It’s dark, cold and the sky is full of stars. The sleeping bag is keeping me warm, and I feel like being in a warm cocoon. I know I’m all alone; there are just trees, some small animals here and there, a little wind and the only sound I hear are the birds and the occasional owl. This is one of the reasons why I go on adventures, to be in the middle of the nature.
A little over a month ago I went on a 450 km rollerblade adventure, in the midst of winter with a backpack and a tent. From the most eastern part of the Netherlands to the most Western part, 450 km in 14 days. It was a great trip. It was difficult by times, but I have good memories about it. One of the best memories is just a random one: I was laying around in my tent when I realized that I was looking up constantly, gazing at the stars. Everybody has been sitting in a chair or laying on the grass, at least once in their lives, staring at the stars for hours. All these tiny points, millions, are planets. So far away. And we are here, on this planet with our amazing landscapes. Natural landscapes that we mostly take for granted and that we only notice when we’re in the middle of them. Now I am in the middle of it, and I can feel that.
The first night of my trip there was a small forrest next to a big lake. There was a road close by and I could hear people sometimes. It was not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but after 2 hours of not hearing people, having a small fire and looking over the water it felt like the middle of nowhere. Some people are scared to sleep alone in a forrest in a small tent; I can imagine, but for me there is no feeling of getting closer to nature then laying around in it. Witnessing the silence of a small forrest, the crackle of a fire and the fresh outside air makes me feel alive. I strongly have the feeling this is good for the mind and the body and after a night of sleep in the fresh air I have energy for two! But that might also be the strong morning coffee… I’ve been basically living outside in a tent for 2 weeks and when I came home after the adventure a lot of people around me were getting sick. I thought that I would be prone to be sick after sleeping in -7C on the ground but no, it seems being in the cold makes you harder! One reason why adventure is good for you; fresh air and exercise makes you as strong as the hulk!
Every evening I would search a beautiful a place for my tent. A place well hidden from people and surrounded by trees. It might be a place where somebody would walk their dog, a place where a family would have a picnic. For me it’s a place for the night. A little piece of nature that I can enjoy while laying in a tent cooking a small plate of food. Every place is different, every place had their own sounds, skies and sunsets. In Zeeland there was fog and everything was frozen in the morning, Bleskensgraaf where there were icy winds, a beautiful sunrise and thousands of geese swarming and making noises. The forests of the Veluwe where there were signs of wild boars (and the fear they would steal my food) and the swamps of Zandgracht. These are just small places, but seeing these places with adventurous eyes, makes them special.
After being out and about after a couple of days I feel I become a bit wilder. My hands get more dirty, I’m more used to the cold and my face gets a reddish color. My head gets into a outdoors mode. When I wake up, the first thing I notice is the wind. Is there lots of it? Will be be headwinds today? How are the clouds looking? Will there be rain coming up, or maybe even snow? And how strong is the sun today? At every place that I camped I listen to the animals; are there the same birds? Do I hear foxes or are there animals creeping and crawling? How is the ground where I want to put my tent? What kind of plants grow here? (haha, none! It was winter) All these things combined makes you more wild, more natural, because you are depended from your surrounding.
After 2 weeks skating, camping in the bush and drinking strong coffee I reach my goal, the border with Belgium. Tired and satisfied I start to walk to the town, where I will hope to find a nice place to put my tent for the night. There is nothing, except for farmers fields, and not the ones with nice grass, but the ones with clay and mud… I decide to go to a campsite, jump the fence and put my tent up. This action fits the next 12 hours. Sitting in the train going home, feeling dirty, smelly, sticky but above all wilder then before.