Summer overnight trip on the Grensmaas

An active rain zone swept over Belgium during the night with about 25mm of precipitation as a result. When I left work during the morning, the river discharge of the Maas at Maaseik still showed the usual low summer discharge of about 50m³/s. I met Willem on the train to Maastricht. When we arrived in the city, we immediately walked straight to the dam of Borgharen. A few months earlier in April, I had been packrafting the river already at low water levels starting from this same spot. Now when we descended to the river just downstream of the dam, I became a little shocked by what I saw. The water level stood 1.3m higher than last time! It must have been increasing very rapidly during the last hour. After lunch we threw our packraft in the water and immediately floated downstream in the faster current.

After some time we arrived at the mouth of the small tributary Geul and fought ourself upstream on foot through the debouching rapid. The river was only 3 to 4m wide, ideal to have some fun in the final rapid and a good exercise in ferrying through the narrow rapid for Willem.

Back on the Maas we paddled till the bigger rapids (though still PR2) near the village of Meers and looked for a bivouac spot on the riverside. Next day we continued till Maaseik while further enjoying the rapids and the fast flow at the outer bends of the river. The rapids didn’t look exactly the same as the time before due to the much higher discharge. Some became a bit tougher but most of them looked more fluent now. Still it remained a lot of fun and luckily Willem didn’t fell out of his packraft because my friend didn’t yet found a fitting PFD for himself. Next time from Maastricht to Maaseik at bank full discharge in a half day? Sounds like possible.

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