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Saturday, September 8, 2012

From Van Coevoorden to Vancouver!

The footsteps of the ladies who started the trail.
Day 6
One of the longer day hikes: 24 km from Schoonlo to Sleen. The forecast was for rain, but it stayed dry all day and what a day it was. Beautiful forests, nice heather fields, lots of variety and few people.
I passed the memorial for the two ladies who, in the 70's and 80's, not only came up with the idea for the trail, but made it happen and described it for 90% of the route. Later a hiking/nature club took on the responsibility to maintain and promote the trail. The two ladies reminded me a lot of my mother and her friend Aunt Tine, who also hiked together for much of their lives.
A little further down the trail was a monument for a British bomber which crashed and burned during the second world war on its way back from a bombing run into Germany. Some teenage boys collected pieces of the plane and built the memorial after the war. Now it has been adopted by a school class nearby and is being maintained by the children.
I ended up in a gorgeous reconstructed bakery in Sleen for the night. Woke up in the middle of the night from rain pelting down on the roof!

B & B was beautiful, nice people, great breakfast:,84

Day 7  - Sleen - Coevorden (21 km)
The rain that fell hard during the night obviously was not enough for mother earth because when I stepped out the door the next day at 9:00 AM it was still pouring. I had a large poncho that even covered my pack, but since it is all plastic it does not breath, so within an hour I was soaking wet on the outside from the rain and on the inside from my own sweat. It turned into a bit of a miserable day because it rained off and on for much of the day. Yesterday the forecast was for rain and it stayed dry, today the forecast was for dry weather and it rained most of the day. I only know of 1 job where you can be wrong more than 50% of the time and still keep your job: weather forecaster.

Usually I love backcountry trails, either grassy areas or sandy, anything but pavement. Today was almost all pavement and since it was so wet, it was not too bad to be walking on pavement since the grassy and sandy paths would be turning to mud. Fortunately there was a place halfway where you are allowed into a shed or workshop and where you can make your own cup of coffee and just leave an euro. Often the trail goes through areas without a cafe or restaurant for 10 or more kms and they have arranged for someone to allow hikers into their shop. They have set it up so that you can heat water and make yourself a cup of coffee. Nice arrangement.
The last few kms that day were a killer. After getting soaked for most of the day, you just want to get to that B&B or hotel and get out of your wet clothes. I made it to Coevorden by 4 PM and into a shower (a warm shower in the hotel).

The next day (the 8th) I gave myself a rest day and stayed in Coevorden. It is an old city started back in the 12th century as the business center for the north eastern part of the Netherlands. An old castle has been totally renovated and now you can stay overnight in it. Beautiful old houses and cafes. A 17th century defensive wall surrounds the old part of the city and there is a Cafe Vancouver. I never knew this, but the forefathers  of Captain Vancouver (for whom Vancouver BC is named) were originally from Coevorden (van Coevorden). More Dutch connections than I ever knew about. That day I managed to do some laundry, tasted several local beers and hit the sack early.

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