The Jura is a mountain massif and it remains so even in the sunny season. Temperatures may vary tremendously between the morning and the afternoon. Certain narrow valleys are so cold that they are frozen at least once a month; they are called “frozen valleys”. Is that a myth or is it reality? As far as we are concerned, we are in favour of precaution, especially in the case of long-distance hiking. Therefore, we advise you to take additional layers to wear if it gets cold, and anything you might need to protect yourself from the sun. Do not forget a rain coat for wet mornings or wet days if you’re unlucky.
Please also note that in the winter, the Jura climate is similar to the climate of nordic countries. This means that it gets very cold and those of us who are sensitive to cold may find themselves in distress, so appropriate equipment is necessary. The best thing to do is to have multiple layers of clothing which you can adapt depending on the conditions and your activity: a layer of breathable clothing directly on your skin, one or more layers of warm clothing over it, and then a windproof coat or a rain coat, as the case may be. Contrary to what might make sense to most of us, however, we advise you to remove one or two layers when you start your hike (whether you’re snowshoeing or skiing), because you will get hot and start sweating quickly… and cold bites a lot harder when you’re wet! You’ll have to find the right combination in order to keep warm without getting too hot.
Also, your hiking plans might occasionally be disturbed by morning fog, or even a “frost day”, in any season. Make sure you are acquainted with orientation techniques before you start; this will prove highly valuable. In the winter, “frost days” make it almost impossible to orient yourself, so it is preferable to cancel your plans for the day. Remember that you are in the Jura for leisure, not for risky endeavours; it is really not worth the risk.
The principle of long-distance hiking is to move from Point A to Point B, in our case by walking, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, skiing or snowshoeing. In doing so, you will be enjoying many natural and cultural aspects of the Jura, yet you will be outside and on the move. Your energy needs will be much higher than usual. Food is our only way to maintain and regain our energy, and local cuisine is good, so there’s no reason you should not indulge yourself.
We advise you to always have something to munch on in addition to your picnic, ideally slow and fast release carbohydrates: cereal bars, fruits, dried fruits, chocolate (that last one is a morale booster).
The Jura massif is made of limestone. Water erodes galleries very easily and it is not a rare thing to see a stream disappear in the ground somewhere and emerge again farther away. There are not too many springs, so do not count on them to fill up your water bottle.
Just like for food, your water needs will be much greater than usual when you hike over long distances. We advise you to have at least 1.5 litres of water per person. The route goes through many villages, giving you as many opportunities to fill up your bottle.
First aid kit
There are many ways you can get hurt when hiking: slipping, getting a branch in the wheel of your mountain bike, stepping on a rolling stone, etc. A small first aid kit in the bottom of your bag will come in handy! Here is a basic list of what your first aid kit should include:
- Disinfectant (single-use doses are useful, small, light, thus perfect for a first aid kit);
- Physiological salt solution to clean a wound, wash your eyes (it comes in single-use doses, so make sure you don’t confuse it with disinfectant);
- Elastic band;
- Bandages, along with second-skin bandages for blisters;
- Needle and thread, also for blisters;
- Tick tweezers;
- And your regular medications if you take any.
Rescue brigade phone numbers and recommended behaviour
Accidents are rather rare during hikes. But it would be rather careless to focus on the behaviour you should adopt only after an accident has occurred. Here is our advice:
The emergency rescue number is 112. This phone number also works in Switzerland. If you can’t get through, try to find higher ground, coverage is better in higher areas. Alternatively, you can expect to find habitations nearby or meet other groups of hikers, which will be helpful. Take a whistle with you: in a worst-case scenario, it can prove very helpful to alert anybody who might be wandering in the area.
Once you get through to a rescue representative, you will be asked: where the accident occurred, in what circumstances, how many victims there are and in what condition.
The best way to give information on your location is to provide GPS data. In any case, make sure to describe the circumstances of the accident and the victim’s condition precisely, then follow the call centre doctor’s instructions. Do not hang up until you are instructed to do so.
As a rule of thumb, and depending on the trauma, a victim should only be moved if there is risk that an additional accident may occur; otherwise, do not move the victim. Also, make sure you don’t leave the victim: first, it’s no fun to be left alone, second, staying with the victim enables you to monitor his or her condition.
Of course, if you’re hiking on your own, remember to notify a relative or friend of your route and don’t forget to tell him or her you have arrived safely!