Those regular readers of my blog already know to be amazed at the items that the universe places in my path.
This week is vacation week in The Netherlands for most people. The Hubby only has three days off but we decided to escape to one of our favorite camping spots at the Biesbosch. Then I would try to get my hiking feet to pound the kilometers I still have to complete the Floris V Pad hiking trail. Oh, how I digress, this is a Hummm blog. Yes, I found these at our camping and along my route.
I had laugh as I made my first edit, still writing 2021. Maybe by mid January writing 2022 will be natural.
I started my New Year, after getting the first good New Year’s Eve sleep in years, with a nature hike.
I have enjoyed these trails on other summer visits to the Weerribben National Park so I was excited to see what I would experience in the winter. There is a fair number of wild animals that call the National Park home but mostly they remain hidden in the thick brush and reeds.
I was prepared for this hike with my new Muck boots. Thanks to my friend Janet in Canada who held onto these beautiful boots for a year and half. Finally, we realized this COVID thing wasn’t going to end anytime soon, she sent them to Minnesota. Yes, it would have been cheaper just to purchase them at a farm store in Minnesota but we didn’t know that a virus was going to delay her plans for coming to Europe. Anyway, thanks Janet, I love these boots for walking muddy Dutch trails.
This hiking trail goes through some marsh like woods. I was heading to a location I hadn’t explored before close to number 19 canoe site.
A small bridge goes over the canal and into the woods. I had never explored it much from the canoe site.
I started seeing signs of wildlife. Trails going across the landscape, feathers hanging on the grasses next to the trail.
Then my hike was halted by a gate. This trail was not a trail but a path to a private property. Disappointing!
Turning around and heading back to the main trail I continued for a few more kilometers. Hiking along the muddy trail in the isolated quiet of the National Park. The only other people I met were a couple who were trail running. They caught me hugging a tree. I had to laugh as I really thought I was alone in the woods.
That is the thing about the wilderness in The Netherlands you are almost never very far from people.
Hope that each of our readers gets out to your nearestwildernessin 2022.
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.
I was happy to receive a ride to Schoonhoven by the Hubby as he was spending the day cleaning out his mother’s house. By 7:30am under overcast skies I started hiking in Alblasserwaard. Limburg was just starting to get the rain that was already causing issues as it dumped on the region, two days later making the International news with the devastating flood waters.
The start of the trail was the bike path that comes off the water ferry boat from Schoonhoven.
Then the path turns to the right. I was now walking on a footpath between two canals. This nicely mowed path seemed isolated. Willow trees lined the trail. A street on the left and industrial area of on the right.
This part of the Floris V Pad route runs along the Lek River as it heads down stream towards Rotterdam. The towns located along this part of the river are old industrial trading towns. Old flat farmland outside the towns. Groot-Ammers was the first town I came along today but not before experiencing a few surprises.
As I was hiking, I suddenly saw a fire truck come by with sirens on. It turned in front of me further up the trail and went into the industrial area on my right. I looked for smoke, nope, no smoke. Then came a helicopter that landed in the industrial area on the right.
“Ok, there is something seriously going on.” I thought.
As I approached the road where I had seen the firetruck turn there came a another firetruck, then a police car all blazing the sirens. I quickly texted the Hubby that my day was already in the “strange” category.
Not more than 100 meters down the trail from the commotion in the industrial area, I heard a very familiar sound, a milking machine.
I looked around and saw that across the road there was a field where the milk cows were lined up waiting to enter a small mobile milking building. I laughed out loud at the well trained cows waiting patiently for the farmer to move the milking machine from one cow to the next in line.
The morning was going to continue being “strange”. As I approached the town of Groot-Ammers I couldn’t find the trail sign. The little hiking inner voice kept telling me to stop and check the map and gps, the stubborn hiking self continued to hike! Finally, my stubborn self gave in and stopped, checked the map and the gps and had to concede my faults of not trusting to my inner voice. I quickly chose an alternate route through town. Walking through neighborhoods of well groomed front gardens and passing school children that were all very happy that they were in the final days before summer vacation.
This route was now providing me with several additions to my “hummm July file”. More to follow on those “hummm” at the end of the month.
Outside of Groot-Ammers I took my first rest. Sitting on a bench overlooking the Lek River, I watched barges moving freight up and down the river.
The wind seems to blow constantly on this flat landscape of the Alblasserwaard, with the sky threatening to rain I got back on the trail heading towards Nieuw Lekkerland.
As I approached the turn in the trail heading into the flat farm area I was happy to see this sign.
This was a real treat of the trail! A small road that wound on the backside of houses that are built on the Lek River dike. Most of these houses had long yards with beautiful gardens or buildings that had farm animals. The sounds of farmland quiet surrounding me. This area filled me with memories of my younger self growing up in the Minnesota farm country as I hiked along.
Soon the paved small road turned into a gravel road. These are not very common here in The Netherlands anymore so I was excited to be hiking on one.
This road was devoid of any activity other than the ducks in the canal and the birds, cows, and sheep in the pastures. The only sounds, the occasional farm tractor and the endless wind.
After walking for a distance, I crossed a very busy paved road and continued along the gravel on the other side.
The trail now is marked that it turns into a farmers field.
At this point it was clear that the trail went through the farm field but the “welcome” I was greeted with was a bit unexpected.
Now, being raised on a farm, I was not a bit put off from that sort of “welcome” from the local farmer. In fact, I was always taught that if you smelled manure it was the smell of money. I walked the entire field of money and even had to scrape some money from my hiking boots at the end of the field. I figured it was best to leave as much money as possible for the farmer.
Now, I came to a gate and had an audience of young cattle as I tried to figure the safest way to negotiate the rather unstable and baler twine secured gate. I could almost hear the cattle discussing the last poor hiker that had come this way and ended up falling into the canal, or the pile of “welcome”. I was not providing any such entertainment to the cattle audience! I threw my backpack over the gate, rounded the end of the gate where it sat next to the canal bridge deck, stood the gate up straighter and flater against the fence post which gave me just enough room to squeeze through the gap between gate and bridge deck. I picked up my backpack placed the gate back the way it was prior to my squeezing through and tip toed around several cow paddy “welcome” mats.
The cattle at this point seemed very impressed and started mooing at me. They even followed me down the pasture sharing their comments as I hiked.
At the end of this pasture I had another gate to climb, this time I just climbed right over the top and dropped onto a paved bike path.
As I walked past a large chicken farm I stopped to check out their automatic egg store.
I came to where the trail headed back towards the Lek River dike. Now I stopped for a cup of coffee and a snack bar out of my backpack. I listened to the wind wiping through the flat expanses of farmland.
A check of the map and the gps showed that I was at the half way point to Nieuw Lekkerland. I checked the bus schedule at the nearest bus halt and saw I had less than 20 minutes to make it to the stop.
I kicked my hiking legs into overdrive and focused on the windmill in the distance, knowing that the bus halt was close by the mill.
Suddenly out of nowhere from behind a old man on a bike passed me! Darn near scared the pants off me.
I made it to the bus halt. Even had 10 minutes to wait.