Tag Archives: ww1

THE BIG RE-SHUFFLE…PART 3

So There it is the re-shuffle part 3.

When this year started I kinda knew where it was going…but..I was wrong ūüėČ (You all already read about the timing and duration of walking14-18 being thrown into a shambles)

I came up with some viable alternatives, but it did mean the actual goal of the hike was totally shot (no other way to put it). Yet as they say “a door closes, but a window opens”..and so it was with me.

A little over 3 weeks ago, a company contacted me with a very short email, pointing out they wanted to set up a contact center, and since they found out about my expertise they wanted to “talk to me”. I googl-ed them..wondered why in the world the wanted to run their own CC, and decided to meet them out of curiosity.

What followed was one of the most innervating conversations about CRM (Customer Relations Management) in my life! I faced 2 men, who didn’t know much about CRM (a financial director and an owner) but damn wel knew how crm would help them ..and THAT was the rare bit..to them CRM was an asset not an expenditure. I can honestly say the drive, determination and vision I saw that day I only ever saw twice (3 times if i count my own views).

Skip forward a week and bit..and you face a challenge and an offer.. hike 3 months on a track that will NOT end where it was planned or pick up the gauntlet…so i picked up the gauntlet (Duh did anyone doubt that one! ūüôā )

Okay!! where is this going to you may ask..well nowhere really. May-September, or April to july walking 14-18 is no longer a 3 or 4 months hike (:-( ), but I will hike, bike, plain, train or automobile it!!! *lest we forget*.

The website and Facebook page will keep following my adventures ūüôā so in stead of one adventure It will be several smaller ones ūüėÄ

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The Big re-shuffle…part 2

I still need to work out the details, but it looks like I will be jumping part of the route somewhere in the Champagne area. Not because I’ve been there before, but because from what I have heard it is the least interesting and doesn’t have as much facilities.

I’m not sure where I’ll start the jump and where it will end, but at least that part of the plan is there: In order to make it all happen, I will start and end as planned, but will skip a bit somewhere en route. It means I wont be able to claim I walked the whole of the western front, but at least I traversed it (with part public transport)!

Not at all what i wanted, but sometimes you will have to deal with the devil as they call it.

Grts

Hans

PS: Crap! I just realized 2 things 2 key subscriptions run out in April. 1st of all my spot device, 2nd this URL…not to self..tackle it.

The big re-shuffle

A small, not entirely¬†good update I’m afraid.

Right now this trip is starting to look a little shaky, most of it caused by scheduling problems at work.

Is it fully over? No it isn’t, but it’s been cut by a whole month and will need to start a whole month earlier.

The fact it needs to start earlier is a¬†challenge, but shouldn’t be a showstopper, it just means the¬†nights at the start of the trip will be a lot colder (potentially below zero Celsius…but I have been in France with stunning spring temperatures as well in April), so i will need to make some choices there. Also several camping’s in France may not be opened yet at the start¬†(That I could potentially cover with the more costly B&B’s¬†option)

Changing it from 4 to 3 months however is a bigger¬†issue, it basically means it will be difficult to do the route as i had originally planned. Could it not be done in 3 months? Sure it is not impossible in theory, but it means increasing daily distances substantially and it also means I will not really have time to stay in one area for any length of time to enjoy the sites in more detail…so the trip then would be a footrace to cover the distance and no longer be about the journey, but about the destination….Not what i wanted!

The only other option would be shortening the trip: i.e¬†¬†starting halfway¬†or skipping parts. I¬†don’t know what I’ll do with it yet, basically it changes everything about the trip.¬†Right now skipping the less interesting (or already seen) parts seems to be the best option, since it doesn’t change what the trip was originally all about¬†so much, but it will make planning more complex, since at certain parts of the hike I will have to find some form of (public) transport to skip ahead.

All in all I need time to think and go back to the drawing-board, the original plan is simply no longer an option.

I guess it’s safe to say I’m bitterly dissapointed ¬†and feel just ¬†empty right now after preparing for¬†well over a year, but if it means the difference between changing plans and not going at all, I know what avenue to investigate.

Stay tuned…walking 14-18 isn’t dead yet…just down for a sec.

grts
Hans

And now for something completely different…First Aid!

I was thinking ..it’s time for an update, but there isn’t that much to tell right now…

Until this evening ūüôā a friend of mine and her husband went to Albania last week, and sadly “the man around the house” had an unfortunate encounter with a litle brick wall, earning him a serious scrape on his shin. (it was¬† a good one..realy it was ūüôā )

Normally scrapes are not considered bad injuries, as outdoors¬†people we always think about cuts from knives, sprains, breaks and bruises from tumbles and other horror scenarios¬†like that…

However, this scrape¬†turned bad, got infected and now caused the need for tetanus shots and antbiotics and lots of TLC, even though¬†I’m 100% sure the first aid he received was better than most of us would get ¬†when we are “out there”.

It was a bit of a wake up call, since I did have my own slip and slide down the entrance of a bunker several weeks ago, which earned me a nice few scrapes (not nearly as bad as “the man around the house” got, but enough to draw blood and therefore cause a risk). I slapped some alcohol gel on it right away (inventing new swearwords instantly..quietly though because there was a lady present!!!) but that is all i did.

So what im getting at is…we look at all kinds of worst case scenarios, but it is the little things that may actually get you. I could easily¬†scrape a shin out in nature and it could totally destroy my trip..so be careful out there people, use your head and when that little voice in your head says “no” listen to it! As a good friend of mine told me a while ago..”fear is a powerfull teacher” …that was after a face first tumble into the mud due to¬† “not paying attention”

So be safe out there my friends and use your brains.

grts

Hans

 

Food for Thought

So far, since I decided to actually do this walk,  a lot of work has been done, fun work as I would call it

  • Trying gear, swapping gear, re-trying gear, testing gear ideas ..and failing.. rince repeat
  • Taking every opportunity to walk with my backpack(s)..even if this means an hour around the block at 10 PM at night
  • Making decissions on what to take with me and what not (that probably wont be done till the day I actually leave for the Belgian coast ūüėČ
  • Looking at food stuff, deciding what meals can be created from stuff your average supermarket could have, that won’t spoil easily¬†(I can’t take hiking food for 4 months with me, and since an average christmascard can take up to 3 months to arrive at my friends in Normandy I’m not going to trust poste restante)

But there is of course a lot of non-fun stuff that will have to be dealt with: Insurances (standard travel insurance doesn’t cover a 4 month trip abroad), what route to take in detail (though¬†I have GPS tracks), making sure bills keep being paid, financing the trip,¬†where to stay in the evenings…

It’s one thing planning a one or¬†two week trip, things seem to get a litle more complex when you start thinking about “months” …

Even though I’ve now been preparing for this for quite a few¬†months, I still have moments at night where I lie awake, wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into, and the next day? I feel like I’m 100 meters tall..floating on air, ready to conquer the world, ready to just say sod it!, grab my kit and just go.. It’s a true rollercoaster sometimes, and no doubt it will be till the end :), luckily lately it’s more ups than downs.

The funny thing is, I’m not doing this with somekind of to-do list or planning software, I do have an extensive gearlist which helps to focus my thoughts (Thanks Johan!), but that’s about it. The rest of it is all buzzing inside my head like some giant 3-D puzzle, chaotic at times, extremely focussed the next time.

And when I’m working on that puzzle, there is always that little voice in the back of my head telling me its allright, it will all come together. It makes me think of an article¬†I read not to long ago on the bbc.com website, about Jamie McDonald, who actually ran across Canada (so what am I worried about??)¬† and about an interview he gave:

Q: “I was asked how I’d prepare for the more than 5,000 miles that lay ahead of me”
A: “I answered truthfully and said that I wouldn’t – no amount of training or planning could have prepared me for this journey”

I guess that is the next hill I need to climb..letting go of trying to prepare for every little detail that I can think of and enjoy the journey, because in the end that is what it is all about … who knows maybe I’m further up that hill than I realise I am.

grts

Hans

PS: Since a few days there is also a Facebook page up about the 14-18 walk, but you will find various other WW1 related articles there , as well. You can find it at : https://www.facebook.com/WW1Walk

 

 

 

 

A trip down memory lane aka Just some pics of various other WW1 excursions

Even though this blog is about my hike along the western front in 2015 and the preparation for it,¬†I have spent already quite a few days walking around the Westen Front. Of course like any “tourist” I shot 100’s and 100’s of pics. I’ve been on wellknown sites but also several less wellknown and quite a few that are rarely seen by anyone and where time seems frozen.

It was visiting those out of the way places that kindled my interest in bushcraft (at first because i was venturing into places where help is not 1 phonecall away and¬†I realised¬† I wasn’t equiped for it) and what tought me that camping without a ton of stuff to pack and unpack is infinitely more comfortable than going “luxury” camping.¬† In the end it provided a perfect combination of two hobbies for me..So just for you, some impressions.

A side note on the ammunition you see on 2 of the pictures, for those who happen to wander into the frontline (and most of you will have without knowing, if you have travelled to France or the south east of Belgium), it is still abundant everywhere, if you go off the beaten path you trip over the damn stuff, but just passing a freshly plowed field in flanders or north France, can be enough to see it lying around

…Please! if you ever come across it do not touch, after 100 years it is still as dangerous as it was back than and even something small (like the fuse in the 1st of the 2 pictures¬† containing amo) will take of your hand (and probably more) off. This stuff can still explode and it will, it actually still injures people to this day and still destroys (farmers) equipment…btw lets not mention what¬†happens to you if you happen to pick a corroded through gas of phosphourous shell ūüėČ

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US begraafpl romagne

 

Last but not least: Don’t ask me where some of these locations are, I wont tell you, unless I know you well, and if you happen to be truly interested in the more remote, non-tourist locations, you can probably hazard a guess of the general area anyway ūüėČ

Cooking Equipment (and some gear in general)

Last weekend¬†I spend a night outdoors, with 2 good friends, it was just a “hangabout” but since I’ve been swapping so much gear around, for me it was also a gear test.

The main thing I’m always fooling around with is cooking gear, most importantly “burners” (pots and pans are easy. I’m moving to titanium nowadays, but aluminium is easy to get to and all you need to do is figure out what size pot(s) you need)

I do strugle with the combo burner>>windshield>>potstand though. Years ago I started with the wellknown Trangia, it’s a great alcohol stove, cheap as chips, and works consistantly everytime, but it’s quite heavy. Also it needs a separate windshield and potstand, which adds weight and packing volume. I started out with the UL 27 set and o be honest there isnt anything wrong wih it but I want it lighter and a LOT smaller.

So for some years I have been experimenting..penny stoves, cutting two aluminium strips to create a potstand, using big nails as a potstand….combining a honeystove with a trangia (good combo actualy but finicky putting it together) etc etc etc.

It all kinda worked, some worked better than others, but it wasnt the “next great thing” and common sense told me..trangia won again.

On my quest for the next cookkit I bought the Evernew Apelachian trail set. It’s a nice compact light titanium set, which is multifuel (alcohol, wood, esbit) and it all pakcs away in the 500 ml pot…great!!! It comes with it’s own alcohol burner ( a trangia type model) and a base/windscreen which doubles and a hobo stove and esbit burner (I never tried the esbit bit, because cooking on esbit for me is kind of a last resort thing)..so how did it perform?

Well the actual hobostove/windscreen bit I really like, it’s small not to hard to assemble, it seems sturdy enough and does what it needs to do…kinda. How about the alcohol burner you probably ask? The evernew titanium stove works..no doubt about it, and at 35 grams compared to the 100 grams trangia, we’re in bussines you’d think. It lights quick, it blooms like a monster and pours out heat..aaaaand that were it looses from the trangia…big flames everywhere lots of nice warmth, but that also means it takes over 30 ml of “spiritus” to heat a simple pot of 450 ml of water, add to that the fact you cannot use a simmerring, or the fact there is no decent way to blow it out (no you cant trust me) and poor the¬†leftover alcohol back¬†into your fuel bottle¬†and even the most diehard gear freak (like me) once again has to admit…the good old 1960’s trangia wins again!! ( to the guys of Evernew..redesign you titanium burner with a screwlid top so I can save on fuel I’m¬† not using and can pack the thing topped off in my pack..add a simmerring if you like, but there are ways around that..please..pretty please)..so the evernew titanium alcohol burner was out, sadly..

Bummer..now what..google, google, browse browse, youtube youtube and hey! up popped the vargo triad!. Tiny , has its own potstand, lightweight at 26 grams, alcohol you don’t use just poor back into your bottle (yeh right!..see where this is going?)..so H hit that “buy now” button, paying was easy enough, as it always is ūüôā and two weeks later everything arrived (2 weeks because in that order was also my ULA Ohm 2 which wasn’t in stock..great backpack)

Happy happy happy, it all arrived about 45 minutes before i was scheduled to leave the house for the “hangabout”, about as perfect as can be. Initial tests on a picknick table were promissing during lunch , though¬†I way overfilled it, but it bloomed, it cooked..it flaired.. it spit..it growled¬†and spewed (did i mention some people warned me about this damned thing?). Pooring fuel back was like hit and miss but hey! 50% saved is 50% right (I still blamed myself for over filling it..JOHAN STOP LAUGHING!!!). Later that night I filled it more carefully, remembering the instructions and the youtube vids, and the result was? YUP, 30 minutes to cook 400 ml of water, it took 15 minutes to bloom pooring back was still a b*&ch..but at least it didnt spit, growl and spew at me. Back home¬†I did some carefull tests, basically to cook on this thing you have to balance intricatly between filling and overfilling, results may vary, but when it blooms like it is supposed to, it works and works well, and don’t bother with the “pooring back”, just toss it. The manufacturer talks about 44ml to fill and prime, forget it, its like 70ml to fill and prime! Shame on you vargo!

So now what? Well the apalachian set but with the old trangia burner is a good combo! So if you want to spend the money by all means spend the money on the DX set as they call it, don’t bother with the burner, but what aboout the Hobo stove bit of it? To be honest it’s tiny and that worried me and¬†I was right, but I dont want to burn that litle set down (pun intented). The smaller the stove the harder it is to get a hobo stove to work and the the DX stand is no exeception. It does it’s job and has enough air for it’s size judging by the ammount of soot on my pot, but it trully cannot handle anything above 2x pencil size (and that’s pushing it), it cooked my 400ml of water, it took 20 minutes, but it worked as you should expect from something that small (but to be honest do we really need a hobo stove?).

So the end result is? DX stand, with a trangia combo, yep that works. with the rest don’t bother and save yourself some money.

Is there any light on the horizon for us diehard alcohol cookers? wel actually there is, yesterday I finally got around to building a “Fancy feast wick stove” and this looks promising, about 15 ml of alcohol to cook 450 ml of water in about 10 minutes, it has it’s own postand and it’s light! Slap a cheap ass windscreeen around it and you are good to go. It’s simple, not sure if it would last 4 months on the trail, but initial tests (see pic below) does seem to indicate it works..I will be testing this one some more!

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So that’s where we are at cooking wise ūüôā but what about the rest of the gear test? Well that was about shelter.

My dd Hammock has double layer that could fit a insulation mat, but i was “hangabout ” with my ticket to the moon. Why you want to know? well because it’s smaller and lighter and a mat in the hammock is the same as a mat in between two layers right? ..no it bloddy well isnt! Within 5 minutes my hammock tossed me out with my sleeping bag, and neolite mat and¬†I landed on the (soft) forest floor..it was vey gentle landing I must admit ūüėČ

Luckily Alex handed me a thin light radiator foil type insulation to try out earlier and yes it worked, but it wasnt quite enough for an early march night, the night was doable but cold (definitely a lil very much cold..JOHAN STOP LAUGHING!) 

And that ladies and gentlemen was weekend “hangabout” with quite a lot of failure and therefore succesfull..better find out now that next year right ? ūüėČ

Cheers

H