WAO let it snow, let it snow…

When snow falls I always get itchy.

Not the kind of itch that goes away with a good shower or bath.

No, the one remedy is putting up a tent in the magical white powder from the sky and spend the night in it.

Good friend Tim and lovely Veerle had another “We Are Outsiders” weekend planned and were lucky enough to call it “the simply snow” edition.

I was already in, but the promise of snow made everything even more promising.

WAO came from under Tim’s skull and is an initiative in which he wants to share his passion for the great outdoors by taking other people out camping and hiking.

You bring a tent, good waterproof gear, a small hikers’ lunch and you are good to go.

The rest is taken care of.

The weekend starts Saturday morning with a good snowy, 15K hike. Everyone is excited and you can feel the good vibes everywhere.

Very soon everyone starts to get acquainted and jokes go around quickly.

It’s not very good “picnic-weather” with snow falling down in thick flakes, but the spirits are up.

Tim and I start boiling water on our small burners and hot drinks are soon ready. Here and there a small flask appears for a quick nip and is shared with others.

Very soon we continue our hike through the beautiful High Fens. The snow makes it magical and everyone is overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.

Trees covered in thick packs of white snow, a vast grey sky, an unnatural light and an unearthly silence. (Between jokes and stories that is.)

Veerle and I have to take a shortcut so we can build a fire and start cooking. The menu is simple but delicious. First some campfire vegetable soup, followed by Moroccan meatballs or a vegetarian curry with couscous and rice. The silence while everybody eats, says it all.

The food can be washed down with some of the best Belgian beers or (and) an excellent (also Belgian) wine.

The campfire is always the centre, that’s were the action is.

Stories are told, jokes go around and people get to know each other better. Perhaps we could call it “friendly fire”.

Live music played by Lieven makes us all shut-up for a while and really fits the atmosphere.

After a long day cold and snow really wears you down, a good bed is something to look forward to. In this case an inflatable and insulated mattress and an extreme warm, down sleeping bag with an extra liner inside. Doesn’t sound very comfortable, but trust me, it is. As a roof I use the Nigor tipitent. This beautiful and lightweight tent is suitable for three grownups and is easily erected.

After a good and warm night without leaving my sleeping bag for a pee in the snow (hallelujah) it’s time to rise and shine. Not a problem when there is already fresh coffee and a small campfire waiting. Breakfast is a real treat with fresh and tasty bread, eggs (sunny side up), cheese, chocolate, sausage and lots of fruit. A good day starts with a filled stomach and I’ve eaten worse. Again, the organisation exceeds itself.

Before we go out for a small hike again, we break down our tents and clean out the campsite. “Leave no trace” is what we hold dear.

At this point it becomes quite clear that Tim and Veerle have to be really passionate about what they do. The boxes, crates, bags,… keep piling up and we all start to wonder if it will fit in the car.

The access road it covered in snow and everybody starts to wonder how we’re going to get back on the main road. It takes some shovelling, pushing, pulling and sliding but we manage to get the cars out safe.

There are two highlights left that Tim wants to share with his guests. The first is “Le cascade du Bayehon” and second “Le vieux chêne”. It’s always a pleasure to go there and simply enjoy the beauty of it all. For me and a lot of others, those places are special, magical even.

On our way back we pass the spot were it actually all began…

Our first place where we camped into the wild. That’s closing the loop.

We started out without any experience and now we share it with others.

That’s why We Are Outsiders, that’s why We Are Hooked.

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