I am now more than half way complete with this Floris V Pad hike to my endpoint of Bergen op Zoom. I started this 19 km section from the train station Sliedrecht Baanhoek making it a slightly longer hike. My last hike went into Papendrecht and ended at the former apartment of my in-laws. (here).
The Hubby was my transport to and from this section of my hiking experience. The Hubby deserves a very special accommodation for all the extra out of the way trips he has made for me during this trek to finish the Floris V Pad. Maybe a nice dinner?😊
This hike was one of my personal best for distance as I hiked 15 km. Mostly I am only able to hike 10 km. I also didn’t have many options of trail exit if my body decided to stop my hike early. I know many of my readers think I am endlessly adventurous and that I must be in great shape. The reality is much different. My body has suffered many injuries from my old professional career that can make it a challenge some days to complete my adventures. Yet, I keep pushing on.
Getting from my start point in Sliedrecht to the Dordrecht start point on the other side of the Wantij River I had to cross a train/bike bridge over the Beneden Merwede River. When I started up this long bike path/train bridge I forgot about the train also shared the bridge. As I was taking the above picture of Papendrecht, my heart rate was accelerated several beats (I am sure those were hearts beats I should be saving) as a train suddenly zoomed by!
After regaining a normal heart rate (this took less time than I thought it would) I continued to hike towards the next bridge. First, I was entertained by the early morning golfing community as the trail skirted a huge golf course. I could hear the chink of golf balls being hit and the collective “ahhh” and “ohhh no!” of the golfers. I kept my eyes peeled for any golf ball that would hit me on my hiking path. Luckily I was saved from such an experience.
I came to the bridge that would finally get me to the start point.
Now I was on a high dike that protects the entire river island of Dordrecht. Actually, there are a series of dikes that protect this area that has maintained a respectful ages old symbiosis with the intersections of the three main rivers that head towards the North Sea. The Oude Maas, Beneden Merwede, and the Nieuwe Merwede.
Once again on this hike I took a detour (which was longer) as I headed off the dike and into the farmland. The shade of the large trees and the views of the large farms were worth the extra kilometers I walked.
I was almost to the water ferry boat that takes people across the Nieuw Merwede River to the Biesbosch National Park. The sun was starting to heat things up and I was glad to have the nice shade.
I stopped at the picnic tables at the ferry boat landing and pulled out my thermos of hot water for coffee. I sat and watched as the crowd of bikes and autos gathered to wait for the ferry. Many of the cyclists were on vacation and were loaded with all their gear and talking to each other about their recent adventures.
One of my fellow bloggers asked me recently if I ever see any other hikers on my hikes. That was a great question! Thanks “B”!
Yes, I often see other people mostly out for a short walk on the trail, but seldom do I see anyone hiking the entire Floris V Pad or hiking it in sections like I am doing. I have only met two people hiking the entire Floris V Pad since I started in 2018. Both have been recently.
I do not take pictures of people hiking as I want to respect their privacy.
On this hike, I met Floris V Pad section hiker, Jan. I passed Jan (Jan is a common male Dutch name) as I started my hike on the dike. I saw he had the tell tale Floris V Pad book in his hands. A great opening for starting a conversation, so I asked if he was hiking it.
“Yes” he answered. He was heading to the 19km end point for this section at the Dordrecht Kilt tunnel.
Not wanting to hold him up or interfere with his hike I wished him luck as I quickly went in my way.
I stopped to make my decision to take a different path and saw that Jan went in the opposite direction, along the dike. As he had told me where his end point goal for the day would be I knew I might meet him again along the way.
As I sat at the ferry launch drinking my coffee, I looked to see if he would pass me. I didn’t see him.
I started my journey once again as the path skirts the river. A huge dike was on my right that was also a sheep pasture.
These pasture sheep were not fooled by my calling them to the fence for a treat. The lead ewe informed the others I was just another whacked out hiker.
This part of the trail has several alternative routes into the marshy woods that run along the river. As I stepped off the bike path to take the alternate route I saw that the recent rains had made the path more of a challenge. I wasn’t up for the muddy hiker experience and turned back to the bike trail.
As I did, I saw Jan lumbering down the trail in front of me. Now I put it in my head to hike faster and pass him again. The trail turned slightly to the left and I lost Jan. The trail was empty and my sudden motivation to walk faster now disappeared. It wasn’t long before I found what happened to Jan. He was sitting on a bench off to the side when I finally caught up to him. I stopped and talked to him about his hiking experience. I really enjoyed the short exchange of about on our time on this trail. We also exchanged information about other trails we have hiked or are on our “to do lists”.
The funny thing is, he seemed very happy just relaxing and I wanted to get moving as I knew my body was already close to calling it a day. That was about the 11.5 km point in my hike.
I said my good bye to Jan and started moving towards what my new end point for the day would be. A small restaurant.
The middle of the day heat was starting to break me down as I walked along the now flat and open pasture/farmfield land. I looked behind me and saw that Jan was not far behind on the trail. I put it in my head to keep going and to keep ahead of him.
I got to a good point on the trail close to the restaurant and checked my map. As I looked back to the trail I just walked Jan was just a few feet behind me. He came up alongside and confirmed that the trail went to the left. I admitted that I was going straight to the restaurant along the road to have lunch and get a ride.
I watched as he entered a wooded area and disappeared and wondered if I would see him again and concluded I most likely would not. It was nice to have met another section hiker, but as in life, we pass through sometimes only to be encouraged or to encourage others along our journey and then move on down the trail.
The Hubby came to the restaurant and we had a nice lunch and then headed off to complete the number of other tasks in our personal lives that day.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.