A chance to give yourself a break and be close to nature
- For you, Epinal Tourisme is: An area in the heart of nature
- Your favorite local dish is: Blueberry pie
- Your favorite local touristic place is: The Château des Brasseurs in Xertigny
Taking the forest back
As I arrive at the meeting point, at the edge of the woods, I find the ten people that compose our group. We, including our guide, take the time to introduce ourselves. Albane Lessard, former French swimming champion, is now a mountain guide.
We start our hiking step by step, as we progress through the woods thanks to her wise advice. Very quickly, Albane reminds us of why we are here: to learn how to adapt to this environment, which we believe we control, but which is actually more dangerous than what we imagine… We start by getting some advice on how to avoid dehydration in case we get lost in the forest: a rush will be used as a naturally filtering straw.
Good for us! We can count on Albane and her knowledge of the forest to get information that could be useful later, when we need to build a fire. We start with tinder fungus, a type of mushroom which, once crumbled, has the same properties as charcoal. Who would have thought?
Slow and steady guides the hiker better
We keep going and we pick up birch bark as well as Douglas fir cones on our way. Our bags now hold all we need to start a camp fire, we just need to find the right place.
The use of a map and our sense of direction put us to the test! Albane asks us to find our location … This reminder exercise is beneficial, we are now feeling more confident. This silence is the perfect moment to enjoy the calm and serenity coming from our forests… We all understand that the surroundings are not always as hostile as we think they are.
These tips will later allow us to take our bearings better and to move calmly in the woods.
Fire is an art
We continue our hike in a convivial atmosphere. We notice a clearing and together we decide that it is the perfect place to make a fire and install our bivouac. This practice is regulated so Albane reminds us of the safety instructions to apply in natural settings.
We are then turning into adventurers: we put to the test what we learned by making a camp fire. With a few stones we picked not far away, we start by demarcating the fireplace.
Once this is secured, we add some cotton and a few light twigs. It is now time to use our precious tinder fungus. After crunching it, we spread it on the surface of the fireplace to get an imitation of charcoal. Everything is ready, all we have left to do is make the fire!
So I use a firestone: the rubbing forms some magnesium deposit on the tinder fungus, then with a sharp blow with the metal blade on the firestone, I create a spark.
There’s nothing left to do but to enjoy the pleasure of having made your own fire!
(in compliance with the regulations in force)
An enriching experience
Albane advises us one last time on how to sleep under the stars while being protected from humidity and gives us the best spot to install our camp for the night.
We are now trained enough in forest adventures to install our own bivouac, at our own discretion! We get back to the starting point with a contagious excitement, ready to go back in this haven of peace. This summer, I’ll definitely go bivouacking in the forest!
Thank you Albane!