Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Three Years of Packrafting

It is now three years ago that I decided to buy a sturdy and inflatable packable raft, also known as packraft. Truth be said, these things are not cheap, so it was a bit of an investment. The question therefore is, was it worth it?

Well, even though I am not overly adventurous and have not been using my raft on whitewater very much, I have been using it quite a bit on lakes and still water, in a variety of countries. So, I definitely do not regret my purchase, since it has brought me to places I would not easily have been able to go to otherwise, and since it has allowed me to enjoy nature in a completely different manner than before!

The furthest I have paddled on flowing water in one day is the 32 km from Vallon-Pont-d’Arc to Sauze on the Ardèche river. The furthest on still water are the recent 23 km on Zuidlede and Moervaart. The time I regretted most not to have taken my packraft was during our family trip to Denmark, Sweden and Finland in 2016, since I could easily have seen myself paddling parts of Lake Vättern, the Stockholm and Turku Archipelagos, and Copenhagen’s Nyhavn.

Anyway, below is an overview of the places I have so far explored by packraft (sometimes more than once). In most cases a video is available, in some cases unfortunately only photos.

Belgium

Leie – Old branch in Astene:

Leie – From Astene to Sint-Martens-Latem:

Leie – From Sint-Martens-Latem to Baarle:

Leie – From Sint-Martens-Latem to Ringvaart:

Ghent waterways (Leie, Lieve, Ketelvaart, Schelde, Coupure):

Zuidlede & Moervaart – From Stenenbrug to Kalvebrug:

Dommel – From Neerpelt to Valkenswaard:

Lac de Nisramont (Spring):

Lac de Nisramont (Fall):

Quebec

La Mauricie NP – Across Lac Wapizagonke to Waber Falls:

La Mauricie NP – From Lac Soumire to Lac Dauphinais:

Sweden

Rogen NP – From Käringsjön to Skedbrostugan

Norway

Femundsmarka NP – Røa waterway:

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Femundsmarka NP – Grøtåa:

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France

Basses Gorges du Verdon – From Quinson to Lac d’Esparron:

Gorges de l’Ardèche – From Vallon-Pont-d’Arc to Sauze:

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Semois: Monthermé

The second day of our weekend takes us to the French part of the Semois region (where the name of the river is spelled as Semoy). We steeply climb up to Longue Roche and enjoy the many viewpoints overlooking the town and its bend in the river Meuse.

In the afternoon we head to the picturesque site of Roc la Tour for a bit of scrambling fun.

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France 2017: Hiking Basses Gorges du Verdon

In July we spend our family holidays in the vicinity of the lower gorge of the Verdon river. Next to packrafting and canoeing the very scenic gorge, I also make an easy solo hiking trip, more or less following the abandoned drinking water canal that runs parallel to the river.

The trail involves stairs, ladders, sections that are cut out of the rock, and tunnels. Striking are the contrasts between the arid plateau above the gorge, and the lush vegetation (mostly mosses) in the Sainte-Maxime ravine.

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Another glorious Easter skiing holiday

A late season skiing holiday in the French Alps always gives a good chance of fabulous weather, pleasant temperatures, and strong contrasts between early summer conditions at lower elevations and good ski fun higher up the mountains. This is exactly what we encountered during our family holiday mid-April in La Plagne: sunny weather all week long, mild temperatures, and skiing from the glacier at 3170 m down to 1350 m.

Pictures > France 2017-04: La Plagne