Unique Trek Experience – How we survived our first night!

Day 1 :

Arrival

We arrive at Fouillouse’s car park after a challenging road where you drive over a tiny 19 century stone bridge overlooking the river by 100m and then on a winding small road. A good way to test our nerves before what was ahead of us!

We are all so excited… but first we need to eat ! It is past 1pm and young bellies need to be filled…

First stops

Then, everyone takes his back pack and we head for the village.
Of course at the sight of the one and only auberge called Gite Les Granges (https://www.gite-les-granges.com/) we decide to stop for a coffee ! Three minutes walk, this is not a fast start ! But we are all happy to enjoy the scenery, to make jokes on how big (and heavy) our bags are.

Then we start for good.
The track is nice and easy, some adjustment need to be done on bags, some are seing their sleeping bags falling off ! (no space inside the rucksac so tied on the top of it). Few more strings and all fine.

Boys are far ahead, full of energy but not knowing yet you have to save strength for later …

First stop at Plate Lombarde, an area where we found military bunkers built between 1932 & 1935, part of Maginot line to secure French/Italian border.

Looking for a nice camp site !

Then, we continue having now in mind to find a nice area to pitch the tents. We need to find the water spring indicated on the map. In the mean time, clouds are building up over our heads.

Suddenly, Vincent realises he mobile phone is missing. Everyone checks his bag in case someone picked it up by mistake, but no luck… The last photo stop was at the bunkers, so he decides to run back and one of the boys follows him.

The rest of the group continues to look for the spring and we all fill a bit worried as the clouds are now very dark… we need to pitch the tents before the rain.

We finally find the place and start pitching the tents, it becomes darker and darker.

For those who are doing this for the first time, they learn fast! Nobody wants to start the evening with all his things damped.

We see Vincent coming back… he didn’t find the phone and his helper fell and, by the look of his hand, broke a finger !

What a start !! should we just head back and finish the trip now ? Vincent discuss with his parents, we don’t want them to fill like they have to continue, the finger is already swelling and changing colour! But he really wants to continue and he is a determine boy, courageous and it is not the first time he broke his finger… a good strap and we decide to wait until next morning.

In the mean time, our younger boys discover his father’s phone in his bag… not his fault, he double checked twice before and this phone wasn’t there ! Another mystery…

Everyone disappears in his tent. We have 4 tents : me & Vincent, our friends with their little daughter, one with our 2 boys and their friend and the last one with the 3 other boys. We already hear laughing but I don’t feel as happy as they are; I can hear the first thunder at a distance…

I have always been terrified by thunderstorm and being in a tent didn’t help me feel secure right now !

Rains is falling but thunderstorm is far (I am counting between the flash and the thunder noise to estimate the distance…). We need to have diner… we join our boys in their tents and Vincent cook our first diner : it will be soup and semolina with cheese. Keep it simple when conditions are rough and it will be fine!

We eat five in a tent for three, good mood helps and we have good laugh.

Survival night !

Now it is dark and we need to head back to our own tent for the night. The time seems longer when you are in a tent, not being able to go out due to weather conditions.

I continue to count and now thunder is coming closer. Very much closer.

Lightnings are so close that it seems like daylight. Rain transforms into heel and that is not a good thing, meaning we are now in the heart of the storm! I feel terrified and decide to cover my hears and cover my head in my duvet like an ostrich putting her head in a hole to forget about danger !!!

Then after it seems long hours noise and lighting decrease and Vincent tells me that it is probably finished now… just 2 minutes after he said that a lighting and thunder break over our head ! It wasn’t finished at all and we go again for few hours… how exposed and small I felt then !!

But we survive that night and in the morning I realised I was the only one (and Vincent too) who experienced such a fear. The others didn’t realised that we were not in a good situation and even enjoyed this special moment !! Lucky ones !

I realise that this first day walking was full of adventure and so the next days will follow in another post !
And if you miss the start of our story, click here .

 

Tips during thunderstorm in mountain

  • do not run or even walk, if a current lightning pass by you, the space between each of your feet can create a voltage difference between each part of your body of several hundred of volts.
  • do not stop under a tree as current line can follow these
  • do not stop near a lake or a stream as current line path tend to to go to water points
  • do not stop at a pass or at a summit, more exposed to lightning impacts
  • stay at least 30m from all that is mentioned above
  • do not stop at the foot of a cliff (stones fall, electricity conduction by water lines)
  • do not stay in the line of a rain stream (coming from mountain for example), prefer to stay on an elevated landform
  • take all metallic things away from you (for example walking sticks etc…), leave them at good distance of tents
  • put some insulation between you and the terrain if possible, like mattress, your back pack.
  • the best position seems to be sitting, knees bent and foot joined.
  • the ideal solution of course is to find a hut, barn or any solid building !
  • Even a deep cave can make a good shelter providing their is not air draft in it , it is deep enough , you don’t stay at the entrance but in it, and stay about a meter from the walls.

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