Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Packrafting Zuidlede & Moervaart

In the middle of this year’s big summer heat wave, I make a ~20 km solo packrafting trip on Zuidlede and Moervaart.

I put in around 10 am at Stenenbrug and paddle east towards Eksaarde. Given the tropical weather conditions, I am expecting a lot of traffic on the water, but much to my surprise the atmosphere is serene, and I don’t meet a soul all the way until the 2nd portage. At that location, I move from Zuidlede to Moervaart and suddenly things get rather busy with paddlers and bathers.

Once beyond the Sinaai bridge, peace and quiet return and during many kilometers I am practically alone on the water. I reach the community of Moerbeke and subsequently pass under a number of historical bridges: Coudenbormbrug, Dambrug, Vapeurbrug and Terwestbrug. Between Terwestbrug and Kalvebrug I take out and walk some 3 km to where my car is parked.

I combination with another trip on Zuidlede & Moervaart, which covered the western half of the Zuidlede / Moervaart loop, I have covered the entire loop since I have now also done the eastern half.

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Kayaking Leie – bis

Two days after my previous after-work solo kayaking trip on the river Leie, I again take to the water and paddle 12 km from the public jetty of Sint-Martens-Latem to the entrance to the Bourgoyen nature reserve, on the outskirts of Gent, passing Afsnee and Sint-Denijs-Westrem in the process. Weather is as beautiful as last time, and the atmosphere is still of a southern riviera.

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Packrafting Dijle

Back in October we did the Florival-Korbeek and Korbeek-Leuven stretches on the river Dijle on 2 separate occasions. This time however, Tom and I attempt to do both in one go. There is some rain in the forecast for later in the day, but if we don’t lose too much time, we should be able to complete our trajectory under a fair amount of sunshine.

We park at the tiny Florival railway stop, walk to the put-in and start paddling around 10 am. Water level is definitely a lot lower than in October, but there is a nice enough current and we make good progress. The section between Florival and Korbeek-Dijle is known for its many fallen trees and other obstacles, but we manage to get passed everywhere easily, and without getting out of the boat.

After a short lunch break in Korbeek-Dijle, we continue paddling towards Leuven. We pass some locks (we had to portage here last time, but not now) and arrive at the Arenberg castle where the water mill is currently being restored. Due to these construction works we have to portage to the other side of the bridge.

We pass the Grote Spui historic watergate and enter the city of Leuven. At the Dijle mill is a passage with some back current that is to be reckoned with, and downstream the historic Justus Lipsius and Jansenius towers, there is a bit of slaloming between bikes and other debris in the water.

Eventually, we take out at 3 pm at Tweewaters, just before entering the long and dark tunnel below the Ambev brewery, after 23 km of paddling. We walk to the railway station and catch a train that takes us back to Florival, where we arrive at 4:16 pm.

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Paddling Rekkelingebeek

Tucked away under a weeping willow on the shores of Oude Leie in Bachte-Maria-Leerne, is the entrance to a little creek by the name of Rekkelingebeek. Evert and I have had our eyes set on it for some time, so when Evert checks in for an impromptu after-work paddling trip (canoe / inflatable kayak on this occasion), it doesn’t take long for us to decide to explore this little hidden gem.

The most challenging part of the trip is probably the very beginning, as we meet several series of fallen trees. As usual, a bit of acrobacy is needed to get passed. Soon after however, the creek widens and we enter a picturesque pastoral landscape. We observe several kingfisher specimen, as well as other more common water birds, such as coot and grey heron.

Approximately halfway, we reach another obstacle: a strange-looking curved tree that acts as a narrow gateway to the other side of the creek. We manage to get through, although only just about.

Not far from the well-known Filliers jenever distillery, we cannot proceed further and turn back to Oude Leie. In the meantime, sun has sunk and we are treated to a rather spectacular colorful evening sky.

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Packrafting Dender

A scenic 10 km packrafting trip on the river Dender from Schendelbeke (Geraardsbergen) to Pollare (Ninove).

Evert and I meet up somewhat after 10 am in Pollare in order to drop off our bikes at the take-out location. The idea is to use them to get back to the put-in, after getting off the water. From Pollare we subsequently drive by car to Schendelbeke, and start paddling.

Today’s weather seems to be quite a bit better than forecast, and we much enjoy the scenery and intense sunlight. We were expecting to meet other paddlers, but in the end we only see one and hence have the river to ourselves. There is a short portage at the locks of Idegem-Grimminge, other than that the trip is however very uneventful and relaxing.

After an hour or two of paddling we arrive in Pollare, have lunch on the public jetty and then mount or bikes to get back to Schendelbeke.

Before heading back home, we pay a short visit to the nature reserve of “De Gavers” and I personally also have a peek at the hill named Oudenberg (110 m) in Geraardsbergen, which offers a nice view over the surroundings and is renown for a steep stretch of cobble stones named “De Muur van Geraardsbergen”.

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