Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Packrafting the Dommel on August’s Last

Last day of August and temperatures are again soaring to unexpected heights. I manage to convince Evert and Glen to join me on another trip on and along the Dommel river: i.c. the classical descent from Neerpelt (B) to the Venberg water mill (NL), followed by a return hike through the woods, heath and wetlands of the Malpie, Plateaux and Hageven nature reserves.

The entire trip is a bit over 30 km and takes us approximately 7.5 hours to complete, including a one hour lunch break. Even though the summer has been warm and dry, the water of the river is surprisingly clear and cool, and the flow is quite good.

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Flemish Ardennes: Kartuizer route

An easy 14 km hike on Assumption Day along the Kartuizer route in the Flemish Ardennes. The trail passes through a typical hilly pastoral landscape as well as interesting villages such as Hemelveerdegem (picturesque village square) and Sint-Martens-Lierde (partially preserved historic Carthusian priory).

The weather is rather chilly for the time of year. Clouds move fast, but at least it doesn’t rain…

Pictures > Belgium 2019-08-15: Kartuizer route

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Packrafting the Ghent Waterways

An after-work evening paddle with Glen and Evert through the historic center of the city of Ghent.

We put in at Korenlei, first paddle back and forth to Rabot, and then make a counterclockwise circumvention of the heart of the city. We pass through the vaults below Laurent square, descend the slide at the Scaldis locks and regain the 1.20 m height difference by portaging the St-Joris locks. Sun sets and the nicely lit historic buildings add an extra dimension to the trip…

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Packrafting Leie

21 km of paddling on the river Leie, from Astene via Sint-Martens-Latem, Drongen and Sint-Denijs-Westrem to the marina at the other side of the Ringvaart. Departure at 9:30 am and arrival at 3:30 pm. No noticeable current but some waves and swell caused by the parade of pleasure yachts that typically starts around 11 am on any sunny Sunday during the summer season…

Fairly strenuous physical exercise, lots of greenery and many older and newer posh riverside dwellings.

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Iceland 2018: Report

The report of my 200 km solo trek through the Icelandic highlands during the second half of August has been uploaded. In fact, given the sheer number of pictures, I decided to split it in 3 parts: the first is an account of the hike from Landmannalaugar to Langisjór, the second of the return hike from Langisjór to Landmannalaugar (via a different route), and the third of day hikes around Landmannalaugar itself.

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Iceland 2018: Fjallabak to Langisjór (and back!)

10 days, 200 km walked, 7300 m climbed, countless rivers forded, 2500 pictures taken: these are some of the statistics of this year’s Iceland solo adventure…

Two years ago or so I came across the blog of outdoor photographer Alex Nail and was immediately taken by his rendition of one of Iceland’s hidden gems, i.e. the Langisjór lake. Although Langisjór measures no less than 20 km and is hence one of the largest lakes in the country, it is hardly known to the general public due to its remoteness and notoriously barren climate. Truth be said, until I read Alex Nail’s blog, I had actually never heard of Langisjór myself either…

More or less around the same time fellow Belgian hiker Kasper Geuns and his partner Charlotte post on their outdoor blog an account of a trek covering Langisjór, the Eldgjá area, Fjallabak NP, and the well-known Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails. I take an interest in some day hiking a trajectory similar to Kasper’s, however excluding Laugavegur since I have already hiked it twice (i.e. in 1998 and 2016).

During the second half of August 2018 I finally find the opportunity to take on the intended challenge. Taking into account bus schedules (which late August are a bit less favorable than earlier in the season), I decide to start in Landmannalaugar, hike to Langisjór, and then return to Eldgjá to catch a bus back to Landmannalaugar. Thanks to growing confidence during the course of the trek however, I eventually forget about the plan to catch a bus in Eldgjá, and hike all the way back to Landmannalaugar!

Given that I lost 4 kg of body weight during the trek, I guess it is fair to say it was one of the more challenging I did so far. Daytime highs were around 6°C mostly and except for 2 days of rain, weather was quite reasonable with a fair amount of sunshine. From a photographic point of view, this trek was probably one of the best ever, thanks to an almost endless succession of absolutely stunning and extremely varied landscapes.

Of course, a full report of the trek will follow in due time. Below are just a couple of randomly chosen pictures that hopefully give some idea of the variety of landscapes.

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