Blog / Carnet de Voyage / Explorers’ travel diary: Pulka in the Vercors

Explorers’ travel diary: Pulka in the Vercors

juin 23, 2022
Pulka Vercors - 2 skieurs entrain de randonner dans un paysage enneigé

Laëtitia is one of the beautiful people I met on Instagram. In addition to having created EkoVida, she participated last year in the writing of the Tao Guide, 2,000 ideas and addresses for committed travel. So I naturally thought of her when I launched the Carnets de Voyage section. With all these discoveries, I was sure she would have an incredible adventure to tell us about. I didn’t think I was saying it right! But I won’t tell you more and let you discover the Pulka in the Vercors.

I am Laëtitia, the founder of EkoVida. I have at heart to accompany tourism professionals and individuals in their ecological transition and to make people discover that a tourism respectful of nature is possible. I am also passionate about adventures and nature and this is what I will try to retranscribe to you in this travel story.

I would like to share with you a micro-adventure (Editor’s note: to learn more about micro-adventures, check out our article on new trends in tourism) that transported me to the great Canadian North while staying in France! And yes, it is possible!

I was able to get out of my comfort zone, experience new sensations and learn a lot of things so if that makes you want to do it, let’s go!

Mini-expedition by pulka

The big day has arrived, we leave for a Pulka mini-expedition in the Vercors and in autonomy for 3 days and 2 nights in the snowy mountains of the Vercors.

To help us in this crossing, our guide Damien is there to explain everything ! They introduce us to our best allies for this adventure : the pulkas ! These big sledges will allow us to carry all our equipment. <We’re going to have to be very careful with the sleds. <We’re going to have to get out of here. The map is on the table, we review our route together and learn to read the relief.

First of all, we meet over a hot drink for a short briefing.

The map is on the table, we review our route together and learn to read the relief.

After a check of the equipment (we learn to eliminate the superfluous to concentrate on the essential) and some technical explanations, we equip ourselves :

The pulkas will be attached to our hiking backpacks. They will allow us to carry much more weight than a rucksack, with about 20 kg of load per person depending on the possibilities of each person.

With a good pair of snowshoes on our feet, walking sticks and some dried fruit in our pockets, we are ready for the adventure!

Experience outdoor life in winter

In single file, we immerse ourselves in this wild, snowy setting. The person in the lead “makes the track”, i.e. he must open the way by packing the snow. It is a more physical position that we take in turn.

As we progress, we learn to use the compass and to recognise the tracks of wild animals in the snow. To avoid overheating on the climbs, it is important to remember to undress because the enemy of the hiker in winter is perspiration! It is therefore essential to wear several layers of clothing, including “technical” clothing.

After a few hours of walking, it is time to set up our first bivouac. We set up the main tent which will serve as a “living room”: it will house the wood stove to warm us up and prepare our meals. We have to get some firewood to feed it.

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Then it’s time to set up our tent to spend the night. To sleep well, the guide’s advice is to pack the snow well to have a fairly flat ground. We unfold the duvets and put our stuff away in a warm place.

On est seuls, loin des sentiers fréquentés, aucune trace humaine à l’horizon ! Nous sommes complètement déconnectés et pourtant tellement connectés à notre environnement, à la nature.

The pulka in the Vercors: a moment out of time

1st night in bivouac

After this first day of walking, we take the time to warm up around a small tea and we leave to explore the surroundings of the camp with the headlamp. In the middle of winter, the night falls quickly and the atmosphere changes completely. We turn off the headlamps and let the moon and the starry night guide us.

In the meantime, our guide has prepared a delicious meal for us, it’s time to talk, to tell our feelings, to take our time.

We don’t delay, we still have two days of hiking and we have to be in shape. Let’s go for a first night under the tent in the middle of winter, I dread the pee in the middle of the night (I didn’t escape it, it’s… “refreshing” ?)

Well wrapped up in my duvet with my chapka on my head, the night is peaceful. In the morning, everything is frozen. We head for breakfast to get some strength and warm up before packing up the camp.

Of course, we leave no trace of our passage (editor’s note: discover our article on zero waste holidays to imitate L, we dismantle the tents, we fold the duvets. Each thing has a precise place to optimize the storage and find them easily.

Day 2: getting our bearings

We leave for the second day of Pulka adventure through the magnificent landscapes of the Vercors, time has another dimension and the silence is soothing!

We walk, we take the time to observe the mountains and the different reliefs. We take stock of the map during the picnic break and off we go again!

After a beautiful day of walking, it’s already time to set up our second camp. We have taken our marks, each one is more autonomous and this is what he has to do. It’s a team effort that is part of the adventure.

Once the camp is set up, we explore the surroundings (without the pulkas) and discover beautiful tracks in the snow. Will you be able to recognise who these pretty prints belong to? Once night falls, we turn off the headlamps and let the moon guide us.

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For this second night, we learn from the small mistakes of the day before, such as putting our clothes for the next day in the duvet with us, rather than next to us (it’s so much nicer than when it’s freezing)!

Another beautiful night of dreaming under the stars!

It was a magnificent experience that I repeated several times because I felt so much in harmony with nature. Despite the cold and the physical effort that are fully part of this adventure, I loved this feeling of freedom and connection with the elements.

My 3 little tips for a successful eco-responsible winter adventure

  • Favour multi-layered clothing with technical clothing to avoid sweating, which you can easily find second hand, and don’t forget the hat, it’s the insurance to stay warm!
  • Use a thermos to keep the water at the right temperature, otherwise it could freeze
  • Have a great guide to ensure you are safe and respect the protected areas

I hope that this little pulka story in the Vercors will give you the desire to live beautiful adventures near you! 

Anne Chéné
CEO