A weekend adventure in the autumn…

It’s rainy, stormy and wet… The perfect conditions to go out, and enjoy the autumn to it’s fullest! This weekend “Adventure Henk” and I will go for a short mid autumn adventure in the “Biesbosch”. This is one of the many national parks we have in the Netherlands. The last journey we did was a 160 kilometer walking trip, and it was exhausting, hard, wet, tiring and rough. So all in all it was great! I strongly believe in doing new things, therefore I’ve been searching for a sort of transportation I’ve never (or hardly) used before. The KAYAK… The Biesbosch is one of the last extensive areas of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwestern Europe, so a kayak was the natural way of moving around.

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Many people would think: why would you go out in autumn weather like this? Why would you sleep in a tent, or in a bivvy bag in the cold weather? I ask myself: why would I hang out on a couch watching crappy TV, if I can be out there in the fresh air? It’s the feeling of being outside, in the nature that makes me feel alive. Sometimes you just need to get out of your comfort zone to appreciate what you have. And when that is done with a kayak in the Biesbosch, it sounds like a proper way to energize yourself to me! Just being out for a couple of days gives me the energy in need during the week. Although the weather is rainy, wet and cold right now Im looking forward to spend a couple of nights in the Biesbosch…

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It’s just a short weekend microadventure. It doesn’t have to be a month long expedition. We will make a short film about it, and write about it. Then we leave it behind us, for others, as an inspiration for going out there yourself.

I want to say thanks to Vissershang canoe and boot rental for helping us with the Kayaks!

Without-a-map day 3 &4: Coo and back!

This is the story of a guy who finds out what it is to get lost. Just for the sake of experiment, and for the love of cycling! If you would like to know why this guy is doing this, you can click –> HERE. Or you can start at part 1 or part 2 of this epos…

This would be the third day of my trip. I was almost in Coo, Belgium, all the way from Maastricht, NL. Around 80 kilometers from the beginning point. When I woke up in the early morning I felt good. The night was fresh and dark, and gave me enough energy to bike to Coo and maybe even back in 1 day. The weather was good, and it seemed to become a warm day. After a refreshing wash in a small stream I got on my bike and cycled the remaining 10 kilometers to Coo.

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The roads went up and down, up and down and even more up and down. But before I knew it I was in Coo! I’ve made it! Now, Coo is not like a paradise… I mean, it’s nice but far away from the place I’ve camped my first time. It was a touristic spot; lots of cafe’s, restaurants and a beer for 4 or 5 euros. No thanks, I’ll rather have a swim in the river and be on my way back to Maastricht again!

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Washing all the salt from my body felt good! Thats the thing with cycling and camping out in the forrest for some days; when the opportunity of  washing comes by, don’t let it go! The next time you have this change might be in a couple of days! The layer of salt on your body might keep you a little warm in the winter, but I rather be fresh and without a layer of salt…

For sure I wasn’t planning to take the same way back, and after some kilometers I found a bus shelter with a map in it. So once again a own map was made, and I followed my way trough the beautiful Belgium landscape. My wheels rolled trough tiny villages, rocky trails and big roads. It was great, the sun was constantly shining and I enjoyed the fresh indian-summer-air. Sadly enough my bike didn’t have anything that shows how fast it went, because at some point I was on a big road, only going downhill for at least 15 kilometers. My ears plopped because of the descent, and this is rare for me as a dutch guy! I’ve must have been going at least 50 kmh… I celebrated this with a cola at a hotel, and when I cycled away, my eye fell on a map. Yes! I checked out the map, and saw a place with trees. By now the Ardennes were behind me, so you could imagine I was happy to see a green spot on the map!

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When the forrest was approached I found myself in the middle of beautiful farmlands. It was a little before 19:00 so there was enough time to find a spot, set up camp and cook. At the entrance of the forest was a big sign with the rules; No dogs, No walking outside of the paths, No open fire, No camping, No taking pictures when your camera is too loud… Damn, it was clear the Ardennes were behind me. Next to all these rules there was a sign with a guy and a gun. Did it mean people were shooting or hunting here?! On the sign were also times: 6-9 & 19-22. I quickly figured out the guys with guns must be foresters and they will shoot on sight between 6 & 9 and 19 & 22 o’clock. I just had little time left. Quickly I jumped into the forest and found a place for me and my bike. I marked the road and went up to a bench I saw earlier, to cook while I witnessed how the night would fall over the Belgium countryside. Time to make some pictures!

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Sitting there watching the sun go down I felt like a homeless person. I was stinky, cooking on a bench and drinking wine straight from the bottle. And I loved it. These are the moments where tranquility is boss. Sitting, waiting till it gets dark, watching the sky change from blue, to pink to purple and eventually to pitch black. These are the moments where life doesn’t fly by, but slowly goes by, minute by minute and second by second. A moment to reflect on your actions and where you stand in life. And to realize that wine tastes best straight out of the bottle.

A little after 22:00 I walked towards my place into the bush. Quickly I jumped in, and dragged my bike in there. Once cam was set up I crawled in my sleeping bag and heard the forest. This was by far the most loudest forest I’ve ever came across! Everything was squeaking, breaking or falling… Good backgrounds for a wel deserved rest!

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An early alarm clock woke me up before the foresters could, and after a breakfast with the strongest coffee ever (I ran out of water…) I continued my way to Maastricht. There were a couple of hills to conquer, but all in all it went quick. Mostly the road went downhill, and soon I found myself in Holland again. Cycling the last kilometers I noticed the same mountains as I started this trip, but now on the other side.

The feeling of getting lost was certainly there the last days, especially in the beginning. After some time I found a way to navigate by making my own maps. If I wouldn’t have set the rule of allowing myself to make maps, I think it wouldn’t be possible to do it in 3 to 4 days. There are people who did a continent without a map. Or cycled across India only to navigate with the sun and asking people for directions. Adventure can be found everywhere, and when you take away the certainty of a map, adventure crosses your path. In this time of GPS, smartphones, ipads and all the navigation devices it’s great to go out without a map. You take the roads you WANT to take, not the roads you HAVE to take or the devices tell you to take. In the end you’ll get to your end goal, don’t worry… It might just take a bit longer.

I reached my end goal in time for a good “patatje met”!

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I can see myself going on more “Without-a-map” trips. Getting lost, finding hidden paths and exploring unknown territories that might just be around the corner. But for now Ill keep my maps in my cupboard and don’t burn them yet!

Without-a-map: Day 2 … to .

This story is about my attempt to travel from Maastricht (NL) to Coo (BE) and back in 3 days, without a map. Maybe you want to read the first part or maybe you want to know why I do this. But for you who keep on reading I can tell you how I woke up from the last night. Full with energy, and ready to cycle to Coo! At this point I didn’t really know where I was, but knew which village I wanted to go to. Directly I knew asking people for directions was the best thing to do. Now my French is really bad. Or, better to say, there is no French. So it would be a matter of talking with my hands and feet. Within 2 hours I was on 180 degree curves going up, and I knew it was the right direction.

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At 9 in the morning I started cycling because I had no idea how far it would be towards Coo. The day before I just cycled 2 hours, and crossed the same bridge 4 times, so of this 2 hours, 1,5 was really cycling… I HAD to reach Coo quite early today, otherwise I wouldn’t get my deadline of being back in Maastricht at 16:00 the next day. The hills were getting steeper, the forrest became more dense and i noticed the area just became more beautiful. Things were going well!

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The map I’ve drawn for myself was working pretty well. In every village I asked a person for the next village and how to get there. Mostly I pointed to the way I thought was right, and said the name of the village, with a question mark behind it. That seemed to work pretty well. The best thing was that all the villages seemed to be just 3 or 4 kilometers apart! This meant I rapidly from place to place on my map, and if nothing weird would happen I might arrive in Coo in the evening!

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It was a bit further then I thought and saw that it was not possible to get to Coo in the evening. This evening I wanted to have a nice place to make a camp, somewhere in the forrest, and I wanted to make camp before darkness would fall. There is nothing nastier then setting up camp in the pitch black darkness. By this time I was in the true ardennes, and knew there must be beautiful places to camp. I set off to the forrest, made camp, cycled a bit around and sat down for a well deserved glass of wine. I cycled 11 hours up and down in the hot autumn sun, and was exhausted but satisfied. In one and a half day I almost reached my destination without a glimpse on a real map!

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Tonight would be a meal of kings, made on my little stove. Bacon, beans, onion, carrots and spicy sauce. It smelt really good, and I think I was not the only one who thought that… It was pitch black dark at the place where I set camp, and all of a sudden I heard a loud roar about 50 meters away. The roar went trough my bones and all my senses were immediately working for the whole 100 percent. I heard the animal walking, and don’t know why but I turned off my headlight. Now I was sitting in the pitch black dark, and couldn’t see anything! The animal came closer and closer, and I felt my heart beating in my throat! After some seconds I heard the animal was so close, so I turned my light back on, and shone the animal straight in the eyes. It was a huge red deer! It wasn’t further then 10 meters away from me, and when I stood up, the deer slowly walked away… Now I don’t have any experiences with these kind of animals, but when you’re alone in the forrest, in the middle of nowhere, it makes your heart pump faster! For the night I decided to put my bike in front of my bivouac so no animal could get in, and I had at least some feeling of safety.

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It was pretty easy to find my way towards Coo. Everything just took a little more time, since I had to ask people for direction every 30 minutes. And in French. But it worked out, the people where helpful and somebody even drew me a map of how to get to the next village. It seemed traveling without a map wasn’t too bad, as long if you find your own way to get around.

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I would reach Coo, thats for sure, but would i make it back in time? Two days were left, and for sure I wasn’t taking the same way back! But that will be for the next time!

Without-a-map: Day 1, Maastricht to …?

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Imagine: you have no map but you need to go south. There is a river going south, but the road just stops and ends up in a garden. You bike back. No, now you go north. Trying numerous ways to go south, but the road only leads you north or east. You have no map, and the only guideline you have is the river, but there is no way to follow it… And then…?

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The weather was good, the autumn is coming so I decided to squeeze in a small adventure before its too cold or rainy to sleep outside. I had the idea to travel Without-a-map. Why? You can read that here. After 4 and a half hour ride to the Limburg (Maastricht to be precisely) I arrived at the train station around 16:30, armed with a compass, a book and some pencils. Just 3 hours before the sun would set and darkness would kick in. Walking around the station I quickly found a map of the area, and made my own little drawing of it. The city was devided by a big river, “The Maas” and I saw it went south. That’s where I needed to go! So I followed the river, after taking care my (waaay to heavy, who packed all that food?) wouldn’t fall of my bike every 20 meters, and quickly found myself in Belgium. It was relative easy till this point. Just 100 meters into Belgium me and my bike came across a huge highway with a cycling path next to it. Is this the right way? Left or right? This would be a moment one would look on a map to know where to go, but instead I looked at my own made drawing.

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It told me nothing, but my compass told me to go right. There was the river again, with a bridge, so I crossed it and was on my way again. After following the river for some kilometers the path ended, and I had to go into a village. Dusk fell over Belgium and still no place found to make my camp, or a useful way to make a map for myself. Just at the moment that I thought: “shit, I’m never getting out of this village, a bus shelter popped up with a map of the area! Woohoo! With a smile on my face, and renewed energy I quickly found a way to make myself a map.

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My objective for the day was done, making a map that I could use to get to Coo. Now to find a place to make camp for the night. Most of the times the map would provide me with green spots, and I would check it out if its camp-able. In this case it meant biking around till I found a place somewhere. But I had to be a bit quick because it was already getting dark. After biking around for some time (crossing the same bridge 4 times) I found a place next to a construction site. It was a nature area, where lots of beavers also making their camp for the night. Without a map this place was a true discovery. A small lagoon on a place where I already saw myself sleeping on the side of the road…

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In the Beginning of the trip I really felt lost. The uncertainty of not having a map or a orientation point was a bit frightening as well as exciting. The first hours were just about finding orientation points, to see where I actually am, and where I would have to go, to go more south. I was so happy when the map with my beginning point and Coo on it was in the bus shelter! Traveling without a map creates the sense of adventure I’m looking for, the appreciation of small things(like a map in a bus shelter), the uncertainty of where to end up, and how to deal with these kind of situations. Because how do you get to point B when you have no idea where point A is?

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The next days were easier because I made a good drawing, but now the area became really hilly, and there was even an nightly encounter with a curios red deer… But this you can read here!

Without-a-map: Maastricht (NL) to Coo (BE)

Do you know this feeling of being lost? A quick look on the map, or on your phone and you know where you are and which way you have to go, to reach your endpoint. I’ve done this many many times, and every time i reached my endpoint, but now ill do it different. Ill go to Maastricht, in the total south of the Netherlands and find my way to Coo, in the middle of the Belgium Ardennes. Yes, Without-a-map!

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Why would one do this? When you go somewhere, you have a look on the map which way you need to go; you don’t get lost. If you take away the map, you still know where you need to go, but not how to get there; there is now an element of surprise in the adventure. You have to watch your surrounding closer, and you’re delivered to your own navigating skills. I’ve never done this sort of thing before, so for me it’s also a first time. It might be easy, it might be fun, it might be hard and rainy the whole weekend…  Although I think there will be good times in the autumnish forrests of the Belgian Ardennes. Ive set myself some rules, so I would not cycle around in circles for hours and hours on end. The rules are:

- I can use a compass

- I can ask people where to go. (Its in the French speaking part of Belgium, and i speak no French at all!)

- Im allowed to make drawings from maps i see along the road, and from what i can understand from people.

- I want to be back in maastricht at 18:00 monday evening.

Maastricht – Coo is about 60 to 70 Kilometers. It could be a day of cycling, or 3 days of wondering where I am, and how I get to my endpoint… Now you might ask yourself: “why Coo?” Well it’s the first place in my life where Ive been sleeping outside, under the stars next to a waterfall. You can say it’s the place where my love for camping was born. Therefore Ill just take my bivvy bag and a tarp to sleep under.

Next week there will be the conclusion of this autumn adventure. Was it just a stupid idea, and should i get myself a GPS system, or will i burn all my maps and go “Without-a-map” from here on? Maybe ill just keep my maps for the next time…

Here you can read part 1!

We went on a adventure and filmed it. And Then…?

So we went on an adventure. After 6 days we came back, with lots of footage, pictures and pain in our feet and legs… I don’t have the right answers for this thing, there is no right way to do it, only your own way, but in steps i can tell how we did it. Here you can see the film (about 5 minutes) and after this you can read how we managed to do this in just 30 hours.

Step 1 – GEAR

First of all the gear you have is just 50%. Bring what you think is good for your purpose. We wanted to film, but also make pictures for the blog you are reading now. We brought 3 video/picture devices, I brought 1 and Henk 2.

Henk took a Gopro Hero 3 (good for quick pictures and film), a Nikon D3200 with an AF-S DX 18-55mm VR II lens and a long tripod. I brought my canon 60D with an EF-S 18-200m f/3.5-5.6 lens (good for beautiful scenery video’s). Next to this i took my mini tripod, which is easy to set up and very light weight. I didn’t bring my big tripod, as Henk took his. So if you go with a partner in crime, make sure that you don’t take double stuff, to limit the weight!  A microphone could be handy too, because the mics in most camera’s sounds like a tin can. There are some pretty good, cheap and light weight mics available. I would definitely take one the next time! Before you leave, check the battery, check the camera’s and if your tripod is good. Imagine standing at the beginning of a 3 week adventure, and you figure out the battery is still in the charger at home…

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Step 2 – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL?

In the end it’s not so important that you bring the top notch stuff. Nice images look nice, but the main thing is the point of your story. What do you want to tell the people, and how do you want to show it? In most cases of adventure telling the gear is inferior to the story you want to tell. There are good travel movies made with just a gopro, or even a 8 year old handycam.

For us it was a bit of searching to what we wanted to show everybody with our adventure. We knew directly we wanted to give people something, not just make a “look at us” video. The best would be to really know what you want to say with your film, writing or pictures about the trip, but sometimes this changes or you just dont know what you want to tell. That was our case. We knew we wanted to do it, but why…? This we figured out at the next step.

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Step 3 – PRE EDIT WORK

We came home after 6 days, and a couple of days later we both went on vacation with our girlfriends for 3 weeks… Way too long to exactly remeber what we thought at crucial moments, what we filmed and how we felt during the trip. We found the perfect solution to this problem. Take a beer, look at the footage that you shot and take your diary. (Extra tip! It’s always good to have a diary during adventures.) Just a whole evening of talking, making jokes and digging up memories and drinking a little. But we made sure we took our mind off it once in a while. It helps your mind to relax and then the ideas flow in! Late in the night, while drinking a beer and talking about random stuff it came to us: Aren’t we just 2 normal guys in search of an adventure? Yes we are. So now it’s time for the next step.

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Step 4 – EDITING 

We woke up, had a champions breakfast and… No clue where to start… Writing your main goal on a piece of paper and stick it to the screen helps you to find the way when your are lost. Also writing a small set-up of how you want your movie to be works pretty good. It can just be a couple of sentences, but it keeps your focus on the main storyline. This is what we did. Because of this, we forgot ideas that were not so good, and the really good ideas we wrote down to use.

I also think its a good idea to use good editing software. It takes a little time to learn how to work with good editing software, but its worth the time. Youtube is full with tutorials, so that should be no problem. But even when you know the software from inside out, it can take a long time… We started at 3 in the afternoon and finished at 4 in the night. The next day we started at 4 in the afternoon and finished at 6 or 7 in the night. So be prepared for some late night work!

We worked in the “pressure cooker” way. In this way you take a certain amount of time to finish your product. We just had 2 days to finish our movie. This is 48 hours. Because of this time limit we had to make decisions quickly, and we couldn’t stand still at problems for so long. Also because of the time, some things couldn’t be done. But this is just how it is, and in the end we are happy with what we did in these 30 hours. And our square eyes were happy the 2 days were over…

EXTRA TIP: KILL YOUR DARLINGS! Some things you really would like to show, it made a real change in the trip or it was a personal turning point or… But if it doesn’t fit in your storyline, just leave it out. To just quote some famous words: “It is like sculpting an elephant: you chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant and what’s left is an elephant.” I guess its the same with editing. Take everything away that doesn’t tell your story. What is left, is the story.

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Step 5 – ONLINE WARFARE

For us the goal was to reach as many people as possible with our film. We wanted to inspire people to go on an adventure and show that we are just ordinary guys, no athletes or supermen; we could be your neighbors, including loud music till 6 in the morning! To reach lots of people, we put it in lots of groups that are: or movie related or adventure related. Then you directly find the people who are interested in it. Use groups, ask friends to share and after 2 weeks post it some more. Send it to people you think they would like to see it. Are you interested in survival, did you make a survival video and is Bear Grills your idol? Send it to him.

Some time ago I made a short documentary about my first long distance biking trip. When I sent it to Tom Allen (a top adventurer/cyclist) he asked me to write a guest post on his blog. Because of this my film still gets hits a half year after it was put on. And next to it I’m pretty proud to write on his blog. You never know what will happen when you put your piece of artwork in the world and show it to the ones you think would be interested in it.

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Step 6 – ENJOY

And now for the nicest bit: sit down and show your mates. Ask for criticism, ask what they liked, and listen good what they say. This is somebody who has no clue about the story you wanted to tell. If they get it, it means you did good! If not, you still did good, you made a personal film! When i heard people say: “Oooh, i would like to do that too” I knew we did good. We wanted to inspire people to just go. And if there is just 1 person in the whole world who really goes i’m happy. If there is just 1 person in the whole world who thinks about going i’m happy. If that person is me, the maker of the film, than i’m happy. It seems that i found something I like, and that is the most important about making and adventure film.

Walking the West Coast – Part 3: The last kilometers.

This is the story of two normal guys in search of a challenge. Maybe you would like to start at Part 1, to read the full story of this beach expedition.

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We woke up in the tent under a house… That was quite unique! This day we had to make lots of kilometers to make up for the hours walking around at the industrial area. We walked, walked and walked more. We made a large amount of kilometers in the morning and went swimming during the day. It was hot again! In the evening we arrived to a special part of our trip. There was no more beach, just a dike to walk on. There was lots of fog which made it very mysterious. It was long ago i walked on grass and when i saw the typically Dutch landscape of cows and fields, i remembered that i was not in a foreign country. Lots of time i had this feeling. The feeling of being in a foreign country on a far away expedition. This feeling has been growing for 5 days now and seeing cows made me realize that it is possible to be on a real adventure in your own country. The feeling of being far away from my house, friends, family and normal life. But far away meant in this case 160 kilometers. As much as we would walk in these 6 days.

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After a well deserved night of rest the we kept on walking. Today would be the day of days! We would make it! We had 20 kilometers left so we could chill a bit, eat ice-cream and swim. A friend of Henk came along for the last 20 kilometers which gave us a new impulse. The whole 5 days where the same, walking through the sand, next to the water with just us both. Now a new person was coming along to celebrate the end with us! In my head there would be marching bands walking with us the last 200 meter, a big pole saying: Den Helder and at least 20 people with flags waving at us. While getting closer to our end goal, we noticed beach poles saying: 2 kilometers to Den Helder. Then 1,5 and 1 kilometer… We were almost there! 6 days of sand, blisters, rain, sun, salt and steps. Lots and lots of steps, and now we were almost there! The next pole said 0,5 km. Almost… We walked trough the shore when i noticed that the beach became a bit smaller. And smaller until it just stopped. We were at the end. No marching band, no people waving flags or cheering. Not even a pole saying “Den Helder”. Just the end of the beach. So apparently that was it… If you walk a marathon you see a finish, if you’re biking you have a destination. If you’re walking the westcoast-beach, the beach just stops. It puts everything in perspective. What i did, felt like my biggest adventure ever done. 6 days of painful legs and knees, sometimes dragging myself trough rain or heat but with my heart full of passion for adventure. All this time i was looking forward to this point. The end: Den Helder. And now I found myself standing next to a little girl making sandcastles and a sunbathing guy. Nobody had any idea what we did, what we went trough, the moments of happiness, misery and realizations. The moments we shared, and the individual moments. We made a trip, and it was OUR trip. The only thing we can do is share this and inspire you to make YOUR own trip.

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We ended the trip at the “Lange Jaap” the tallest cast iron light post of Europe. Now it was time for a well deserved beer and food. The fact that the beach just ended and there was no mark on the beach made me think about the saying: “Its not about the destination, its about the trip” and for me that’s 100% true!

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Some people called us crazy, some called us brave and others gave us hot chocolate and tips where to camp. We were not trained nor did we expect how it would be. The only thing we have is a passion for adventure and this is the most important. It was the passion that drove us from Hoek van Holland to Den Helder… And a huge amount of muesli bars!

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This thursday the short film about the trip will be released. Keep your eyes on this site if you dont want to miss it!

Walking the Westcoast – Part 2. Rain, sun and a huge thunderstorm…

This is the story of 2 guys walking 160 kilometers of beach in 6 days. It was hard but rewarding. A real beach expedition in a country 99% man made.

Maybe you would like to start at the beginning with Part 1. Here you can find part 1.

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We were 3 days into the expedition now, and on our 3rd day the weather was even worse. Our clothes were not really dry from the rain the day before so with shirts of made out of garbage bags under our jackets we left to the sandy battlefield to battle against the wind and the rain. And we were winning the battle! Fueled by muesli-bars, music and the will to go on we marched on! This day was about perseverance. Just going forwards. My knees hurterd, i had blisters, my shoes were wet but my mood was good. Step by step we dragged ourselves trough the wind, rain and seawater. Maybe i exaggerate a little but i was really dragging myself from trashcan to trashcan. When i passed one i thought: at the next one i will stop for a moment. But i didn’t, and i kept on walking. When we saw the sign saying: “Zandvoort” (we wanted to go to a camping for a nice shower and the world cup soccer game) we were happy like a german soccer fans. These are the moments where i thrive. Wet, cold, in the middle of -what seems to be- nowhere dragging a 20 KG cart trough the sand. These extreme conditions make me feel alive and give me a burst of energy. And this is exactly what adventure is about and what i needed at this moment of our adventure to make it. Giving up didn’t came in my mind for one second, that would be the next day…

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On the 4th day the weather was good again. Sun, low tide and smiling beach guests. At this day we had to cross a industry area in the city of Ijmuiden, so we asked some native west-coasters for the best route. It seemed like there was no best route so we had to find our own way trough the industry area.…  For what seemed to be hours and hours we were walking past steaming factories as people in cars stared at us. It was hot, my knees were hurting badly, exhaust fumes from passing cars and trucks, pumping factories and no end in sight. This was the moment i almost broke and said: screw it, i quit!! But then again, if i would quit, where would i go? We were in the middle of a huge industrial area… I had to walk further, and next to this, isn’t going on a adventures expedition a way to meet yourself? A way of seeing what you’re capable of, pushing your limits and sometimes looking over the edge? For me it was the moment i looked over the edge. Four hours walking trough a industrial area, getting lost, lost and a bit more lost but in the end finding our way back. Oh how happy we both were to hear the familiar sound of waves and seagulls again! The smell of the sea, and the smell of victory over a industry area. Now its back to the beach, the simplicity of walking in a straight line towards Den Helder.

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That evening we put our tent in the dunes, with nature as far as the eye could see! What a contrast of some hours before! This endless nature is pretty uncommon in The Netherlands so we enjoyed the view, chilled and went to sleep. In the middle of the night i woke up and saw a continues stream of lightning trough the tent. I looked outside and there was a huge thunderstorm coming our way! I directly went out with a sleepy head and checked how safe we were. While Henk checked the weather on his phone I noticed that we were on the highest dune with our tent… Two choices. Stay and try to sleep, or break up the tent and go to some beach houses we saw earlier. It was 3 in the night so then the best thing to do is to pack up everything and put down the tent somewhere else. But it was also the safest thing to do. While we were walking in the dark we could see the thunderstorm over the sea and we knew we made the right decision.

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The next 2 days would be crucial; would we make it in 6 days? Would the blisters keep us down? Read it in the next part!

Walking The West Coast – Part 1

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Many people travel for hours and hours to get to an exotic country for hiking or climbing, rafting running or biking. I would really like to do this, but since there is a lack of money for plane tickets in my wallet i have to find alternatives. I live in a country that’s made for 99% by humans and sadly enough there was no space for a 6 day hiking trip through Mountains. So i looked around for what we do have, 160 kilometers of beach for example! When i realized this my feet directly started itching… I got in contact with my partner in crime Henk and we made arrangements for a week long beach expedition in this man-made country which is The Netherlands. We would walk from Hoek van Holland to Den Helder. To do this we got a cart from WORM ROTTERDAM, good hiking socks and energyfood from ANTILOPE and bivvy bags from SIPS DUMP.

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After 4 hours in the train we were standing on the beach in Hoek van Holland, ready to go! We pushed the cart in the sand and realized: damn, its not going to be as easy as we thought! The wheels were not rolling through the deep sand and it was hard to pull the cart with the handles. We made a rope construction to pull the cart and we made our way to the shore. Now everything became much easier! It was low tide, so lots of shore to walk on, although i knew soon it would be high tide…

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Just 3 hours into the walk i looked back and saw Hoek van Holland, our starting point. And i saw it pretty good… What?! We’ve been walking for 3 hours now and it looks like we just walked 15 minutes! This was the moment i realized what we were doing.Pulling a cart for 160 kilometers through the sand. Smelling the salty sea for 6 days, the constant sound of waves, high and low tides, seagulls and sand in our shoes, hair and everywhere else…I thought we would never make it in a tempo like this and untrained. Although i wasn’t planning to give up! After 25 kilometers we decided it was enough for the first day and searched for a place to camp in the dunes. Just before we found our place the handle of the cart broke. A solution with a little rope would do it for now… Exhausted as we were, we put up the tent and had a beer… These are the moments of total relaxation and satisfaction.

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Was the first day sunny and with a low tide, the second day wasn’t… Wind, rain, high tide and hardly any shore to walk on. 100% the opposite of the previous day! We walked slow, through the salty water with strong headwinds and bad visibility. After walking two hours through this tough weather we saw a beach club, but it was closed. Although i saw some movement inside. There were people! I knocked on the door and asked if we were allowed to dry and regenerate a bit inside the club. We needed this so badly, and i think it showed. Like two wet cats we dripped in and sighed when we sat down. We must have looked terrible, because we got free drinks and some free snacks! Wow, we never asked for this, but the people of beach club De Golfslag were nice enough to help us a bit!

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We managed to walk about 20 kilometers this day and after putting up our tent we directly ducked in our sleeping bags. I was looking forward to this for some hours already. Being warm and dry. This was the day where our beach walk became a real adventure. With the stormy beach deserted and low visibility i was constantly searching for signs of life. A kitesurfer in the distance meant there was SOMETHING. Maybe an open beach bar where they could offer us some hot drinks or even a closed place where we could sit out of the rain and wind. I was really feeling like in a wet dutch desert.

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On the 3rd day the weather was even worse… But there was also sun, an huge industrial area to wonder trough and an unsuspected thunderstorm! Read it now in the part 2.

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