Yesterday I was lucky enough to take my eight-year-old on her first proper snow shoeing trip in Manigod (from Croix Fry) …and she LOVED it. The last time she went snowshoeing she was on my back in the baby carrier 😉
I have been promising her that we will go for a few weeks now. Given it’s the school holidays and my girls have just had a full week’s ski school, we decided it would be fun to avoid the freshly arrived hoards of tourists and do SOMETHING DIFFERENT, off the beaten track so to speak.
The bonus was we had a window of opportunity to go just the two of us. As a mother of three young girls, one-on-one time with any of my daughters is precious and they/I love it.
We prepared our things the night before, checked the weather (which was mixed– but who cares, we had a nice layer of fresh snow making it all the more magical) and got up early-ish to have a hearty breakfast before setting off. Given how much my daughter LOVED this trip from the planning to the trip itself, I decided I would share my top tips for snowshoeing with kids. We are planning on going again later this week now…with one my other daughters (who was less than impressed at being left at home 😉)
1 : BE PREPARED & DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Warm comfortable kids = happy kids. When snowshoeing it’s best to layer up with breathable, waterproof clothing.
Unlike skiing, kids are likely to sweat much more on the way up and then cool down on the way down. So breathable base layers are even more important than ever. Ideally combined with a lightweight down jacket, a breathable shell and waterproof trousers/salopettes. Don’t forget warm gloves, a hat and decent socks.
Comfortable, waterproof snow boots are a necessity. We use Sorels – which are great. (Pack plasters & spare socks in case of any unwanted blisters).
Snowshoes come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. It’s best to get equipped at a shop that has a decent range. My daughter although young has large feet (I don’t know where she inherited that from 😉). Her feet were too big for the kids’ versions, so we found a lightweight pair that weren’t too wide or heavy for her ( they were pink too 😉)
For local people we went to Versant Nord in Thones.
2: REMEMBER FOOD = FUEL
Whether you go for a few hours or the full day make sure you have lots of nice snacks/ sandwiches etc. for your kids. They can also come in handy if any bribes are needed 😉
Never underestimate the power of food.
Snowshoeing is thirsty work – make sure you have enough water for everyone.
A thermos of hot chocolate is also great to warm kids up if they get cold.
We once went for a mini snow hike with our kids, and my husband brought a grill along (I must confess I was initially quite dubious) and we grilled sausages on the grill for lunch. The kids although very young still remember this and LOVED it. It really added to the INTO THE WILD ADVENTURE side of things 😉
3: GET THEM INVOLVED
The more you get your kids involved the more successful your trip will be. My daughter loved helping make the picnic. If they have their own rucksacks that’s a great way to get them involved too. They can carry their own water, food, tissues etc. It also saves you from stopping every two minutes to give them water, a snack, tissues, put their hat away etc. etc.
Prepare the outing by explaining the nature you may see. It can be fun to spot birds, squirrels and if you’re really lucky Chamois etc. We saw some birds and some interesting tracks in the snow…
4: KEEP IT SIMPLE
To keep things fun, keep it simple. Plan your trip based on how far your kids can realistically walk. If a first outing keep it easy and opt for a balcony walk. My daughter insisted on a relatively steep path, off the beaten track as she is far more interested in going – off the beaten track. It was more beautiful, wilder and less frequented and I don’t think she complained as she’d chosen this route although it was much steeper than the traditional route.
5: LET KIDS BE KIDS
Let them play & have FUN. If they want to jump in the powder, knock the snow off the trees, hide behind trees, throw snowballs at trees…whatever makes it fun – go with it. Don’t rush them.
Let me know how you get on !
On a practical note for local people who’d like to try this outing:
We got our snowshoes at Versant Nord in Thones (on the way up from Annecy) and parked at the Col de la Croix Fry. We then headed up to join the track behind the Espace Nordique near Marc Veyrat’s restaurant.
The track is quite wide and easy. After 5 mins or so my daughter spotted a smallish track heading up to the left hand side indicated by a pink pair of snowshoes and decided we should go that way 😉 We walked to Sur les Frêtes – which is indicated as 30 mins – but I think these are signs for summer hiking as it took us closer to 45mins – 1 hour walking gently stopping etc. We took the same route back down 🙂
We did approx 250m ascent.