The original plan was to hike with two teams of two people in oposing directions across a trail in the Alps, but Joran (who also came with us to Sweden) bailed on us, making the two-teams-idea difficult to pull through. The alternative was a multi-day wildcamping trip through the Ardennes in the South of Belgium. Also good fun! The plan: parking the car at the historic castle of Bouillon, hitch a ride to the French border and follow the GR16 (Grande Randonnée no. 16) back to the car.
Hitchhiking to France
The hitchiking part was easier than expected: in virtually no time at all we found ourselves in a pick-up truck with a dude more or less our age. Once we got him talking, it turned out he was driving up and down the same road for a while, just to kill the time. And judging by the way he was driving, ‘time’ wasn’t the only thing he was looking to kill.
Hiking along the GR16
Before we left, we were under the naive impression that the trail would more or less follow the river Semois, so we prepped for a light and even hike across a nice, pittoresk river with plenty of opportunity for swimming, fishing and camping. It worked out slightly different.: the trail winded up and down hills and through forests constantly. Once we reached a peak, it was downhill again, back to the river to cross a bridge, and up another hill on the other side. These are small ascends of 300 meters each, but doing them over and over again with a beer-filled backpack, you’re bound to cover far less ground than first anticipated. And since we’re ‘fair weather adventurers’, and we’re not really ready for this to become hard and unpleasant, we decided halfway through to stick our thumbs in the air again and hitch another ride.
Great idea: catching fish without actually doing anything. So we sacrificed our water bottles and turned them into crafty fish traps near our second wildcamping spot. Internet tells us we’ll only be able to catch small fish using this technique, so we decided to cut off the top side of the bottle in order to allow bigger fish to enter.
It didn’t work: we didn’t catch a single fish. Pretty embarrassing, as Internet is filled with stories from people who managed to catch all sorts of fish in a matter of minutes.
We spend two night under the stars. The first one in a French forest, the second a bit further afield, by the river. That last camp offered the luxery of swimming, which is something of a necessity during summer microadventures (just like a cold beer or two), we feel. Check out the (short and sweet) video for a sense of our microadventure, as well as the map for our route and campsites.
Many thanks to Eelco for joining us on this adventure!