Refuges
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If you really can not stand all those challenges anymore (rain, hunger, thirst, loneliness, sleep deprivation, rotors, monster thermals (and the lack thereof), wing collapses, landing too soon, long hikes up, being able to see a fighter pilots nod at you as he flies by at an uncomfortable short distance, birds over your head dropping their toxic waste on your brand new glider, sharp stones trapping or cutting your lines during a take-off that is already difficult, freeing your glider from the wild roses that trapped it after you landed in the only reasonable spot available, et cetera), then do not try to be tough. There is usually no one around to impress anyway, so what is the use of keeping up appearances?

Have a break! Stop tormenting yourself and visit a refuge. It is not a shame, nor a defeat. On the contrary. It is a good opportunity to recuperate (food with lots of calories in it, a comfortable bed) and to meet some fellow travellers. Often you will meet special people managing the refuge. You must be special to spend the summer season in an often remote place, while trying to make all kinds of different visitors feel at home.

There are lots of refuges in the Alps. If you plan carefully and fly according to your plans, then you won't have to sleep outside or carry food with you. However, if you did not count on staying in a refuge every night, then the corresponding sheltering cost (and to a lesser degree the cost for eating) will rapidly consume your bivouac budget.

Sleeping under the stars and searching for food in the wild maybe not that comfortable after a few days, but it certainly is cheaper than a refuge. Besides that, it is not really in the spirit of vol bivouac to spend lots of time in a refuge, isn't it? I mean, where does it stop? Next time you will be taking your caravan along! Come to think of it, maybe I should change the definition of vol bivouac as I get older.

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2010-01-02