June 15, 2009

the utrechtse heuvelrug

despite the drizzle since morning, 19 brave souls and dog were found when noses were counted at the Driebergen-zeist station for this Netherlands Adventurers group hike.

onion smiles

rightaway we plunged into the woods, braving occasional droplets, along a partially cemented track. The woods - mostly elms and pines and oaks - seemed quite old but apparently it wasn's really virgin forest; the land had been part of several family estates, before becoming a national park in 2003.

our intrepid teamleader Carly (with umbrella). she worked hard to make sure we didn't take too many wrong turns

it seems the entire area had been deforested around the 15th c. to make grazing land for cattle and esp. sheep (whose sh.t - ahem - manure was much in demand). In the 17th c. some of it became a tobacco farm. In the 19th c., demand for timber resulted in reforestation. Today there are 27 estates within the national park.

at one point we crossed a cement embankment - apparently it had been a railway platform once upon a time, when a resident family installed a private railroad for their personal pleasure.

by far the most energetic member of the group was paul and baida's beagle Balu, who kept straining at her leash throughout the trip

Our first break was at a large stretch of sand which was a bit of a surprise this far from the sea.

as we walked, we talked. there were a good number of academics and intellectual interests in the group. as we were walking i got to discuss resonance in computer networks with christian from delft; impending trips to darjeeling and nepal with "in a jiffy" alex; brain transplants and immigration with baida; kayaking and bicycling and statistical information retrieval with eugen; infant cognition and attention with dorothy; the falling markets for corporate insurance with paul...

we stopped at the small village of austerlitz where we ate our snacks and most people had coffee but i managed to expand on my inventory of ales tasted with the belgian "la chouffe".

the woods looked darker and deeper in the moist sunlight

nearing maarn, we crossed a small round structure with classical columns. a woman standing outside turned out to be the maarn-based artist mijpe, she said she'd lived six years in bhutan, and we fell talking. the romantic structure in the middle of lush greenery was her studio - how fortunate! it was called Koepel van Stoop, and had been a tea house (the columns were from the demolished Koopmans exchange building in Amsterdam).

while talking to mijpe about her art and the ownership of the parklands and history, the group had long vanished from sight.

fortunately, I was able to catch up soon enough...

our third break of the trip; at a bluebell patch near the manor.

at one point while we were taking a break near a paddock, a horse came by and checked us out, much to balu's delight.

it took us another hour or so to get to maarn. after five hours of walking through the mud, we didn't find the prospect of maarn's single chinese restaurant too alluring. we got onto the train and dispersed like woodland seeds...


a marker along the path

eugen near the manor

what eugen was shooting above
bluebell flowers

raindrops on petals ...

1 comment:

  1. That is a wonderful story!
    Thank you for your great company and spirit during the hike. Hopefully we can enjoy meeting and talking with you on our ext hike.
    Don't forger the wine!