GR20 during the first half of October


Posted: Sat, Aug 30, 2008, 13:25

can anyone here say how reasonable it is to walk the GR20 from north to south starting the 27 of september? i know most of the refuges will be unstaffed when i reach them, but there should be enough places to stock up on food (Haut Asco, Castel di Vergio, Vizzavona, etc), im more concerned about the weather.
also, is there any need to cross rivers by foot? (fording)?


Posted: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 6:46

I just returned from GR20, thought i'd update this post with info from 2012.

Briefly about the trip - i hiked solo (did meet quite some people on the way though) North->South from the 2nd till the 12th of October.

Backpack - was about 17-18kg, had a small bivy tent, sleeping bag with +4 comfort, mattress, food from Calenzana to Vizzavona and after from Vizzavona till Conca, 2,3l of water.

The weather turned out just great, not too cold (walked in shorts and T-Shirt most of the time), got only a little bit of rain, but it was raining very heavily before i left and it seemed like it would do the same after i finished.

My strategy was to leave earlyish (~6:30) and double on the days with good weather (i prefer to walk more on the good weather days and skip a day if it's horrible or dangerous weather), worked out just dandy.

I doubled Ascu Stagnu -> Tighjettu -> Ciottulu di i Mori (etape 4+5), Manganu -> Petra Piana -> L'Onda (7+8), L'Onda -> Vizzavona -> E Capanelle (9+10), Prati -> Usciolu -> A Matalza (12+13), A Matalza -> Asinau -> I Paliri (14+15). Found all of these very doable, although 7+8 was pretty hard with a long descent and then a pretty long climb at the end.

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Accommodation, water, food:

All the refugees were open, but the only ones which were guarded (and also had the possibility to sell food) were Tighjettu and Ciottulu di i Mori. But these were the last days for them to be open too, Ciottulu di i Mori was supposed to close a few days after i left (5th of October).

What i should mention - the new refuge at A Matalza is open for sleeping in big tents or bivouc. I don't know for the building itself, i didn't go to it, but there was some guy (probably guardian, but he left in the evening), who let me into one of the big tents free of charge and also gave me a can of soda. Very nice guy. Contacts for the refuge - 0988774797, 0689309043 or matalza.julien <>

Food - i was carrying all of mine (rice, sausage, tuna and a lot of cookies (which is cheaper, tastier and has about the same amount of calories per 100g when compared to dehydrated food if you choose wisely)), so it wasn't really important to me, but for someone planning on buying on the way:

Ascu Stagnu - should be possible and seemed like it would be open for a little longer than the other refugees, but when i was there the guardian had fallen of some steps and was in the hospital - therefore - no food available. There is a restaurant nearby, which, from what i've heard, has hearty dishes for a reasonable price, maybe it's possible to buy a little something from them too.

Castel de Vergio - you can buy bread, chocolates, dried/fresh fruit, seemed like they have rice, canned tuna and so on too, pretty descent. Also there is a restaurant.

Vizzavona - there's a little shop (Epicerie) where you can buy bread, pasta, canned goods, cheese, sausage, ham, eggs, chocolates, little waffles and so on. Was great for me to refuel, but it was low season so it had very little choice and was going to close on the 11th of October. There is also a small shop at the Gite d'Etape, but it had even fewer goods. There is also a restaurant in which, to celebrate the end of the North Part, i had a pretty good meal of the day (wildboar ragu with pasta).

Alternative is to take the train to Vivario, which takes about 20 min and where you should be able to find everything you want.

Bavedda - seemed to have a little shop, but it was closed. The Gite d'Etape doesn't have anything for sale out of food, but there are restaurants.

I didn't encounter any other places where one can buy food or i don't remember. All of the bergeries, etc. were closed.

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Gas - surprisingly - found gas in all of the refugees, i did carry my own stove and 240g of propane/butane, but never got to use any. No idea when does the gas run out in the refugees, but i'm sure it does at some point, maybe i was just lucky, left the full can of fuel at the end in Conca.

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Other insights:

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Beware of wildlife - a lot of tents, including mine were attacked by a fox in the refuge of Manganu. Really nasty fellow, super aggressive, attacked one guy 3 times, bit him in the arm, even if he didn't have any food or anything in his tent. Dragged out things like metal mugs, drinking pouches, etc out of tents. Bit my tent several times (and i also made a hole myself when i was defending myself with my walking stick). Was probably with rabbies, as it really isn't normal for an animal to behave like that.

I'm sure i've hit it with the walking stick pretty hard, others said they managed to hit him with a rock, the guy that was bitten had kicked him hard.

I used to sleep with the bivy completely open, but on that night, as if by chance, had the mesh closed and i'm really glad about it, because when i woke up at 3:30 at night i saw a face looking straight at me and when i shouted at it it jumped straight at me. Had it not been for the mesh i'd probably lost my eyes or at least had some serious damage done to my face. Beware, close at least the mesh on the tents.

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Bedbugs - as my tent was sort of ruined and i didn't want to do a field repair on it - i slept in the refugees after - bedbugs and lice in E Capanelle, Prati. I slept on the tables or on the benches in the kitchens afterwards to try to avoid them. Don't think i got any, no bites, no itching, but pretty nasty still.

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Overall a very nice hike, several good places to take a swim in the little rivers, enjoyed it. The south is a bit of an anti-climax after the more challenging north, but well, what can you do:) The gite d'etape in Conca is a nice place to winddown after the hike, offering pretty good rooms if you want to stay inside with hot showers and a very good dinner service for a descent price. Breakfast was tiny, but the dinner was lovely.

Pay a lot of attention to the weather, when it's went and slippery it can be a real hellhole in some parts of the north.

Good luck, have fun, hope the info helps someone planning their trip in October.


Posted: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 9:23

Missed out on probably the most important part - water was available as a source in all the refugees and also some sources could be found in between the stages.

Running water (shower/toilets/sinks) worked in a few refugees in the beginning of the trek.


Posted: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 10:49

For the sake of curiosity, could you elaborate a little more about the face you saw?
I reckon it was the fox?

On a sidenote, the little shop in Village de Bavella was also closed when I was there on the 19th. september.


Posted: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 14:50

Thank you Audrius for your precious detailed report. Sorry to hear about the fox. Some years ago there used to be a wild boar the size of a cow around Petra Piana that would haunt campers at night.



Posted: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 15:07

Some interesting reading from the class of 2008. It kind of shows up the need to continue the threads from year to year to make the information really meaningful. I would guess that the 'way things are found' will vary from year to year.
The folks that made the decision to go westwards when the weather appeared to be uncertain for the journey between Manganu and Petra Piana to avoid the high ground to me looked quite sound. Most of this wee diversion would be on the Variant of the Mare a Mare Nord. Perhaps an option that would not have been able to be made without the posession of the relevant 1:25,000 map?




Posted: Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 16:07

Yes, it was the fox, sorry if i didn't make it clear.

Personally at first i thought it was a badger, because the face seemed wider than a fox, but some other people who were attacked had seen it more properly and said it was a fox 100%.


Posted: Sat, Oct 27, 2012, 16:24

I can confirm that it was a fox. It started it's rounds at around 23:30 and came to my tent a couple of hours later. It didn't seem to be bothered by shouting at it or even throwing rocks ( quite hard to do when lying down in a sleeping bag...)
I didn't have any food in my tent so luckily it went on to attack Audrius and my friend Dave who was in a bivi bag. Dave got bitten on the hand and had to go to hospital in Corte for treatment. Worse than that he didn't stop banging on about it all the way to Conca !




Posted: Mon, Oct 29, 2012, 10:33


That must have been the little blighter that took the cheese I'd stashed inside my boot. Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea leaving that outside. It might have saved my tent being ravaged and I'd eaten most of it anyway. I don't begruge a bit of cheese but I'm sorry to hear he's become a problem.