Monday, June 27th, 2011
I “wild camped” (technically illegal) awaking to the gorgeous vistas of the High Corse.
At this point, I wasn’t sure how strict were the prohibitions against tenting. When I reached the first Refuge, it would be obvious that I must have slept out.
Happily, nobody seems to care on the GR20. There are no “Park Rangers”. But be discrete.
Mountain huts are spaced at regular intervals on the GR20. Hikers are asked to stay at either a Refuge, or at other official accommodation. Bivouacking is not allowed. Surprisingly, I saw no sign that anyone else but me wild camped. People seem to like the Refuges.
Personally, I found Refuge Ortu di u Piobbu quite unappealing. The building sleeps 30. Or you can cram into the cattle proof enclosure with your tent.
Water availability, however, often decides where you can and cannot camp. It’s ill advised ever to walk past one of these water sources …
The trail seeks to stay as high as possible. Wonderful. But physically challenging, especially with a heavy pack. In sunshine, everyone takes the high route. (Low level alternatives are used in winter and foul weather.)
Hot and dry, I cursed my stupidity at carrying so much food when (somewhat expensive) delicious meals are available at the Refuges. It’s very easy to eat at Refuges without sleeping there.
End of June, wild flowers are still a highlight on the GR20.
Day 2 had much less elevation gain, but many tricky scrambling sections, most notably the traverse of Capu Ladroncellu’s south face.
The GR 20 was envisioned as a ridge walk along the spine of the island. As such, the trail often switches from one side of a rocky ridge to the next, maximizing views on both sides.
… slippery rock slabs, through tight corridors, past wind-eroded breaches, overlooking dizzying drops, and down stretches of precipitous, loose shale …
I had hoped to bypass the next campground, Refuge de Carrozzu, but couldn’t quickly find a flat alternative out of sight of the trail. Exhausted, I backtracked and took a tent site.
That Refuge is swarming with ants! Those sleeping under the stars were bothered, but my 1-man coffin (MSR Hubba tent) is secure from insects.
It’s possible to rent-a-tent in case of bad weather … or ant attack. Most rentals are Quechua brand.
At Carrozzu I learned that Refuges are not all bad. Most provide cold showers, for one perk. …
This suspension bridge over an excellent swimming hole is the signature photo op of this Refuge.
It was here too that I saw my first Orchid. Lovely.
See more annotated photos from day 2.
I slept as if in a coma, again, night 2. But still worried whether or not I was going to finish the entire 180km+ GR20.
Two hikers I spoke with that evening had decided to quit here, both with horrific blisters.
Then in the middle of the night I awoke suddenly, both hamstrings cramped. (… I’ve had a history of muscular cramping after strenuous exercise.)
Will I be able to finish this adventure?