Thirst for nature, escape, thirst for'adventure ! In Ariège Pyrénées, the word " liberté » makes sense ❤️

White gives way to green! The snow has melted, Spring is here ! The green colors are predominant and the yellow of the daffodils, the brilliant blue of the sky come to perfect this exceptional natural decoration.

One of our first desires at the dawn of spring: to rediscover this nature which is so dear to us. After winter, our “Outdoor” family (a couple and a 6-year-old child) decides to reconnect with the mountains for 2 days and one night by bivouacking in Donezan. At the edge of the Rabassoles ponds, at the foot of the Tarbesou peak, surrounded by marmots and chamois.

ruisseau-donezan-ADT-Ariège
Stream in the Donezan – C.Bayard – Ariège Tourisme

Preparations for dreaming of freedom

We've been preparing this bivouac for 4 days, we're in the starting blocks. Just preparing it already takes us on a journey and gives us a taste for freedom, the desire to dreaming of clean air and mountains, escape, disconnection.

We check our equipment:
– 1 tent, 3 floor mats, 3 duvets
– the little wolf's clothes
– warm clothes for the evening and in case it is cold (hat, gloves, leggings…)
– something light if it's hot (cap, sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.)
– the utensils to prepare good meals after the walk: the stove, a mini sponge, organic and biodegradable soap if possible, light cutlery
– water, semolina, homemade cereal bars, some dried fruit for energy…
– a mini pharmacy, a headlamp, a lighter for the stove
– without forgetting the croquettes of our 13-year-old border collie (Snow)

Our budding adventurer is therefore ready, both excited and impatient. He has been camping since he was 2 years old, so he is used to this kind of adventure.

The hike to the ponds of Rabassoles

📍 Wednesday afternoon, 14 p.m. sharp

Our adventure begins long before the slamming of the trunk and the doors. We have an hour's drive to reach the Col de Pailhères and I can tell you that the view is worth a stop. It is breathtaking, the Pyrenees are magical and this pass is surprising. No wonder he's part mythical passes where cyclists measure their performance.

col-de-pailères-ADT-Ariège-S-Meurisse
The Col de Pailhères – S.Meurisse – Ariège Pyrenees

We are back on the road to the Restanque car park, the starting point of the route. What a pleasure to put on our backpacks, and Snow, our border collie to put on his harness. It is also an immense joy for her to be able to go back to the mountains.

Go! We left for 1h15 walk. The path climbs slowly through the forest. We meet a family who is up for the day. Seeing us loaded to bivouac, she assures us that we will be alone up there tonight. Little worried and above all impatient to move forward, we quickly leave the forest to discover the Artounant plateau. This chatter (vast meadow), where the stream meanders peacefully in the middle of peat bogs (wetland) is of incomparable beauty 😍 

At the end of this jasse we cross the stream to take the bends that go up to the ponds of Rabassoles. Our little walker has made good progress, the idea of ​​camping at the lake was a great hiking goal for him.

Ariège Quebec, surrounded by peaks

So here we are at the heart of Quebec Ariègeois. Why this designation? Certainly because it is a place apart, isolated between the Eastern Pyrenees and the Aude, reminiscent of the beautiful Canadian landscapes. Nature is preserved and wild, large spaces worthy of the Nordic countries. The landscapes are breathtaking, especially during the Indian summer period. The shimmering colors of autumn deserve to be lingered there.  Forests with huge trees (mainly pines and firs) mixed with the lakes (Rabassoles, Laurenti,…) and surrounded by granite rocks make the Donezan really unique.

Its sumptuous summits are very often part of the " to do list »* hikes in Ariège:
– The Tarbesou (2364 m)
- the white rock (2542 m)
– Baxouillade pond (2545 m)

"Without traces" on the Natura 2000 site "Quérigut Orlu"

Aware of the attention that we must pay to our environment, we try to make our son aware of these values. This bivouac in Ariège Quebec reminds me of the training I had taken a few years ago to become a "no trace" master instructor. A training precisely carried out by our Quebec friends whose objective is to deploy the educational program " Leave No Trace (in French “without leaving traces”), widely known in North America and more generally in English-speaking countries.

The idea, also called outdoor ethics" , Is simple : leave the environment as it was before our visit. For this, 7 key principles to implement during our outdoor outings, including: properly managing our waste, respecting wildlife and minimizing the impact of fires. Find all the information of this educational program here.

This program thus comes into its own when one is located on a Natura 2000 classified site. This is the case here since we are on the Natura 2000 “Quérigut-Orlu” site.

Bivouac

We can never say it enough, when we go to the mountains (or in nature in general), for a day or a week, there are codes that we must respect. Faced with so much beauty, how else? 😍

Here are some bivouac basics:

  • The bivouac is a camp that will last one night in the same place in the middle of nature. A small tent is set up at sunset and taken down at sunrise.
  • In most places, making fires is not allowed.
  • Leave nothing behind, minimize your impact (no packaging, peelings or traces of food). Leave the place clean, take care of your little nest 🙂
  • As far as possible, try not to move the natural elements (which are used by insects and micro-organisms).
etangs-de-rabassoles-ADT-Ariège-S-Meurisse
The ponds of Rabassoles seen from Tarbesou – S.Meurisse – Ariège Pyrénées

A natura 2000 site – Quésaco?

With an area of 10 ha on the high chain of the Pyrenees, between 910 and 2 meters above sea level, the Natura 765 Quérigut – Orlu site has two faces:
– on one side the large state forests of Donezan, in the municipalities of Mijanès, Artigues, Le Pla and Quérigut
– on the other, the Orlu National Hunting and Wildlife Reserve.

Natura 2000 network

The objective of this network is to "contribute to preserve the biological diversity of species and habitats on the territory of the European Union in a logic of sustainable development. To do this, member states undertake to restore or preserve the good state of conservation of threatened animal and plant species and habitats. All this taking into account economic, social, cultural activities and requirements, and regional particularities. » 👉🏻 See the full definition

Recent inventories have made it possible to complete knowledge of several species, such as:
– The Desman of the Pyrenees
- The butterflies
- Bats
– The 19 species of birds of Community interest, including the bearded vulture, short-toed eagle, capercaillie, eagle-owl, ptarmigan, etc.

A morning awakening, in the heart of nature

When we talk about habitat and emblematic animal species, that morning, we can say that we are at the heart of the matter! We wake up early (6:30 a.m.), we open the closure of our tent and let's come face to face with an eterlou (young male chamois one or two years old) stationary, about 100m away. Certainly intrigued by our tent, he is watching us. He'll scamper off a few seconds later.

Morning awakening in bivouac – C.Bayard – Ariège Pyrénées

We are also lucky enough to be able to have our breakfast to the sound of marmots whistling, which delights our little adventurer, always accompanied by his “bilberry the marmot” soft toy!
That morning we also had the joy of being able to admire the magnificent and grandiose bearded vulture, our little hiker's favorite animal.

After these many emotional observations, he was off to make some souvenir sketches of this wonderful family bivouac. All our senses were awake:
– the view with the observation of nature and its inhabitants,
– hearing with the sound of flowing water (waterfalls, streams), marmot cries, …
– touch it by putting your feet in the very fresh water of mountain torrents (ideal natural cryotherapy 😉)
– the taste because it seems that it increases tenfold when you gain altitude!

Here are two wonderful days etched forever in our memories!

*To do List = list of things to do absolutely, here are the must-see places to see during your holidays in Ariège Pyrénées!

Other nature outings to do with the family

Caroline

Author

Caroline

Every day of the year, I am a big fan of outdoor sports in Ariège and throughout France: hiking, mountain biking, skiing, ski touring, rafting, canyoning ... I embark with me my companion, my son and my dog ​​Snow in (almost) all my adventures! What do I prefer in Ariège? The great outdoors and the spirit of freedom that reigns there.

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