Perfect place to pitch your tent

3 years ago, when I was more or less compelled to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc with a full set of camping gear on my back, I felt a sense of freedom I had never experienced before.

The effort of lugging around a 14-kg rucksack is more than outbalanced by the total freedom it allows you. There is no need to book (or cancel) a mountain hut, you can set up your tent wherever the landscape most appeals to you or simply when you don’t feel like walking any further. (That is of course not entirely true; the rules on camping in the wild tend to differ from country to country).

For a few short days, your life suddenly becomes very simple: the plan for the day is clear; the choice of clothes to wear and the menu options are limited. It really is a question of getting back to basics: finding water, walking, walking, walking, satisfying a ‘real’ feeling of hunger, making sure you can curl up warm inside your tiny tent, that sort of thing … After 3 days of leaving the modern world behind, you find a sense of inner peace and are likely to be overcome by the desire for all of your life to be that simple.

Of course, it’s not really quite that relaxed if you find yourself being charged by a Pyrenean Mountain dog barking its heart out and that (if it wanted) could tear through the thin fabric of your tent (made that way to keep it as light as possible), or when the wind blows so hard that you need to use your walking sticks to make sure the whole thing doesn’t blow away; at the end of the day, precisely those kinds of experiences are what make this trip a real adventure. They help give you the feeling of really being alive. And that is a feeling I love.

Of course, there are plenty of other things that are wonderful quite simply just because they are. The magnificent sunrises and sunsets; paddling in a mountain stream or lake; the unbelievably star-filled night sky when you need to leave your tent in the night; confrontations with ibex, chamois and marmots; panoramic views that are so staggering you are better off not taking a photograph; they are so much more beautiful in real life! Pleasant conversations, agreeable silences, new inspiration; I could try persuading you with so many more arguments, but nothing beats actually joining me on one of these trips!

From 17-19 July 2020, I am organising a 3-day trek through the wild and rugged Turtmantall valley, in Wallis, Switzerland. For more details surf to: https://famkevanderelst.com/3-day-mountain-hike-swiss-alps

Swimming in mountainlake
Zonsopgang
Tent in het bos