Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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France 2020: Ardèche

During the second half of July, we make a last minute family trip to the Drôme and Archèche regions in the south of France. Next to regular sight-seeing we also have some hiking, canyoning and paddling on the program. The picture story below zooms in on packrafting and kayaking on the Ardèche river.


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Scandinavia 2019: Reports

It’s almost been one year, but I finally managed to get all 4 reports ready of last year’s early-season hiking / packrafting trip to Scandinavia:





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Scandinavia 2019: Videos

Footage of some highlights of this year’s 8 day, 140 km solo hiking and packrafting trip through the Långfjället, Rogen and Femundsmarka wilderness areas in the Swedish & Norwegian borderlands.

The first video covers about 2.5 days of the Swedish part of the trip. In order to give a feel of the serene atmosphere and solitude of the trip, I deliberately kept the original sound and did not overlay it with music.

The second video was taken during a paddle under windless conditions at 10:30 pm on remote lake Krokathåen, in Norway’s Femundsmarka NP:

Bear in mind that on a trip such as this, I unfortunately never give a lot of priority to shooting video footage, since there is also nagivation, taking pictures, paddling and hiking to be taken care of… The videos are therefore not a comprehensive nor accurate representation.

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Corsica 2019: Packrafting Punta di Campomoro

Punta di Campomoro is a peninsula on the west coast of Corsica, close to the town of Propriano. As many other peninsulas on the Corsican coast, it is guarded by a tower that stems from the era the region was dominated by the Genoese (16th-17th century). The entire coastline from the Campomoro cape down to Tizzano is rather untouched naturally, and is lined with picturesque eroded rock formations.

I make a packraft tour that takes me back and forth from the Campomoro beach to Punta di Scalonu, crossing the Campomoro bay and rounding Punta di Campomoro (9 km, 3 h). There is little wind and the swell therefore does not cause problems. I enjoy paddling through various rock cities, and realize that it is easier for me to get close to the rocks than for the motor yachts, sailing boats and bulky kayaks that pass in the distance from time to time.

One annoying problem with shooting GoPro footage while being out on the sea is that it often happens that the lens gets covered with a layer of salt, making the imagery rather blurry. Unfortunately, the same happens this time.












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Corsica 2019: 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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Scandinavia 2019

Another memorable Scandinavia experience at the end of June and beginning of July:

  • In Denmark I do some short walks on Tornby beach and pay a visit to the massive dunes surrounding (and almost engulfing) the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse. I spend the night on an official remote forest bivouac spot, which is a new experience for me in this country.
  • On the border between Norway and Sweden, I do an adventurous and physically strenuous 8-day trek including packrafting through the adjacent protected areas of Långfjället, Rogen and Femundsmarka. Nights are spent wild camping, and as usual I have to negotiate endless boulders, tree roots, marshes, … while walking.
  • I subsequently head further into Sweden and do a fairly comprehensive 1-day exploration of Sonfjället NP on foot. This park consists of a mountainous area surrounded by extensive forests, and hosts Europe’s densest population of brown bear.
  • Finally, I end up in Skuleskogen NP at the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia. Skuleskogen is part of the so-called Höga Kusten, where since the last ice age the land has risen 300 m from the sea. I do a 2-day trek during which I walk most of the park’s trails.

Full-blown reports including pictures will follow in due time, here is however a sneak preview:









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Italy 2018: Dolomites

In the middle of the hot and dry European summer of 2018 we make a family trip to Val Gardena in the Italian Dolomites. Days are spent hiking, and late afternoon we take a dive in the beautiful swimming pool of the village of Ortisei. Temperatures are generally pleasant and definitely a welcome escape from the sweltering heat of the lowlands.

Northeast Italy’s Dolomites are one of the highlights of the Alps: jagged peaks, scenic alpine meadows, forested valleys and picturesque villages. Of course, this is recognized by many, and this area is therefore by far not the quietest of places. In high season hiking trails tend to be busy, a far cry from what I’m used to up north. Nevertheless, landscapes are absolutely stunning and the area is a must-visit for any mountain enthusiast.

Report > Italy 2018: Dolomites