All Thru-hikes in Europe and the USA.
The Fishermen’s Trail is an impressive coastal path in the south of Portugal, especially suitable for winter hiking. I did a beautiful hike from Porto Covo to Odeceixe in four days, where I found steep cliffs, sand in all colors and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean on my side all the time.
In the summer of 2022 Christine and I will hike the Alta Via 1. The AV1 is one of the classic European thru hikes. Hiking this 120 km (75 miles) trail in twelve days, we will exclusively spend the nights in mountain refuges. After all, camping is not allowed nearly anywhere on this trail. The AV1 is traditionally meant to be experienced as a hut tour anyway.
The final part of the Kesch Bergell Trek was mainly a downhill hike, after the initial ascent to the Grevasalvas pass. From the pass I descended to an elevation of almost 2.000 m lower at my final destination in the village of Promontogno.
Ending the Kesch Trek in Bergün, now the third stretch of my thru hike started. Hiking up to the Ela Hut, to Alp Flix and finishing at the Julier Pass, I traversed the entire Parc Ela in 3 days, with one of the most spectaculair passes of all: the Fuorcla digl Leget.
The Kesch-Bergell Trek part 2 consists of the spectacular Kesch Trek. A four day hut-to-hut mountain hike. Because the first hut on the route (the Grialetschhütte) was closed all season, I hiked the trek in 3 days. And I included the ascent of the 3.147 m high Flüela Schwarzhorn at the start.
The Kesch-Bergell Trek is not one continuously marked trail, it is not even one trail! This year I built a 12 day route from various longer and shorter trails in the canton Graubunden, Switzerland. The core of my plan was the Kesch Trek, a 4-day hike to and from the famous Kesch Hütte.
For the Kesch-Bergell Trek in 2021 I swapped some of my gear for lighter variants. But I also carried some heavier items than last year. This resulted in a base weight just below 7 kg (15.4 pounds), not bad for a 12 day hike in the Swiss Alps.
The tenth and final day of the Haute Route started with the nerve wrecking Charles Kuonen suspension bridge and featured more sketchy passages along the trail to Zermatt, the end of the thru hike.
On day 9 of the Haute route I hiked the valley bottom of the Mattertal to the village of Herbriggen, because the first half of Europaweg to Zermatt was closed. Then I climbed out of the valley again, up to the Europahütte, halfway the Europaweg trail.
Day 8 on the Haute Route was a hot and very tough day. From the Meidsee down to Gruben, ascending again to the Augustbordpass and then all the way down to the village of Sankt Niklaus. A total of more than 2.600 meters of exhausting descent.
A long and spectacular day 7 of the Haute Route brought a view of Val d’Anniviers with the Bernese Alps in the distance. Then the first view of the Matterhorn peak and excellent wild camping at the Meidsee at the end of the day.
I have been buying different brands of trail food breakfasts for a few years. But once I became aware that these expensive meals were not much different from what I make myself for breakfast at home, I started preparing my own hiker’s breakfast.
A sunny sixth day on the Haute Route: I hiked along an incredibly blue lake to Col de Sorebois. Leaving the amazing view of the mountain range east I decended to the village of Zinal, where I found the first campsite of my thru hike.
Day 5 on the Haute route was a day of rain, snow and mist. And because of poor visibility quite demanding. Especially the climb up to Cabane de Moiry on a rocky zig zag path with 29 turns in complete mist was exhausting – but beautiful.
A demanding fourth day on the Haute Route. After an easy stroll along Lac des Dix, a steep ascent took me to rough and misty terrain full of rocks, under heavy clouds – with sometimes no trail at all. Halfway I encountered the challenging ladder section at Pas de Chèvres. After that, it was all the way down for hours.
An amazing third day on the Haute Route. I climbed four mountain passes, sled down a snowfield and crossed glacial waters. On the way there were turqoise lakes, a herd of ibex and I reached the highest elevation of the entire Haute Route.
My second day on the Haute Route was a full day of ascending, with exciting views of the Massif du Mont Blanc and the snowy peak of Le Grand Combin. Gaining more than 1.600 meter in elevation, I reached Cabane du Mont Fort early in the afternoon.
The Haute Route, also known as the Chamonix-Zermatt Trail, shares the first 3 sections with the Tour du Mont Blanc, but then continues east into the high mountains. I started my thru-hike in a lovely quiet and green valley as a prologue to another 10 days of desolate fields of glacial rock, almost 3000 meter high alpine passes and stunning views.
When I first started backpacking, I had a heavy Fjalräven backpack and a total weight of about 25 kg on my back. Especially since my first major thru-hike in 2018 in the High Sierra, I have been lowering my pack weight significantly. For my last thru-hike on the Swiss Haute Route I brought my base weight down with another 700 grams, to just about 6,8 kg (15 pounds).
On the last day of the Tour du Mont Blanc I climbed all the way out of the valley, to the panoramic views of Le Grand Balcon and Le Brévent. It was a long way down again to reach the TMB finish line in Les Houches.
Day 8 of the Tour du Mont Blanc was wet, cold …and short. I hiked up to the Refuge du Col de Balme, where I warmed up and made plans for the rest of this rainy day. Then I hiked down to the valley to the first hotel that had a room available. The day ended nicely though, with 4 fellow TMB hikers in an Argentière bar.
Day 7 of my Tour du Mont Blanc was the most impressive day of the tour, and one of the most spectaculair hikes I have done. More than a 2.000 meters up and down a very steep and rough trail, with an hour of scrambling boulders… and sometimes no trail at all.
My sixth day on the Tour du Mont Blanc turned out to be the easiest part of the entire thru-hike so far. The Swiss Val Ferret has a very moderate elevation change, sweet green pastures and a nice cold lake at the end in Champex.
Day 5 of the Tour the Mont Blanc was beautiful and not too hard. I hiked up the Italian Val Ferret to connect with the official TMB again, climbed up the mountains and crossed the Grand Col de Ferret into Switzerland.
Day 4 of the Tour the Mont Blanc would be the longest day of all. Along majestic glaciers, mountain tops and refreshing lakes, I hiked all the way down to Courmayeur. And up again in search of a legal campsite. I reached camp after 12 hours of hiking and a distance of 32 km.