Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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Packrafting: Videos 2020

2020 has been an utterly strange year, but that hasn’t kept me from making a variety of paddling trips (generally by packraft, but occasionally also by inflatable kayak). In retrospect, there have been paddling activities every month of the year, except in April and November, due to the corona situation.





Corona lockdown…








Corona acting up again…


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Packrafting Semois

33 km on foot and by packraft through the Semois valley in the Belgian Ardennes, on a rather typical murky and chilly (4°C) December Sunday.

I start at the Tombeau du Géant lookout in Botassart at 9:15 am and hike to Bouillon via the newly erected suspension bridge of l’Epine. In Bouillon, I hike up the rock for a view of the early Medieval castle and then put in my packraft.

The river Semois has a good flow and around 2 pm I arrive in Poupehan. Unfortunately, there is no time for lunch nor for a prolonged break, as there is still a relatively strenuous hike ahead and I prefer to return to Botassart before dark.

The return hike takes me via “sentier des échelles” in Rochehaut, a rather steep, slippery and muddy trail with a number of fixed ladders securing the most treacherous sections. It is not so easy negotiating the ladders with a backpack (containing my packrafting gear and with some trekking poles sticking out), but I manage.

Around 4:30 pm, I arrive back at the Tombeau du Géant lookout, a mere 15 minutes before sunset.

(Bouillon: 25.1 m3/s)

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Parkbos Gent: Hiking Challenge

On the morning of Armistice Day, I set myself a little challenge:

  • Complete a hiking loop through Parkbos Gent starting from home
  • Hike at least 15 km
  • Try to do it in 2.5 hours (average speed 6 km/h)
  • Avoid paved roads as much as possible

In the end, I hike a loop that leads via foot trails, duckboards and (muddy) horse trails. I do 15.3 km in 2 hours and 33 minutes. So, challenge succeeded.

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France 2020: Drôme

During the second half of July, we make a last minute family trip to the Drôme and Archèche regions in the south of France. Next to regular sight-seeing we also have some hiking, canyoning and paddling on the program.

The picture story below zooms in on relaxed paddling on the Drôme river and laid-back canyoning in the Toulourenc gorges.

Report > France 2020: Drôme