Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions


1 Comment

LLT: Zedelgem

Winter has been abnormally warm thus far, but during a hike around Zedelgem with the LLT gang, temperature is merely +2°C. In addition, the weather is unfortunately again gray and foggy.

We start our ~15 km hike at the house of one of the members of the group, who happens to live right at the edge of the Vloethemveld woods. We learn about the former military facilities in the area, lend a hand to a tree planting campaign, and have our traditional aperitif and lunch outdoors.

Pictures > Belgium 2020-01-25: Zedelgem

DSC_0007

DSC_0013

DSC_0033

DSC_0036

DSC_0061

DSC_0066

DSC_0069

DSC_0073

DSC_0127

DSC_0140

DSC_0145

DSC_0146

DSC_0163

DSC_0171


Leave a comment

Packrafting Basse Lesse

The river Lesse is one of the most scenic in Belgium and the lower section between Houyet and Anseremme easily sees hundreds of paddlers on a nice summer’s day (water levels allowing, that is). In winter however, there is often not a soul…

On a frosty January morning, I put in at 10 am in Houyet for a solo descent. There are no technical difficulties on this part of the river, however since there is a good flow today, the current is not to be underestimated.

I pass the village of Gendron and subsequently paddle below the Furfooz rock formations. The fog of the morning hours starts to clear, and it becomes fairly sunny. Next on the trajectory are the rock needles of Chaleux, which are surprisingly spectacular when viewed from this angle, and are actually not something one would expect to find in Belgium.

The most impressive sight of the day is probably the castle of Walzin, which sits high above the river, on top of a vertical rock face. The castle stems from the 11th century, but has been rebuilt several times. Some parts are however still original.

I take out at the Villatoile camping, a bit before Anseremme. Since my plan is to hike all the way back to Houyet, there is absolutely no time to lose. I therefore cannot afford to take a break for lunch.

The return hike first takes me through the woods above the Walzin castle, while weather turns cloudy. I pass a lookout that offers a view towards the castle, and then one that looks over the river bend at Chaleux. As of Furfooz, the trail leads along the river and becomes very muddy.

Eventually, I arrive back in Houyet at 5:15 pm, after having travelled no less than 37 km by packraft and on foot (average travelling speed: 5.1 km/h). In order to make it back before dark, I was not able to take any breaks at all today, except for photo stops. So, a pretty intense day!

PS: I deliberately chose to hike back, whereas in this case, I just as well could have taken the train.

(Gendron: 24.74 m3/s)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4628.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4675.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4662.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4685.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4686.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4694.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4699.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4701.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4716.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4722.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4733.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4734.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4743.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4747.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4749.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4771.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4778.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4780.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4796.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4800.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4814.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4803.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4823.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4825.JPG


Leave a comment

Packrafting Aisne

A cloudy but calm day in the Belgian Ardennes with a temperature of approximately 5°C. Evert, Jelle and I meet up for another packrafting trip, and this time we are also joined by Berten, an avid mountain biker who has developed an interest in packrafting.

At 10:15 am we put in at the village of Fanzel, intending to float down the river Aisne to Bomal-sur-Ourthe. Today’s flow isn’t particularly high, but it is still sufficient to have a comfortable ride (although a bit less so than during our previous trip of February 2019). We have to take out twice due to fallen trees, and Evert’s good deed of the day is to clean up one of these obstructions. We also take out at a concrete dam, although strictly speaking this is probably not necessary. All other dams are jumped, some of them even multiple times.

We arrive in Bomal around 12:45 pm, after 12.5 km of paddling. We fool around a bit with our cameras, pack up, and head home after another pleasant day on the water.

(Erezée: 1.68 m3/s)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4335.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4336.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4341.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4344.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4358.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4359.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4364.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0014386.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0044411.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0044414.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0044415.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0044416.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0044417.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0054421.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0054422.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0054423.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0054424.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0054426.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0094489.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0094496.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0104528.JPG

DCIM100GOPROG0114548.JPG

81930701_2222770761157728_6199928756568588288_n

81981551_518835588735432_1011647420217425920_n

82157345_2828079550548033_168650459337195520_n


Leave a comment

Promenade des Echelles

After having descended a section of the river Vierre by packraft in the morning, I drive to the village of Rochehaut, which sits high above a scenic bend in the river Semois. Although it is already 2 pm and days are short early January, there should still be enough time to do the so-called “promenade des échelles” or ladder hike. This hike is quite short (less than 6 km), but is still surprisingly strenuous as it steeply goes down and up the flanks of the Semois valley. At 4 places permanent ladders have been installed to conquer near-vertical rock faces.

It takes me 2 hours to complete the hike, including several photo stops (GoPro). Weather remains dark and gloomy, but the hike is still pleasant.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4142.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4151.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4153.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4155.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4185.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4189.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4195.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4198.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4209.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4217.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4237.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4252.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4264.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4266.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4267.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4282.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4286.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4297.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4298.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4307.JPG


1 Comment

Packrafting Vierre

Temperature is just above freezing when Jelle and I put in at the quiet village of Martilly for a descent of the river Vierre, which seems to have a good flow today, although not excessively. We get going at 10 am while the initial sunny spells of the early morning hours start giving way to low clouds and fog.

Vierre is rated 3 stars in terms of technical difficulty and “engagement”, however we experience it as rather easy. The river is constantly meandering, but with a manoeuvrable floating device such as a packraft, this is not a problem.

We have to portage 3 times (2 fallen trees and 1 low bridge) and after having passed the village of Straimont, and a lot of beautiful natural scenery and signs of an active beaver population, we already arrive at the take out in Suxy around noon.

(Straimont: 7.26 m3/s)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4051.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4054.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4055.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4056.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4068.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4069.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4072.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4076.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4086.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4087.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4088.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4092.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4108.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4109.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4110.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4111.JPG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4127.JPG


Leave a comment

Flemish Ardennes: Everbeek

The weather forecast calls for a sunny day, but that’s unfortunately not how New Year’s Day 2020 turns out in much of the Flemish lowlands. We don’t let ourselves be deterred by the conditions and make a misty and muddy 10 km family hike around the village of Everbeek-Boven in the Flemish Ardennes.

Pictures > Belgium 2020-01-01: Everbeek

DSC_0023

DSC_0027

DSC_0028

DSC_0037

DSC_0045

DSC_0046

DSC_0050

DSC_0051

DSC_0067

DSC_0077

DSC_0082

DSC_0086

DSC_0094

DSC_0098

DSC_0099

DSC_0105