Welcome to my blog! I am Willem Vandoorne, born in 1987, and still living in flat but cozy Belgium in Northwestern Europe.
I guess my obsession for mountains and wilderness sprouted in summer 2005, when I had the privilege to join a 15-day scientific expedition to Arctic Spitsbergen. Before, I had hardly slept in a tent or seen a mountain worthy that name. We endured horrible weather conditions throughout most of the trip and like most of my companions, I had some pretty bad moments out there. But I also felt curiosity and a longing for more.
The following year, I started making mountain trekkings. In 2006, I was joined by some friends for two serious trekkings on the Norwegian Hardangervidda and on the famous GR20 trail on Corsica. I noticed I only really started to enjoy things after some 10-15 days, so I decided to try crossing the Pyrenees from Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea in 2007. The result was a fabulous 54-day trekking through what I still consider to be one of Europe’s finest mountain ranges. I covered more than half of the distance solo. I returned to the Pyrenees in 2008 and 2010 for trekkings of 36 and 48 days. I chased flocks of chamois, slept on the summit of some of the highest mountaintops of the range, and swam in pristine lakes. Besides shorter trips in the Alps and Scotland, I continued exploring my second love: Scandinavia. I made a 4-week trek through Jotunheimen and Rondane in 2008 and a solo crossing of the Svartisen-Saltfjellet wilderness in 2009.
Throughout the years, I learned to compose my own tracks instead of following pre-designed waymarked routes or the traces of others, mostly just by looking at the maps and let the affection grow in my mind. Eventually this method will give birth to a hike which comes straight out of your heart. This philosophy is now very clear in every trek I make!
My longing for the big outdoors culminated in recent years with a 4-month thru-hike of the Scandinavian watershed in 2012, a solo journey through the wilderness of Southern Greenland in 2013, and a solo traverse of New Zealands Southern Alps in 2015. For this string of long solo hiking and packrafting traverses, I was awarded the Golden Paddle Award of the American Packrafting Association.
In 2013, I have also started my own small company, offering packraft rentals and a few guided trips in Belgium and Western Europe. I’m also in full training to – hopefully – become an International Mountain Leader in a few years.
If you have questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment, or send me an e-mail at wvdoorne AT hotmail DOT com