Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


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Packrafting 2019: Videos

Here’s an overview of all the packrafting videos that I produced in 2019.

It turns out that I did at least one trip every single month of the year, except for the month of May, for some unclear reason.

In addition to the trips below, I also paddled the river Leie in August and the river IJzer in December, but of these trips I do not have video footage.

January

February

March

April

May

No trips!

June

July

August

September

October

November

December


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Packrafting Houille

Another murky but luckily mostly dry December day when Evert, Jelle and I put in at Vencimont for a descent of the river Houille. Back in January we did the same descent, but took out somewhere below Felenne, before entering into France. This time we intend to continue across the border, to a location downstream of the village of Landrichamps, where we have our second car parked.

Temperature is around 6°C and after several recent rainy episodes the flow of the river is just below the allowed maximum. The descent is therefore fast and exciting, and several portages are required due to fallen trees and beaver dams. Generally, concentration needs to remain high due to tree branches, rapids, low bridges (I even take a swim at one of these), and small dams.

One location at a meadow just before entering Landrichamps is particularly dangerous, as there is barb wire across the entire river bed. Luckily red & white tape has been stuck it, so it is not entirely invisible. The situation nonetheless is rather unacceptable.

After slightly more than 4 hours and 18.5 km of paddling, we arrive at the take-out. Tired, but content.

(Felenne: 7.87 m3/s)

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Packrafting Punta d’Omigna

Punta d’Omigna is a scenic cape on the west coast of the island of Corsica. It has nicely restored remains of a Genoese tower, and is located between the Pero and Chiuni beaches, in the vicinity of Cargèse.

Packrafts are not really made for the open sea, but that doesn’t mean it is not possible to use them on a trip close to the coast. During a recent family trip to Corsica I therefore put in at the Pero beach. My plan is to paddle around Punta d’Omigna, and take out at the Chiuni beach. The return trip to the put-in location will be on foot.

There is a 5 m/s sea breeze, which is not a problem in terms of head wind, but it does cause quite a bit of swell. I’m fairly sensitive to sea sickness, nausea hence starts to set in after a while. I round the cape with care, do not experience problems, and then turn towards the Chiuni beach supported by a nice tail wind.

The return hike is easy and scenic, and after 12 km and 4 hours, I arrive back at the put-in location, in time for a swim with the rest of the family.

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Packrafting Le Marais Audomarois

A 17.5 km packrafting trip with Evert & Jelle through the marshes around Saint-Omer in the north of France, on yet another gorgeous (but rather chilly) November day.

Interestingly, at the time of my first trip in this area, canals had old, weathered and hence illegible signposts. In the meantime all of them apparently have been replaced by new and much clearer signs.

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Packrafting Le Marais Audomarois

“Le marais audomarois” is an extensive area of marshes just outside the town of St-Omer in the north of France. Last time this region was invaded by the sea was around the era of Charlemagne, but since then most of it has been made suitable for agriculture. What remains is a vast and rather unstructured network of waterways (named “watergangs” by locals) that offers numerous options for paddle tours.

I take to the water around 10:00 am at the ISNOR water sports center in the village of Clairmarais. After a circumvention of the Romelaëre pond, I make a tour nearby the village of Salperwick, and finally a tour close to the village of Le Doulac. I get back around 4:00 pm, after having paddled 21.9 km.

Typical about this area are not only the canals, but also the rather shabby and disparate habitation throughout the marshes. Some dwellings can be reached via small backroads and funny bridges, others can only be reached by boat.

The network of canals can be very confusing, so I have to rely on my GPS to stick to the right trajectory. In principle most of the important canals have a strategically located wooden signpost with their (usually old-Flemish) names, but the signs are often weathered and hence illegible.

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Knipsel


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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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