The first time we went to the Maas, we explored a couple of big lakes near Stevensweert and Kessenich. Big lakes according to Belgian standards, made by the gravel industry. I've wanted to post a small bit about it in the blog before, but in the end I didn't get quite to it. Beautiful locations, a bit of wind and some nice waves is in a nutshell what made it a great trip, but it was cold and wet. Luckily we had great accomodations.
But...! We heard stories about an interesting piece of the Maas a few km's upstream from our location at the time. Near the city of Maasmechelen there is a meander where the river almost makes a 180° turn. But, I'll get back to that after the following facts.
One of the interesting things about the Maas is that the rivers flow is largely made up out of rainwater, so the height of the water level is very dependent of the seasons. During the summer months almost all the water is used to feed the Juliana channel. Consequently it happens that in some places you can cross the riverbed without almost wetting your feet.
On the flipside of the coin, after winter, when there is a lot of melting snow and an occasional big spring storm you get a rather fast flowing river. In some places, like in the picture above, there are some nice rapids to test your skills.
Click on the picture above if you will, need I say more? We could not believe the amount of plastic nor the height it was lodged in the trees. This must mean that the water level could vary more then two meters.
We always fish at least two pieces of plastic out of the water, no matter where we are. Faced with these huge amounts it seemed a bit futile. But, if everyone who enjoys the great outdoors, took two pieces of plastic home and recycled them, there would be quite a different view the next time we went out.
Ok, back to the meander of the Maas. Much to our surprise we were faced with a rather fast flowing river, in some places we even needed a bit of legwork to get back to our starting point. Combining this with some creative use of the water flow we managed to get back on the right side of the river..
I simply love this piece of the river, it is a great place to buff up your skills. You can paddle all day long and never move an inch forward, kinda like a treadmill for kayaks. Or go with the flow, cross the rapids, improving your balance, best don't forget your spraydeck.