Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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Packrafting IJzer

On Ascension Day, I make a solo day tour of 33 km by packraft and on foot through the valley of the river IJzer, in the west of the country.

I put in at the beautiful jetty of Roesbrugge around 10 am and paddle upstream in the direction of the French border. The river quickly narrows, is slightly overgrown in places, and leads through an attractive agricultural landscape. At the other side of the border, the river narrows further, becomes less deep and the countercurrent is noticeable. I pass the bridge under road D947, scare an owl out of its nest, pass a number of obstructions of plant residues and eventually arrive at a place about 1 km short of Bambecque where I have to turn around, as the depth of the water becomes insufficient for comfortable paddling. I return to Roesbrugge around 12:30 pm.

Interesting to mention is that on the French part of the river, there are a number of stretches with lush underwater vegetation, surprisingly clean water and plenty of big fish that are easily observable. I’m assuming that these are spawning areas for some of the river IJzer’s fish species.

In the afternoon, I paddle downstream from Roesbrugge to Stavele, and then further until the locks at Fintele. Even though it rains profusely during the entire stretch, I do enjoy it as there is nobody on the water and there is virtually no wind.

While taking out in Fintele, clouds break and it becomes pleasantly sunny. I hike back to Roesbrugge along the river and much enjoy the beautiful landscape and intense colors.

I return to my car in Roesbrugge at 7 pm after 22 km of packrafting and 11 km of hiking. In fact, I have done today’s trip twice before, however this time it was slighter longer than previously, as I managed to get further into France than before, and also managed to paddle until Fintele, instead of Stavele or Elzendamme.