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“If you’re not moving, you’re standing  still.”


Steve Trafton

Traftons Make Fall Hikes in Europe

The Grand/Grand Traverse

Over the past ten years Katherine and I have undertaken a “Grand Traverse” of Europe. Our goal has been to hike from the headwaters of the Thames River to the Slovenian border. After completing the Thames River Trail in 2010 we then set out from Ostende, Belgium and hiked across Belgium to the intersection of the Belgium, Luxemburg and German borders. Then south along the Luxemburg/German border to France. After that we would hike south across eastern France to Lausanne, Switzerland. From Lausanne our trek continued via a high route across the Swiss Alps to Lichtenstein and on along the mountains of the Swiss/Italian border. Our route then followed the Italian/Austrian border through the Dolomites and Austria’s Leinzer Alps to Plockenpass near the Slovenian border.


As of the beginning of September, 2019 we had completed all but a small segment of our intended route about 150 miles in length, in southern France between St. Maurice sur Moselle, France and Lausanne, Switzerland. For “extra credit” we had also completed a hike around and over Mont Blanc (2010), around the Matterhorn (which I climbed in 1996), and the famous climbers “Haute Route’’ between Chamonix, France and Zermatt, Switzerland (2012).

Since we were nearly at the end of our “Grand Traverse” we decided to expand the project by adding a traverse from Lausanne to Monaco on the Mediterranean, thus turning our traverse into a West/East and North/South” Grand/Grand Traverse” of Europe.

This September Katherine and I set out to complete the first leg of our Lausanne to Monaco hike and to then head north and whittle anyway at the remaining 150 miles of our West/East European traverse.

High Level Route La Chapelle D’Abondance to

Chamonix, France

September 9, Katherine and I flew to Geneva, Switzerland and then took a train to Montreux. After overnighting in Montreux, we took a short train ride to Monthey, Switzerland then hired a car to take us to our starting point at the Hotel Les Cornettes in La Chapelle D’ Abondance (3350’), France.

I should add that in 2014 we had hiked over the mountains from Lake Geneva to our starting point, but persistent rain storms prevented us from going any further.

We started along the road out of town and, in about a half mile turned right at the metal cow sculpture and headed up into the foothills toward the Trebentaz Hut (6102’).

After about three hours, we arrived at this scenic perch high above the Valle D’ Abondance.

The next morning, we set off from the hut and climbed up and over a pass (7000’), and then down and across a beautiful plateau to the Col de Bassachaux (5833’).

After a short rest we continued  across rolling terrain to the Col de Chesey (6535’) on the Swiss border.

From here it was a short hike to our stopping point at the Refuge de Chesery (6470’) where we spent the night.

On the 12th, we left Chesery and hiked up to the Portes de I’Hiver (6877’)…

…and then down once again Chaux Palin (6047’) and across a long rolling plateau…

…and down to a farmhouse at La Poyat (5347’). Here the trail rose sharply up to the Col de Croux…

…and into France once again. Then it was down again to 4660’ before climbing up to the Col de la Golise (5453’). From the Col de la Golise it was a long downhill trudge to the village of Samoens (2306’). This strenuous day had a total ascent of 2200’ and a total descent of 6365”!

We set out from Samoens at eight the next morning (the 13th) and hiked along a river for about two miles before beginning our hike back up once again. We hiked up the Gorges des Tines, using ladders to climb past several cliffs…

…and on upward to the Chalet de Lignon (3870’) where we had lunch before continuing on up the Collet d’Anterne (5892’).

Here we were treated to our first view of Mont Blanc. We had reached another high plateau and it was but a short walk to our stopping point for the night the Chalets d’Anterne (5932’).

On the 14th we continued on and hiked up to the Lac d’Anterne (6750’) and then up to the Col d’Anterne (7405’), a 5100’ ascent from Samoens.

Then it was down again to the Pont d’Arleve (5240’, a bridge across a small river at the bottom of the valley. From here it was a three hour slog up a mountainside to the Col du Brevent (7769’). What a view!

The entire Chamonix Valley lay before us. After a short rest we headed on up the Le Brevent (8284’).

Here we intersected the trail we had taken during circuit of Mount Blanc in 2010. After resting on top of Le Brevent we took the tram down to Chamonix and spent the night before heading north to the St. Maurice sur Moselle.


Hike Between St. Maurice sur Moselle, France and

Porrentruy, Switzerland

September 15:  After a good night’s rest and some great French cuisine in Chamonix, Katherine and I set off for St. Maurice Moselle, the endpoint of our hike through the Moselle River Valley, about 150 miles north of Lausanne. We traveled by bus from Chamonix back to Geneva, where we caught a train to the beautiful town of Strasbourg, France where we spent the night. The next morning, we traveled by train to Nancy, France and then to the small town of Remiremont, France.

September 17th, we left Remiremont and traveled by bus to our starting point at St. Maurice sur Moselle.

We hiked up a trail which climbed from the Moselle River Valley up to the summit of the Ballon d’Alsace. We took a short rest here and admired the great Bronze Statue of Joan d’ Arc.

From here we hiked a short distance down the road to a statue commemorating the lives of soldiers tasked with disarming land mines during World War II.

Then we followed a trail on down through the forest and along the La Savoureuse River to the town of Lepuix and on to the town of Giromgny, France, where we spent  the night.

September 18th, we left Girongny and hiked out of town where we picked up the trail through the foothills and down to the village of Bas-Evette. From there, largely on bike paths, we hiked another ten miles into the city of Belfort, France where we spent the night and planned the last leg of our route to Porrentruy.

September 19th, we left Belfort and hiked on country roads and bike paths east to the small town of Delle, France and then took the train to the town of Porrentruy, Switzerland.

September 20th, we took the train back to Delle and hiked a short distance along the road to the Swiss border at Boncourt, Switzerland in the foothills of the Jara mountains.

From Boncourt we followed trails through foothills and along a river valley to Porrentruy.

We now had only about one hundred miles left to go on the West/East European traverse. Our plan is to complete this last segment of our journey in the Spring of 2020.

Traftons in Peru

High Adventure Begins



June 6, 2019: Katherine and I flew from Seattle to Dallas, then boarded our flight to Lima which landed in Cusco, Peru. We arrived on the morning of June 6 and spent the day with a walk around Cusco while acclimating to the 11,250-foot elevation of the Andes Mountains.



June 7, 2019: We spent this day taking longer walks which included several up and down hill-climbs in town. Then we watched the military parade at the central square celebrating Inti Raymi’rata…or the summer solstice… which actually occurs later in the month.



(Click image to view large size.)



June 8, 2019: We moved to our new hotel and met the rest of our hiking group. Afternoon was spent touring the city of Cusco, which included a visit to the Santo Domingo Church built atop the ruins of the Inca Temple Coricancha (Temple of the Sun). In the late afternoon we drove to the top of the hills around the town and walked through the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, a magnificent Inca fortress.



June 9, 2019: On this morning, our group boarded a van which would drive us to the starting point of our hike through the Andes. Along the way we stopped at the Inca site of Quillarumiyoc. Then we drove on to Mollepata, a small town where we had lunch before continuing on to Challacancha at 11,900-feet. Here we would start our hike of two and a half miles. There was 800 feet of elevation gain to Soraypampa and our accommodations at the Salkantay Lodge. The lodge is situated at the edge of Soraypampa and is dominated by spectacular views of Humantay Peak (19,412 feet) and Salkantay Peak (20,500 feet).



June 10, 2019: We started early for a 1,200-foot hike up to a beautiful emerald green Humantay Lake, nestled below the imposing peak of the same name. Once we had explored around the lake we continued up to the top of a knoll (14,000 feet) where a shaman blessed tomorrow’s hike over Salkantay Pass (15,213 feet).




June 11, 2019: We started early again for our 8 mile hike over Salkantay Pass. Leaving Soraypampa behind, we made a gradual ascent up the valley toward Salkantay Peak. Rounding Humantay, the trail steepened as we switch-backed toward the pass. Since the group was moving a little slowly for Katherine’s and my pace, we moved ahead and arrived at the pass about 20 minutes before the others. The hike to the pass was about four miles and 2523 feet of elevation gain. After a short rest at the pass, we began the 4-mile descent to the Wayra Lodge (12,812 feet) where we spent the night.



June 12, 2019: Starting at about 9 am we began our 3400-foot descent down from the breathtaking alpine scenery we had enjoyed during the last few days and then disappeared into the cloud forest below. Three hours later we arrived at the Colpa Lodge (9,914 feet), located on a 1,000 promontory above the confluence of three rivers.



June 13, 2019: Today we continued to descend by hiking down a step-way trail into the Santa Teresa River Valley. After 5 or 6 miles we began to hike past coffee plantations, banana trees and passion fruit orchards. We hiked on for another two or three miles to a big suspension bridge which crossed the Santa Teresa River. We met a van which drove us about 30 miles down valley and then hiked up an old trail to Lucma Lodge. At 7003 feet in altitude, we were now 8,210 feet lower than Salkantay Pass.



June 14, 2019: After breakfast we set out for climbing up the Inca Trail toward Llactapata Pass (8,974 feet). The 2,000-foot climb seemed easy in the denser air of the lower altitude. After crossing the pass we began our 3,165-foot descent to the Urubamba River in the valley below. On the way down we got our first view of Machu Picchu in the distance, across the valley. As we approached the river, we walked past avocado orchards and bamboo forests until we reached the train station for the ride up to Aguas Calientes, located a short distance from the ruins of Machu Picchu.



June 15, 2019:  After breakfast we caught the bus up Machu Picchu (7292 feet) and spent the whole day exploring. Rediscovered by American Hiram Bingham in 1911 and restored to a great extent during the intervening years, we were able to appreciate the intricate Incan architecture and stonework. We also walked to an Inca drawbridge. Built into a vertical cliff, it also was one of the entrances to Machu Picchu. Another hike was up to Inti Punku (the Sun’s Gateway). That afternoon we toured the various structures and received lectures on the “city” of Machu Picchu itself.



June 16, 2019: We returned to Machu Picchu where I hiked to the top of Huayna Picchu at 8,835 feet. That is the prominent mountain which is the viewpoint for many pictures of Machu Picchu. While I was climbing, Katherine climbed the much higher Machu Picchu Mountain (10,007 feet).




June 17, 2019: We returned to Cusco and celebrated our 40 miles of hiking trails with 9800 feet of elevation gain and 15,237 feet elevation loss. This was a spectacular journey!