Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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Packrafting Demer

Descending the river Demer from Diest to Aarschot with Evert and Tom. This river marks the border between the Hageland and Campine regions and for some reason is one of the few scenic rivers in Belgium that none of us have ever paddled.

We put in a bit after 11 am and are pleasantly surprised by the current of the river, the nice tailwind blowing from the northeast and the sunny conditions. After a lot of greenery, several meanders and some small rapids, we reach the village of Zichem with its 14th century lookout tower (which plays a role in the Flemish heimat novel “De Witte van Sichem”).

A while later we pass through the village of Testelt and enjoy a series of 3 rapids that bring back memories of packrafting trips in more hilly areas such as the Ardennes. For paddlers without any experience, these rapids may offer a bit of an unexpected thrill.

The river is strongly embedded in the landscape and taking out is not trivial. We hence have lunch in our boats while floating down the river. It is only many kilometers further, in the village of Langdorp, that we are finally able to get out and have a longer rest.

The last stretch towards Aarschot is easily taken care of and at 4 pm we take out at the Demervallei sports center, after approximately 20 km of paddling. To be honest, we didn’t have overly high expectations of Demer, but after today’s experience we have to reconsider. No doubt the unforeseen fine weather plays a role in our appreciation.

(Zichem: 7.10 m3/s)