I was out in Sarek national park in Arctic Sweden when my hiking partner told me about a trail spanning the length of New Zealand. The seed for long-distance hiking was planted then and there, at the same time when I decided I aspired to spend my life in the outdoors. One year later I was aboard a plane headed for the land of the long white cloud. Crossing Aotearoa would be my first long distance hiking project.
It took me five and a half months to complete Te Araroa, New Zealand’s long pathway. During that journey I encountered the right people who inspired me to keep looking beyond the horizon: on day one a Great Himalaya Trail veteran crossed my path, and I would share huts with several people who completed the Bibbulmun trail. One afternoon I found myself thinking about crossing Norway, and a few hours later a rough plan was laid out. The end of Te Araroa left a taste for more exploration, more long distance hiking, and bigger challenges. After finishing Te Araroa PJ and I continued to walk 1000km in West Australia that same year. The Bibbulmun track did not bring a bigger challenge, though it did stir the hiker hunger.
In 2016 we teamed up with Marylene, a good friend from New Zealand, for an expedition on the Great Himalaya Trail. It took us nearly two years to prepare for the trip. We flew out to Kathmandu in the autumn of 2017. During the four months we spent in the Himalaya we were forced to vary between the lower and higher routes as the circumstances dictated, and made the third ever crossing of the country in winter. Our highest point lay at Sherpani Col, 6180 meters above sea level. My time in the Himalayas was strenuous. I left with an injured ankle and had a near-fatal accident while abseiling down from Sherpani Col. I walked on for 2 weeks with a severe concussion. The expedition broke my relationship with PJ and I was mentally shattered by the end of it. Yet it was an incredible trip too: we got to experience true Nepali hospitality and spend so much time in the midst of the might of the Himalaya. I would put myself at the starting line again in a heartbeat.
Crossing Norway (Norge på Langs) is a plan currently in the pipeline that will hopefully unfold in the autumn and winter of 2018. After reaching Lindesnes we might continue on bike to my hometown in Belgium. Originally, this was the plan: to start at Nordkapp and go all the way home. Because of jobs and the short timespan to save up for the project it is currently unclear whether or not we will pursue this final part. It’s an open end and we will take it as it comes along the way.
Like many great ideas, the Great Himalaya Trail was born over beers in a bar. Robin Boustead and Jamie Mcguiness dreamed of a trail connecting the existing tracks, making it possible to cross the Himalayas from east to west. Many said it was impossible. But as the GHT has proven to its creators and many… Continue reading Great Himalaya Trail
“Norge på langs” is a classic among the European long distance trails. The route runs through the Norwegian mountains from Nordkapp to Lindesnes and is approximately 2800km long. On average a through-hike takes anywhere from three to five months. After reaching Lindesnes we wanted to hop on the ferry to Denmark and continue on bikes to… Continue reading Norge på Langs
Te Araroa, “The Long Pathway”, is a 3000+km long hiking trail spanning New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff. After several decades of struggle for land acces and funding the trail officially opened in 2011. In October 2014 we set ourselves the challenge to walk it all the way from its northernmost to its southernmost point. Crossing Aotearoa… Continue reading Te Araroa
The Bibbulmun Track is an achieveable goal for many people wanting to embark on a through-hiking adventure. If you are looking for a more back-country version of the camino, without losing too much in comfort, this is the perfect track for you. If you are out to roam across wild lands, there are probably better… Continue reading Bibbulmun Track