I’ve always been a traveler. It was the only answer I had for people when they asked: ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’
At twenty, I went to Australia for a year, but didn’t return to the Netherlands until eight years later. I traveled and worked my way around the world. But I didn’t discover hiking until quite some time later.
When someone told me in 2013 about the existence of one long, uninterrupted footpath running from the border with Mexico to the border with Canada, right across the United States, I was sold. The very idea that such a long walk existed anywhere in the world had never even crossed my mind, accustomed as I was to Dutch trails. From footpath to bike path to forest path, through a village and back onto the bike path. The ‘real’ world is never far away when you go on a day hike in the Netherlands. Wherever you go, you can always find somewhere to get a cup of coffee, a sandwich, a train back home.
To walk across America all by yourself though, that seemed both amazing and unfeasible. The idea of it never left me. And then, COVID hit. After I was sick and tired of sitting on my couch, I decided to go for it as soon as the borders reopened.
But in September 2021, my stepfather, who had battled liver cancer for almost seven years, suddenly became much sicker. The helplessness we all felt as we sat beside his bed and watched him slowly deteriorate made me not want to put off my dreams any longer. At the same time, it also felt selfish to spend six months accomplishing nothing more useful than just putting one foot in front of the other all day. I started looking for a way to make a difference and serve a purpose. In the end, I made it into a charity walk for cancer research. My stepfather picked the cause. You can find out more about the research I was supporting at:
After 170 days on the Pacific Crest Trail, I returned. Tired and broke, but addicted. Moreover, I had found an irresistible urge to do what I have always wanted to do, but never dared: write.
I’ve combined both passions here on this site. Whether you’re planning your own long walk, or just want to join me on an adventure from the comfort of your couch, welcome!
P.S. Who’s that strange bird at the top of the page? Meet Nucifraga Columbiana, or Clark’s Nutcracker.
While traveling I made a sketch of this cheeky little bird. On the PCT, they can often be found hanging around the trees, watching your every move. They’re very curious! I chose it as the logo for my website, since my trail name is also Nutcracker.