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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Quebec 2016: Packrafting La Mauricie

Video footage of 2 days of packrafting in La Mauricie National Park, situated in the Laurentian Mountains somewhere halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

Day 1 is the popular tour to Waber Falls. Day 2 is a tour through the park’s backcountry to Lac Dauphinais, requiring several portages.


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Quebec 2016: La Mauricie – ter

On the second day of my last weekend in Quebec I pay another visit to the national park of La Mauricie. There’s quite a bit of wind, so I go for a hike instead of a packrafting trip.

I park at the Mékinac parking and do a combination of the Mékinac and Les Deux-Criques trails. These trails lead through a hilly and densely forested area, and offer a series of lookouts on the park’s woods and lakes, as well as the Saint-Maurice river. In the afternoon I also hike part of the Les Vieux-Brûlis trail.

I will be flying back to Europe soon, so this will be the last Quebec post (at least for a while).

Pictures > Quebec 2016-09-25: La Mauricie

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Quebec 2016: Charlevoix – bis

Winter is coming, and it is coming fast, at least in Quebec’s Charlevoix mountains.

I spend the first day of my last weekend in Quebec in the Grands Jardins provincial park. Although the day is generally sunny, daytime temperature on the Charlevoix heights is only around 5°C. There’s a cold northerly wind blowing and snow flurries come in every once and a while. Indeed, summer is over and winter is on its way…

I first hike up to Mont du Lac des Cygnes and return via the Le Pioui trail. I get to see a beautiful fox from up close, and enjoy the display of autumn color. There’s still quite a bit of green at lower elevations, but higher up intense yellow and reddish colors are clearly starting to appear.

In the afternoon I also hike the La Pinède trail in the vicinity of the Château Beaumont cabin. In this area there are thick carpets of moss that have given the park its name.

By 5 PM temperature has sunk to a mere 2°C and a new load of snow flurries seems to be coming in. I therefore call it a day and return to Quebec City where temperature is about 8 degrees higher.

Pictures > Quebec 2016-09-24: Charlevoix

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Quebec 2016: Jacques Cartier

Many trips to the Quebec province and the city of Quebec itself, but never had I been to the Jacques Cartier provincial park, although it’s only a stone’s throw (i.e., some 50 km) north of downtown Quebec. So, on Saturday I finally decide to pay a visit to this 670 km2 park that is made up of densely forested hills, plateaus and deep river valleys.

A school bus shuttle takes me from the service center to the trail head of Les Loups, the park’s best known trail. Since one trail a day isn’t nearly enough, I afterwards also respectively take care of the La Matteucie, Le Draveur Sud, Les Cascades and Les Coulées trails. In all probably just over 30 km.

Pictures > Quebec 2016-09-17: Jacques Cartier

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Quebec 2016: Quebec City

Following popular demand, here’s a set of pictures from a walk through picturesque Quebec City, starting at the “Plaines d’Abraham” park (which is literally the backyard of my temporary residence), and continuing via the iconic “Château Frontenac” to “Vieux Quebec”. First down to “la basse ville” and then back up to “la haute ville”.

Pictures > Quebec 2016-09-10: Quebec City

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