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Kesch Trek

Introduction

The Kesch Trek, also known as the Kesch Trail, is a famous long-distance hiking trail in Switzerland. The trail is named after the Kesch Hut, a mountain refuge located in the Eastern Swiss Alps. The original Kesch Trek covers a distance of around 56 kilometers and connects three mountain huts through the alpine landscape of Graubünden. In 2020 I hiked the trail with two friends, we decided to extend the trek by adding another trail to the mountain hut in the Vereina valley. All in all, we trekked a total distance of 83 km over a span of four days.

The route...

Distance: (56 km) 83 km

Duration: 3 to 5 days

Total elevation: (3000m) 3900 m

Fitness: challenging

The Kesch Trek is about 56 km, with starting point in Bergün or Davos. The trail connects three mountain huts:

  1. Es cha hut (

  2. Kesch hut (

  3. Griatletch hut (

We chose to extend the trip by adding another cabin in the Vereina valley, increasing the distance to 83 km

   4. Vereina Berghaus (

This makes that the trail can be hiked in 3 to 5 days.

My Daily Strava activities (Photos, notes and gpx-files)

 

Day 1: Bergün - Es cha hut (0 - 20 km)

Day 2: Es cha hut - Kesch hut - Grialetch hut (20 - 48 km)

Day 3: Grialetch hut - Vereina berghaus (48 - 68 km)

Day 4: Vereina berghaus - Davos (68 - 83 km)

Navigation

The GR10 trail is marked with red and white blazes, painted on trees, rocks, and other landmarks along the trail. They are fairly easy to follow and you will come across several written signs as well. It is still recommended to download a navigation app or carry a guidebook as backup.

Navigation App:

Best navigation app for the Kesch Trail is Maps.me, a free offline navigation app that offers detailed maps and points of interest for the Kesch Trail (cabins, potential water sources...). The app can be used offline and allows you to download maps for specific areas in advance.

Top 3 Guidebooks for the Kesch Trail

  1. The GR10 Trail: Through the French Pyrenees by Paul Lucia: This comprehensive guidebook covers the entire GR10 trail and provides detailed descriptions of each stage, as well as information on accommodations, water sources, and other important details.

  2. Walking the GR10 Across the French Pyrenees by Brian Johnson: This guidebook provides detailed descriptions of each stage of the GR10, as well as information on local flora and fauna and historical landmarks along the trail.

  3. The GR10 Trail by Paul Jenner: This guidebook covers the entire GR10 trail, as well as several alternate routes and variations. The book includes detailed descriptions of each stage, as well as information on accommodations and other practical details.

Camping, Water & Resupply

🏕️ Camping is only permitted at designated campsites along the GR10 trail. These campsites are marked on the maps (Maps.me) and guidebooks. Follow Leave No Trace principles: This includes packing out all trash (burry toilet paper), using established fire rings (if allowed), and minimising your impact on vegetation and wildlife.

Be prepared for weather: The weather in the Pyrenees can be unpredictable, and it is important to be prepared for changing conditions when camping on the trail. Make sure to bring appropriate clothing, shelter, and gear to stay warm and dry.​ 

🏚️ Mountain refuges along this section:

  1. Refuge d'Arlet: This mountain refuge is located on the GR10 trail between Lescun and Gabas. It offers dormitory-style accommodation, meals, and basic facilities.

  2. Refuge de Bious-Artigues: This mountain refuge is located on the GR10 trail between Gabas and Etsaut. It offers dormitory-style accommodation, meals, and basic facilities.

  3. Refuge d'Estaing: This mountain refuge is located on the GR10 trail between Etsaut and Gavarnie. It offers dormitory-style accommodation, meals, and basic facilities.

  4. Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube: This mountain refuge is located near the end of the GR10 trail in Gavarnie. It offers dormitory-style accommodation, meals, and basic facilities.

 

💧Water: it is recommended carrying a water filter, water sources are abundant along this section. You'll cross several towns and cabins along trail where you can fill up your bottles. A water filter can function as a backup when you run out of water. Some water sources are also indicated on Maps.me. 

🍪 Resupply: There are several grocery stores and bakeries along the GR10 trail between Lescun and Gavarnie where you can stock up on supplies and food. 

  1. The village of Lescun has several small grocery stores, a bakery, and a butcher where you can purchase food and supplies before starting your hike.

  2. The village of Gabas has a small grocery store and a bakery where you can purchase food and supplies.

  3. The village of Etsaut has a small grocery store, a bakery, and a butcher where you can purchase food and supplies.

  4. The town of Cauterets, located near the midpoint of the GR10 trail between Lescun and Gavarnie, has several grocery stores, bakeries, and other shops where you can purchase food, supplies, and equipment.

  5. The village of Gavarnie, located near the end of the GR10 trail, has several grocery stores, bakeries, and other shops where you can purchase food, supplies, and equipment.

It is important to note that some villages and towns along the GR10 trail may have limited hours or be closed on certain days, so it is a good idea to plan ahead and stock up on supplies when possible. Additionally, it may be helpful to carry some snacks and emergency rations with you in case you are unable to reach a grocery store or bakery.

How to get there?

Lescun:

🚗 By car: Public transportation to Lescun is limited, it is recommended to drive, rent a car or hire a taxi to get there. There is a small parking lot next to the Hébergement in Lescun where you can leave your car for free for the entire trip. 

🚌 By train & bus: Alternatively you can walk up to Lescun from the nearest bus station in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, which is about 6 km away (uphill). You can take a bus from the Pau train station or the Oloron-Sainte-Marie train station, make sure to check the schedules in advance.

✈️ By plane: The nearest airports are Pau Pyrénées Airport (about 1 hour and 30 minutes away by car) and Biarritz Pays Basque Airport (about 2 hours away by car). However, I would recommend flying to one of the cheaper airports in France or Spain and take public transport to Pau train station.

Gourette:

🚌 By bus: Gourette is a small ski resort in the middle of the French Pyrenees. The bus service between Laruns and Gourette primarily operates during the winter season when the ski resort is open. During the summer months, the bus service may not operate as frequently or may not operate at all, check the local tourist information on available services during summer season.

Cauterets:

🚌 By bus: There are two bus companies ('L'Yre' and 'Transdev') that operate routes from other nearby towns, including Lourdes, Luz-Saint-Sauveur, and Saint-Lary-Soulan, to Cauterets. Nearest train station is in Lourdes which is about 30 min away. Bus company 'FlixBus' operates long-distance bus services that connect Cauterets to other cities in France and Europe.

Gavarnie:

🚌 By bus: There is a bus service (La Bigourdane) that operates between Gavarnie and the nearby town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur, where there is a train station. There are usually several departures per day, while during the off-season there may only be one or two departures per day. It is recommended to check the schedule in advance and book your ticket if possible. The bus departs from the bus station in Luz-Saint-Sauveur and makes several stops along the way to Gavarnie, including at the popular ski resort of Gavarnie-Gèdre. The total travel time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Kesch Trek - Day 1

Bergün - Es cha hut (0 - 19.4 km)

Kesch Trek - Day 2

Es cha hut - Kesch hut - Grialetch hut (19.4 - 47.2 km)

Kesch Trek - Day 3

Grialetch hut - Berghaus Vereina (47.2 - 68 km)

Kesch Trek - Day 4

Vereina berghaus - Davos (68 - 83 km)

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