Day 1: Dieren to Deventer
Below are some photos from day 1 on the river (including some by Marianne, thanks!), when we paddled 32 km from Dieren to Deventer. The river is lined on both sides by "kribben" or groynes, which are long piles of rock perpendicular to the river bank. Their purpose is to keep the river in place by slowing down water along the banks, thereby preventing bank erosion. While the IJssel River is considered one of the most natural large rivers in the Netherlands, the entire route was characterized by these structures. On the bright side, these structures create plenty of little pocket beaches perfect for landing a kayak.
The Netherlands is currently going through a drought, with very little rain since the beginning of April. Click on the inset photo for some data. This was apparent in the very low water levels, with the normal water marks 1 to 2 meters above the current level. Even so, we still had a nice little current pushing us along!
The river was relatively busy, and we encountered quite a few large river transport ships. When the ships passed us going downstream, we played in the waves and enjoyed the swirling currents. Before we departed, Berend explained that when the ships are going upstream, they sometimes have trouble sailing against the current, especially in the river bends. At the sharper bends we saw blue signs which indicate that the ships switch sides, so the upstream-moving ship can stay closer to the inside of the bend. As kayakers, however, we remained close to the right side any time a ship was passing.
We made a few stops along the way, two at sandy/rocky beaches and one at a super muddy beach (by accident). When Iede stepped out of his boat he sank to his knees in mud! It was at this point that I began regretting my choice of footwear (flip flops) for this trip.
We didn't see a huge amount of wildlife, but we did see some large fish and a clump of storks nests (see photo below). We also passed quite a few friendly fishermen.
Joachim had only joined us for a day paddle, so he left soon after our arrival to walk to the train station and go get his car. In the mean time, the rest of us set up our tents and prepared dinner. Henk and I decided to put our tent on the high levee, with hopes for a nice river view in the morning. The rest put their tents in the more sheltered area next to the clubhouse. For dinner, Iede and Marianne had a salad, Henk and I made some couscous with chickpeas, Berend made pasta with homemade pasta sauce, and Harold had some tomato bean soup. Everyone's flavors were enhanced by Iede's super spicy olives.
Out of curiosity, we did some snooping around the clubhouse. It's two stories tall, with the lower level for boat/gear storage and bathrooms. I took a quick shower and fully approve of the shower facilities! They had all types of kayaks and canoes, though most of the canoes appeared a bit forlorn and demoted to gear storage. The club has an active kayak polo team, as evidenced by three polo goals in a canal adjacent to the river and large room full of polo boats! It reminded me a bit of the Windhappers clubhouse in the Hague that I used to be a member of. Upstairs was a gym, kitchen, bar, seating area, and large porch. I think they even had a fire place. It was fun to call it ours for one night :)
As we were cooking dinner, a large group of young-ish men from the club arrived and started BBQ-ing. We had been warned in advanced, but it appeared as though it might become more rambunctious than we'd hoped. The beer crates were being shuttled out of the clubhouse and their bonfire grew ever taller.
Once Joachim came back with his car, the rest of us headed into the city on foot, to avoid the loud BBQ and check out the city center. It was a nice walk along the river. Upon arriving, we were surprised to find the streets filled with people celebrating, and various circus-acts wandering through the main square. Three ladies on stilts with huge skirts strutted past. A group of glowing bears were dancing to mesmerizing music (see photo below). Another group of bicyclists were juggling fire. We stared in awe for a while before grabbing a table with a view, and ordering drinks.
The BBQers were gone when we returned to the campsite just after midnight, so we happily went to bed in our quiet tents!
Day 2: Deventer to Olst
We lugged our gear and loaded boats down to the dock and began our morning on the river. The trip went smoothly and the group stuck together well. We made one stop at a nature reserve about half way to Olst for a snack before completing the seemingly short 13 km paddle to Olst.
The take-out in Olst was again at a ferry terminal. We changed and took valuables out of our boats before heading up to a pancake restaurant. Harold was taking his time with unpacking his boat. He remarked multiple times during the trip that he doesn't like all the "kleine dingen" (small things) associated with packing a kayak. It's easy to lose track of all the "little things"! At one point he was standing there in his (awesome) bright yellow/black underpants while we called to him from the road above to hurry up. Onlookers waiting for the ferry were amused ,to say the least. :)
When we made it to the restaurant we ordered some drinks. The three drivers (Henk, Herald, and Iede) jogged to catch the next train while Marianne, Berend, and I lounged* for the next 2 hours. The drivers took the train from Olst to Dieren (30 mins), walked to the cars, and drove back to Olst (45 mins). What a process!! It's certainly not a logistically-simple trip.
* lounged = ordered more drinks and pancakes and eventually did some boat-emptying
When they arrived with the cars, we were ready with the boats and everyone efficiently loaded up the cars. Henk and I had never strapped two boats on the roof of his car before, so it was a bit suspenseful as we set his plastic boat on edge and strapped it to my kayak in the saddles. With an extra couple straps for safety, there was nowhere the boat could go, bar the entire roof rack blowing off the roof. We split off in twos and drove 1 hr 40 mins back to Rotterdam.
In Rotterdam we did some boat washing, beer drinking, and cheesecake eating to wrap up our Sunday :)
Thanks to Marianne for organizing another fun trip, and thanks to all who joined for the nice company :)
Duration: ~6 hrs on Day 1 (including a few stops) and ~2 hrs on Day 2 (including 1 stop)
Distance: 45 km (32 on Day 1 and 13 on Day 2)
Weather: Very sunny and warm, perfect summer weather! A little bit of headwind