10-12 day Itinerary SOBO

palscan

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 11:26

Hi everyone,
Been reading the forum a bit and now first time post, thanks for all the great info.
I am planning a south bound hike circa 2nd/3rd week September 2014 and was trying to work out a good 10-12 day itinerary so that we can complete the GR20 in a 14 day window including realistic transfers (and maybe a day on the beach if we're quick). Ideally if someone could list a 12 day, then maybe suggest which sections could be combined to do 2 in 1 day for example.
I found some north bound itineraries of similar length on here but wouldn't assume they reverse easily due to altitude gain etc. Given that we have to book all the huts in advance (well, tent space outside preferably) it would be good to know where we intend to be at the end of each day. SOBO logic; classic route, hard(er) bit first, and leaving the lower regions for the back end of September if the weather starts to turn. We plan to travel very light. Any comments, advice, tips etc all very welcome. First time longer distance hike (mainly done 4-5 day treks - atlas mountains, dolomites, tenerife etc).
Thanks,
Paolo



Joanna

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 13:13

I think most of the threads on this forum about doubling up (because that's what you're looking for really) are actually for southbound itineraries. Just type "doubling" in the search field, and you get a lot of results...



Gaffr

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 13:29

Hello,
Maybe try having a look at a couple form the USA who did the route from S-N in a very quick time I think that it was two days faster than what you are intending.
Page two of GR20 stuff on the site ......in 10 days. September 2013.
You will get a link to her website....just keep clicking New for the sequence of days.
I have never had to book for a camping place at any of the refuges...first come first served.

--

Gaffr



palscan

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 14:40

Thanks Joanna,
I tried that and yes, I got a lot of useful looking results. I'll have a trawl through them later, pretty sure I'll be able to piece together a good itinerary from that info.



palscan

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 14:46

Thanks for the advice Gaffr,
When you say booking for a camping spot do you mean just the empty pitch, or for a tent also? I understand most of the huts provide 3 types of accommodation; beds in the huts, pitches with tents, and pitches without tents. Any experience of this? if we don't have to carry around 2.5kg of nylon we'd rather not. my guess is they're not the nicest but does it really matter? Would you recommend bringing your own? My other thought was going for the tarp option, i've always wanted to try camping with a tarp, nice and light :o) meals and food we would buy en route.



Gaffr

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 18:05

Hello,
Have always taken my own tent etc. When I arrive I say that have my own and just want to pay for the pitch...7 euros last year. Most of the refuges have now tents already pitched for hire and I guess maybe a few more extras. This is quite different from 2007 when it seemed that not all had tents for hire.
I think that I would not go for a tarp since at a couple of places you might just have a wee visit from a foraging creature. I did once have a visit at Bonifatu when on a lower down route (Mare e Monti) when I had my food bag inside the porch.... the bag was taken and that which he wanted was snatched and the rest was strewn over the camping area...... maybe better to have kept the bag in the sleeping area.

--

Gaffr



Joanna

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 18:08

You don't have to book camping spots (the ones you use to set up your own tent on). Your own tent is by far the best option!

I doubt you need to book the tents provided by the refuges either, at least not in September. In June, which I suppose gets about the same amount of hikers, there were plenty of unoccupied ones at the refuges.



dinny

Posted: Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 20:53

Hi Paolo,
I'd be a hesitant about taking a tarp as the ground on the GR20 can be very rocky, and sometimes nearly impossible to get tent pegs into. Added to this, it can be pretty windy at some refuges, with very little shelter. A tent that is low to the ground might work better...?
Personally, I just took the outer 'fly' sheet of a one-man tent - this then gave enough space for two people, and kept the weight down (less than 800g in total, with a cheap silver 'emergency blanket' for a ground sheet).
When the weather was good I didn't bother using the tent - just used the ground sheet and slept under the stars :-)
Happy hiking,
Dinny



cpt_pickard

Posted: Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 11:20

+1 for the own tent. I have not examined the pre-pitched ones in a great detail but they were surely low quality cheap models. In June, they looked reasonably OK. In September, they must be in a pretty poor condition.

Dinny is right with the wind. We caught some serious winds at Onda nad Petra Piana last year when the weather was changing rapidly.

I believe it's just a matter of trading some comfort here for some comfort there. Having your own tent means much better sleep/camping and a bit worse walking. Since bad sleep = bad walk for me, I find the question pretty easy.

Dan



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 16:14

I think this is doable:

Day 1 Calenzana to d’Ortu is enough for day one. It isn’t a particularly long day but it’s best to ease into the GR20 after all the travelling to get there.

Day 2 d’Ortu to Carruzzo, a 'normal' stage, as the next stage is quite long.

Day 3 Carruzzo to Tighjettu via the old route but only if you’re a good scrambler as the detour and the cirque will take too long if you’re not. Alternatively, camp at the site of the old refuge.

Day 4 Tighjettu to Verghio. I’ve done that and it is quite tiring but doable.

Day 5 Verghio to Manganu. A normal stage i.e. a rest day!

Day 6 Manganu to l’Onda. The option of summiting Monte Rotono would need to be skipped. I still had loads of energy by the time I got to Petra Piana. I could easily have made L’Onda but did Rotondo instead.

Day 7 L’Onda to Vizzavona via the high level route. It’s taxing enough plus the ‘luxuries’ of Vizzavona mean a stop here is almost mandatory.

Day 8 Vizzavona to the Col di Verdi via the high level route. I stopped at Capanelle but think it could be doubled with the next stage via Monte Retondo.

Day 9 Col di Verdi to d’Usciolu. Stop at the Refuge de Prati for breakfast.

Day 10 d’Usciolu to Asinau. A normal stage.

Day 11 Asinau to Conca via the high level route.

Day 12 contingency or beach!

--

Alan



Gaffr

Posted: Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 16:35

Day eight replace Retondu with Renosu....
good luck!

--

Gaffr



palscan

Posted: Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 16:45

Wow, thanks Alan, that looks very comprehensive, and thanks to everyone for all your useful tips and advice.
I would be happy with the scrambling as I do a bit of rock climbing but my partner is a little less confident. If there are chains (i'm thinking the cirque?) she will be fine. We had to come down a pretty steep slab with a very long drop in the Picos d'Europa a few years back and we did fine with the protection provided.
Are there any particularly exposed scrambles without protection? I think this is where we might run into trouble; more psychological than physical ability.
Re: tent, yeah, I'd definitely prefer my own, but I can't use the fly without the inner (i think) as the poles go through the inner first. Plus ground sheet I'm looking at 3kg+ hence the tarp idea.
I'll have to think about this one, maybe a good reason to buy a lightweight 2p tent which would be much more useful than the bomb proof monster I currently own...
Great to know I probably don't need to think about booking tent space, makes planning so much more flexible.



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 19:19

My tent was a North Face Meso 22. It isn't the lightest but it is a good mid-budget tent that was both big enough and light enough when split between me and my brother.

The scrambling in the cirque is quite tame if you're used to that sort of thing. The big problem with the GR20 is that it's long, rough and tough, which means you need plenty of stamina. I have no problem with 12+ hours on a route (21 hours on the Matterhorn by the time we got back to the campsite at Tasch!) but the first day on the GR20, thanks to a 3pm start, was a killer. I didn't even make the first refuge.

--

Alan



Trailblazer

Posted: Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 11:59

Hi Alan, everyone,

Thanks for the 10-12 day itinerary. It came in very useful as we planned and completed the GR20 in 12 days recently.

Here's the run down of our details:
-12 days including 21 September to 3 October 2015
-Fully self-sufficient, except for water, which included:
-3 x 230g MSR Coleman type gas canisters (get this at Millet store Bastia (phone before to make sure they have stock)).
-All food for 13 days and nights.
-Own tent (Hilleberg Tarra).
-Resources heavily relied on:
-Corsicaforhikers.com
-Paddy Dillon's Cicerone GR20 guidebook
-Giles Campbell's GR20 kit list available on the web
-Excluding the Cirque de la Solitude, we did the alternative route via a summit of Monte Cinto on day 4.

If you/anyone would like details regarding our food list, we would be open to share with you. Just let us know.

Otherwise, for our Tale on our GR20 journey, visit our site at http://trailblazer.co.za/gr20/
Feel free to click on the wikiloc GPS track link and download as you seem fit. Click on each days hike 'Day' to get access to individual GPS tracks per stage/double stage.

Feel free to have a look around our site and/or sign up for new posts by email.

Thank you all and for the creator/editors of corsicaforhikers.com! Without you guys our experience would not have been the joy it would have been!

Regards,
Joseph and Lisa



Michele
moderator

Posted: Tue, Nov 24, 2015, 17:05

Thank you Joseph and Lisa. It's great to hear everything went well and you had a grand time. Since carrying food for the entire length of the trail has always been a problem, it would be really good for our readers to know the details of your food list (starting with the total weight at the start).
Thanks

--Michele



Trailblazer

Posted: Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 14:21

Hi Michele,

Sure, here are some details.

Regarding weight, ironically we do not weigh anything (we have no idea what our total packs weight was!). We are not exactly sure why, we just have never done so and if we did we think we may be a little psychologically put off by the weights if we knew them! Perhaps it’s because at root we are trail runners and so when doing the races we have been given lists and are told: “make sure you have all these items or else you are disqualified.” So we probably just take what we need and ensure it’s the smallest, lightest etc. Therefore based on this, we use ‘principles’ in purchasing and packing our kit and food. So to best answer your question, here are the principles we use:

Kit (disclaimer: this is what works for us based on our preferences and experiences. We keep safety in mind first).
We mention kit first because with efficient kit, one can bulk up a bit on the food or take enough food for 12 days on the GR20 for two people. Good kit may mean lean food, i.e. smaller the pack and thence lighter the pack! We all need kit and clothes; and equipment to heat our suppers, water etc first, and so here are our principles when choosing and ordering our kit:

Principally, we aim for: fit-for-use, multi-use, easy to dry/wick away, compact, waterproof, small. This generally ensures that the kit item is lightweight anyway (and usually expensive unfortunately). For instance, practically speaking, we don’t cut our toothbrush in half – we rather have a handle to use the brush because with a decent handle we get to brush our teeth properly!

For us, Giles Campbell’s GR20 kit list has been indispensable. We didn’t even look at the weights he provides for each item, but rather compared the items we felt we should take with on his list to our principles above.

Part of this process for us has been to use www.outdoorgearlab.com for comparisons in kit and we also use random reviews/comparisons of alternatives on the web for pretty much all our kit we want and feel we need to purchase – first hand experiences on the web help us get a ‘feel’ for what people like and don’t like and what works and what doesn’t.

Food (disclaimer: this is what works for us based on our preferences and experiences. We keep safety in mind first, always having back up provisions in case of often, a literal rainy day).
Food is even more of a personal thing than kit because each person has diet preferences, different body types and uses energy differently based on effort exerted. So this is even more of a subjective thing than kit. To best answer your question here are our principles and food list:

We aim for balanced diet of carbs, fats and proteins. We eat/munch on something every 75-115 minutes and usually on the go (and when we feel like it, listening to our bodies and responding accordingly), keeping our energy levels at a constant plateau ensuring that we don’t spike in energy at the same time don’t have a low. All the below foods we purchased at Carrefour, except for the powdered milk which we purchased at Spar Bastia:

Breakfast: handful of muesli with powdered milk (just add water), tea bag and/or cappuccino stick.

Mid morning snack: GU sachet/sports gel of sorts (what we use in trail running). Strategically, we take it in the morning to maintain that muesli we had for breakfast and ensure we get far enough on the trail especially on those double stages. And/or mentos stick to share, sports bar/Isotad, dried fruit, powdered drink, nut bar (nuts in that brown hardened sugar), one row of dark chocolate (more healthy and higher in energy), trail bar (it’s a personal home oven baked bar with all the necessary nuts, Pea-nut butter, seeds etc). Seriously yum, it’s a great filler and energy sustainer, especially for the long days/double stages! It’s on the heavy side, but a sacrifice in weight we are willing to take due to its high and sustainable energy content (read on if you want a copy of the recipe!)

Lunch: Cheese ‘squares’ with crackers (okay more like crumbs by the time we got to the South section!), or soup, or tuna, powdered drink.

Mid afternoon snack: Trail bar above and half a handful of salted peanuts. Tea bag and/or cappuccino stick.

Supper: One of pasta/soup/cous cous/Rissotto/rice pack for two. Just add water. Powdered drink.

‘Night cap’: one row of that dark chocolate (more healthy and higher in energy) each, 6 slabs in total for 12 days (this was heavy to take with, but it was a small treat which was so good to have as a ‘reward’ and something we looked forward to at the end of each day).

We try keep it varied and alternate food types each day, such as have soup the one day and pasta the next etc. We did purchase a white bread at Hotel Castel di Vergio and Vizzavona (we couldn’t resist). When we didn’t eat a particular food at a particular time we just ate it later/when we felt like it – listening to our bodies is paramount.

Our food was probably heavier than our kit, but thinking about it, food as fuel is probably arguably more important than kit to get through the GR20 in 12-15 days if one is carrying it oneself. Also, 15 days require more food than 12 days and 10-12 days requires more energy consumption (on average), so the food needs to be more carb loaded. This then affects the foods’ weight. It’s a tricky scenario, but it’s about getting the balance right in days on the trail vs amount of calories consumed based on energy consumption.

Personally speaking, even with the list of food above and completing the trail in 12 days, together we lost about 15-20kg in body mass! It’s not something we are particularly proud of because to lose that much weight in 12 days is not healthy and sustainable. I think we were on the border line in being undernourished, but 12 days was just enough to get us through and to that pub in Conca for a beer and some chips! We could not have done it in 10-11 days carrying all our food – it was a lot to lug around on those mountains, and it took a lot out of us. Having said this by the time we got to days 9-10 we were in really good shape/stronger mentally and physically, and we could push ourselves beyond our usual limits. Also, by carrying our own food our packs got lighter each day and so we could do Vizzavona – Conca in 4 days.

We also carried not less than 2 litres of water each in a bladder type container, only using/filling up with the water at the Refuges (we did not want to take any risks with getting ‘drinkable’ water anywhere else); and also, probably due to our trail running mentality, we rather have enough water on us in case we had to wild camp somewhere on the mountain due to bad weather/emergency situation (in all we had capacity to carry 5,75 litres/kilograms of water between us). We hate running out of water!

In short, aim for the food that works best personally diet-wise and based on energy consumption, and then plan this for the number of days planned to be on the trail, plus one contingency day.

If you/anyone would like a copy of our trail bar recipe and menu segregation for 12 days on the GR20 carrying one’s own food, please send us a private mail to twotrailblazers@gmail.com and we will be glad to respond with the documents.

We hope the above helps and best answers your question to a rather personal and subjective topic!

Happy trailblazing,

Joseph and Lisa



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 17:43

Thank you Joseph and Lisa for your detailed description.
I was particularly struck by the fact that you lost 15-20 kg of body mass in 12 days!!!!!!!!!!!
This is not good. Basically you roughly lost more than 1kg per day!! So I have to assume that your diet was not caloric enough to sustain the required effort the GR20 demands. Also on day 9 you walked almost 30 km for 12 hours with 1300 m of ascent: jeez!!!! (and again on day 12!!!).
I understand you guys are athletes and trail runners but still .... that's pushing the envelope in my opinion.
I'm glad everything went well for you with no issues of sorts.

--Michele



Trailblazer

Posted: Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 18:18

Our pleasure - only to glad to provide feedback and hopefully be of help to others.

Not exactly, together we lost 15-20kg in total over 12 days, so that's approx. 7,5 to 10kgs each, so that's under 1 kg per day. We rather go on how we feel and we felt ok. Thinking about it now if we had to do it again, we wouldn't change a thing on the menu.

Yes, some long days, but we are used to it and were prepared for it mentally and physically. Day 4 (alternative day to the Cirque) was probably our hardest day - man, that uphill was a mare...

All in all, our success came down to planning and research (with experience and fitness) in which corsicaforhikers.com came in very useful (including Turnertactics itinerary above).

But, the GR20 is a legend of a trail...we don't think we will experience anything like it again - simply a remarkable experience no matter how long one takes or if one carries ones own food or not.

Joseph and Lisa



Trailblazer

Posted: Fri, Sep 23, 2016, 15:36

Hi,

Just an amendment to our website address that holds our Tale of our incredible 12 day experience on the GR20. The link is:

http://trailblazer.co.za/general/gr20.html

For those of you who are in South Africa, we have already given 3 one hour public talks of our Tale and hope to do more to various groups including hiking clubs. Let us know on the email address above if you would like to attend future talks if you are around.

Still living the experience even after leaving Calenzana for Conca exactly 1 year ago! Legend, just simply a legend of a trail...!

Happy Trailblazing!



Trailblazer

Posted: Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 15:30

Hi,

Two years ago today we departed Calenzana for Conca aiming for 10, but completed the GR20 traditional high level route via Monte Cinto in 12 days, being fully self-sufficient with tent and food (water at Refuges). Still living the experience!

Please enjoy our recent Tale post of our journal over these 12 days here (the summary statistics at the bottom of the post may be of particular interest in light of the above itinerary):

https://trailblazer.co.za/general/journal-gr20-corsica.html

For less words, but more photographs, view our older post here:

http://trailblazer.co.za/general/gr20.html

What a wonderful experience!