Filip H.A. Claeys

Trekking in Mountainous and Subarctic Regions

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A Brussels Waste Bag in Jämtland

In the southwest corner of the very sparsely populated Swedish province of Jämtland lies a remote farm by the name of Käringsjön. This farm is the gateway to a complex lake system, and at the heart of the lake system is a wind shelter that can only be reached by boat. Just like anywhere else the idea is that everything that is packed into a place like this, is also packed out, especially garbage.

During my recent visit to the Käringsjön wind shelter I notice a waste bag attached to the shelter’s wall. This is surprising by itself, but what is even more surprising is that the bag appears to be an official waste bag of the community of Brussels, Belgium. Apparently some fellow country men or women considered it appropriate to just dump their waste instead of packing it out as everyone else does. What were they thinking? That a Brussels garbage truck is going to pass by to collect their junk? Really despicable behavior…





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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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LLT: Xoffraix

A 16.5 km hike with the “Lustige Lochtingterters” (LLT) along the Warche, Bayehon and Pouhon creeks, at the rim of the High Fens plateau. Starting place is the village of Xoffraix, and one of the highlights is the Bayehon Cascade (merely 9 m, but still the highest natural cascade in Belgium).

Pictures > Belgium 2018-06-16: Xoffraix















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Packrafting Zuidlede & Moervaart

Zuidlede is a 15 km creek that flows through a largely unspoiled pastoral and forested landscape in the province of East Flanders, Belgium. In fact, Zuidlede is the original upper section of the Durme river. Around 1300 AD a canal named Moervaart (22.5 km; also sometimes referred to as Noordlede) was dug to bypass the narrow and meandering Zuidlede. Both Zuidlede and Moervaart have now lost their economic significance and are used for recreational purposes only.

On a pleasant Sunday morning I start paddling Zuidlede around 9:30am at Stenenbrug in the direction of Mendonk (i.e. west). After a scenic journey through woods and agricultural lands, I end up at the Moervaart canal and paddle northeast to Kalve bridge, passing Overlede bridge in the process. Both are old iron drawbridges that are protected by law, just as the natural scenery around them. After lunch I paddle the entire stretch back to where I came from, adding up to a total of no less than 23.1 km, which is the furthest I have ever paddled on still water during the course of one single day. I return around 4:30pm after a very pleasant day, with many sightings of bird species such as blue heron, black cormorant, great crested grebe, coot and moorhen.

A couple of remarks:

  • The section of Zuidlede east of Stenenbrug is probably equally scenic, but passage is not allowed here from April 1 until June 30 due to the breeding season.
  • At the moment of writing there is no public jetty at Kalvebrug. The jetty at the Kalvebrug canoe rental is private property and cannot be used. The shop attendant is rather strict about this.
  • There are a number of public jetties along Zuidlede where it runs through the Puyenbroeck Provincial Park.
  • The bridges at Stenenbrug and Puyenbrug are quite low. Depending on water levels one may have to stop paddling, lie back and push one’s hands onto the ceiling to proceed (as I did).














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Sweden 2016: Packrafting Rogen

8 minutes of relaxing video footage from my 124 km – 7 day solo hiking and packrafting trek through Rogen (Sweden) and Femundsmarka (Norway) in June 2016. The video covers the first 2.5 days of the trek, and was entirely shot on Swedish soil.

The locations in the video are the following: Hävlingen – Rogen – Nässjöbäcken – Tandsjövålen – Käringsjön – Kråksjön – Källsjön – Uthussjön – Öster-Rödsjön – Väster-Rödsjön.

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Norway 2017: Femundsmarka

The pictures and full report of last month’s 5 day – 125 km solo trek through Femundsmarka (and a bit of Rogen, on the Swedish side of the border) have been uploaded:

Unfortunately, the trip was cut short since I had to return home unexpectedly halfway through. Nonetheless, this was yet another fine adventure blessed with reasonable weather conditions (contrary to the foul weather further west, that I was luckily able to avoid).