Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Norway 2017: Femundsmarka

The pictures and full report of last month’s 5 day – 125 km solo trek through Femundsmarka (and a bit of Rogen, on the Swedish side of the border) have been uploaded:

Unfortunately, the trip was cut short since I had to return home unexpectedly halfway through. Nonetheless, this was yet another fine adventure blessed with reasonable weather conditions (contrary to the foul weather further west, that I was luckily able to avoid).

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Packrafting the Grøtåa river (Part 2/2)

Towards the end of my 5 day – 125 km solo trek through Femundsmarka I returned to the Grøtåa river for some relaxed paddling on its lower section. In the meantime the weather had turned for the better and I much enjoyed both the river and the camp I had established in the vicinity of mount Kratlvola. Fine weather and low winds unfortunately also mean mosquitoes in these areas, so a headnet was unfortunately in order.

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Packrafting the Grøtåa river (Part 1/2)

Grøtåa is a small, remote river in the backcountry of Norway’s Femundsmarka National Park, practically on the border to Sweden. The 3rd week of June I did a 5 day – 125 km solo trek through Femundsmarka, during which I descended parts of Grøtåa by packraft.

The source of Grøtåa is the Grötvallsjön lake, which is situated on Swedish soil, above the tree line. The river starts as a narrow and shallow current that meanders through reindeer grazing grounds and marshland. Afterwards it makes a drop and enters the Femundsmarka heartland with several nice flat and wide sections.

I started the descent of Grøtåa only meters away from its source. Due to the narrow and shallow first section of the river, I was initially in for a bumpy ride, with a need for short portages every now and then. Especially at the fence that keeps the Norwegian and Swedish reindeer herds apart, portaging was inevitable. Although without danger, I guess some might say packrafting this part of the river is a bit crazy, and I therefore wouldn’t be surprised if I were the first to attempt it…

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Another glorious Easter skiing holiday

A late season skiing holiday in the French Alps always gives a good chance of fabulous weather, pleasant temperatures, and strong contrasts between early summer conditions at lower elevations and good ski fun higher up the mountains. This is exactly what we encountered during our family holiday mid-April in La Plagne: sunny weather all week long, mild temperatures, and skiing from the glacier at 3170 m down to 1350 m.

Pictures > France 2017-04: La Plagne


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Bois de Wallers

In the center of the densely populated and heavily industrialized north of France are the woods of Wallers-Arenberg. These woods are best known for a horrible stretch of cobble stones that leads through them, and is often the place where the cycling classic of Paris-Roubaix is decided.

Although April is nearing its end, weather unfortunately seems to have taken a turn for the worst, and it is therefore a rather dull and chilly day when I join the Lustige Lochtingterters on a 25 km hike through the area.

Pictures > France 2017-04-22: Bois de Wallers


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A rough and tough snow slog

Ever wondered about good ways to test physical fitness? Well, here’s an idea: consider a 20 km snowshoe slog through half a meter of freshly fallen snow … That’s what I did on Sunday on the high plateaus in the east of the country, and it was seriously tough.

I started my ordeal at Mont Rigi and plodded along the Polleur, Bayehon and Ghaster creeks. Especially the trail along the latter was virtually impossible, and at a certain point I had to give up by steeply climbing out of the valley towards a track in a more reasonable condition.

The weather was pretty murky with a couple of snow showers. Not overly cold though.

Mont Rigi – Polleur – Setai – Bayehon – Ghaster – Bayehon – Setai – Polleur – Mont Rigi

Pictures > Belgium 2017-01-15: High Fens

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