All Thru-hikes in Europe and the USA.
The first 5 days of the GR5 involved a long and steep initial ascent into the Alps and unexpected and extraordinary scenery. I also met a number of other solo hikers. Within a few days a we formed a more or less loose group, hiking and camping together most of the time. Getting to know these wonderful people has enriched my experience on the GR5 tremendously.
In the summer of 2023 I hiked 14 days on the GR5 (Grande Randonnée 5). While the complete GR5 starts in my home country (the Netherlands), I hiked the part that crosses the French Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea. As two weeks are not enough to hike the complete route to the sea, I hiked halfway to the city of Briançon.
The Papago Wall and Slide is, according to many, the most demanding section of the Escalante Route, Grand Canyon. Preparing my hike I consulted many trail reports and video’s online, but most of the descriptions I found were at least partly mistaken. This is my attempt at a guide to the Papago Wall and Slide.
The fifth and final day in the Grand Canyon was a continuous climb to the South Rim. A strenuous path past copper and uranium mines on rugged debris, steep rock stairs and icy snow.
At day 4 of the Escalante Route I said goodbye to the Colorado River as I ascended to the Tonto Platform and beyond to the Hance Creek oasis.
Day 3 of the Escalante Route was the shortest of all, but it featured two of the most spectacular sections of the route: the 75 Mile slot canyon and the Papago Wall and Slide.
Departing from Tanner Beach, the first part of the Escalante Route is pleasantly easy. The second half, starting with the Dox Traverse, is more strenuous but offers the most impressive views of the Grand Canyon.
Hiking down the Grand Canyon on the Tanner Trail is time traveling through a billion years of rock sediments, while passing many different climate zones. Starting with snow at the South Rim, I ended at a desert oasis with my feet in the Colorado River.
For the Escalante Route in the Grand Canyon I carried a lot more weight on my back than on other hikes. Some of the extra load consisted of luxury items, but most of it was absolutely necessary for canyon hiking. The cold night temperatures and harsh wilderness terrain necessitated special gear.
The Escalante Route is celebrated as both the toughest and most beautiful trail in the Grand Canyon. I hiked this route in November 2022 and I was amazed by the spectaculair views of the Canyon and Colorado river I didn’t even know existed. Do you want to hike the Escalante Route? Read on for everything you need to know about this adventure.
During our final section of the Alta Via 1 we saw the most amazing sunset at Coldai and walked below the impressive ‘Wall of Walls’ of Civetta. After Rifugio Vazzoler we exited the trail to Listolade where a bus drove us to Belluno.
Day 4 and 5 of the Alta Via 1 held high passes and spectacular rocks in store for us. Sometimes steep and challenging, we were always rewarded with dramatic views. Due to impending storms we changed our plans in order to arrive at the rifugio’s before thunder and lightning began.
The first three days of the Alta Via 1 started with a steep climb up to Rifugio Biella and continued along various mountain huts offering stunning views of the Dolomites. On the third night we slept at Rifugio Scotoni, just off the official Alta Via trail, avoiding the the defiantly high Lagazuoi hut.
The Alta Via 1 is a 120 km (75 miles) hike through the South Tyrolean Dolomites. The trailhead to this hike happens to sit at one of the most beautiful lakes of Europe: the Lago di Braies. Before Christine and I started the Alta Via 1 we stayed in the magnificent Hotel at the lake. The 3 days at the trailhead became a fantastic holiday in itself.
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.