In 2016, Olivier and Zoë started their journey by bike, sail and foot. With WeLeaf they want to inspire other people to travel on their own and to discover nature. Since they are Europeans, they support bringing wilderness and adventure closer to the people that live in Europe, so they can travel with a smaller ecological footprint. This is why they support Rewilding Europe and The European Safari Company. Follow their journey with us.
' We look like wild animals in the woods. That is what fifty days of walking the Appalachian Trail did to us. We stink of old sweat, even a skunk will not dare to approach us. We temporarily put the bikes in a safe place and have challenged ourselves to walk a thousand kilometres. We only do a section of the Appalachian Trail - the full trail is 3500 kilometres long.
It is the most popular long distance trail in the United States and is attempted yearly by over 3000 people. Only twenty percent finishes. Competitive as we are, we would have like to do the entire trail. And so we did, but an alternative one. After the thousand kilometres that we walk, we will canoe another 1200 kilometres. Walking is new for us, after 25.000 kilometres on a bike, the legs are confused. We are loving the new challenge though, it’s completely different than cycling. We are locked now in a green tunnel where we barely meet any other humans. Trees and bears are our company now.
On the one hand, we are a bit scared for the danger that walking close to bears entails, but on the other hand.. we would really like to see them. E keep watching amongst the tress if we spot one and turn our heads whenever we hear the slightest sounds in the woods. Nothing. We stand stiff as a board when we think to see the silhouet of a black bear in the shadow of a fallen tree. Nothing. We are quiet as a mouse. Nothing again. How ever hard we try, we don’t see any bears.
But they are here! In the Smokey mountains, there are supposed to be two bears every square mile. We thought of bears of big wild animals that only live in faraway countries such as the USA. But that’s not the case, you can find them all over Europe too. In Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Sweden, Romania, Italy.. to name a few countries.
For a whole month, bears are for us nothing more than ghosts that leave us scats and footprints. That reminds us enough to hang our food in the tress before we go to sleep. We sleep in our tent, which seems exciting, but it’s not too bad . Black bears eat mainly berries and nuts. We collect a lot of berries ourselves, our pockets are filled with them. These bears should be interested, not?
But then suddenly, if we turn a corner in the path, a black bears quickly runs away. Right in front of our feet. Not even ten metres between us and this bear, and nature suddenly feels closer than ever. Wow, what an experience! We will definitely follow more bear trails once we’re back in Europe. But first, we will be a wild animal for a little while longer..
This month we will start our canoe journey, The Northern Forest trail. Will we make it?'
Zoë en Olivier - WeLeaf