the 300 m high cliff walls on either side. The 5 Km to Schilthorn Cable car station along the road will take you those 4 hours. Then you can take the bus back. There is a toilet at the cable car station and some benches to rest on along the way. Of course you can walk another hour onto Stechellburg and catch the bus back from there as well.
A day up at Wengen will give you more sun time and a chance to toboggan down the slopes and go for a walk through winter forests and other paths away from skiers. Make plan to catch the train down before the skiers finish around 16:00 so your tired kids will not feel overwhelmed by skiers. Walking down the steep hill to Lauterbunnen will take a few hours and the safety depends on the snow conditions and depth. If the path is well packed, there will be enthusiastic skiers buzzing down and it is not the place to be since it is so narrow and steep.
You can always ask at the Tourist offices who will know what is a suitable track to match the snow conditions. The Staubbachfall can be seen from below but the track to behind it's gallery is closed in winter.
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