Hiking in the past.
I am not a very athletic person, never been, never will be, but I have always loved to hike. Before our daughter was born I used to hike a lot. Once a year I would do the Red Cross Bloesemtocht, sometimes the Dam to Dam hike. And of course many non-commercial hikes. I was sure I would continue doing so after Eryn was born, but I was not aware hiking with a young child would be such a challenge. So the first few years we kept the hiking to a minimum. Until this weekend. I asked Eryn if she wanted to hike in a city or in nature. “In nature” was her answer, so in nature it would be.
The Ankeveense Plassen (6 km/3.73 miles).
The Ankeveense Plassen are situated in an area called “Het Gooi”. It is an area that consists of peat-soil. There is water everywhere and thus lots of birds, insects and special water plants. After dropping our car off at the local church and hiking parallel to a quiet road with quite expensive houses and farms on both sides we turned to the right onto a small path next to a ditch. This was the moment Eryn could start running, which she is very keen on doing. Of course her daddy had to run along, giving him plenty of exercise. The hike I picked was 6 kilometers (3,7 miles) and very straight-forward. After the small path, we had to follow a slightly broader one until we could go no further, then turn to the right and follow a small hiking trail, followed by a long unpaved path on a dyke that would bring us back to our car.
Cyclists and dogs.
The first bit was beautiful, though very busy at this time of the year. We encountered lots of bicycles and dogs, both with their specific owners. The cyclists in a hurry, having just enough time to say hi. Or was it just because a sign at the beginning of the path informed us that on this trail people had to greet? The dog owners had more time for a chat and Eryn was keen on greeting the dogs. The combination running and dogs is not such a good one though, especially not when a dog is very young and playful. Luckily Eryn and my husband can run really fast, so they outran the dog.
Acorns, dragonflies, water striders, cattails and a cormorant. Also lots of yellow water-lilies. There was a lot to see and a lot to explain to an almost four-year-old. At this point exhaustion started to show and despite the many (nutritious) treats she started to run less and less. Playing hopscotch and shuffling did not help her moving forward so it was time for some magic. I picked up an acorn and threw it into the distance. Although my husband and I – so I am sure Eryn too – could see it land a few meters away from where we were standing, Eryn started running again once I told her I threw the acorn all the way to the end of the lane. And once we were there she started looking for it. Soon we had a family of acorns travelling along with us: daddy acorn, mommy acorn, the baby, the cousin, the girl and the brother.
Halfway we had to cross a small bridge and walk along some beautiful houses and an old pumping station. Soon the hikers and the cyclists got seperate paths, which brought us more peace. Being the only ones doing this hike on this sunny day, we did not encounter a single being from here till the last bit of our hike. The end of it was on a dyke, with water on both sides. Apart from a single plane in the sky it was nice and quiet and the only sounds we could hear were the sounds of the crickets. As it was about time for the mosquito’s to party and Eryn had lost her energy, my husband ended up carrying Eryn on his neck until we reached civilization again. We left the buggy at the car and it’s a good thing we did. It would have caused us some problems on the way.
All in all a beautiful first hike for a young child with a strong father to carry her back to the car.
Also on Travelharts.com.
In Italy it’s also great hiking. You can read about one of those hikes in my blog about Colli Euganei Regional Park.