at the refuge Kamenna Chata, with the Chopok (2023m)
I have always enjoyed walking and hiking, as a physical excercise. The aspect to make a physical performance in the most basic way of getting around known to man attracks me a lot. I have always hiked, in the Netherlands as well as abroad (in the Alps!) The disadvantage of a lot of hikes that I have made, was that I often finished at the starting point. Due to this I often had the feeling I missed a part of the excitement, as a part of the hike was “known” territory, I knew how the finish would look like.
In 1993 I started to dream about a Long-Distance-Hiking-Trail. As the Netherlands is only a very small country I decided that a European Hiking Trail would match better with my ambitions. I intended, due to a busy social life, to hike the Trail not in one big tour, but in bits and pieces. This would enable me to approach this as a huge project, in which I could put a lot of time and effort. A visit to Pied-a-Terre in Amsterdam (a wellknown roadmap shop) made it clear to me that there were more than 10 European Hiking Trails. I was most impressed by the E1. This Trail starts in Norway at Northcape, en continues through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland to Italy to finish at Sicily. All together some 6000 kilometers, and undoubtedly very worthwhile. The disadvantage for me as a hiker from the Netherlands is that every time a stage will be hiked there is very substancial travel has to be done to go to the starting point and return home after the finish. This is a lesser problem for the European Hiking Trails that cross the Netherlands. In these cases a Dutch hiker has the advantage that a least some stages can be hiked close by, before arriving far and away. The E-path that looked best suitable to me was the E8; it started (in those days) in my hometown-at-the-time Amsterdam and it finished (in those days) in Vienna, the capital of the country where a part of my ancestors come from.
As I didn’t know anybody with whom I could execute a project like this, I had two options: either don’t do it, or do it by myself. Without hesitance I decided to go for the second option. I bought the guide which is (to date) the gospel of the E8, written in German language by Gert Trego. He hiked the entire Trail from Amsterdam to Vienna in in 1986 in 89 days.
In January 1994 I started hiking along the E8. In the beginning my stages were small, approx. 25 to 30 kilometers. As the travel time increased and became more substancial I also increased my daily performances. In the south of Germany I have hiked several days (far) more than 50 kilometers. Regardless how satisfactory it is to make such long days, I always tell myself to make less extensive days and to take more time to enjoy being on the Trail. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, this is hard for me to do; I often hike by myself and I am only alone when I stop to have a break and find that there is no one to talk to. Who knows, perhaps I will learn, ever! I still have a long way to go, because in the meantime the E8 is extended with Trails in Ireland and England, and with a crossing of Slovakia and Poland. And since I am on my way anyway, let’s explore these new territories as well!
Thanks for visiting my website. All the pictures are made by myself, most of them during my hikes but I have also shot a few at later occiasions. I hope you enjoy learning about my experiences. Perhaps you can use some of them yourself, the next time you are on your way to the horizon . . . .