We were in the National Park Weerribben-Wieden for a week to explore the waterways and to attend the Dutch Open Canoe Festival. During our week stay at De Kluft trekkershut (cabin) we had two longer canoe paddles (longer for us, our average is 6 km paddles) in the waterways of the National Park.
The first was a 12 km RT paddle to Kalenburg that explores the marsh lands of the National Park and the marsh forest of the National Park.
The early morning start had us paddling in the still quiet marsh waters with the slight wind rustling through the reeds. As we came to the first turn of our paddle we noticed that the air smelled of smoke and we could see in the distance smoke rising in the marsh.
As we got closer the canal was blocked by a flat barge boat loaded with reed bales that had just been harvested and loaded onto the barge. We squeezed past the end of the barge as the farmers were busy loading more bales.
As we continued to our projected coffee point (Canoe Point 5) we passed a field with piles of reed harvest waste burning.
At our coffee stop we actually got to talk to one of the reed harvesters and he told us that this day was the first time they were allowed to burn the waste products from the harvest. So many of the fields were harvested earlier in the summer were now being lit to prepare for the new growing season. We were told that in earlier years the harvesters burned as they harvested but now with the increased tourist and vacation market in the area they were now regulated to only burn after the summer vacation period was over. The harvester we talked to was not unlike farmers from the midwest of the USA who constantly have to negotiate new regulations as population centers move and approach farming areas, he was clearly frustrated.
We enjoyed our coffee at this canoe point and looked at the farm equipment. Our footsteps on the marsh were more like walking on moving floors in an amusement ride. We constantly felt unstable but it was a cool experience.
After coffee we continued on our paddle route towards Kalenburg. We encountered a few motorized harvest boats along the way and a few more fields of burning reed waste. We passed a canoe that was paddling in the opposite direction going towards where we came from. Later we passed them again as we were coming to the end of our trip.
Kalenberg is a very old settlement that is remote for Dutch standards as it only has one road into the town. Houses located on one side of the river can only be accessed by walking or biking or by boat. Most of the houses have the local thatch roof of reed and the major business in town is the reed harvesters and tourism.
We ate lunch at the restaurant Het Rietershuijs, which has a wonderful outdoor sitting area and a perfect place to tie up our canoe.
Once we ate our lunch and paddled out of Kalenberg we headed into the forested part of the route. But, not before we saw more of the marsh fields being burned.
The forest area is shaded from the hot sun. We faced a hot sun beating on us in the open marsh fields. Now we were glad to be in this shady part of the paddle. We also were both suffering from our long lunch and our unused paddle muscles. We stopped at canoe point 18 for a quick water break and we were glad to be almost to our cabin to rest.
Things we experienced on this canoe paddle:
- We learned all about the reed harvest in the Weerribben.
- Kalenberg was a good half way stopping point.
- The National Park Weerribben has a diverse ecosystem.
- Coolest thing we saw was a huge spider (sorry, no picture for fear of dumping the canoe…)
Our Stats on this paddle:
- Total RT distance 12km
- Fastest speed 6km/hr
- Avg Speed 4.4km/hr
- Total time on the water 2hrs 40mins
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