I had forgotten the difference the sun makes in this country... It's like there's a Jekyll and Hyde switch between rainy days and sunny ones. And the latter are so few and far between... (it's actually more grey than rainy most of the time)... that when you find yourself in the midst of a truly glorious sunny day it's like rediscovering sunshine and warmth all over again!
On such a day (Oct 3rd... I'm running behind on these posts, argh!) I got to do my 3rd 1/2 day hike exploring the rural areas of Wallonia (the French-speaking part of Belgium). A fabulous hike through some gorgeous forests (with sadly fewer mushrooms, they're on their way out now) and fields, under radiant sunshine (that had me wondering why I hadn't thought of bringing sunscreen!) and going up and down and UP and DOWN some very, very, STEEP hills! Once again, this may be a flat country (highest point is 694m above sea level), but when a hill is steep, it's steep!The lunchtime meeting point was in the town of La Roche, surrounded by a lovely river filled with ducks and a swan or two.
When all those arriving for the 2nd half were present, we headed out of town, across the road and started climbing (that should have been an early warning sign for me!).
But I didn't notice the climb, was too fixated on a certain architectural fixture I had noticed in town... a castle!!!
See how well positioned it is defense-wise? Right in a curve of the river! This must have been one well-defended town...
Me and castles... all giddy! I have to go back and visit!
After the photo op we headed into the woods,
slowly making our way up to a great view point looking down into the river valley (with a water treatment plant visible if you click to make the image bigger):
I was then surprised to find myself walking along a corn field!!!
Our highest point:
Not much... but nice views of fields and clear blue skies!
I think the sun brings out the crazy in some of us...
but in general all were enjoying the possibly last warm hike of the season:
even the cows look happier in the sun! :p
Oh yeah, except for this little problem:
I've given up on cleaning my boots... am not even going to try until my last hike before I head out of Belgium.
We had to wait a moment as the person in charge of this hike was hesitant as to which was the proper direction...
and it ended up being down through the slippery mud!
My! Must have been one big gust of wind to knock this guy down!
Water... lots of water peaking out through rocks and under roots... purty! :o)
Hey! What's everybody doing standing around here?!?!?!
Oh, ok... I guess we have to cross the river using tree trunks?
Well, some people chose a faster option:
I wasn't going to risk that with my ankle... or my camera! :p
As if climbing over trees wasn't enough, a few minutes later we practically had to crawl under some!
This is why I enjoy this season in Belgium:
the Fall colours are finally starting! (remember this is Oct 3rd, trees are red now)
Oh boy! What's with this guide and his choice of a route with some bloody steep hills?
Water! My kingdom for some water!!! (and a new set of legs while we're at it! lol)
A climb like that deserves a snack break!
After which we get to delve into this enchanting wood:
inhabited by a colony of (unidentified) 'shrooms!
Also, pretty flowers:
And look! There are animals here too! :p
Whaaat?! Who put this wall in the middle of the forest???
Another big climb = another short break. Date anyone?
Check it out! Those beetles can swim!
Law of nature: what goes up, must go down. And down. And down.
Including hikers! That was a killer on knees and ankles, Had my ankle been 100% I would have done the crazy like some and kind of "run" down these... *sigh*
Next hike (which took place 10 days ago) involves a dried out lake, a castle, and fording a freezing cold river! ;o)