This year we spent a large part of the family holiday in southern France. Most of it on the overcrowded riviera, but also a splendid week in the southern alps. The Haut Verdon valley around Colmar to be exact.
This was the first time I spent any longer time in the alps in summertime and I must say the surroundings exceeded my high expectations. Beautiful weather, almost no mosquitoes and excellent paths for family hiking.
|Little M on the way to Lac d'Allos|
To get the most out of our holiday and get inspiration for walks we bought a guide book from Edisud: "Haut-Verdon - Val d'Allos". This book contained a lot of good advice and complemented with a visit to Colmars excellent Tourist Office we had no trouble finding interesting activities.
|Sheep grazing on the slopes near Col d'Allos|
|Full speed ahead close to Col d'Allos|
|Towards the Tete de Vescal - There is something about kids walking with backpacks that makes me profoundly happy|
|F with the Val d'Allos in the background|
|Little M fell asleep in the Patapum near Tete de Vescal|
|S practicing stream crossing in Villars-Colmars|
Another day the idea was that we would just do a short walk close to the house up "a small hill". 250m up is no small hill however and what looked like a kilometer from the house was more like a two hour walk. No harm done though, and we were rewarded with magnificent views of the valley.
|View to the north of the Verdon valley from Croix de Puy, Villars-Colmars|
The week passed quickly and soon the last day was approaching and with it our greatest planned adventure: The overnight wild-camping hike to Lac d'Allos. We had already hiked up to the lake in the beginning, but it is such a beautiful site that it was worth visiting again. The fact that you are allowed to put up your tent in the Mercantour national park was also a factor.
Gathering all the stuff needed for night in the tent with all three kids took some time. The main problem is bulk, since the kids cannot carry too much in their small backpacks and the one carrying our youngest, little M, aged 1,5 years, cannot carry that much. My main anxiety however focused around if we would be cold in our sleeping bags at 2200m altitude. I got quite mixed answers, but most seemed to think that we would be ok with 10C sleeping bags provided we had good sleeping mats and some extra clothes on. To be on the safe side however I decided to buy a new 0C comfort temperature down sleeping bag for my wife. A cold wife is an unhappy wife and women tend to sleep colder. The price at Decathlon for the S0 Ultralight down bag was very competitive, around 100€, but 1kg for a 0C bag does not really merit the label "Ultralight" in my view.
|A Decathlon S0 "Ultralight" 0-degree sleeping bag strapped to the Patapum|
|Wild camping with small kids causes bulky loads|
|S in front of Lac d'Allos with a modified MYOG 150g silnylon pack|
|Although modified the bag was too large to fit properly|
|Lac d'Allos with the Towers of Allos in the background|
|A marmot just a few meters from the trail|
|View to the west of Lac d'Allos - I probably heard mountain goats battling on this slope|
|The Lac d'Allos mountain hut - a most pleasant establishment|
|M beams with joy after having "helped" with the tent by removing the front pegs|
|F and S enjoy the view while winding down before bedtime|
|SMD Lunar Duo and Tarptent Cloudburst - Having two tents proved to be a great idea|
|A quite camp in the moonlight|
To further enhance the experience it also started to rain during the night. Not that it was a big problem, but it took away the reward of a beautiful morning with a calm breakfast in a stunning environment. Luckily the rest of the family had slept very well in the other tent. No one had been cold. Slowly we gathered all our stuff and set out downhill towards the car one more experience richer. In hindsight I should have trained little M in camping before the trip to make him accustomed to the new surroundings. As I write these lines however, the memories of sleep deprivation have mostly faded away, and despite this minor low, the main recollection remains one of adventure, moonlight over alps and a sense of accomplishment. However, the temptation of good life in the form of hot mountain hut beds, three-course dinners and wine, is luring in the background. After all, there is a time and place for everything.