Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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Packrafting Semois

On an absolutely gorgeous late October Sunday, I drive to the valley of the river Semois for another combined hiking / packrafting solo day trip. My initial idea is to paddle from Vresse-sur-Semois to Bohan and hike back through the woods. As I near Vresse, it however becomes clear the valley is engulfed in fog. It would be a pity to paddle through fog the whole time and take out by the time it lifts. Better is therefore to drive to Bohan, do the hiking part first and take to the water around the time the fog lifts.

So, I park in Bohan and start hiking at 9:30 am. The moment I want to enter the woods, I notice that today access is forbidden due to hunting activities. Bummer. The only way to get around this problem is to hike to Vresse along the road. Not so pleasant, but the advantage is that it is faster than through the woods. I will hence be able to start paddling sooner.

I reach Vresse around 11:30 am and am happy to notice that the fog has lifted in the meantime. I hence prepare my raft and start paddling as soon as possible. Conditions are amazing: blue sky, colorful forests, a good flow and absolutely no-one on the water except me. Less than 2 hours later I already reach Bohan, and since it is still very early, I decide to continue paddling to Les Hautes Rivières, across the French border. In the middle of the river, I encounter an empty boat that is adrift and is slowly making its way downstream (possibly, it got loose somewhere during last summer’s floodings). Just before Les Hautes Rivières, I take out, have lunch, pack up and start hiking back to Bohan via the GR 16 trail.

Before descending to Bohan, I reach a viewpoint, have a very short rest, and since it is still only 3:30 pm, I hike to another viewpoint with a nice lookout tower. After having taken in the view at the latter, I start the final descent to Bohan, where I arrive at 4:30 pm, after a fantastic trip of 31 km in total.

(Membre Pont: 16 m3/s)

Belgium 2021-10-25:Packrafting Semois

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High Fens: Early Frost

A 29 km solo day hike through the northeastern High Fens, with some early frost during the morning hours. My route turns out different from the one I planned initially, since several trails are apparently still closed due to the effects of the catastrophic floodings of the month of July. Trails along the lower sections of Steinbach and Eschbach for instance remain closed.

Belgium 2021-10-17: High Fens

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Norway 2021: Rendalen

The last adventure of my autumn trip to southern Norway is a 2-day 48 km tour of the Sølna river in the Rendalen region. I start at the bridge to the Storlegda farm and paddle all the way to lake Sølensjøen. On the way back, I paddle lake Arasjøen and largely hike off-trail from there to Storlegda. Weather starts out cold and frosty with snow above 800 m, but quickly turns sunny and relatively warm for the time of year.

Report > Norway 2021: Rendalen

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Norway 2021: Alvdal Vestfjell

After our 8000 km family roadtrip through Sweden and Finland, I travel back to Scandinavia during the second half of September for some solo hiking and packrafting adventures in southern Norway. The first adventure is a 65 km – 2.5 day tour of Alvdal Vestfjell, during which I packraft the Atna river and the Breisjødalen waterway. Autumn is in full swing and colors are abundant.

Report > Norway 2021: Alvdal Vestfjell

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Packrafting / Hiking Semois

A good week after an overnighter with Masha on the Semois between Bouillon and Vresse-sur-Semois, I am back at the same river for a solo overnighter. This time, I packraft from Chiny to Herbeumont and then hike back. It’s a tour of 62 km that I complete in one and a half days. With a flow of 9 m3/s in Chiny, paddling conditions during the trip are generally good.

Report > Belgium 2021: Ardennes

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Packrafting / Kayaking Semois

In the month of May, Masha and I spend an absolutely gorgeous weekend paddling the river Semois from Bouillon to Vresse-sur-Semois. We camp in Poupehan and use a packraft (me) and cheap inflatable kayak (Masha) to float down the river.

With brilliant sunshine, intense spring colors and a flow of no less than 26 m3/s in Bouillon, conditions couldn’t possibly be better.

Report > Belgium 2021: Ardennes

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Packrafting Dommel

A 31.5 km day trip with Tom, packrafting the river Dommel from Neerpelt (Belgium) to the Venberg water mill in Valkenswaard (Netherlands) and returning on foot via the Malpie, Plateaux and Hageven nature reserves. The weather forecast promises fine weather, but foggy skies and chilly temperatures remain until well after noon. However, at that point the sky clears and temperature rises substantially.

I have made this trip several times before, possibly because I feel a special bond to the river Dommel as the waterboard that manages it (“Waterschap De Dommel”) is an avid user of the water quality modelling and simulation software that I co-authored many years ago at Ghent University, and have helped commercialize later on, among other at the Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI).

Belgium / Netherlands 2021-09-04: Packrafting Dommel

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Scandinavia 2021: Packrafting Juumajärvi – bis

A final late evening packrafting trip on the Juumajärvi lake system in Finnish Lapland. We are nearing the middle of August now, and it is very obvious the sun is setting earlier day after day. Also temperature plummets increasingly rapidly after the sun has disappeared from the sky.

Finland 2021-08-12: Packrafting Juumajärvi