Upper Hoègne

6 January 2001, Hoge Venen - Hautes Fagnes , Belgium

Paddlers : Steven-XXX, Piet-gliss, Vincent-voodoo, Michel-kendo?, Bruno-kaituna, Dirk-topo and Birdy-vertigo

Part One - Les Cascatelles

(Limited access)


Go to part II - Cascade Leopold II


This is probably the hardest creek in Belgium, but also one of those that only has water once or twice a year.

Unfortunately it was one of those cold rainy dark winter days and we shot the pictures with a cheap small camera non-water-resistant that I held in the back of the boat ... that says all 'bout the quality of the pics.

Piet turning The Hoègne starts quietly, then drops suddenly over a couple of kilometers. This is the nice part and it starts with 500 meters grade IV-V, steepcreeking, called 'Les Cascatelles'.

The riverbed isn't wide, 5-6 meter, so there aren't much lines to choose from. And most of the drops, you just got to take in the middle, all you need is a lot of ballllssss.

But still because it's only a couple of 100 meters, we'd like to study it and choose the most spectacular lines.

This is the first rapid, a hairpin bend right. The problem was that dropping down, you'd catch speed, so you could miss the turn at the bottom and hit the rocks halfway, as you see above by Piet.

I started taking a line more left with more water, but I got sucked in the hole and it held me for a second, when I got out I had lost speed so no problem taking the curve... Although I don't look very stable in the pickie.

Birdy struggling but OK


Piet In the second rapid is reversed, first the curve and then the drop. Left of the picture you see the rocky line, possible, but you might hit your elbows. Another paddler just did it, before we arrived, no problem.

But here you see Piet going for the line right of the picture.

Steven sinking This is Steven, the same line, a second later. You don't see much of him, but hey, what do you expect, steepcreeking in a XXX.


Finally someone showing off. Here's Vincent, taking the middle line, boofing, that's it. He's a little bit off center, 'cause just left of him, you see a little V-shaped triangle, that's the lip, the center line, over the rock.
Vincent boofing

And when hit that line, it's airtiiiiiime, booooffing, all the way down. BIRDY flieeeeeess. Yeeeeehhaaaaaa.

A little railgrab would have completed the show, but hey you can't expect all in once.

Birdy flies !!! Mega-boooffff

The pickies of the next two rapids were underexposed, too dark. Lucky me, no pickies, 'cause I stole the show another time, unfortunately not in a positive sense.
Two 2 meter slides, 1m50 wide, no lines, just take the middle
, have balls, there ain't much you can do.

But halfway the second drop was a slight curve to the left, the water formed a mushroom against the outside rock. It looked very much like any paddler taking this on, was going to hit that rock. But Dirk and Steven passed without a problem. They didn't touch a thing.
But I calculated, that if I started totally right and boofed left, I could avoid the mushroom and the rock. Unfortunately I never got there, upright. Instead I missed the boof and got pinned in the drop. I was pinned vertical, right up, not a good place to be in. Although my head was out of the water and I could smile and wave to Steven, waiting in the eddy below. I could reach out to Michel, our photographer. But I felt water on my knees and thought the spraydeck had gone loose, so I had to get out of the boat. I gave my paddle away and Vincent and Michel started pulling me out. But on the first pull, the boat came loose and of I went ... without paddle.
Lucky surprise, the spraydeck was still on.
The first drop, no problem, then the mushroom and the rock, a problem, and over I went taking the last drop upside down. I was expecting some headbashing but I didn't hit anything. Then I was thinking, shit I 've got to handroll back up. The first attempt failed, but I saw Steven in the eddy, so the second try, I grabbed his little XXX and pulled me up. Héhé, man, wow what a ride. Just felt like a blooper video scene of "Full on" :-)
I should have kept my mouth shut, criticizing Steven on using a XXX for steepcreeking, 'cause when I pulled myself up, grabbing his XXX, he just smiiiiled ...

part II - the fall Cascade Leopold II


 back to pic's !            back to base !


***Limited access, only NKV/FFC-members.
All Belgian rivers are regulated by the local governments. Some of them can only be paddled with the authorization of the Belgian Canoe Association. Next to being a member, getting a license and wait for authorization, there are lots of other regulations you have to respect in order to be able to paddle a limited-access-creek. More info on the water-page.