Feeling Alive … Mastering Fear

We were at the Army Open House during the weekend.
Unlike previous years  this year’s event wasn’t held in some ulu corner but right in the heart of the city
An idyllic spot, with gentle lapping of the water, shade from our symbolic bridge and view of our phenomenal wheel
The location itself already won our hearts

My boys went berserk seeing all the tanks and guns and flying machines
Weapons of destruction set their testerone surging and raging
Much like the magic of disneyland minus the fairy dust

The whole exhibit covers a vast area and by the time we reached the end of the exhibit, my brain must have been a little fried by the sun
I joined the boys at the quest of the 12m tall adventure tower, which I think is equivalent to 3 story high ?

Not having the proper shoes didn’t stop me
I did a shoe swap with my 8 year old

You see, heights give me wobbly knees
and I occasionally need help to pull the tab of my soda can

To scale a 12m tall wall with pure arms and finger strength I obviously wasn’t thinking
It was only after the gears were strapped and the harnesses were tightened that I realised what I had gotten myself into

I was ushered to the front of the wall and I had to emphasize to the instructor that it was my virgin climb
I stopped short at telling him that I am a year short of turning 40, have a bad knee, very weak arms, not that nimble, certainly not as agile as that little boy on the adjacent wall …

The next few minutes was a daze
The cheers from my boys were drowned
The only voice I could hear was that of the instructor telling me which feet to move, which rock to step, which hand to stretch and which stone to grab
I was already huffing and puffing less than half way up the wall and looking down doesn’t help in regulating my breathe

I realized the best way to shut off the height was to focus on my next move
The trick is to keep on climbing and don’t look down

Judging from the number of pictures my husband took, he obviously had a lot of fun watching me scare myself

He had pictures of me

figuring out my next move

exerting every bit of muscle I have

hanging on for dear life

The struggle went on for about 10 minutes before I finally reached the top and was lowered safely onto the ground

My hands were shaking, my arms aching, my knees hurting
My heart was racing and I felt a little intoxicated
I was totally drained

Just 10 minutes and I had exhausted every ounce of strength and energy in me
Yet, I felt totally alive

So this, is what I have been missing out




Our Traveling and Hiking Essentials

Packing for a trip in the mountains can be a daunting task
Even at the peak of summer, weather in the mountains can be unpredictable
It can be blazing sunshine one day and blistering snowstorm the next

During our trip, it rained for several days
Everywhere was in clouds and visibility was very low
We joked that people could walked into the mountains without even knowing it

During one of our first few days, it rained and snowed over the night
We woke up to fir trees and wooden cabins covered with icing sugar
It was beautiful

Packing for a summer trip to the mountains is thus not just a matter of packing a couple of shorts, T-shirts, and a bathing suit
Trying to balance the need for hot, cold and wet weather can cause a monumental headache
Especially so if you need to pack for two kids, and drag the luggage through an international airport and several train stations
You need to pack what you need and you need to keep them light

Here are some of the things that we found essential if you are planning for a hiking trip with kids

Item 1 –  A good outdoor jacket

Walk into a mountaineering sportswear shop and you will be swarmed by labels indicating windproof, wind resistant, water proof, water resistant etc
I used to dismiss all these as marketing hype, but really, they all mean different thing

It is worth investing in a good lightweight windproof and waterproof or at least water resistant jacket
It will see you through windy, rainy and snowy days
For really cold days, a fleece sweater underneath the jacket is good enough to keep in the warmth

Item 2 – Good Hiking Boots

During the 7 hour failed attempt on the Eiger Trail, Malcolm was wearing his somewhat worn out walking shoes.  Though still waterproof, the low profile allowed snow to enter the shoe from the top as he stepped into the deep snow.  We were proud of his preserverance and determination in that episode and decided to reward him with a new pair of hiking boots.  After shopping around a bit, we decided to buy him a pair that was from the previous season, and was thus on 50% sale.

Of course he was jumping up and down on little streams proclaiming that his new boots were keeping his feet dry.  But the change in his hiking ability was astounding.  Suddenly, he was climbing and running down steep and wet terrain without batting an eyelid.  I was struggling to keep from slipping on wet rocks and he was nonchalantly skipping past me.

A closer look at the heel and the soles of our boots explained everything.

My decade old hiking boots were worn out.  The traditional sole design would not have provided much grip on the slippery terrain even when they were new. In contrast, Malcolm’s new boots featured a complex sole design, which I believe provided the amazing grip on loose gravel, wet rocks, wet grass, and even on snow.

This explained why I always feel like I am slipping when I go downhill

Item 3 – Sunblock
We were never really into sunblocks. We did get a little sunburnt the last trip, but there was lots of sun, and Marcus was the only one that really got sunburnt on his cheeks. We put it down to his sensitive baby skin 

I have never really believed that hiking in snowy conditions can cause sunburn. We are a believer now

Sunblocks, they are worth the obscene amount of money they charge you on top of the mountain

Item 4 – Snacks

In order to keep the kids happy and motivated throughout the long hikes
it is necessary to pack their favourite snacks

For our case, it has to be chocolate
We ate an obscene amount of chocolate during our trip
We justified to ourselves that we need those calories
then again, how can one not eat chocolate when in Switzerland ?!

Some of the snacks we pack in our hiking bag are

– bread
– jam
– nutella
– fruits
– chocolates
– hard boiled egg
– drinking water
Occasionally, we have fried rice

If we are higher up the mountains, we top up our drinking water from mountain streams…never a better way to get mineral water

Beside drinking water, we always pack with us  a flask of hot water
We used it to make hot milo for the kids and coffee for ourselves

Imagine being tired and cold up in the mountains
a piping hot drink is the best thing to have, trust me

Item 5 – Entertainment

Because we are staying in a carless village more than a thousand metre up in the mountains
we figured it is wiser to pack enough ‘toys’ to keep everyone entertained

We do have TV in our apartment but the kids ain’t very interested in German speaking Simpons nor French speaking Donald duck
So apart from catching grasshoppers and blowing dandelions, the kids spent most of their time doodling and balancing zebra on Scoop or lion on Thomas

Here are the things that kept us entertained during the 12 hours flight and during our 2 weeks’ trip

With these items, you should be able to survive your hiking adventure with the kids



This entry was posted in Hiking.

To The Rockpile Of Bigalnalp

Up on the ridge of Bigalnalp you sat

stacked high by passing hikers

who had you painstakingly built

like a guardian to your  masters

Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch

[ from left to right : Eiger,  Mönch and Jungfrau]

On the ridge of Bigalnalp we met

Our baby strapped in a sling

You stood handsomely tall


We tried for a picture or two

but the wind too strong

and the air too chilly

we left with only memories of you

He was 8 month old


On the ridge of Bigalnalp we met once more

Our baby still strapped in a sling

this time with his big brother too

they were thrilled to see a rockpile as huge as you


They sneaked some pebbles from you

and stacked you up with more than they took

It was amazing how tall you still stood

after all the storms that you had weathered through

Then we remembered we needed a picture or two

But the baby fussed

and the wind howled

the drizzle came

and we all needed to haste


We grabbed our quickest modern tool

1, 2, cheese

and we managed a few pictures with you

He is 20 month old

May the weather show mercy the next time we meet

and we shall sip coffee

have a snack or two

in the grandeur of your 3 masters

Eiger, Jungfrau and  Mönch


Note : We came across this same rockpile during our hikes in June 2010 and 2011. It is between Wengernalp  and Klein Scheidegg Railway station. Due to weather, photos in this post were taken during our recent hike using camera phone. It was the easiest and most convenient way.