Let the Sun Shine!

A Monthly Wellness Column

By Amie Mignatti

This month is all about travel, and mostly travel close to Munich that we can do with our children and family. I am a traveler at heart and have circumnavigated the globe by yacht and plane several times over, so this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. One of my goals as a parent is to show my daughter how to travel, give her an appreciation and understanding of other cultures, and to instill a sense of adventure and wonder in her soul so that she can be touched by the magic of our planet, as I have been.

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. People come here for vacation, to experience the sheer natural beauty right at our doorstep.

I’ve lived in Munich for twelve years now, and over five of those with a child. In my life before children, I was an avid mountaineer, climber and Klettersteiger- traversing the Alps and wild camping every chance I could get. Now that I have a child, life is much different, but we are constantly outdoors, in the forests and mountains, camping, making fires and enjoying so much of what this neck of the woods has to offer. We have an old VW Bus and use it all the time- we spend almost every weekend from April until October camping and hiking.

For those of you who would like to get out with children, but are still unsure (or even for those of you who also do this regularly), I am sharing with you my tips for hiking with them as well as magic places to go not too far away.

One of our favorite spots is Naturcampingpark Isarhorn bei Mittenwald. This is a very large campground and you need a car to get there. However, this is the only campground that I know of where you are allowed to make a fire, and this is why it’s our fave. You must drive through the campground and go down to the Isar; along the Isar there are more wild camping places and you can have your campfire there. It’s surrounded by trees and is isolated from the bigger campground, making it much more private and very beautiful. Every time we’ve been there we’ve ended up hanging out with the other families (it seems to be only families with children and buses who come here) for the weekend and making new friends- something that isn’t so common here in Munich.

From there, there are several hiking possibilities. We’ve hiked to the Lautersee and Ferchensee with the children walking along. I’m pretty sure both of these are accessible with the Kinderwagen. There are several alms in the area, as well as kiosks by the lakes for a reward after your hike. You can get a map from the campground or at Hugendubel.

Another one of our favorites is the Walchensee. We often spend the night in the parking lot next to the lake (the Privatstrasse am Südufer)- it’s called the Nacht Parkplatz. It’s definitely nothing fancy, but it has drinking water and toilets. We do this because you can stay at the lake as long as you want, so we have this gorgeous lake to ourselves (the people clear out around 18h), with an absolute stunning sunset. We take our picnic dinner and have had such memorable evenings there with our friends. Just make sure you claim your space at the Parkplatz earlier in the day (leave tables and chairs or tent where you want to park), because lots of people do this. In the morning, you can get up and go jump in the lake for a swim… it’s divine!

Now, for those of you who would like to start hiking with children, here are some of my tips:

  1. Start small– Go into the forest, where its flat, and do a nice long walk with your child(ren) once to twice per week. Build up their muscles and get them used to walking long distances.
  2. Take breaks– if you notice your child is getting tired or hungry, stop. Stay in one place and play there. We don’t bring toys, but let our daughter explore the area with what is there. You will be amazed at how much there is to do at a small spot in nature.
  3. Bring lots of snacks– this may sound counterproductive if you want to pack light, but it’s necessary. Bring nuts, raisins, apples, sausages (or vegetarian), hard cheeses: things that pack well and are filling.
  4. Drink plenty of water along the way– this will help the children stay fit.
  5. Play games– this will help distract them from the distance and the height (once you start climbing mountains). I always bring my field guides for plants and flower identification and we learn along the way. My daughter loves this and has an already large knowledge of plants and their uses!
  6. Go slow– yes, this is key. As adults we are used to getting into a rhythm and staying with it, but with kids, you need to slow down and take it easy. It’s not about the goal and the peak (or alm), but about the connection to nature and each other along the way.
  7. Pick a child friendly hike– there are plenty of them out there. Hugendubel has a very large hiking section and several books with hikes for kids. Here is one that I recommend.
  8. Have fun! Enjoy the time with your children, being present with them and feeding their natural curiosity.

Amie Mignatti is a free-spirited woman with her heart and feet on the earth. She is a Nature Coach and works with women to help them step fully into their own power, individuality and creativity. She runs retreats & courses globally and offers private sessions in the beauty of Munich’s outdoors.

Check out her website here.

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