My GR20 Experience

Mostrup

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 12:10

Introduction

Hello people.

I am making this post because I recently did the GR20 and I want to share my experiences. Before I started, I missed some information about some subjects. This should be covered in this, very long, post. You are more than welcome to supplement with anything you want, if you feel I am missing something out or if you simply do not agree with me. Remember, that this is my very own opinion and people have different experiences and recommendations than me. Either way I hope you will find it useful.

So a little background about me. I am, as of now, 21 years old and from Denmark. I just started trekking in the recent years. It all started in the military where I was for four months. I have since been doing some day treks, nothing special really, and a week trek in Norway with a full backpack. That is all the experience I have. It is truly not much, but I guarantee, there will be more to come.

This summer I got a job on Corsica as a guide for Danish tourists. I was taking them on day treks around and on the GR20 (the Bonifato forest near the Carrozzu refuge). I was actually planning on doing the GR20 next year, but a colleague of mine talked me into doing it this year. I had not been training really. Just the day treks and a bit of running near Calvi. I did not feel fit for the trek before leaving. I was especially worried about if my knees were able to hold the distance, since I have a sports injury that haunts me.

I had no one to do the trek with so I started alone. I read that you could easily do it by yourself and now that I have done the trek, I agree on this. However, I found other people to walk with already at the very first refuge and I would recommend walking with others if possible. It makes the trek a whole lot more enjoyable.

I walked from north to south and walked the whole route. It took me eleven days, from the 9th of august to the 19th of august, both days included.

In the following, I am writing my impressions of the different stages and refuges. I talk about the south compared to the north, which direction I recommend you to walk. A little bit about the marking of the route. I also talk about what weather we experienced. A bit about the food and some thoughts about my kit list.

Video

I brought a GoPro camera with me to record this incredible trek. However, it broke at Vizzavona – fortunate timing – and therefore I only got the GR20 North on film.

I put together a small 7,5 minute video covering the whole GR20 North. It is quite different from other videos you find on the internet about the GR20. You will see why.

If interested in seeing the GR20 or maybe even recall some memories of the different places, feel free to take a look:
Youtube Video: My GR20 Experience

Stages

Calenzana – Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu

The first day I took on the stage from Calenzana to Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu. I left from Calenzana at 2 o’clock and arrived quite late. I would not recommend leaving this late when you do not know the route, but since I have already walked it a couple of times, I knew what to expect. The route is difficult, but not that difficult. The ascent is very big and very long, however it is mostly on pathways meaning it is not that technical. Except for the climbing part though. It is nothing too hard or frightening, but it is this kind of terrain for most of the GR20 so you better get used to it. Most people I talked to find this the hardest stage of the first two but I disagree. Maybe it was because I already walked the stage before, but I definitely found the second stage harder.

Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu – Refuge de Carrozzu

The stage is certainly difficult. There is a lot of climbing involved and if you suffer from vertigo, this stage is probably not your cup of tea – to say the least, but holy moly is it worth it! On this stage, you actually feel like hiking in the mountains. The mountain climbing is very frequent compared to the first stage, as there are almost no real pathways at all.
The last descent is long and tiring. The ground consists of many, many loose rocks, which result in a bad footing.

You will lose your grip a couple of times for sure. Even though I find it harder than the first one, it can be combined with the third stage to Asco if you have the fitness for it. I certainly did not and I was pretty freaking tired after this stage.

Refuge de Carrozzu – Refuge d’Asco Stagnu

The stage was not too bad. There was a lot of mountain climbing involved, meaning it was technically difficult, but not physically tiring. It is very beautiful however. I would say it is the most beautiful of the first three stages. You really get some outstanding views!

Refuge d’Asco Stagnu – Refuge Ciottulu di i Mori

This is the stage with the Cirque de la Solitude. It starts from Col de Pedru and ends with Col de Minuta. The first ascent to Col de Pedru is fairly easy. Mostly on pathways but also with some mountain climbing.
Cirque de la Solitude is all but solitude. People were coming from both directions so we had to stand in line to use the chains and the ladder. For us it was no problem at all though and we did not wait for long, but if you are in a hurry, you might be a bit frustrated.

I have read a lot about the Cirque de la Solitude before leaving. My general impression was that it was not too big of a deal, as long as the weather was good. My expectations were pretty low and I did not expect a big deal from it. Let us just say, I got surprised. Normally I suffer from no vertigo what so ever, but I actually got a bit frightened at some points. It was nothing too big or too serious though, it just came as a surprise to me.

Even though I totally agree that in good weather conditions the Cirque de la Solitude is nothing too difficult, please do not underestimate it like I did.

We chose to do a double stage on this day. We took an hour break at Tighjettu and then moved on to Ciottulu. The stage from Tighjettu to Ciottulu looked quite easy on the paper, but we were in for a surprise. Even though it was not the most difficult stage, it was not easy either. A well suited stage for combining with another though.

Refuge Ciottulu di i Mori – Refuge de Manganu

The stage is nothing difficult, but darn is it a long one. You walk in the woods almost all the way to Bocca San Pedru. This part is really quite boring if you ask me. After the woods, it becomes very beautiful. You walk along the mountain ridges and inside big valleys with the big lake, Lac de Nino. Again, it is very beautiful.

Refuge de Manganu – Refuge de l’Onda

The stage from Manganu to Pietra Piana is quite difficult. There is a lot of climbing and with chains at some occasions. It was very windy and foggy when we walked it. Especially in the beginning, just until the sun burned through those thick clouds. As soon as it did, we realised how beautiful of a stage this is. I read beforehand that this stage was the most beautiful of them all, and I truly agree with this statement. Take your time with this stage and do not rush it, is my recommendation. You will miss out on so many things.
We chose to continue further on to l’Onda. Partly because of the windy conditions, whereas Pietra Piana is pretty exposed, and partly because the next stage to l’Onda is an easy one. Most of the route to l’Onda is on a path with slow ascents and descents.

There is an alternative alpine variant from Pietra Piana to l’Onda which is both shorter and, supposedly, more beautiful. I chose the main route though, simply because it was the main.

Refuge de l’Onda – Vizzavona

This stage was longer than expected. The wind and fog had increased from the day before, so it was actually quite difficult due to this. We learned in Vizzavona that the stage was actually closed due to this, but no one at l’Onda told us. In normal conditions, I do not think this stage is very difficult. There were some nice views just after l’Onda, but that was also it. Maybe it was because of the fog, but I do not really think so.

Vizzavona – Bocca di Verde

I was not expecting much from the south. I only continued towards Conca because of the challenge. If I was there only for the enjoyment, I would have stopped at Vizzavona, but here I was.

The route is long and boring. You walk in the woods all day and not even the occasional viewpoints make this stage worthwhile. It is nothing but a long and agonizing pain to walk in the woods all day, if you ask me. Even though the paths are easy, there is absolutely nothing to stimulate the mind. That is also why I, for the first time, listened to music while walking. Normally I am totally against it since it distracts you from the beauty of the walk. However, when there is nothing to enjoy, well.

The reason we chose to stay here was that a double stage to Prati was too long for us. Bocca de Verde lies pretty much in the middle of Capannelle and Prati.

Bocca di Verde – Refuge d’Usciolu

Finally, the views returned. After having walked entirely in the woods, it was a pleasure walking along the mountain ridges once again. It gave a motivational boost, which was highly needed. The stage itself is not too difficult.
My energy was almost non-existent at this point and I was running on fumes. My body has never been this tired. Not like this. It was not because of the stage, but because of the accumulated stress on the body.

Refuge d’Usciolu – Refuge d’Asinao

There are two main routes for this stage. The ‘old’ route is long and goes directly from Usciolu to Asinao. You will climb and get to the top of Monte Incudine, whereas the ‘new’ route goes onto Monte Incudine as well, however not to the top. That is what I have been told at least. Refuge de Matalza in the middle separates the ‘new’ route. If you intend to go from Usciolu to Asinao, I would suggest taking the ‘old’ route, since you get to the top of Monte Incudine and it is an hour shorter. We took this route, and it is truly beautiful. It is a long walk, which is exactly why it has been split into two. I do not really mind this, as long as you have the option to still take the ‘old’ route. It only makes it easier to coordinate your walk. Doubling this stage with another is only for the hardcore hikers. But you could make to one and a half stage to or from Matalza if it suits you, and I like having the ability to do so.

Refuge d’Asinao – Conca

We chose to go all the way to Conca, since we just wanted to get home at this point. To Refuge de Paliri there are two routes – the main and an alternative alpine version. We chose once again the main, which was nothing spectacular really. For once, we actually preferred walking in the woods, since the terrain is easier and you can therefore walk with less effort. Yes, it takes longer, but that is something you have to decide with yourself. If you are in it for the views though, I will recommend taking the alternative alpine version.
From Paliri it is quite the same. Walking in the woods almost all the way. We expected to be able to see Conca from a long distance away. That was not the case though. You walk on the other side of the mountain right until the last kilometre, which was somewhat frustrating actually, as the stage seemed to never end.

Refuges

Calenzana

I did not stay or visit the Gite d’Etape so I have no idea how the conditions are. From what I have heard, it should be pretty good compared to the refuges. It is in a town of course so that was to be expected.

Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu

This was a really nice refuge. Without a doubt one of the better ones. The toilet facilities are practically a whole in the ground (described as basic from now on), and the showers were extra cold. I arrived late though and that has probably something some influence as well. The food was really good though, the guardians very friendly and the view fantastic.

Refuge de Carrozzu

The refuge is everything you want. Friendly guardians, great food and good toilet facilities. I did not use the showers there since I took a swim in a pool near the Spasimata bridge instead. It was probably the best day I had at any refuge, and I would totally recommend stopping by the pool if you go there.

Refuge d’Asco Stagnu

If you did not already know, Asco is a ski resort. There are hot showers, a restaurant, outdoor shop and a bigger grocery shop than at most other refuges. It is a really nice refuge and I would recommend planning your trip to stop by this one for sure.

Refuge de Tighjettu

This is not a good refuge. Even though it looks very nice, it offers only snacks and tent pitches. For proper food and a proper meal, go to the Bergeries de Ballone, which is just half an hour after Tighjettu. The guardian at Tighjettu was very friendly Englishman though.

Refuge Ciottulu di i Mori

The view and the food was pretty good, however the guardians were total pricks. I know that is just how it is sometimes, but they just seemed to hate people. They were very hostile and everyone I talked to thought so.

There is only one shower, cold of course, so there was a pretty big line in the end for taking a shower. The toilets were basic as well, but it was generally a quite nice refuge – except the guardians obviously.

Since it is located in the higher altitudes, it gets quite cold in the night. Now you know.

Refuge de Manganu

This refuge was very good. The food was probably the best of all the refuges. It was located with a beautiful view and with good shelter from the wind. Even though the toilets and showers were basic and the guardians were nothing more than decent, this was probably one of my favourite refuges of them all.

Refuge de Pietra Piana

When we reached the refuge, it was very, very windy. The refuge is quite exposed to the wind, since it is located on a mountainside. My impression of this refuge was not very good overall. I would recommend continuing to l’Onda if you are capable of doing so.

Refuge de l’Onda

I reached l’Onda quite late due to knee problems, and therefore I was unable to get dinner at the refuge. I am truly sad about this, because they served lasagne and it looked so amazingly good. From what I heard, it was godlike.
You are setting up your tent inside a fence, keeping the animals away. Even though it was windy as hell, I really like this refuge. It was somewhat exposed to the winds as well, but I think all of the refuges were. Toilet and shower facilities were basic, but it was not too bad.

Vizzavona

There is a Gite d’Etape in Vizzavona, and we really wanted to make a stop here because, well, it was a city. We expected a small supermarket and a small mountain village with great atmosphere, but we got disappointed. There were too kiosks, but they offered nothing more than most other refuges. The tent pitches were okay. The toilet facilities were very good though, and even though the showers were not hot, they were not cold either.
I would recommend buying a pizza for dinner, since these are really freaking delicious. The best pizza I had on Corsica overall, and I have tried quite a few.

Other than that, there is no real reason to make a stop in Vizzavona. If you arrive early and are able to continue to Capannelle, I would recommend this. If Vizzavona is your final destination, you should be able to take a train to Bastia or whatever the same day.

Bergeries de Capannelle

We arrived at Capannelle quite early. The kitchen was not open at that time of day, so we were not able to buy any food except some biscuits and a sandwich. It was okay though, better than most other refuges.
The bergerie was of top quality though. It reminded me more of a restaurant than anything else. I do not know how the toilet and shower facilities were, but I can imagine them being better than most. We were actually talking about taking one more day with the GR20 just to stay at this bergerie. Maybe it was because of the very good looking waitresses, but my general impression was very good.

Bocca di Verde

The showers were hot, the toilets were actual toilets, and overall it was very nice. The dinner portions were pretty scarce though. I chose the bottom most tent pitch which was closest to the nearby woods. For that reason I was woken up by an animal that night. I had all my stuff inside my tent and after approximately ten minutes, it went away. I am pretty sure it was a fox since wild pigs are usually more noisy, but I of course do not know for sure.

Refuge de Prati

Since we slept at Bocca di Verde, we arrived early in the morning. The guardians were friendly though, and we were able to buy some refreshments. The refuge overall seemed pretty good. I do not know about the toilet facilities, but the location and the selection of goods were good so overall I had a good impression of this refuge.

Refuge d’Usciolu

The refuge is located on a mountainside with quite the view. The toilet and shower facilities are basic. The shower was the coldest of all the refuges. You cannot buy lunch at the refuge, only cans of tuna, biscuits and stuff like that. The dinner was pasta and carrots with the weakest sauce ever. It was basically just water, but the portion was big so that made up for it.

Refuge d’Asinao

At Usciolu I heard some people complaining about this refuge, since the guardian is not entirely friendly and he plays loud music to early in the morning. I was not bothered it, however, and I actually enjoyed my stay at this refuge. The food was decent, three courses like most others. The toilet and shower facilities were quite good. The same you encountered or will encounter at Carrozzu. It was pretty well sheltered from the wind, so all in all one of the better refuges, if you ask me.

Refuge de Paliri

We reached Paliri around midday and was really looking forward to some refreshments. However, the guardian was nowhere to be found, even though we stayed there for a whole hour. The tent pitches looked good though, very well sheltered.

Conca

The final destination. There is a Gite d’Etape, and they serve very good food actually. I can especially recommend the burger. There is a small kiosk in the town, but it has the same selection as the once in Vizzavona. In other words, nothing special. The toilet and shower facilities were great though. The best how shower I have had ever, I recon. Besides that, Conca has not much to offer. It is however totally fine, since all you want is really just to get some rest and enjoy the feeling of being finished.

GPS Tracking

I tracked the entire route with my Suunto Ambit2 watch with the best GPS accuracy possible. Since most sites do not agree on the distances, ascents and descents of the different stages, and since the durations of the stages very much depends on your physical condition, I will share my readings to, hopefully, give a qualified estimate.

Before starting my journey, I took note of the distances, durations etc. from the following sites:
The official site
The unofficial site

In the table below, you can see my GPS readings compared to those from the sites:

Distance Ascent Descent Duration
Calenzana 10 km 1295 m 50 m 6:30 h Official
To Piobbu 21 km 1610 m 300 m 5:30 h Unofficial
10,9 km 1438 m 190 m 5:40 h Tracked
Piobbu 8 km 667 m 917 m 7:00 h Official
To Carrozzu 13 km 670 m 975 m 6:15 h Unofficial
7,82 km 792 m 1059 m 5:49 h Tracked
Carrozzu 6 km 790 m 638 m 6:00 h Official
To Asco 6 km 860 m 715 m 5:00 h Unofficial
5,6 km 869 m 704 m 4:11 h Tracked
Asco 8 km 999 m 738 m 6:00 h Official
To Tighjettu 8 km 1000 m 840 m 5:30 h Unofficial
6,71 km 1042 m 767 m 4:30 h Tracked
Tighjettu N/A 607 m 78 m 4:00 h Official
To Ciottulu 6 km 550 m 200 m 3:00 h Unofficial
6,79 km 712 m 407 m 3:25 h Tracked
Ciottulu 27 km 643 m 1033 m 8:30 h Official
To Manganu 25 km 670 m 1055 m 7:45 h Unofficial
25,53 km 851 m 1245 m 8:25 h Tracked
Manganu 10 km 830 m 589 m 6:30 h Official
To Pietra 10 km 980 m 740 m 5:45 h Unofficial
8,54 km 1235 m 996 m 5:32 h Tracked
Pietra 10 km 490 m 902 m 5:00 h Official
To l’Onda 11 km 500 m 910 m 4:00 h Unofficial
9,89 km 476 m 929 m 4:20 h Tracked
l’Onda 10 km 711 m 1221 m 6:00 h Official
To Vizzavona 11 km 670 m 1100 m 8:00 h Unofficial
10,87 km 1018 m 1478 m 5:04 h Tracked
Vizzavona 15 km 890 m 224 m 5:30 h Official
To Capannelle 16 km 1000 m 340 m 4:30 h Unofficial
14,11 km 1079 m 415 m 4:37 h Tracked
Capannelle 16 km 642 m 408 m 6:00 h Official
To Prati 19 km 850 m 620 m 5:00 h Unofficial
17,9 km 1043 m 815 m 6:24 h Tracked
Prati 11 km 677 m 747 m 5:45 h Official
To Usciolu 10 km 760 m 830 m 4:45 h Unofficial
10,83 km 862 m 935 m 5:17 h Tracked
Usciolu 14,5 km 845 m 1065 m 8:00 h Official
To Asinao 17 km 1000 m 1230 m 6:30 h Unofficial
16,33 km 1111 m 1295 m 7:36 h Tracked
Asinao 13 km 429 m 910 m 7:00 h Official
To Paliri 18 km 710 m 860 m 6:00 h Unofficial
15,33 km 659 m 1136 m 5:44 h Tracked
Paliri 12 km 160 m 926 m 5:00 h Official
To Conca 12 km 520 m 1360 m 5:15 h Unofficial
12,89 km 382 m 1165 m 3:41 h Tracked

The durations are including breaks. Keep in mind that even though the GPS accuracy was set to the best possible, it is still GPS and it is not 100 % accurate. Since the watch has altimeter it is a good estimate though, and when not walking in the woods it should be pretty damn accurate.

For those of you who want to see the tracking in more detail, click on the links below:
Calenzana – Piobbu
Piobbu – Carrozzu
Carrozzu – Asco
Asco – Tighjettu
Tighjettu – Ciottulu
Ciottulu – Manganu
Manganu – Pietra
Pietra – l’Onda
L’Onda – Vizzavona
Vizzavona – Capannelle
Capannelle – Bocca di Verde
Bocca di Verde – Prati
Prati – Usciolu
Usciolu – Asinao
Asinao – Paliri
Paliri – Conca

Weather

The weather was very shifting. We left as soon as the sun came up and we did so for several reasons. We preferred arriving at the refuges early to have time to relax instead of sleeping longer. I enjoy having time to relax before dinner and being able to take a nap if needed.

There is also a much more practical reason for leaving early. If the weather gets bad, it is usually after noon. If this was the case, we would already be done with the stage that day, and therefore the chances of us not being able to walk due to bad weather would decrease.

Generally, we were really fortunate with the weather. Right up until Ciottulu, the weather was burning hot, but it also made it that much more beautiful. From Ciottulu to Manganu the weather turned colder, but it only made the walks easier. From Manganu to Vizzavona we experienced a lot of wind and fog, but it was nothing worrying. Except from l’Onda to Vizzavona. The fog was immense and you were not able to walk straight because of the heavy winds. It was still doable though, and, actually, it was quite fun to experience this kind of conditions. After Vizzavona, the weather became better and from Asinao it was as hot as the first days of the trek.

Sleeping bag

When it comes to sleeping bags, I had a 12+ comfort with a bag liner for extra comfort. Let me just tell you that it was not enough. Some night the sleeping bag itself was too hot, but some nights I slept with my winter jacket simply because it was way too cold. So my recommendation: get something like a 5+ comfort sleeping bag for this trip. You can always unzip it if it gets too warm.

Kit list

I had quite a lot of weight. Like a lot. My backpack weighted a bit over 20 kilos and there is nothing impressive about that. That is just plain stupid and I would never recommend doing so.

The reasoning behind this heavy backpack was that I chose spontaneously to do the walk this year instead of next year. I did not have time to buy a proper tent or other equipment for that matter. My tent was a three person tent, weighing 4.2 kg. People made jokes about my tent and I and with good reason. I was the guy with the big stupid ass tent, but I had no other choice. It was the only tent I had capable of withstanding heavy rain and wind.

I also carried breakfast for the whole tour. The stuff you can buy at the refuges are expensive and it is just bread and jam from what I have heard. I would actually recommend doing this if you are able to.
Other than that, my equipment is just not very light. If you have the time and money, spend the extra money to get the lightest possible gear. It will truly make the experience more worthwhile. However, it is not a necessity to do so.

I am not giving a detailed kit list, since there are way better kit lists to be found on the internet. Use those instead. Here is a very good one:
Recommended Kit list

Food and water

As I said, I carried my own breakfast. From my side it was preferred, but, naturally, it differs from person to person.

At some refuges, you could by lunch. Omelettes, sandwiches etc. At most refuges though you were only able to buy snacks and I actually found it to be a problem. I mostly ate biscuits during the day and that is just not good enough. You need a proper meal during the day and it was just not possible most of the times. Sometimes you were lucky to come by a bergerie. They usually sell sandwiches and stuff like that, but in some sections, that was just not an option. I truly think they should address this concern. I hope that someday in the future, they will.

There are some sources during some of the stages, but I would not recommend relying on them. Instead, fill your bottles or camelback at the refuges and carry enough for the whole walk. With three litres, you should be covered. But it all depends on the weather. At some stages, three litres was not enough for me and at others it was more than enough. If in doubt, take an extra litre just in case.

I found no need to clean the water with tablets. I know some prefer to do so. I had no stomach problems whatsoever, so I would not recommend it. But those who have had bad experiences with the water would naturally advice it. I carried some pills against diarrhoea just in case.

I would also recommend carrying some freeze-dried foods for emergencies. I brought two and used one.

Markings

The route is well marked in the north. In the south, I actually think it was poorly marked. At some points, we were walking on the correct paths, but since we had not seen a mark for five minutes we started doubting, if we were on the right path. The marks are either so worn down that you are not able to see it, or some bush have grown in front of the marks because it is such a long time they were repainted.

In good conditions, it is very easy to navigate though. Even in thick clouds actually. You do not really need a map. If you have bought a guidebook, you do not need to buy a separate map. It is completely useless. I did not use my map and I did not even have a guidebook. If you get lost, the map is too small to find back to the path anyway. I downloaded the route as GPS coordinates for my watch and that if really something I can recommend, if you are bringing a GPS device anyway.

A guidebook is not needed either. It is very nice to have and I would recommend bringing one, most definitely, but it is not a necessity. I wrote down the total distance, ascent, descent and duration of the different stages and I needed no more. Everyone is bringing a guidebook anyway, so if you need some information about the stages, you can borrow one to take notes from without a problem.

South vs. North

If you are only planning to do half of the GR20, you are probably wondering which half to conquer. Some people say that it does not really matter, but I totally disagree. Take the northern part. There is no doubt. The south is utter crap compared to the north. I really mean that. I do not see, why people would recommend taking the south instead of the north. The north offers so much more.

Even though I described the south as utter crap, I do not actually mean that. The south most definitely is beautiful, but in its special way. You walk more in the woods and if that is what you prefer, you should definitely take the southern part instead. If you want to experience the brutal and stunningly beautiful mountain though, you know which half to trek.

North to south or south to north

In difficultness, there is really no difference. I took the route from north to south because I was already near Calenzana. It was just the easiest thing to do. I would recommend walking from south to north, though. You will appreciate the south because it is beautiful. Walking further north, the views will only increase and it will only get more and more beautiful. If you start in the north though, you will experience the most beautiful part first, and then everything will be nothing compared to this. You will become just as pessimistic about the south as I have become. Your body also has more time to adjust to the burden, as the difficultness gradually increases. If you do not know, if you are capable of completing the whole GR20 though, start from the north. If you then have to quit in Vizzavona, at least you will have experienced the most beautiful part of the trek.

If you are not planning on taking the whole route, but taking the northern or the southern part, it makes no real difference in which direction you walk. Preferably, go from south to north, since you will have the sun on your back most of the time.

Final words

I know I have been pretty harsh in the way I have been writing, but that is just the way I am. Do not take it too literally. It is really a balance between enjoyment and challenge. I took the whole route because of the challenge. If I were only there for the enjoyment, I would have taken the train back home from Vizzavona after the northern part. People have all different reasons for doing the walk. Some rush it, some take their time. I have the deepest respect what whatever reason. I cannot tell you, if you should take the whole route or just half of it. Only you know what to do. My last words and recommendations are as follows:

For the love of god, remember to enjoy it! Allow yourself to take a break occasionally and take in all impressions. It is an amazing trek and it is all about enjoying it while it lasts. Even though it seems tiring and strenuous at times, as soon as you get home you will miss it. I guarantee that one thing. It is all about enjoying it while it lasts.



dinny

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 16:28

Hi Mostrup,

I enjoyed watching your video - thanks for sharing it.
A 4.2 kilo tent??? Ye Gods, man, you must have legs like iron - that's the total weight of my pack before adding food and water!
You certainly had interesting weather for the hike.
You're quite right to remind people to take the time to enjoy it...

Dinny



Mostrup

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 17:05

Hello Dinny.

Thank you for taking your time to read through my extremely long post and to watch my video. I am glad you enjoyed it.

A 4,2 kilo bag excluding food and water - you sir, have done a very good job with the preparations!
As written, this was unfortunately all the equipment I had. And since it was an impulsive decision, I did not have the time to upgrade my gear. I would definately recommend others do so though. It will make everything a lot more enjoyable.

The weather was very changing. The first couple of days of the trek was hot as hell. Then suddently the weather turned much colder, cloudier and more windy. The last three days of the trek it then became very warm again, to the same degree as in the beginning. However, we experienced no rain at all which was really my biggest concern. I can deal with the winds. :)



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 17:11

Hello,
I have just come back home from being out all day. So I have only skimmed over your report which as you say, and for which you are entitled to write, is a personal account of the journey.
A very comprehensive account of your experience but I do find some contradictions. You say that the Southern part of the route, at one stage in your account, is crap and then later on when you are thinking about N-S as opposed to S-N the south now becomes suddenly 'you will appreciate the South because it is beautiful'.??
I speak as one who has walked and enjoyed the route fully in both directions in very different conditions.
I have to say that we are talking about a walk through the mountains of Corsica which is written up in guides as being one of many varied stages.
I do however thank you for your account and for your opinions of the route which will be useful for those of us who love Corse and the GR20 and for those who have yet to travel along this very fine route.
I will read the account more fully when I can have some clear time.

--

Gaffr



Mostrup

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 17:41

Hi Gaffr

I see your point. I should have made it more clear what I meant exactly, so let me try again:

There is no doubt that the south is beautiful. Especially if you have never encountered anything like this before. However, if you walk from North to South, you do not appreciate this beauty as much, because you have already experienced something far more breathtaking in the north. At least that is my opinion.

If you start from the south instead, you will appreciate the nature of the south waay more. It then becomes increasingly more beautiful the further north you get.

I wrote this post right after the trip and I was still heavily influenced by the experience. For me it was demotivating to walk in the south. Except two of the stages, it was nothing but woods. I had a hard time dealing with this, because at that point I was not enjoying the walk. I only kept walking because I wanted to finish the trek.

I read that some others also get hit by a decrease in motivation when they hit the south, and therefore I suggest walking the other direction.

I used the word crap and that was a bit too harsh. I do not truly feel that way, but sometimes my emotions run away with me. People should be prepared. As we all know, exaggeration only increases the understanding and that was what I was aiming for. If folks have the mindset, that it is going to be rough and that they will feel very demotivated at times, they can only be positively surprised.

For people who are not doing the whole trek in one stretch, it is a whole other point. If you have walked the northern part and think about going back to do the southern, I would totally recommend doing so. In this case, you will without a doubt enjoy it extremely much.
However, if you do the whole GR20 in one go, you will not be able to enjoy the south as much, if coming from the north.

I know we are all different and I am certain, that some individuals will enjoy the south just as much as the north. And I respect that - I only wish it was me.



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 18:13

Hello Mostrup,
I just wonder if it could be the fact that you travelled from Asinao-the Bavella towers-Paliri-Conca in one single days walking? Maybe, just maybe, that this overtaxed you and has clouded your thoughts of the entire Southern part of the route?
Must confess that when travelling the route in both directions I did use the recommended 15 stages not exactly as per the guidebook stages but the walk fitting into fifteen days of effort. I enjoyed the variety of the terrain and the socialising with others at the camping places along the route....by doing it in this way I think that I had time for this and of course to rest adequately after each day.
Yes quite a bit of wooded shade during the stage from Vizzavona through to U Renosu/Capanelle but on a hot day the trees can provide useful shade as can the hardwood trees..beeches?.. on the stage Col de Verde through to Usciolu...above the Col di Laparo when heading Southwards.
I would suggest that the section from Usciolu to Asinao is a really fine section with plenty of contact with rocky terrain to keep one interested?
Both times when travelling the route I didn't quite wanted it to finish....being an elderly person I was going like a well oiled sewing machine. In fact coming from the South last year when arriving at Piobbu fairly early in the day I could have continued the descent to the sea but elected to stay another night in the mountains and next day when reaching Calinzana gite camping place I stayed there for the night.... it was if I was not quite ready to re-engage with the bustling world in Calvi.

--

Gaffr



Mostrup

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 18:47

I think you have a point. Some of it was because I rushed it. But only some of it. In the north i doubled two stages and that was not really a problem to me. I left early from the refuges in the morning which led to me finishing the walk at around noon - sometimes even before. It was like this with most of the stages. Sure I could have stayed there and just relaxed, but I had the energy to keep on moving.

When I reached Vizzavona I really just wanted to go home. I do not know what it was. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect in the south. I think this attitude just stuck with me for the rest of the trek, mostly.

The stages from Vizzavona to Prati I think were my biggest concerns. They felt really flat and pointless.
However, from Prati to Asinao were a whole different deal. They were both crossing the mountain ridges. At those stages I was truly motivated once again and I really enjoyed it.

From Asinao to Conca is also a lot of forest, but that was not actually a big deal. At this point we just wanted to finish. We could have easily taken the alpine version from Asinao to Paliri, but we wanted to walk in the woods. It was just the easiest thing to do.

I think I just reached a point, where I just wanted to be done with it. It was not because I could not take the cold showers, the food, the environment anymore. In my opinion I had plenty of time to enjoy it.
Elleven days may seem like rushing to some people, but I did not experience it like that. Instead of laying at the refuges from noon until bedtime, we chose to continue with the walking. I gave myself time to enjoy the views, take breaks whenever I wanted the suck in the atmosphere and even relaxing at the refuges.

Except for the two stages, Prati to Asinao, I just was not very impressed. I prefer walking on the mountain ridges where there is always something to stimulate the mind. In the woods I feel you just walk and walk and walk, and you do not need to think one bit. It is just a matter of preference.

As I said in the post itself, I actually thought the most beautiful part of the entire trek was in the south. At Monte Incudine. The view you get from up there is like no other. However, 4/6 stages in the south is mostly in the woods and I just do not enjoy it as much as walking on the mountain ridges. :)



dinny

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 20:05

Hi again Mostrup,

I meant to mention earlier: the food at Vizzavona? YES!!!! I had the best omelette and chips there that I've ever had.

"A 4,2 kilo bag excluding food and water - you sir, have done a very good job with the preparations!"
Ha ha - it's not often I get called 'sir'! :-D

Dinny



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 22:20

Thanks Mostrup for taking the time to write your elaborate report (I wish more people would do that) and for sharing your video. Nice perspective. I enjoyed it. I also read this long thread whose main point of debate is whether the South part is good or not.
It seems clear to me that you didn't enjoy it that much for 2 main reasons: 1. you did the GR20 for the challenge (your words) and 2. in my opinion you pushed it to hard, and in the end you were looking forward to finishing it (and that happens only if you're overly tired). In fact you even skipped the Bavella alpine section which - according to your tastes - should have been a better choice.

I know there is a big difference between North and South: starting from the north, when one gets used to the extremely tough terrain and dramatic rocky landscapes, the more relaxing south seems too trivial .... or just less challenging.
I kind of agree that the wooded sections are a little boring, but heck you didn't even try and take the high level route that goes from Capannelle to the bergerie de i Pozzi!!

In the end the appreciation comes from the right state of mind. I find it absurd that you pushed yourself to do the southern section only because of the challenge (I took the whole route because of the challenge. If I were only there for the enjoyment, I would have taken the train back home from Vizzavona after the northern part.).
--Michele



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 7:45

Great video Mostrup. I really enjoyed it. I must get an extendable pole for my GoPro.

Your account brought back quite a few good memories too. It seems the refuges serve the same dinner every night. The Lasagne at L'Onda was indeed delicious. It's a pity you missed that. The pasta and carrots at Usciolu was bland but there was plenty of it. Did you get lentil & sausage stew at Asinau by the way?

I think you might have enjoyed the southern section a lot more if you had done the high level variants (Capanelle to Bocca di Verdi and the Aiguilles de Bavella). There are no forests up there! The high level variant from L'Onda to Vizzavona is great too but maybe not on the day you did that stage.

Bypassing the Refuge de Paliri could have been a mistake too. The food was great and the sunsets & sunrises we had there were stunning. It was a very pleasant and easy finale walking down to Conca from there rather than the fatigue and frustration you experienced.

--

Alan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 8:51

Alan,

sorry for the offtopic but, if I may offer some advice, since you are a GOPRO user and like to shoot while in movement, I strongly suggest you look into this item (to keep your shots rock steady and fluid):

http://www.helipal.com/handheld-gopro-stabilizer-3-axis.html

--Michele



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 12:22

Michele

Thanks for the link. I have been looking at stabilisers after seeing the amount of shake on my GR20 video clips but the ones I've been looking at have swinging counter weights so are quite bulky.

--

Alan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 13:05

Alan,

forget the old "merlin" types of stabilizers. I own one and to set it up it's a nightmare. The electronic ones are a beauty ;) and do miracles.

--Michele



Mostrup

Posted: Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 13:41

I did indeed have the lentil and sausage stew at Asinao. :)

I knew about almost all the variants (not the one from Capannelle though). And even though I know for sure that I would have enjoyed the walk more taking these, I had my reasons not to do so.

The Pietra Piana variant was a viable option, but due to the heavy winds I chose to take the main route instead.
Looking back, I should maybe have taken the alpine variant from Asinao. However, I had the mindset that I wanted to take only the main routes. I stayed away from all variants for this main reason. I wanted to do the trek as it is originally planned.

I am without a doubt taking this amazing trek again. I may have painted a picture that I did not enjoy it very much and especially not the south. This is by no way the case. It was the biggest experience of my life and I recommend everyone to do it.

My point being is just that I was bored in the south - except for the two middle sections. I think you are all right: it is all about the mindset. I pushed myself to hard to finish and therefore my main focus was on finishing it. If I had the mindset to take just one stage a day, I would at the same time have a different mindset and I most certainly would have enjoyed it more. Next time I will definately take many more variants and I will use as many days as possible. But the goal before I even started was merely to finish.

The reason why I sort of rushed it was that I had been a guide on the Island for nearly two months before starting the trek. I am not used to being away from home for this long periods. When I reached Vizzavona it was on a friday. I had the opportunity to take the plane back to Denmark on saturday. I had already experienced the most beautiful part of the trek. The temptation was just immense. And I actually think that this was the main reason for my demotivation in the south.

I still think parts of the south is sort of boring compared to the north. The reason above just amplified my emotions about it. Therefore you need to read my post not too literally. :)



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 18:34

Mostrup

I really can understand the challenge approach to the GR20 and might well be tempted to come back and try to 'monster it' sometime. We chose to indulge ourselves a bit more and savour as much as we could plus we had a friend with us who was still recovering from an accident in the Atlas Mountains the year before.

If you want to see the high level variants, have a look at my video: http://vimeo.com/106833379
It might inspire you to repeat the trip, maybe south to north this time? Leave the best to last?

Michele - I love the stabiliser. It's on my Christmas present list...

--

Alan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 18:44

Alan,

I'm glad to be of some help. Those 3-axis gimbal stabilizers are the future. I'm still looking for a suitable one for my camera. ATM they are too big and expensive. Oh well ...

--Michele



Mostrup

Posted: Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 18:56

Alan

I will most definately do the trek again. If not multiple times. And the next time I will surely take it south to north. :)

I will watch your video when I have the time to sit down and enjoy it properly.

Michele

I checked out the stabilizers aswell and they look seriously neat! However, they are almost as expensive as the camera itself. You have not stumbled upon some a bit cheaper?



Michele
moderator

Posted: Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 19:11

Sorry Mostrup, but that's the average price range for the GoPro. And it's not too bad considering that dslr cameras require a more elaborate rig that ranges from 1500 to 5000 euros or even more. They are relatively new and are state of the art of the stabilizing rigs.

If you're interested there is a very long thread about stabilizer rigs here:

http://personal-view.com/talks/discussion/6758/3-axis-stabilizers-ala-fr...

--Michele



Mandie123

Posted: Sun, Oct 5, 2014, 16:53

Great video Mostrup. I really enjoyed it. I did the Northern part at the end of August and early in September this year. Your video brought back some good memories.



Mostrup

Posted: Tue, Oct 7, 2014, 9:36

Mandie123

I am really glad you enjoyed it!
How was the weather in end august, early september, may I ask? :)



Mandie123

Posted: Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 18:49

Hi Mostrup

The weather was close to perfect, but actually very warm. Most days was above 30, which caused some havoc in terms of the amount of water I had to carry. There was no rain, although there was a few days when it came close to raining. I had only one or two days when it was quite windy.

I also want to agree with your opinion in terms of the lunches. I also just had cookies and a few snacks here and there which I brought along. I was out on the trail for 6 - 8 hours every day, with one or two days even longer, so proper solid food would have been great.

In terms of breakfast; I had my own breakfast for 3 days and got the rest from the refuges. You are correct, it was just bread and jam (and coffee). It was mostly put out the evening before. It was not bad, but I would also recommend taking your own. Unfortunately the more you bring along the heavier your pack will be. At least it will gradually decrease in weight.

I also found no need to clean the water with tablets. I always filled up at the refuges and I had no stomach problems whatsoever.

I slept in the refuge on one night and it was the worst night of my life. After an hour or two of itching I switched on my headlamp and found out why: Bed bugs all over the place!!! The citronella cream I applied before going to bed had absolutely no effect. I ended up sleeping on the veranda. I read about the bed bugs before, but could not believe my eye when I saw them. The rest of the nights I slept in my tent. Apart from that the refuges were all good and the dinners really good. Even a non-French speaking person like myself found the guardians quite willing and helpful.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Wed, Oct 8, 2014, 19:05

Darn bedbugs!!!! They'll never get rid of those pests!!!!! Oh well ...



Trurl

Posted: Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 1:31

Great video!
Very much enjoyed it :-)
Thank you for bringing back good memories.

--

--Jacek



Mostrup

Posted: Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 17:10

Mandie123

I heard about the bedbugs problem, but I never imagined it being that bad! Fortunately you had your own tent with you so that you were not forced to sleep in the refuges. Imagine that situation! ;)

Trurl

I am very glad you enjoyed it! When did you do the trek yourself?



Trurl

Posted: Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 20:32

I walked from Calenzana starting September 14th. I am already thinking about returning the next year :-)

--

--Jacek



Mostrup

Posted: Fri, Oct 10, 2014, 11:44

Jacek

I can totally follow you. Now that I am home, I miss it more day by day. ;)



Trurl

Posted: Fri, Oct 10, 2014, 12:28

It is funny how addictive GR20 is... The effort, the views, people you meet, gites...
Your video helps relieve some of it.
And I am already planning the next trip: helps with nostalgia :-)

--

--Jacek



Trurl

Posted: Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 0:35

Planning to be back on the trail very soon :-)
September 2015

(I really like your video and choice of music)

--

--Jacek



Trurl

Posted: Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 0:35

Planning to be back on the trail very soon :-)
September 2015

(I really like your video and choice of music)

--

--Jacek



Mostrup

Posted: Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 13:52

Jacek

I am truly glad you enjoyed the video! The GR20 is truly something unique, is miss the trek more and more as the days go by. I am definately revisiting the route again as well sometime in the future.

--Mostrup



Trurl

Posted: Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 15:05

We have been also corresponding on YouTube in parallel :-)

--

--Jacek



Mostrup

Posted: Wed, Dec 3, 2014, 2:12

Hahah, I can see that now! :D
I did not notice at first.



bluebreeze

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 19:31

Hi Mostrup,

Thanks for the post. I'm also around your age and I am planning to walk the GR20 on my own as well. I don't have a lot of hiking experience but I also had military training before. I want to go around mid july. Do you think it's better to walk from south to north? How many kilogram was your bag eventually?

I am actually a adventure filmmaker, and I'm considering to bring my camera gear as well. Just a DSLR with a tripod for timelapses, and maybe even a Glidecam HD-2000 (heavy thing!). I'm planning to eat a lot of Adventure Food (adventurefood.com) and sometimes buy meals and snacks. Does anyone have experience with that kind of food?

Thanks,
Ethan



Trurl

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 19:51

Ethan,

I have the same problem: I want to take my DSLR (Nikon D700 + 1,2 lenses) but my experience walking in 2014 (North to South, which is the "classic" direction) demonstrated that you *REALLY* want to carry less weight. If you take the necessities, food, water -- this will be already quite heavy. In our case, I decided to leave my Nikon behind at a campsite and just use smartphones for photography. Even then we were a bit too heavy, and broke the trip to leave more stuff (eg. gas stove) at the campsite. I want to return but I am still undecided about photo gear.

--Jacek

--

--Jacek



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 20:17

Bluebreeze

There are quite a few food threads on the forum as it is quite widely available on the route.

Don't be tempted to carry too much weight. That will foreshorten your trip more than anything else.

The normal rule of thumb is 13kg max including food and water! I don't know the Adventure Food brand you mention but my advice would be to only carry one days spare dehydrated rations and rely on what you can buy en-route day to day.

I always carry a good quality compact like a Panasonic TZ6/7/8. They are superb cameras with great clarity but probably not quite up to SLR qualities. I find the quality to weight acceptable as the experience of the trek is more important than recording it for posterity. I keep them in a waist holster to whip out when needed.

These days I also take a GoPro video camera too - wonderful little cameras and so much better than still images. If you are familiar with these, check out the Feiyu G3 Handheld Stabilizer as an alternative to the heavy stabiliser you mention.

--

Alan



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 21:03

Alan the Feiyu G3 or G4 are meant for the GOPRO only. They will not balance those heavy DSLRs.

Michele



Mostrup

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 21:45

Hi Ethan.
You say that you have no hiking experience - are you sure you want to start with the GR20? It is the toughest long distance trail in Europe for a reason. In my opinion; most people can complete the whole trek as long as they are committed. Of course people can experience sickness, injuries or such, but as long as you are careful and motivated, you can surely take the GR20 as your first serious hike. :)
I was in the military for 4 months as well, but it was long before the GR20 so it only helped me mentally. I actually did not feel fit for the trek at start, but it went better than I ever would have expected. The same might be the case for you - only time will tell.

As for the food: I would not recommend bringing dried food. If you plan on walking the whole trek, you will get serious stomach issues from eating that for whole two weeks. Get some proper nutrition from the refuges. Furthermore, as other mentioned, you will save a lot of weight which you will appreciate in the long run. I would recommend an emergency dried food however because you might not always make it to the refuge till dinner. Also, I would recommend some sort of oatmeal for breakfast. They serve white bread with jam for breakfast at the refuges. It is both expensive and not very nutritional. You are also able to buy something for lunch from the refuges for the next day.

As goes for the camera - you seriously need to consider it's weight. If you have a smaller and lighter alternative to your camera (like a GoPro), definately use that instead. I would never go as far as bringing a glidecam. Even if it is lightweight. I do not find it necessary. You can always stabilize your camera by leaning it on your head. (see this video if in doubt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSfMcKhtFhw)

I had 20 kg to carry and I would never recommend anyone to bring that much stuff. I only had a 3 person tent, weighing 4 kg, and it was either using that or not leaving. So I chose to use it. The same goes for your camera. It might be heavy, but if you have no other alternative - I would bring it. When you are done trekking, you will enjoy the video you make so insanely much. Everytime you watch it, it will bring back memories and feeling that you would not be able to recall elsewhere. Of course do not make the trip all about filming every little rock you pass - remember to enjoy the beauty of the nature, of the people and of the environment. That is my biggest advice. The only thing you can do wrong is not enjoying it. Bringing too much weight can possibly make it less enjoyable, but not necessarily. If you bring something extra that will make you enjoy the trip even more, it's value to you will make up for the extra weight.

And I would walk the trek from south to north; unless you want to find someone to walk with. That will be easier when walking north to south.



bluebreeze

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 22:29

Thank you, everyone, for your advice.

It's not that I don't think I cannot make it. I have a some hiking experience, next to the hiking I did in the army. But I have the dedication to finish it. Is it 'dangerous' to walk it all alone? Because I'm planning to walk from South to North so the chance that I will meet some one is not that big, isn't it? Ex-army, it doesn't matter what experience you have, a small accident can be in any corner.

I'm considering to buy the Cats Meow sleeping bag from The North Face and use it together with the Eureka Spitfire tent. I'm not sure how cold it can be, during summer (july/august). Do you think this sleeping bag will be ok? It weights 1175 grams and holds up until -7 degrees Celcius.
My plan is also to walk without sticks.

Ethan



Trurl

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 22:25

Ethan,

as you can see you get excellent advice from GR20 enthusiasts quickly :-)

I'd like to add something that in a way was always present in these exchanges "between the lines:"
PREPARE physically! I am already preparing, by walking up a StairMaster in my gym with weighted
backpack. Try this, with realistic weight, and maybe some smaller hikes to calibrate your expectations and to get stronger -- more fit for this particular kind of effort. It will make all the difference!

We had good dried food (Mountain House) and I plan on taking it again next time. We also had CLIF bars, some energy drinks/gels, and such...

--

--Jacek



Trurl

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 22:29

Sticks are super useful, especially for long descents.

South 2 North has some benefits including becoming progressively harder. Books typically describe North-South, but a good number of people walks towards the North.

--

--Jacek



Mostrup

Posted: Thu, Feb 5, 2015, 22:45

The nights can be very cold, even in july/august, but a -7 comfort should definately be able to do the job. Maybe it is too hot? You do not need -7 comfort, but then again, you can always zip it open.

It is less dangerous walking from north to south since there are more people. But I generally would not consider it more dangerous to walk alone than with a partner. Most of the times, you meet the same people at the refuges from the day before, since you are going the same stages. If something were to happen on one of the stages, there are people coming from both the north and the south to give a helping hand, given that you have not gone off track. Bring a mountain whistle and do not walk if the weather is bad - then you can easily walk alone.

Walking without sticks might not be the best choice. They make the descents so much easier. Even if the descents are normally not a problem, after a weeks on the GR20 they can be. Of course one can do it without sticks. However, I would never walk it without sticks - even if I could. I do not see why I should make the trek harder than it already is. ;)



bluebreeze

Posted: Fri, Feb 6, 2015, 21:05

Thanks. :-) I think sticks are extra weight and I like to keep my hands free, In case I fall, I can hold on to something or catch my fall. Also when you have to climb with your hands, you have to put off your backpack and put your sticks on the back, etc. I would rather find a long piece of wood and use that instead. What about knives? Do you guys a bring (survival) knive? For me it is always part of my backpack, but mine is pretty heavy. (Gerber LMF II, 350 gr)



bluebreeze

Posted: Fri, Feb 6, 2015, 22:18

PS. I can arrange a cheaper ticket to Bastia instead of Calvi. At what airport did you arrive and leave?



Mostrup

Posted: Fri, Feb 6, 2015, 23:55

The only knife I brought was the one in my multitool. There is really no use for a proper knife on this trail, so it will only function as deadweight.

About the airport, it depends if you are walking from north to south or south to north. If you are planning on going south to north there is absolutely no point in flying to calvi, since you have to go down south anyway. I travelled to and from Bastia, but I was a guide on Corsica for 2 1/2 months prior to the trek. From Bastia, there are connections to the south and towards Calvi/Calenzana, so save some money and time and take a flight to Bastia. :-)



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Feb 7, 2015, 9:39

Hello,
My own way of dealing with walking poles when I need to use my hands.
Either 'squash down' the telescopic poles and just let them dangle from your wrists via the wrist straps or again squash them down and then with a 'biner' attach them to the rucksack without removing the sack. A bit quicker than taking off the sack etc.

--

Gaffr



Michele
moderator

Posted: Sat, Feb 7, 2015, 9:51

The only time when I squashed down my walking poles (and attached them to the sack) was before doing the Cirque de la Solitude. Otherwise when I needed both my hands I always left the poles temporarily dangle from my wrists. I would always recommend to bring them along on the GR20. Due to the nature of the terrain they are incredibly useful.

--Michele



Lawrence of Spain

Posted: Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 8:44

Ehm... So last year I was walking with Berghaus Vulcan 80l (2.9kg) and all the rest of equipment that totalled in 14kg, plus Canon 600D (+1kg) and plus ~4-5l of water for me and my lady (she carried less - that's how a man cares for his woman!!! ;)))), no walking poles. We walked up to Vivario (skipped out l'Onda-Vizzavonna due to bad weather), and I had no issues whatsoever with the weight.

Yeah, leg muscles hurt first 3 days, knees too, but after those first 3-4 days everything was fine - I did not even need knee supports later on. Worth mentioning first 4 days are the most difficult ones when starting from the north, although I consider myself physically fit. Probably everything depends on that - your physical and mental fitness.

One thing for sure - you need boots with ankle support. I had The North Face boots without ankle support, and a few time I had such a bad ankle twists, that I still wonder how that did not end in some more serious injury, probably tendons were warmed enough and stretched without damage. Another bad for The North Face - their brand new Vibram sole was quite busted after only 9 days in Corsica, so I would definitely suggest something else, looking into La Sportiva with GoreTex+Vibram myself.

This year I will take knee supports once again, no camera (phone - Samsung S5 - will do), same Berghaus, still doubting about walking poles, cause I had impression you could really use those.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Thu, Feb 19, 2015, 7:43

Lawrence, do take your walking poles along. You'll be thankful. They are an incredible help in stabilizing your steps and take off some 30% of your pack's weight. I also suggest removable rubber tips for the granite slabs.

--Michele



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Thu, Feb 19, 2015, 11:06

Lawrence

At nearly 3kg, your Berghaus rucksack is quite hefty. My Lowe Alpine Nanon 45:55 was plenty big enough, extremely comfortable and only 1.4kg.

--

Alan



rdmbg

Posted: Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 15:05

Hi,

Thanks for the detailed description, it is really much better than dry facts that usually are on official sites.

What I wanted to ask, if you know of course - is it possible to go without a tent - besides the comments about bugs from Mandie123, I didn't see anyone mentioning sleeping conditions in refugees. Does every refugee has sleeping places? That could save a lot of weight.



Mostrup

Posted: Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 15:17

It is totally possible to do the trek without a tent, I would not recommend it though. From what I have heard, people will rather sleep on the floor and tables than in those beds. They are filled with bedbugs and people are supposedly really noisy. However, you can buy some kind of net against the bedbugs and earplugs for the noise. It is really up to you. All refugees have beds available, some are naturally way better than others. But you need to book in advance.