#14 Resuming my walk, a brush with danger on the Pieterpad

Pieterpad,  Nijverdaal to Vorden

For the introduction to this (hopefully)490 km journey, please click on the heading,’Walking the Pieterpad’ in the black bar above.

(Well, it is now June 2017. First in June 2015 I broke a bone in my foot, that put an end to long distance walking for awhile. Then at the end of 2015 I went through  major abdominal surgery. Healing from that and the complications (which I’m still dealing with) have stopped me from resuming my walk. But with 290 km to go, I love having that as a goal now, I can walk for an hour and will be building that up until I can manage a whole day. Thanks for reading my Pieterpad posts so far.Wish me luck.)

Ah, it is spring, time to get out on my long distance walks again. And after perusing the long-term weather forecasts, I grabbed a 3 day window of fairly clear weather and set out.
For accommodation and distance reasons, I skipped the 5 km between Hellendoorn (see post #13) and set out from Nijverdaal.

The weather was cloudy but reasonable. But, this time, from the beginning, things were going wrong.I got lost several times, and finding  accommodation for the night was more challenging than usual. It was late in the day when I approached one of Holland’s rare high elevations (Holterberg, ‘berg’ is the word for mountain- well I guess everything is relative 🙂 ) -60m. Below is what you don’t want to see coming toward you when you are alone, without shelter and on an elevation. I took the picture, knowing I was in for something memorable, then I put my poncho on and tried to think of what to do.

approaching storm

approaching storm

One of my women friends is walking the Camino right now,and we’d spoken of my comparatively easy jaunts on the Pieterpad- no climbing, short distances, and of course 3-4 days at a time instead of a month or more of steady walking!

Still, this trip wasn’t without risk. The storm did hit in full fury. I found a grove of young saplings where I hunkered down while the thunder and lightning raged almost directly above me. My position didn’t offer much protection, but it did make me feel less exposed. I think those were the scariest 15minutes I’ve spent in along time. I emerged soaked from the waist down while the thunder was still grumbling in the distance and continued walking.

The sun eventually dried out my trousers, I felt great at having survived it all, and then managed to get turned around, and 2 hours later found myself at the same spot as the photo above!!! It was at this moment I realised that I can’t rely on my lousy sense of direction anymore. I have to learn how to orient. I do have a detailed description of the Pieterpad with me, and the paths are marked, but this section was very badly indicated, and combined with my own lack of navigating skills… well, it was a bad moment.

later, I was in the woods,finally going in the right direction and the rest of the storm front hit but this was milder, and getting soaked no longer bothered me quite as much. Next time bring the rain trousers!

This section of path took me 6 hours instead of the  2-3 it should have taken. I haven’t built up good condition yet, so I was well beyond my physical limits by the time I got into Holten. The only B&B  I had been able to book was 5km further. No way. I took a taxi, luckily there was a company operating from here.

Later I heard that tragically, two twenty year old girls had sheltered from the hail under a tree in a park not far from where I had been, in the same storm, and they were killed instantly by lightning.

This overshadowed the rest of my walk. The next two days were dryer, though with aching muscles, not what I would call easy. I finally hit my stride in the afternoon of the 3rd day, but by then it was time to take the train back to Groningen.

Here is a visual impression. Vorden is the midpoint of the Pieterpad, I am now in Gelderland, having left the province of Overijssel. And ready to start the second half (about 290km to go).