a beautiful day

When we get up this morning the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud to see in the sky! We decide on a 15 km walk right on the border with Germany, once again from the ‘Pleasure Walks’ book/website. We drive through Eupen (listening to ancient Pure Music cd’s – or rather the Spotify playlist somebody has helpfully made) and take the smallest possible road to the starting point, right through the northern edge of the Hoge Venen nature reserve. A lot of walking in this neighborhood, I think, we see a few cars parked left and right, their owners probably off into the woods or bogs. We park around 10:30 at the Freischützengesellschaft. You see these clubs now and then in Belgium and Germany, I think they’re about marksmanship with bow and arrow, honestly I’m not sure, but in any case it’s not relevant for our plans today.

It’s about 9° C when we set off, so we put on an extra layer and disappear into the woods ourselves. Again with the asphalt roads, I don’t get it! We deviate immediately and use the map to find smaller trails in the right direction, following more or less the tiny Weser river, which seems too small to fill up the Wesertal reservoir a few kilometers away. Perhaps it’s our innovative navigation techniques, but we encounter very few other hikers at the start. Admittedly, path finding is not going smoothly, perhaps we’re simply a bit off and everybody is flocking down the proper path a few hundred meters away. Nevermind, we’re enjoying the solitude, the sun and the music of the wind and river. It’s a beautiful walk, especially in this sunny weather. We have an early lunch (with extra tomato today) at an actual picnic bench, the first we’ve encountered this holiday.

We continue more or less in the right direction, slugging through the mud, hopping over rivulets on stepping stones and checking now and then on the navigation app to see if we’re not deviating too much. We keep our eyes peeled for deer, boar or any wildlife really, but see nothing except a very few tiny birds. We take a break at the edge of the bog, I can almost feel the vitamin D production boosting up. A bit more hikers here, we must be back on the main track. This is the highest point of the tour, so as we start circling back to the car, we descend back into the humid valleys. There used to be a small settlement here until the 1960’s, when it was expropriated by the government for the safety of the Wesertal reservoir, as it’s used to produce drinking water. The settlement was so isolated that one winter they had to airdrop emergency supplies by helicopter, but now there’s only a few walls and a memorial chapel. Down we go, squelching through the mud. Arne sees a kingfisher flitting away, but I’m just to late and I miss it. I put the zoom lens on my camera while we take a break (another picnic bench, it’s amazing!), but it doesn’t return. I do manage to take a few nice pictures of a bird of prey further on, but still no luck with the larger mammals, though we stop frequently to gaze at the valley slopes.. The sun is low and the valleys are already in the shadow, though the tree tops remain beautifully lit, very picturesque.

Shopping, showering, pizza for dinner and then cookies for dessert. We’ve started on nineties rock: K’s Choice, Garbage, The Cranberries, Tori Amos, Skunk Anansie. Nation’s League (soccer – Belgium vs Denmark) as entertainment later this evening. Tomorrow is a rainy day, plus we’re getting a bit achy, so we’re planning to not carry a backpack anywhere. The weatherman reports that this is the warmest 18th of November since 1926.

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