Slow 28

A 30 hour non-stop hiking journey around

the raw edges of Schiermonnikoog

Schiermonnikoog is one of the five Dutch islands. It is the one with the least amount of people living on it; just 947. Most part of the island is national park, part of UNESCO world heritage. Only the village has inhabitants and there are no people living outside the  main village. Outside the village one can find a mixture of dunes, forest, beach (the most wide beach in Europe), wetlands and a huge mudflat when it’s low tide. Birds, seals and many types of insects and flowers thrive here. The landscape is ever changing. Winds, water and sand make the dunes bigger and smaller every year, the beaches wider and the ground more boggy or hard.

To keep track of these changes the Dutch nature administration placed “beachpoles”. At every kilometer a pole was placed. The poles would be 5 meters high, and if a pole would be smaller then last year it meant the sand got higher. With new technologies the poles became obsolete, but they still remind us of the ever changing island and nature that we are a part of. In total there were 288 poles placed. 28 main poles around the island, each one kilometer apart and the rest for extra measurements. This year it has been exactly 150 years ago the first pole was placed.

On a sunny September morning I started walking at pole number 1. It took me 30 hours to circumnavigate the island. The night was dark, my thermosflask not as hot as I hoped and the water in the bogs was high. Some poles I just couldn’t reach; they were in thick thorn bushes or simply not existing anymore. Walking for 30 hours was a battle with exhaustion, no coffee could fight this. Only the adrenaline of a wild place could. The journey turned into a true adventure, close to home. This project turned into a full colour coffee table book, named after the journey: Slow28. The book includes pictures, diary pieces and a preface from “beachpole expert” Harry Alers.

The route around the island