Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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High Fens: First Snows

After a few dustings in November, the first real snows arrive beginning of December on the high plateaus in the east of Belgium.

I make a 25 km solo hike on a day with non-abating light snowfall and pretty pitiful conditions for photography due to the lack of light.

Baraque Michel – Bouquet Bastin – Noir Flohai – Geitzbusch – Petit Bongard – Herzogenhügel – La Béole – Haie de Souk – Botrange – Neûr Lowé – Béleu – Fagne de Polleur – Baraque Michel

Pictures > Belgium 2017-12-03: High Fens

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LLT: Jodoigne

After a windy and rainy episode I make a 20.5 km hike with the gang of the “Lustige Lochtingterters” through the slightly hilly pastoral landscape in the vicinity of Jodoigne / Geldenaken, crossing the language border on a number of occasions. Trails are seriously muddy, but apart from the odd shower towards the end of the day, weather holds up pretty nicely.

Pictures > Belgium 2017-11-25: Jodoigne

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Flemish Ardennes: Hotondberg & Kluisberg

Autumn has one more gorgeous day in store before a depression arrives that blows away the last of the foliage.

I make a 21 km hike through the woods and hills of the Flemish Ardennes from Hotondberg (145 m) to Kluisberg (141 m) and back, passing through Kwaremont and the outskirts of Ronse.

Pictures > Belgium 2017-11-22: Hotondberg & Kluisberg

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Flemish Ardennes: Panorama route

Autumn foliage having reached its peak I make another splendid hike through the Flemish Ardennes. This time I opt for the Panorama route between Kwaremont and Zulzeke, and extend it with a detour to Scherpenberg.

The hike is about 18.5 km, involves many short climbs, and among other passes Hotondberg, which with a whopping 145 m,  is the highest hill in the province of East Flanders.

Conditions for photography are excellent with a slight haze during the cold morning hours, and brilliant sunshine and sharp-lined clouds for the remainder of the day.

Pictures > Belgium 2017-11-17: Panorama route

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France 2017: Hiking Basses Gorges du Verdon

In July we spent our family holidays in the vicinity of the lower gorge of the Verdon river. Next to packrafting and canoeing the very scenic gorge, I also made an easy solo hiking trip, more or less following the abandoned drinking water canal that runs parallel to the river.

The trail involves stairs, ladders, sections that are cut out of the rock, and tunnels. Striking are the contrasts between the arid plateau above the gorge, and the lush vegetation (mostly mosses) in the Sainte-Maxime ravine.

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Flemish Ardennes: Muziekberg route

After a touch of overnight frost last week, autumn is in full swing now.

On a blustery day with periods of intense sunshine, and unfortunately also downpours of rain, I make a 11 km hike around the 133 m hill named “Muziekberg” in the Flemish Ardennes.

Pictures > Belgium 2017-11-13: Muziekberg route

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Packrafting the Dommel on All Saints Day

The Dommel is a small river that has its source in Belgium and flows into the river Meuse in the Netherlands. The section between Neerpelt (B) and Valkenswaard (NL) meanders nicely through a largely untouched landscape and is therefore popular for canoeing during the summer season.

As the weather on All Saints Day was forecast to be quite pleasant, I decided to descend the Dommel by packraft, from the outskirts of Neerpelt to the Venberg water mill south of Valkenswaard.

I started packrafting just before 10 am and after having arrived at the water mill, swiftly headed back on foot in order to make it back before dark. The return hike was quite enjoyable as I passed through 3 nature reserves: Malpie, Plateaux and Hageven. I eventually got back well before dark at 4:30 pm, with 30+ km of distance covered, packrafting and hiking combined.

The weather was indeed as pleasant as expected as it gradually became sunny and warm after a cloudy start. I did not meet anyone during the entire river descent, and also during the return hike things were generally very quiet.

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