[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ext week I will leave to the USA to hike the PCT. I tried to do some training. Looking at this post I think I did a good job. But feeling my body after the last training I am not so sure about that. And yes I probably could have done more training these last week’s that I have taken off. But taking rest and relax time is also important to me.

This post describes about the most notable hikes I did over the last months (since my plans for the PCT got really real). In September-October I was working in Netherlands and got most weekends off and more spare time in the evenings. In December and January I was working in Azerbeidzjan for 8 weeks. I got three weeks off and did another 4 weeks working in Azerbeidzjan. Now I had 5 weeks off to prepare for the PCT, (and recover from the eye surgery).

7  September 2014, Simonzand Wad Hiking, 1 day, 12 km, Me, Harmen, Merel and Jeroen

On the waddenzee, a sea in the north of the Netherlands it is actually possible to hike across to the islands on a low tide. Our hike (these hikes are always organized and guided) went half way, where somewhere in the middle of sea, a ship was waiting for us to bring us back to port on the high tide. It was a really beautiful hike. Due to slik, soft sediments and water it is a difficult hiking. This I think was my first ‘real’ training hike for the PCT. But actually it was more for fun than it was for training purposes.


20 – 21 September 2014, Weerribben, 2 days, 56 km, Me and Harmen

My boyfriend wanted to know what it would be like to hike for a long day, sleep in a tent, hike another whole day (maybe even three days if the weekend would be longer). This hike was all his idea, and it was good training for me. Even tough a big part of the second day went through a village, not my favorite type of hiking, and we were pretty sore, it was a nice hike. We even saw a snake, I have never seen a snake in the Netherlands before. After the hike my boyfriend was pretty sure he did not want to join me on my hike. He is very supporting though and will visit me at some point.


 13 – 14 February 2015, Lauwersmeer, 2 days, 49 km, Me and Harmen

Harmen and I have a book with short-ish multi-day hikes. This one was high on my wish list. Lauwersmeer is a nature reserve in the north of the Netherlands where I often go for birdwatching.  It had been less than two weeks since my eye surgery so I had to take it easy. Actually I should not bend over nor pick up heavy lifts. Because of this we decided not to sleep in a tent and we rented a lovely little trekking-hut. It had two bunk beds and a attic where we could sleep.

Because I carried a little less weight I figured I could take my binoculars for some birdwatching. I stopped way too often watching at birds in the fields. In total I spotted 62 bird species of which 2 rare species and a 1 new species for my Netherlands list. I am not taking a binoculars on the PCT. I may regret this, but they are really heavy. I will take a camera with lots of zoom, hopefully that will be sufficient.

We had perfect weather during both days. Because of the season it was still very cold outside, so the perfect time to test my brand new Ghost Whisperer down jacket. When we set out very early on the second day, Valentine’s day, the sun rose in shape of a heart.


 5 December – 2 February  and 23 February – 22 March, Training and Work, Just me

When working on a project where I am required to work more than 12 hours a day for 7 days a week, it is very difficult to find time to do some hiking training. My aim is to stay fit. During my first period in Azerbaijan I tried to go for a run regularly. In the hotel I was living in there was a decent swimming pool where I went for a swim approximately twice a week. My second period at work I had a treadmill in the apartment where I lived. I did a lot of walking in the evenings with a loaded pack. I had setup the ironing board as a table for my laptop. I could walk and watch a movie or series. Perfect.

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25 – 26 March 2015, National Park Drentsche Aa, 2 days, 57 km, Me and Harmen

This route goes through the forests, over the moors, along small villages. It is beautiful to hike through the forests in spring time, so many birds are singing. We just lucked out with the weather. It rained most of the first day. I had packed most of my stuff in bin bags but I don’t have a pack-cover so my pack got absolutely soaked. Guess what, few extra grams and I have a mostly dry pack in my tent. My pack normally is my pillow as well, this time it wasn’t. We were sleeping at a very nice campsite. One of the very few that’s open this time of year, most of the campsites open in April, or after Easter. The campsite had a small little hut with toys and information. We were the only guests, which is not surprising as it was approximately 6 degrees Celsius.  In the little hut we could dry all our stuff during the night and eat our dinner, so no wet stuff in the tent. The next morning there were blue skies and the sun came out.

Drenthe has a large number of dolmens (dutch: hunebedden), graves from the stone age. Back in the days people thought the were built by giants (hune), because the stones are so big, however these boulders, left here after the ice age, could be lifted and moved by men using simple tools. Our hike went past xis of these dolmens. some of them big and neat, others looked like a bunch of stones.

For this trip I was wearing my Brooks Cascadias for the very first time. I got some nasty blisters just above my heels, near the Achilles heel, not sure what it is called. I’m just not sure if it were the Cascadias or the fancy shoes that I wore two days earlier, any how, the Cascadias made it worse, even made a bloodstain on the shoe. Strangely the second day the blisters did not get worse. Different way of tying the shoelaces?? Even though it rained, the fact that my shoes are not waterproof did not bother me. I did get some water from brush in the shoes, that is temporary very cold, but not for long. In all, I like my new shoes. And I like that the color matches my blouse.


29 – 30 maart 2015, Gaasterland, 51 km, Just me

One of the books about hiking thought me to try something new on every camping trip you do. This time I had a dehydrated meal with me. I could borrow a dehydrator from a friend, and overnight I dehydrated the spaghetti I made, my dad’s special recipe with peppers, olives and everything. I probably shouldn’t have dried the noodles, but it worked pretty well. I boiled the dried stuff in half a pot of water for maybe three minutes, let it stand for a bit, and it tasted real nice, almost as good as the day before. I had one spare tray, and I dried some banana as well, this was also a real good snack.

So in Drenthe me and Harmen got pretty rained upon. Over the last two days the weather did not improve. I had more and heavier rain this time and, to make it complete, it was a bit stormy. The lady at the campsite thought I was crazy for walking in this weather. I had bought a rain cover for my pack, as I thought this would keep my pack drier. It did not fit my pack real good, it flown of at some point. And my pack still got soaked.  During dinner I tried to dry my sleeping pad. Tent was definitely not dry, neither was my down jacket. Thank god my sleeping bag was in a plastic bag and sort of dry. I must say, the weather put me trough a test and I love my rain jacket. Rain is one of my bigger fears, so with a few more better plastic bags my stuff should stay dry better. I was too lazy and later on too wet to put on my rain trousers. The second day the wind picked up even more. It stormed… And I got to hike over the very exposed dike next to the IJselmeer. I got pushed of the path by the wind several times. The view on the waves of the lake were beautiful though. After Stavoren I missed a road and instead of hiking over the dike I was walking a cycling road through the fields, this felt less windy which was nice.


17 – 18 april 2015, Winterswijk, 48 km, Just me

I wanted to hike this route because in the area of Winterswijk there are eagle-owls (oehoe’s). An owl I would love to see. Sadly the route did not actually pass the spot where the owls are seen most often. So I did not see them. The area I walked through was beautiful though. The route goes on the border of the Netherlands and Germany. The landscape is different to what I am used to, not as level, the small channels in between the fields are streams; small flowing rivers.

Also this time I have had a few new gadgets to test. I bought a fire steel, I was curious how this worked. It basically works like matches only you use a knife/sharp edge and the steel instead of little piece of wood and the cardboard box. However, with the fire steel you just get flaming sparks, not a steady flame. The day before I left for the training I tried the fire steel in the fire place and I managed to make some flames. And on this trip I could light my stove with it. Very exciting. So I will bring my fire steel because it seems to be trustworthy, no problem if it gets wet, and super cool. Also my tiny Swiss army knife gets to serve a real purpose; opening bread rolls, cans and occasionally a bottle of wine are not absolute requirements for hiking in the wilderness.

Next new item; my tent!! Zpacks hexamid solplex. It has arrived, and I brought it on this trip. The beauty of this tent is that it is super lightweight and it can be setup with trekking poles. However it was a difficult tent to setup since I had never setup this tent before. I should have watched the video before I left. The instructions on the paper with the tent were somewhat vague. Apart from one, the guidelines still had to be cut and attached to the tent, I attached one. The one guideline which was attached, should have been the front guideline but was attached to the back which was a little confusing. My feed and head touched the walls of the tent, due to wrong setup, and therefore gotten a little wet. I think it rained a little during the night. When I got back I watched the setup movie again, and I realized what I did wrong. It will be all fine. By the time I am in rainy Washington I will be perfectly capable of quickly pitching this tent and able to put my stuff away logically.

The second day was another beautiful day, and a very cold morning. I managed to leave the campsite at 07:10h which I thought was really early. I had two musleybars for breakfast and was planning on cooking noodles later in the morning but I could not be bothered. My car was parked at McDonald, that seemed like a very decent lunch place after two days of hiking. I got two new blisters on the bottom of my feet, which is a little worrying. This was my last big training. Well, I just have to go for it next week.



On a blog of a PCT-thru-hiker I read that the only way to train for a thru-hike is to do a thru-hike. I am confident that during the PCT I will get trained. I will be fine, it will probably be very hard, but I will be fine.

2 Responses

  1. Dorien says:

    Dear Iris,
    A lot of miles! Beautifull nature and perhaps a vieuw from the mountain. Meeting people with the same passion. I hope this journey will be everything you hope for and more…. I will follow your blog!
    Stay safe, take good care of your blisters! Have a wonderfull time!

    Love, Dorien and the rest of the family

  1. April 20, 2015

    […] See my post on Training. […]

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