Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Black Forest: Katzenkopf

The third day of our stay in the Black Forest is beautifully crisp and sunny. We hike from our hotel in Oberwolfach (290 m) to Katzenkopf, a lower summit of approximately 650 m on the eastern side of the valley.

The hike first passes the ruins of an old fortress and subsequently leads through the woods to a number of lookouts.

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Black Forest: Brandenkopf

The second day of our stay in the Black Forest marks the return to full winter conditions. Snow relentlessly comes down the entire day, and I decide to make a 20 km solo hike from our hotel in the village of Oberwolfach (290 m) to the summit of Brandenkopf (940 m) – the highest elevation in the central Black Forest.

The hike leads entirely through the woods and since nobody seems to have gone before me, I have to break the trail the whole way. With only 10 cm of snow on the ground at lower elevations this is of course not a problem at first, but towards the summit snow deepens and without snowshoes I only just about manage.

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Black Forest: Hornisgrinde

Between Christmas and New Year we make a short family trip to the Black Forest in Germany. On the first day of our stay we embark on a snow hike around and over Hornisgrinde (1,164 m) – the highest summit of the northern Black Forest region.

Hornisgrinde stands tall above the flats of the valley of the river Rhine. The latter marks the border to France, and across the border the city of Strasbourg and the Vosges mountains can be seen.

The top plateau of Hornisgrinde is very much windswept and seems to have a snow cover of almost 1 meter.

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High Fens: Breaking Trails

December is well on its way to become one of the murkiest on record. It is therefore no surprise that during another 20+ km solo hike across the High Fens conditions are extremely eerie: all is silent and white, and there is hardly a person to be seen. I have to do a substantial amount of trail breaking, but manage relatively easily without snowshoes as there is only up to 25 cm of snow.

Baraque Michel – Noir Flohai – Geitzbusch – Petit Bongard – Helle – Herzogenhügel – Spohrbach – Miesbach – Cléfaye – Pont Marie-Anne Libert – Baraque Michel

Pictures > Belgium 2017-12-17: High Fens

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LLT: Parkbos Gent

The last “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) hike of the year takes us to my own “backyard”, i.e. Parkbos Gent, Westerplas and the village of Sint-Martens-Latem. Conditions couldn’t possibly be better to offer us a true LLT experience thanks to intense downpours of rain, flooded trails, slippery duckboards, remains of snow and ice, mud and low temperatures …

One of the members of the group is celebrating his 80th birthday and to everyone’s surprise he manages to walk the entire 20+ km without issues.

Pictures > Belgium 2017-12-16: Parkbos Gent

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High Fens: First Snows

After a few dustings in November, the first real snows arrive beginning of December on the high plateaus in the east of Belgium.

I make a 25 km solo hike on a day with non-abating light snowfall and pretty pitiful conditions for photography due to the lack of light.

Baraque Michel – Bouquet Bastin – Noir Flohai – Geitzbusch – Petit Bongard – Herzogenhügel – La Béole – Haie de Souk – Botrange – Neûr Lowé – Béleu – Fagne de Polleur – Baraque Michel

Pictures > Belgium 2017-12-03: High Fens

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Seeing off 2016 in Hochsauerland

2016 has been a pretty intense year: I spent a total of 15 weeks abroad, for business and pleasure combined.

The year started with a business trip to Hørsholm (Denmark) in February, followed in April by a skiing holiday in Tignes (France) and a business trip to Girona (Spain). In May I made a short trek through the French Ardennes, and in June I subsequently went trekking through the Rogen (Sweden), Trollheimen (Norway) and Rondane (Norway) mountains. End of June I made a business trip to Aarhus (Denmark) and in July we had a family holiday in Denmark, Sweden and Finland. End of August I did the Hellismannaleið and Laugavegurinn treks in Iceland, and the entire month of September was spent in Quebec for business. In November / December I made another 2 business trips to Aarhus (Denmark), and finally, at the very end of December we had a short family holiday in Hochsauerland.

The region of Hochsauerland around the well-known wintersports resort of Winterberg is mostly made up of dark forests and gentle hills in the 700-800 m range. Highest summit is Langenberg at 843 m. Although the weather wasn’t always very favorable, and quite a bit of time was spent indoors, I did manage to do some hiking, mostly along the northern section of the Rothaarsteig long-distance path:

  • Hike 1 (15.4 km): Ruhrquelle – Küstelberg – Hildberg – Grönebach – Ruhrquelle
  • Hike 2 (29 km): Hochheide – Langenberg – Bruchhausen – Langenberg – Hochheide – Clemensberg
  • Hike 3 (9.5 km): Hochheide – Clemensberg – Langenberg – Hochheide

Pictures > Germany 2016-12: Hochsauerland

I don’t know what 2017 will have in store, but of course I’m hoping for some challenging treks and other types of interesting outdoor (micro-)adventures …

Best Wishes to everyone and Happy Trails!

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