Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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High Fens: Northeastern Bogs and Woods

A winter season totally unworthy of its name, this is unfortunately how the winter of 2019/2020 can be characterized… Since September’s memorable autumn trek in Norway, I therefore haven’t seen one single flock of snow, until I eventually end up in the northeastern High Fens one early-February Saturday. At least here there is 5 cm of wet and frozen snow above an elevation of 550 m…

I make a 31 km solo hike over muddy and slippery trails, through bogs and woods, while buzzards are circling overhead. What is especially striking in this area of the High Fens, is that it seems to be much less visited than the area around Botrange and Baraque Michel. I walk for hours and do not meet a single person, until I have lunch at a pic-nic table below the Steinbach creek, where I meet a party of 3.

Parking Grenzweg – Brachvenn – Imgenbroicher Venn – Steinley – Steinbach – Eschbach – Allgemeines Venn – Entenpfuhl – Nahtsief – Im Platten Venn – Mützenich – Kaiser Karls Bettstatt – Brachvenn – Parking Grenzweg

Pictures > Belgium 2020-02-08: High Fens





















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Dijle Calf Rescue Action – Media Coverage

Quite fascinating to see how news media work these days, and how a relatively insignificant feel good story gets picked up and spreads. I suppose that due to all the not-so-nice things that are going on in the world these days, people are craving for comforting stories.

The tale of the calf rescue action during our packrafting trip of last Sunday first got picked up by Facebook, then by the regional edition of Het Laatste Nieuws, and finally it appeared on Het NieuwsbladWireNewsFax (note the funny auto-translated text), De Standaard, TVNews, NewsLocker, Brussels TimesVRT, and especially also on RobTV, a regional TV station in the province of Flemish Brabant.

After seeing the item on RobTV, the owner of the calf called the TV station to ask for passing on his gratitude to the rescue party (so that’s us, or better Evert and Glen, since all I did was producing video footage).

Only too bad that everyone seems to be referring to us as kayakers, whereas we are of course packrafters!


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A Brussels Waste Bag in Jämtland

In the southwest corner of the very sparsely populated Swedish province of Jämtland lies a remote farm by the name of Käringsjön. This farm is the gateway to a complex lake system, and at the heart of the lake system is a wind shelter that can only be reached by boat. Just like anywhere else the idea is that everything that is packed into a place like this, is also packed out, especially garbage.

During my recent visit to the Käringsjön wind shelter I notice a waste bag attached to the shelter’s wall. This is surprising by itself, but what is even more surprising is that the bag appears to be an official waste bag of the community of Brussels, Belgium. Apparently some fellow country men or women considered it appropriate to just dump their waste instead of packing it out as everyone else does. What were they thinking? That a Brussels garbage truck is going to pass by to collect their junk? Really despicable behavior…





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Scandinavia 2019: Videos

Footage of some highlights of this year’s 8 day, 140 km solo hiking and packrafting trip through the Långfjället, Rogen and Femundsmarka wilderness areas in the Swedish & Norwegian borderlands.

The first video covers about 2.5 days of the Swedish part of the trip. In order to give a feel of the serene atmosphere and solitude of the trip, I deliberately kept the original sound and did not overlay it with music.

The second video was taken during a paddle under windless conditions at 10:30 pm on remote lake Krokathåen, in Norway’s Femundsmarka NP:

Bear in mind that on a trip such as this, I unfortunately never give a lot of priority to shooting video footage, since there is also nagivation, taking pictures, paddling and hiking to be taken care of… The videos are therefore not a comprehensive nor accurate representation.

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Packrafting Punta di Campomoro

Punta di Campomoro is a peninsula on the west coast of Corsica, close to the town of Propriano. As many other peninsulas on the Corsican coast, it is guarded by a tower that stems from the era the region was dominated by the Genoese (16th-17th century). The entire coastline from the Campomoro cape down to Tizzano is rather untouched naturally, and is lined with picturesque eroded rock formations.

I make a packraft tour that takes me back and forth from the Campomoro beach to Punta di Scalonu, crossing the Campomoro bay and rounding Punta di Campomoro (9 km, 3 h). There is little wind and the swell therefore does not cause problems. I enjoy paddling through various rock cities, and realize that it is easier for me to get close to the rocks than for the motor yachts, sailing boats and bulky kayaks that pass in the distance from time to time.

One annoying problem with shooting GoPro footage while being out on the sea is that it often happens that the lens gets covered with a layer of salt, making the imagery rather blurry. Unfortunately, the same happens this time.