Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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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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LLT: Achouffe

A surprisingly strenuous 16 km hike with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) around the village of Achouffe in the Belgian Ardennes. Nice river valleys with plenty of beaver activity and wonderful vistas over the hilly and forested landscape. We see one beaver swimming towards its burrow and later on I also spot a beaver in the thicket. Only of the first sighting I manage to get a (unfortunately very bad) shot.

Quite a chilly day for the end of April, with a high of 8°C and showers of rain and hail.

Pictures > Belgium 2019-04-27: Achouffe

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Packrafting Ourthe Moyenne

A 29.4 km packrafting trip on the middle section of the Ourthe river on a sunny April Sunday, together with Mathias and Dominic.

We paddle from Maboge to Hampteau, passing the lovely town of La-Roche-en-Ardenne with its medieval castle, and then continue on foot to Hotton, as the stretch between Hampteau and Hotton is – surprisingly – not open for paddling.

The river has a good flow and temperature is well above 15°C. We start around 10 am after a small hiccup, and arrive at 3 pm on the dot, while thunder clouds start moving in.

(Durbuy: 13 m3/s)

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Packrafting Viroin

Another fun outdoor weekend across the language border. After a hike around the lake of Virelles on Saturday and a night spent bivouacking in the forests around Chimay, I meet Glen and Jelle in Dourbes on Sunday morning. The plan is to paddle the Viroin river down to Treignes. Turns out we are lucky to be here today rather than yesterday, since the 3rd Saturday of March the river is apparently not open for paddling due to the start of the trout fishing season!

The Viroin region offers scenic landscapes and well-preserved quaint old villages. The Viroin river today has a good flow and paddling is pleasant. What is disturbing though are the large quantities of organic (tree logs) and inorganic (plastic) debris along the river. Apparently, plastic and other types of waste are a problem quite typical of this river. It’s a shame, really.

We have to port twice due to obstructions. At the old bridge of Vierves there is a huge pile of tree logs, but luckily there seems to be a non-obstructed passage to the left.

After 3.5 hours including a long break we reach the picturesque village of Treignes. Much sooner than expected, since according to all references Dourbes-Treignes is a 20 km stretch, but according to my GPS it is in reality only 13 km. A bit of a mystery…

Weather during the weekend is mostly cloudy but dry. Around 13°C on Saturday and 11°C on Sunday.

(Treignes: 10.3 m3/s)

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LLT: Lac de Virelles

This month’s hike with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) takes me on a 18 km loop around the lake of Virelles, nearby the historial town of Chimay. The terrain is undulating and partly forested, and especially nice are the ubiquitous beds of early wildflowers. Strangely, the lake itself is hardly visible during the entire walk.

After the hike, I drive to Seloignes and from there hike through meadows and woods to a location where bivouacking is permitted. I pitch my tent and enjoy a cosy campfire until the evening falls. The reason for spending the night in a tent rather than returning home is that tomorrow I am scheduled to go packrafting a section of the nearby Viroin river…

Pictures > Belgium 2019-03-23: Virelles

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