The next morning I woke up early because my hosts had to go to work. I had the weirdest dream ever about my hometown turning into a war zone where rival streetgangs were duking it out. I would like to remind you that my hometown was nominated as the safest town in 2014 so there really isnt any reason for this. I also dreamt memories into the dream which was weird. Not smoking weed really gets you going in the dreaming department..
I went inside the house and there was a basket filled with all kinds of goodies, as well as a basket full of cleanerish/freshish laundry that dried during the night in front of the fireplace. I ate and I went back to sleep since my calves were still hurting like hell.
When I did finally woke up I felt revitalized. My calves were easing up and I just reckoned I had a bit of a salt deficiency. Maybe also walking 15km through dark woods in the evening had something to do with it as well.
I went on my way and the road was quaint, sat at the Smallest Cafe in Sleen for a quick tea and continued on. Slept in a field near Coevorden. The next day I was going to buy a new leash for Lucy at the pet store there. The lady was very friendly and she gave me a couple of snacks for Lucy to take along as well free of charge < 3. I walked until Hardenberg, I had family living there I remember from visits when I was young but we didnt really keep in touch and you cant just be popping in all bummy and shitty. I put my tent up in a secluded spot. The next day Ommen was the next stop and just barely went over it, it was already getting dark and there was this tower off in the distance sticking out above the trees. I climbed the stairs and I was tired as hell and decided to sleep there.. It just looked too romantic to pass up on and maybe I just played too many video games in general. THIS WAS A STUPID IDEA. Not only was it windy. Every now and again rain would also just blow into the tower (that didnt have anything blocking the wind except for a wood panel here and there). Still I managed but I woke up at some point during the night and I felt like I was on fire, not really but a weird tingly, burning sensation got a hold of me, like a hotflash. I closed up my sleeping bag again (no idea how it got open). Still slept quite good with weird dreams and everything.
The next morning some lovely tourists woke me up as the whole tower was shaking, the look on their faces was pretty priceless being surprised anybody was up there. Yea I felt like a real hobo now. Fucking idiot sleeping 50m above the ground in this weather? What the fuck..
I couldnt care less, strapped on my boots and ate some of the food that I carried along on a bench below the tower. There was about a 5 degrees difference with upstairs, what the hell was I thinking..
Continued down the path until the nearest cafe where I had a tea to warm up. The bar was an old inn where knights back in the day would used to gather to discuss political matters. Quite intriguing, I chatted a bit with the owner and he also gave some snacks for Lucy to take along. I must say that this part of the Netherlands is actually pretty nice nature wise. Never had I walked here or just strolled around and now I was walking across meadows and forests and it all had a very Dutch aftertaste (with trashcans everywhere/roadsigns/people) but still it was nice to have a little bit of a change of scenery. I continued down the road until I got to Lemele, there was an old lady sweeping up the acorns of her driveway and I asked if she could refill my waterbottle, she politely told me to walk along into her house which I found a bit gullible be it in a very sweet way. She also told me the bar was closed and when I asked for a supermarket she said they had one but it closed down..Yea it was that kind of village. I sat at the bar anyway and brewed a nice coffee for myself anyway. After Lemele I went through fields and I could see rainclouds in the distance and birds flying overhead from the dark cloud, I looked at where the wind was coming frommmmmmmandyeaaaaaaa.. I wasnt going to dodge this motherfucker. As I took shelter at a tree I did find out that my mexican blanket actually fitted under my jacket, so there was a silver lining to this dark cloud. The rain was so bad that soon the tree wasnt good enough and I walked to a B&B that was advertised on a tree I passed earlier. I asked the owner if I could put up my tent in the yard but she kept repeating that shes not a campsite, I understand you honey, your lawn probably isnt big enough (badam tss).. I stayed and sheltered on her patio until at some point her husband arrived at the house and he offered to take me to a campsite about 2-3 km away, which of course Im not going to turn down when its pouring rain.
The owners of the campsite offered me a coffee straight away which was very nice and as Im doing a quick handwash the owner comes in and tells me that I could stay in the recreation room if I wanted. There, I was absolutely raped by mosquito’s, tried putting my scarf over my face but it didnt help one bit. Finally put up my tent and put the pegs in between some of the tiles that had a little space in them to create a sort of makeshift mosquito net, this worked out pretty well and I could hear the little bitches buzzing around.
The next day of course everything was still wet and I needed to wait for my clothes to dry. I wasnt planning on going that far so I had time. A friend was going to pick me up for Castle Weekend and we decided that Zwolle was the best place for a quick pickup. That means that I only needed to go to Hellendoorn today which was only about 10km out. Eventually left with wet socks on but they were mostly dry.. Went to the church in Hellendoorn to get a stamp but its just practically impossible to find a church thats open on a daily basis in the Netherlands.
I was going to take the train from Nijverdal which is attached at the hip to Hellendoorn. I thought it be better if I slept in or near Hellendoorn and take the train the next day instead of going with the train now and then finding a place to sleep in Zwolle in the dark.
Between Hellendoorn and Nijverdal was a cemetery. Now this may sound weird but cemeteries are great places to wild camp. They have water, usually a grass field (no not on where they spread the ashes lol) and its usually pretty secluded. Without overcoming the stigma of sleeping on or near a cemetery its going to be very hard getting through France and I had already grown numb to the experience, of course youre going to be slightly on edge due to all the horror movies and just the general eeriness of the place. At the cemetery I found an old workbench in a sort of garden shack. This would do for tonight although I didnt feel very comfortable with last nights rape still fresh on my mind.
Just as it was getting dark, I walked over the cemetery calling friends and I saw a light pop up at the info booth.. I went to investigate and I found that they had a handicap toilet that was still open, it was connected to the info booth so it stayed pretty warm and I would have water and a toilet, I already took a #2 this afternoon so Thank the Lord I wasnt going to have to take a dump in my makeshi(f)t bedroom.
Almost no one visits cemeteries nowadays so the place was spotless and it wasnt like I had to eat off the floor or anything.
The next day I took the train to Zwolle where my friend picked me up and we drove to Utrecht to pickup another friend. This weekend we had the Castle booked and it was going to be nice to spend a little time in absolute, fucking decadent, luxury. Not sure if I was going to continue after that yet but I just had to see how things went and how I felt. Building a couple of fires in one of the 13 or so fireplaces, scattered across the mansion, would probably be good for healing.
So by no means Im an expert but the Pieterpad is definitely something that I want to return to someday. The Netherlands in general has a lot more to offer in terms of walking than I held previously possible and I feel kind of stupid admitting this since its my fucking home country. The people were friendly and warm. The weather was absolute shit even though I got pretty lucky, only having to put on my poncho on the 3rdactual day of walking.
There is however enough time to do this one day and still walking through the Netherlands felt weird in itself, because it doesnt feel like youre abroad.
If were talking numbers then I did about 11 stretches totaling ≈160 Kilometers. Today was the 10th and I officially left on the 2nd of October, not particularly fast, not particularly slow. My blisters were already pretty healed up and I felt good enough to go. Although it was really fucking cold during the nights. I felt good but also a little bit depressed because of just general contact depravation. Thank God I had a couple of good friends that I talked to on the regular, not to mention my family as well. Having Lucy with me was of course also a tremendous benefit. I just noticed that I didnt describe how she felt once and thats because she was fully back in the zone from the moment we left, its like we never even took a 5 year interlude and she was 10m ahead of me the entire way. Maybe thats also the answer to my lonely state – Just follow doG!