1. Enjoy the cascades
The Jura mountains are mainly made up of limestone which make them very permeable and have little surface water. That being said, they boast some wonderful cascades that are definitely worth checking out. What better destination for those hot summer days?
Some of my favourite that can be accessed as part of a hike:
* Cascade des Tufs, Planches-près-Arbois
* Cascades du Hérisson, Ménétrux en Joux
* Cascade de la Quinquenouille, Chatonnay
* Cascades and Gorges de la Langouette, Petite Montagne
2. Try some backcountry camping
Ditch the camp grounds with its modern facilities and experience a wilder camping night.
You can go all in and attempt a bivouac night. Bivouacking means sleeping outdoors without a tent or shelter. Basically, lay your sleeping gear out under the stars and snooze. At its most basic you only need a self inflatable mat & a sleeping bag. If you are expecting a heavy dew or a drizzle, you could also use a waterproof bivi bag. A bivi bag is a large sack you climb into to provide some protection agains the elements.
If you prefer having something between you and the great outdoors when sleeping, you could build your own shelter or use a tent and still go wild. No facilities still requires you to "fend for yourself" out there. Yes, by this you should understand dig your own latrine :) We’re all human and the chances are you’ll need to relieve yourself at some point. Some rules of thumb whenever toileting (is that really a verb?):
* Stay 50m away from water and dig a 15cm hole.
* Cover the hole with earth when finished.
* Don’t bury toilet paper or wipes; these will need to be packed out with your other rubbish.
There are some authorised and marked wild camping spots in the Swiss Jura mountains above Bassins between the named places of La Pessette and Crêt de Grison. You can reach the area by hiking or driving up the Route des Montagnes in Bassins.
3. Fossil hunting
Did you know that the Jura mountains are situated at "the hearth of Europe, at the convergence of different geological domains, ecological paleoprovinces, and geographical zones? Its geology and natural environments represent a unique natural heritage, resulting from a history of more than 100 million years punctuated by faunal renewals and climatic changes."† In other words, there are tons of fossils and even dinosaur tracks to be discovered and see.
You could head off on your own equipped with a heavy hammer, chisel and safety glasses or you could join an organised fossil hunt with an expert in Lajoux or Porrentruy:
* Joseph Noirjean of Autruches Aventures (ya, you can check out ostriches too!!)
* Jurrasica Museum
4. Catch a sunrise
It's a bucket list kind of adventure you just have to do even if you are not a morning person! The trade offs are just that good. Don't forget to check out what time the sunrises and give yourself an extra 15 minutes to hike to the view point you chose. Nothing worse than getting their after the sunrise!
5. Sample the mountain pasture cheeses
Pack a picnic, minus the cheese, and head out for a hike. Make sure your route will take you by a "fruitier" or small "chalet" on your route where you can pick up cheese produced on site. If you're lucky, they may even have some dry sausage to sample too! Some of my favourite are:
* For their Gruyère, ease of access, and friendliness to show you the cheese refining room: the Fruitière de Nyon
You can drive almost to it's door if you are hiking with little legs or have someone accompanying you with reduced mobility. There are numerous hiking departure points that can take you by the Fruitière de Nyon. Start at Les Pralies above St-Cergue for a shorter, easy, uphill route there or at Les Creux des Abériaux above Arzier for a longer varied hike with chartreuse ruins, forests, and pastures.
* For some goat cheese and delicious dry sausage head to the chalet at Pré Anselme below Mont Tendre. You can start your hike down in Montrichier and make it a day hike if keep trekking to the summit of Mont Tendre and back.
We'd love to be inspired by your ideas!
What else do you have on your summer bucket list? What are your favourite Jura mountain adventure ideas? Drop us a comment below.
† Jurassica.ch web portal of the Jules Thurmann Foundation,
If you live in Switzerland, there seems to be this assumption you will hit the slopes with a smile. But what if it just doesn't rock your boat? The great news is there are lots of other options for great mountain & snow experiences. So much so, you might wonder how anyone in Switzerland finds time for alpine skiing. Here are some snow activities that top our list and doesn't involve strapping on skis to swoosh down a mountain.
Still a kid at heart? Airboarding is for you! This might just be one of most fun activities on snow. Airboarding has you sliding down slopes headfirst on a comfortable, inflated sled. The proximity to the snow and the speed you can get up to is exhilirating. The design of the airboard still provides you with control, letting you adapt the speed and direction. Greatest advantage of this new winter sport is the short learning period: a 30 minute initiation will have you equipped.
There are over 20 spots just in Switzerland where you can experience airboarding. The closes to the Geneva/Nyon/Lausanne area is at BasseRuche in St-Cergue, Vaud:
BasseRuche Espace Loisirs
Route de Basseruche 16
+ 41 (0)22 360 16 88
* check details of specific venues for exact age limit
If you have the spirit of a free-style skier but don't ski, this is for you! Seated on inflated tubes, you zoom down snow packed corridors getting a great winter thrill. The Toboggan Park at the Leysin resort (Vaudoise Alps) is reivented every year. They create new corridors designed by Silvio Giobellina, Olympic bobsleigher medalist. There are even a few mini-corridors for those under 5. On weekends, they are open in the evenings which adds a whole new adrenaline dimension!
Chemin des Feuilles
+41 (0)24 494 28 88
+41 (0)79 377 96 71
* IGLOO BUILDING
Everyone's dreamt of building an ingloo. Make it a reality; it really is as fun as it seems. Even better, sleep in it after! You'll learn a specific igloo making technique (yes, there are different kinds of igloos!) that best works for the type of snow conditions you'll have. You can join a short workshop or find a 2-day adveture. There are several providers in Switzerland and we've listed those known to offer this in the Jura or Suisse Romande.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Accessible to all doesn't make it uninteresting! You'll now often find prepared routes with packed snow for snowshoers. My advice, get off these and experience snowshoes in the type of snow they were made for. Not ready to head off a marked route on your own? Join an organised snowshoeing outing. You can also jazz things up by heading out for a snowshoe walk at sunrise or under the full moon.
* DOG SLEDGING
Well, I don't think I need to convince anyone why this should be on your "snow to-do-list"! This is a very popular activity though so you are better off planning this a season ahead for best date options, especially if you are thinking of doing this on a weekend. There are several mushers in Switzerland and we've shared 2 who offer this experience at La Givrine.
Have a question about any of these? Drop us a line in the comments below.
Trust me, you may think your outdoor ethusiat has all the gear they need but there's always something new to get them excited. Or hooked to a new outdoor sport! Whether you're looking for a stocking stuffer or a huge splurge, your outdoor enthusist will be over the moon with any of these Christmas gear gifts.
1. Tenacious Tape™ by Gear Aid®
I always have a roll of duct tape in my backpack for gear mishaps when out on the trails (I've even fixed the bumper of a Porsche at a trailhead parking. Seriously. I'm not kidding.) but it definitely doesn't win any fashion points when patching up a rip on a jacket. However, the Tenacious Tape™ gear patches by Gear Aid® do! They come in these fun image shapes & colors and are useful to fix (and personalize) jackets, packs, tents and other gear. Just peel and stick; no sewing, ironing or heat-setting required.
2. The Deuce of Spades™ by The TentLab
Minimising our impact when out trekking is high on the priority list of most outdoor enthusiasts. And this should include leaving no trace when nature calls! To help achieve that goal, a potty trowel can come in mighty handy! The Deuce of Spades™ by The TentLab weighs in under 17 grams; is made of made of 7075-T6 Aluminum ensuring it's durability; and, you've got to admit, is kind a cute with its colourful shades.
3. Lifestraw Steel® by Vestergaard
This might just be the most convenient way to ensure you can continue to have clean drinking water while exploring the outdoors. The Lifestraw Steel® is a personal water filter system which cleans and purifies liquids while you’re sipping directly from any water source. It's made up of a two-stage filtration system that removes pathogens and reduces chlorine in any water you sip through its barrel - muddy puddles, a still pond, a murky stream... The carbon capsule will filter up to 1000 liters and is replaceable (they recommend chaning it after 3 months). You may get some funny stare if you're seen slurping up some muddy water but it can literally be a life saver!
* Note it will not remove salt.
4. H7R.2 Headlamp by Ledlenser®
I SERIOUSLY love this headlamp. The H7R.2 by Ledlenser is light to wear (165g), easy to manipulate -- even with gloves on -- and has the most amazing 300 lumen of light. The light beam is so intense, I've even used it to light up subjects for night photography. You can easily switch between an intensely focused long-distance beam (maximum up to 160m) and a circular wide beam by rotating the wheel at the back of the head strap. It uses a rechargeable battery which you can recharge by using a USB port. Nothing but love for this one from me!
5. Chair One by Helinox
Good things come in small packages. And this foldable chair is no exception. The Chair One is so compact and light (960 grams) you can even take it in your backpack for a day hike. There are two parts to the chair, the mesh seat and the single shock corded pole structure (similar to many tent poles) that allows you to assemble or take it apart quickly. Comfortable & sturdy (it will accomodate up to 145 kg) there's really nothing not to like about it!
6. Fold 4.2 Kayak by Nortik
Love to kayak or love the idea of kayaking but storage space is an issue? Consider Nortik's foldable kayak Fold 4.2. When fodled it fits in a 90x70x30cm pouch and weighs only 19kg. Made of polypropelyne, it's rigid and resistant to cold as well as UV rays. And you won't be trading off on performance with this enginuous kayak. It's sharp v-shape hull allows it to cut through the water making it effective at tracking in straight lines but can be a little tipsy for beginners as it offers more secondary than primary stability that a u-shaped hull would. After a full season of use, I've found mine to be very watertight, enjoyble to paddle even in waves, easy to put together (about 10 minutes and I'm on the water) and store it easily... well, almost easy between my bikes, skis, snownboards, tents, bords, snowshoes...
7. Flite Tree Tent by Tentsile
Ever put up your tent, get in, lie down expecting a peaceful slumber to sadly find out youre lying on some hard, wet, uneven ground? No more with this tree tent! The Flite by Tentsile is designed for 2 people and will easily fit their gear as well (max load of 220 kg). As long as you have trees (!) you can easily put up this. The tent kit comes with a small ratchet and the entire unit is compact so it’s easy to carry on your adventure (weighs 3.5 kg). It's made with a lightweight polyester and nylon composite and is fully breathable. A 3-season tent that will let you get real creative!
What would you add to the list? Share with us below.
When approaching Decathlon's Mountain Store, what strikes you beyond it's shear size (over 10'000m²) is the beauty of the location. Built with natural coloured wood and glass, the height of the building was kept low enough to benefit from the backdrop the Aravis mountain chain provides. That attention to the building's natural surroundings doesn't stop with the beauty of the mountain views; care & thought was given to maintaining (I'd even stretch that to say aiding) the local flore & fauna. The landscaping around the building obviously includes a sizeable parking lot but they have also greened the space and included sitting and picnic areas by the Arve river which is adjacent to the building. Rocking up to the Mountain Store is more reminiscent of approaching a natural park reserve Welcome Center than a commercial shopping mall!
The Mountain Store probably is what I've come across here in Europe that resemble the most to a "flagship" outdoors sport store as you'll find REI or MEC having in North America. The particularity of the Mountain Store is that the location actually houses both the company's design center (actually, the company's design headquarter) and a store specialising in offering mountain sport gear. Why is that interesting for us as clients? The proximity between designers and visitors means there are more opportunities for exchanges and discussions on ideas & needs which will influence design as well as properties of their products (Quechua, Simond and Wed'ze). This isn't just left to chance, as they regularly house exhibitions and workshops to create these exchanges. When we dropped in, they were hosting a Trocothon in their dedicated events space and this Saturday they are holding a roundtable debate on accidents in the mountains.
What about what's in the store?
Like most Decathlon's, a great majority of the products stocked at the Mountain Store are their own brand products though you will come across TSL snowshoes, Salomon trail shoes, Sea to Summit collapsible cup, etc. If you are looking for a particular item from a specific brand, I'd definitely check their website or call them before heading over to the store. However, their own brand products are cost efficient and an especially great option for growing kids that need to renew their gear every season. That's not to say adults should abstain but like anything else, knowing what properties are most important to you in a piece of gear will help you make the decision. I personally have invested in a top-end outer shell not from their brand but have been please by the performance of my insulating layer, one of their Quechua down jacket, and it's lower price tag.
Because the store is dedicated to all things mountain, you'll find hiking, climbing, mountain biking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing gear and more. If you can do it on a mountain, they probably have it! It also means they will stock a generous amount of out-of-season gear as long as it is mountain relevant. At the time of our visit their was still an extensive choice of camping gear even though the first snow was only a week away.
On site you'll also find a climbing block and slack-line, the regional tourist office and two restaurants (self-service or with table-service). It's totally worth grabbing a warm drink or a cold one -- depending on the day you pop in -- and enjoy the nature surrounding on their terrasse...
NOTE: I am in no way affiliate to Decathlon or the Mountain Store. This is an independent review. All pictures copyright of Charlaine Jannerfeldt.
When your go-to rain jacket fails you, it can make for a grim & soggy hike. Not nice. Why does it even happen?
Most rain gear will have had their exterior treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. This is the gear's first line of defence against precipitation. It does this by stopping the precipitation from saturating the gear's exterior. This is different from the role of a waterproof/breathable membrane like Gore-Tex® that will stop water from penetrating a rain jacket's interior.
After some time the unavoidable happens: although your jacket still keeps you dry, it looks like it's been soaked in water. Eventually, some of that rain gets inside and your base layers start getting damp. Why does this happen?DWRs's performances reduce because of a number of factors: abrasion, repeated laundering, dirt and body oils.
What can you do about it?
You can either attempt to revitalise the garment's DWR or apply a new DWR.
Revitalise existing DWR
Follow the cleaning instructions for the type of rain gear you own. Washing away the dirt and oils may be all that's needed to restore its DWR's water repellant properties.
TIP: If your garment has stains, first pre-treat with a stain remover, then wash in the machine with a normal detergent to remove stains. Afterwards, wash it again with a technical cleaner to clear away any dirt trapped in its waterproofing layers.
2. Apply heat
After washing, exposure to heat does the most to bring a DWR back to life. Place the garment in a dryer set for low or medium heat for up to 15 minutes. Make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions before placing in the dryer.
If that's not enough to revitalise your DRW, it may be time to retreat by applying a new DWR.
Applying a new DWR
You can reapplied a DWR via a spray-on or wash-in revival product. I like Nikwax water proofing products because they are are water-based, non-flammable, contain no harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are fluorocarbon free. Whichever product you choose to use, follow the instructions given by the manufacturer of your chosen product for best results.
TIP: Clean the detergent dispenser in the washing machine before treating your garment to avoid contamination and get the best results.
Do you have other gear you need maintenance tips for? Let me know in the comments and I'll get to them in a follow up post.
The crisp air, the colourful foliage, and the lack of crowds are all the motivation you need to hit the trails this fall. But hiking this time of year does require some specific seasonal planning. Here are a few things to consider before heading out to have a safe & fun hike in autumn:
1. Early Rather Than Late
Days are getting shorter & shorter this time of year so that means less daylight to get your hike done. Prefer an early start especially if you are planning a hike of 6 hours or more. You should aim to be off the trail before losing your light. This will ensure that if anything goes wrong, rescue can get to you before it's dark.
TIP: Pack a headlamp or flashlight (and extra batteries) for autumn hikes.
2. Staying Dry Is the Aim of the Game
Rain gear is essential. I usually pack a waterproof shell all year round but in the autumn making sure your lower body stays dry is also key to keeping warm. The dew in the fall can be heavy and take longer to dry out so using gators will keep the bottom of your pants dry as well as the top of your socks and boots. Packing waterproof pants is also useful as they can double up as windbreakers for those windy summits.
TIP: Bring extra dry clothes to leave in the car. It will be a godsend if you get back from the trail wet!
3. Use Layering Wisely
When starting off on your hike, wear as few layers as possible so you are comfortable. Yes, I did say AS FEW AS POSSIBLE. Everyone's "as few as possible" will be different but you want to use the start of the hike to warm up. As soon as you stop for a break, this is when you should throw on an extra layer to trap your body heat so you stay warm. Once you're ready to head off again, peel it off and pack it in your bag.
TIP: Don't forget to use layering on your hands and head as well. Take along some gloves and a hat - or my preference is for a versatile tub scarf!
4. Calories Equal Heat
Take along plenty of snacks. Calories will provide fuel for your body to help it stay warm. Snack often, before you feel hungry. And taking along a thermos with a warm beverage can warm you from the inside out!
TIP: Pack snacks in small pouches or containers to stash in easy to access pockets in your jacket and pack.
5. Be Seen
This time of year you may encounter hunters on your hikes. Though many of them will hunt at dawn or dusk, you should take extra caution when hiking in popular hunting areas: dress in bright coloured clothes and make your presence known.
TIP: Check official hunting resources to know when hunting is on and where in the area you are heading to. For the Jura mountains consult:
Vaud - Hunting Information
Jura Cantonal Hunting Federation
Hunter Federation Jura Department - France
If you're new to backpacking or find yourself in the situation where you need to update your gear, it can get pricy once you've gotten all the kit. Thankfully, there are some affordable options that you can use that won't break the bank and will be just as performing as backpacking-specific gear.
1. Backpack Liner
Most backpacks are not waterproof, even if they are made with waterproof fabrics. That’s because the stitching used to sew them together creates several tiny holes in the fabric that leak water unless the manufacturer seals them with seam tape* (and that's not common practice). That's where pack liners come in. If the fabric of your backpack is reasonably waterproof, any water that leaks in at the seams will be stopped by the waterproof liner.
Low-cost gear hack: garbage bags (CHF 3.00/10 bags) and oven bags (CHF 4.30/5)
Line your pack with a heavy duty garbage bag instead. It's completely waterproof and you can even pack your gear loose without stuff bags and it will stay dry. If you know the weather will be really ugly, you might feel safer having your gear packed in a smaller system of stuff bags. You can use oven bags that are sturdier than Ziplocs. They are also great to protect water-sensitive items like camera and first aid kits.
2. Pocket Knife
Even if you tend to favour a minimalist or lightweight approach to backpacking gear, you probably have a pocket knife as a must have item. Useful for many circumstances from opening packets of food, cutting cord to splitting that yummy mountain cheese.
Low-cost gear hack: razor blades (CHF 8.95/100)
Razor blades are ultra-light at just a few grams and take up almost no volume in your pack. Wrap them in some cardboard and duct tape and you can use them to cut everything from bandages to wood shavings for a fire. Even if you do have a main knife as part of your gear, they make a great back up in case you lose or break it.
3. Carabiners & Webbing Straps
When backpacking you will most likely want to attach some gear to the outside of your pack either because it's too bulky, you'll want to keep it easily accessible, or wet and you need to dry it out. Compression straps on the side of your packs will let you do that without additional attachment. However, in the case of daisy chains - webbing loops sewn to the sides or back of a backpack -- you will need to clip gear to your pack using carabiners or webbing straps.
Low-cost gear hack: hair ties (CHF 1.70/4)
Durable nylon hair ties are great for attaching things like your rain jacket to the outside of your pack. Loop the tie through the attachment points on your pack and stuff the jacket so the elastic band holds it i place. You can also use them to attach hiking poles to your pack.
These next two low-cost gear hacks are about preserving your gear so you can use them longer:
4. Fresh Smelling Hiking Boots
Low-cost gear hack: mint tea (CHF 3.20/25)
Place a dry tea bag in smelly hiking boots when you come back from your trek. It will keep bad odours at bay.
5. Fluffy Sleeping Bag
Low-cost gear hack: tennis balls (CHF 12.90/6)
After washing your sleeping bag, add a couple of tennis ball to the dryer. It will help to fluff up the material in your sleeping bag so it will stay as warm as when you first bought it. Do check the manufacturer's instructions on washing & drying as each sleeping bag is different.
What backpacking hacks have you been using and recommend?
I've never been one of those people who get homesick. Home for me has always been where my backpack has been parked. Literally! That being said, every year when autumn shows up at my doorstep, I spend a lot of time reminiscing about the hikes I took that time of year with my mom, dad & sister growing up in Canada. Well really, we kept doing these every year until I left for my year of Uni in Europe. I especially remember the reds the maples splashed onto the landscape. And I miss them. Yup, I miss my Canadian maples and the bright rush of colour they deliver before a blanket of white embraced us for the next 5 months.
So once autumn shows up here in our part of the world, I become like a hound obsessed with a scent.... red leaves... There are lots of splashes of yellows, golds, and oranges in the Swiss foliage but not much red. I've hiked near and far, and learnt to appreciate what the Swiss landscape has to offer this time of year but in my heart, I still look for red.
Here are 4 of my favourite autumn foliage hikes around these parts:
1. La Vaud section of the Aubonne Arboretum
Le Vaux section at the Aubonne Arboretum boast a number of maples. A real red feast for the eyes.
*TIP: Start your hike at the Bois-Guyot entrance near Bière. It's a direction less travelled and has a magical feeling as you descent into the maple section.
2. Lac de Bonlieu trail in the French Jura
The Lac de Bonlieu trail in the French Jura. Only 30 minutes to loop around the lake. Perfect for a trek with little ones.
* TIP: Photographers, at the south tip of lake, there is a path that leads to a view point over the full lake.
3. Les Mélèzes de Balavaud
250 old larches looking ablaze in the pasture above Nendaz, Valais (Isérables). It's in mid-October that the golden color is the most intense.
* TIP: Head out mid-afternoon to view the larches in the warm afternoon sun that accentuates their colour.
4. Le sentier des Châtaignes
Between forest and the vineyards, hiking the Sentier des Châtaignes between Bursins & Luins lets you enjoy the coloured foliage, heavy grapes before the harvest, and golden colours reflecting on the lake.
* TIP: Pack an autumn picnic and enjoy it at the covered Refuge du Devens.
What are your favourite fall hikes?
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