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Walking the tobel
In some previous life, an unusually warm and sunny April weekend would have called for not much more than bottle or two of rosé, a picnic blanket (optional) and a spot comfortable enough to stay put in for several consecutive hours. Oh how times have changed. With kids in tow, it almost seems that sun equals stress: is their skin well enough protected? Are they cool enough? Did they drink enough? Etc.

Having seen the forecast for another scorcher this weekend, we decided to take action and embark on a family forest day! From very early on, the kids have raved about forest days that they have been on with their childcare. Grilling sausages and "snake bread", and even taking their afternoon nap under a tree somewhere. It's not something that's sounded particularly fun to me, but it's also not something that I've known much about. I decided it was high time to explore.

We packed our gear and took a local train up to Forch, without much clue what to expect. It took around 7 minutes of walking (past some chickens and some cows), for my kids to decide they had had enough, and wanted to go home. To be fair, that thought had crossed my mind a few minutes earlier too. Besides the few pretty flowers scattered here and there, the scenery was really rather boring to be honest. I didn't see much point. Somehow, we carried on for another twenty, or so, minutes (which felt much longer given all of the moaning), until we finally came to a small bridge that had been mentioned as some sort of milestone on this excursion. We crossed that bridge and walked down a dusty path. The next thing we knew we found ourselves in the most magical little forest you could imagine. I couldn't believe my eyes.
We spent the best part of the next hour following the path next to the ravine, throwing rocks into the water as we went along and admiring the breathtaking nature around us. We spent quite some time looking for perfectly sized walking sticks and then dipping them into the ravine to figure out if the water depth changed. As it was approaching lunchtime, we kept our eyes open for a spot to stop and build our fire, grill our sausages, and "snake bread". It didn't take long to find a quiet, idyllic grill pit at the foot of the river. The kids were so excited to teach me all about the cooking process: (i) gather dried sticks, (ii) light a fire, (iii) blow on it and (iv) start grilling. Sounds simple. While the boys took care of the fire, the girls were sent off to find decent sausage grilling sticks. We spent a good couple of hours grilling and chilling. Eating sausages, "snake" bread and the other picnic food we had brought along. For desert, my husband threw some chocolate bananas on the grill. They smelled delicious. The kids were not so enthusiastic about the banana part of the dessert and somehow managed to scrape out all of the chocolate, leaving the healthy part behind.

Full of food and energy, the kids desperately wanted to dip their feet in the water to cool off before we carried on. My guess is that the water temperature was not much more than 8 degrees, but that was part of the fun. Stripped down to their underwear they squawked as their feet touched the water, jumping quickly onto a branch to escape the cold. There they sat giggling for a few minutes until they were brave enough to try again, and again and again...
Finally, it was time to pack up and carry on along our way. Just when the scenery started getting boring (for the kids), we discovered a "dragon cave" perched high above the path. The kids scrambled up the hillside to reach the cave, and when they finally had built up enough courage, they entered it hand in hand. Legend has it that a terrifying dragon used to live in that cave and attacked the village several times. Much to the kid's disappointment, the dragon wasn't there anymore. Or, should I say, he wasn't on that day anyway.
Further along the ravine and many bridges and waterfalls later, we found a huge erratic boulder (Alexander's stone), a large sandstone rock left over from the Ice Age. Slowly the kids were running out of fuel, and understandably wanted to head home. A few pieces of chocolate did the trick and gave them enough energy to carry on until we found an impressive fountain and a set of imposing rocks making up a beautiful stone garden. The children splashed around and jumped on the rocks while we took a minute to enjoy the coolness of the forest. We had reached the end of the trail and soon emerged in Küsnacht villiage: tired but happy. What a great way to spend a Sunday.