Tra Mare e Monti in October '14

dinny

Posted: Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 22:57

This is a rather belated review of the trail, hiked 6th to 16th October last year. I'm relying on my little trail diary and don't have the Cicerone Guide to hand, so please excuse inaccuracies.
October felt a little late to be hiking, but in fact the weather last autumn was a dream - many people on the train from Bastia were taking advantage of this to do the GR20.
Observations on being late in the season:
* our return date fell after the cheap airlines had finished for the season, so the journey home was a long one via ferry and trains.
* the trail was almost unpeopled. This was lovely and tranquil in a way, but we missed the varied comradeship that had enhanced our previous GR20 experience. We did spend time with the only other pair of Tra Mare e Monti hikers, two German hikers with huge - and I do mean HUGE - packs!
* many of the gite d'etapes and camp grounds were shut - not a problem as I like camping.
* it had been a long, dry season, and many fountains, sources, and streams/rivers were virtually or completely dry, so extra water had to be carried, especially when we anticipated closed refuges.
* nights are long- 12 hours of darkness. That's a lot of time to spend staring up at the moon and listening to pine cones falling.
* sweet chestnuts to roast :-)

So, from Calenzana to Cargese, here's my trail...
Day 1: sunshine and confetti at Calenzana; huge herd of goats eating strawberry tree fruit; refuge at Bonifatu shut...filled our water bottles at a fountain nearby, hiked another mile to find a perfect place to camp among Turkey oak and pine trees.
Day 2: trickles of water to collect and filter at a few streams; areas of overturned ground indicating wild boar ('pork scratchings'!), and actually saw a boar :-). Gite d'etape at Tuarelli shut, camped further along the Fango river.
Day 3: perfect river swim - warm rocks and lizards; roadside cafe at Fangu to fill water bottles; campsite at Galeria not quite closed for the season;
Day 4: sleep broken by pine cones falling on caravans; steep hike uphill in sunshine; descent to Girolata where camping was shut for the season, but wonderful gite d'etape by the beach open. Salty swim followed by Pietra.
Day 5: brindled cows on the beach; deviated from English Cicerone to follow Mare e Monti as described in German guide book to isolated Tuara bay - perfect on a scorching day such as this. Steeply up to a stunning ridge, then down to Curzu...refuge closed, fountain 'non potable'. Hiked on for half an hour til almost dark, and found a perfect camp.
Day 6: Rivière de Vetricella completely dry; hiked on to Serriera which was such a lovely village that we took a half-day off. Stayed at the gite d'etape.
Day 7: forestry track up to the woods; excitable hunting hounds, all bells and barks; steep gorge descent on pink granite; bar & gite d'etape open in Oto.
Day 8: Crossed over 15th century Pont Genois; swam in low river; Evisa village (shops shut); passed a ruined deserted village; Marignana gite d'etape seemed appealing at first glance...truth being it was pretty filthy.
Day 9: a small brindled dog fell into step beside me, and despite attempts to chase her back, she became a constant companion for the rest of the hike. Source barely flowing at Bocca Acquavia; camped on the wooded hillside a mile short of the (closed) gite d'etape at E Case; 3 times in the night the little dog chased away a fox; midnight lightening storm.
Day 10: walked through woods, along forestry track, then up an down a small water course to Cargese, where the hotelier welcomed the 'incroyable' dog as a regular hiker between Cargese and the mountains.
I would've liked to have turned round and hiked all the way back to Calenzana with her!

Dinny



Gaffr

Posted: Mon, Jan 26, 2015, 6:48

Mare e Monti is a fine route to travel with plenty of variety for the walker. We too had our tent which made the selection of overnights very flexible. There are several very enjoyable stages...Galeria to Girolata...is a fine day out.
I have always had the though that many folks rushing to do the GR20 would do well to consider the MM or one of the other routes on the island to test out their 'systems' beforehand?

--

Gaffr



Michele
moderator

Posted: Mon, Jan 26, 2015, 10:55

Thanks Dinny for your recount. I've been to Girolata after my GR20 north and beside the stifling heat I have good memories of the place. It would be very useful to have the waypoints of the unofficial spots where you camped and of the water sources.

Michele



Turnertactics
moderator

Posted: Mon, Jan 26, 2015, 14:45

Pork scratchings. I love it! Sounds like you had a good trip. The short days must have been a bit limiting though.

--

Alan



dinny

Posted: Mon, Jan 26, 2015, 22:50

Thanks for taking the time to read it, guys.

Michele, I couldn't say precisely where my camping places were - often when I needed one we were on steep, wooded ground, but by luck a tarp-sized flat area would crop up half an hour before dusk. A couple of times the ground was historically flattened maybe by charcoal burners, hunters or shepherds..?
As for the water, I think most of the time there would be plenty around. Having been so dry, it was just something we needed to be aware of, so we filled up water bottles when the opportunity arose, and filtered all water from 'the Wild'.

Alan, 'pork scratchings' was a rare flash of genius!!! Regarding the the short autumn days, well we had ten days to hike, so there was no need for long days on the trail - but it did mean spending hours tucked up, itching for morning to come and the trail-time to begin again!
Are any of you going back to the island this year?

Dinny



Steve Dan

Posted: Wed, Apr 29, 2015, 5:54

Hi Dinny,
Enjoyed reading your snapshot of the Tra Mare e Monti, I'm heading down that way myself on Sunday.
I've allready had a response from Gaffr on this, but when you stayed in Ota, which gite did you use, and did you camp.
Also, where did you pick up your first fuel?
Stevel



Gaffr

Posted: Wed, Apr 29, 2015, 7:08

Hello,
We had a mid-week start from Calinzana so we picked up gas in the Spar shop.
Can't recall if we got some in the Serriera shop? but we got a canister in Evisa.....camping site out of the village on the D70? right at the junction....left goes up to the Col de Vergio...Camping Acciola but that was at the end of May, 28th, so maybe just not open for your early May start?
Sounds as if Marignana has not changed much over the years.
We began that trail on the circa 20th of May 2009 then continued over M Monti South and on the MM South to reach Porto-Vecchio.

--

Gaffr



dinny

Posted: Sat, May 2, 2015, 19:01

Hi Steve,

I hope this reply doesn't arrive too late to be useful.
I bought fuel ( meths ) in Calvi before Heading to Calenzana.
I've checked my trail diary and can tell you I stayed at a gite d'etape in Oto, the Chez Marie. I think it's open all year.

Wishing you a fabulous hike,
Dinny



Steve Dan

Posted: Sun, May 10, 2015, 5:08

Sorry Dinny, I've just got to Ota and have read your post.
No camping in Ota so I'm in the gite. Chez Marie as it happens, so this is the Tra Mare e Monte live, so to speak. It's a really nice place, the food's good, spectacular views over the valley from the dorm balcony
In fact its so nice, I'm going to spend an extra night to properly explore the Spenlunca gorge.
Will update on other stuff when time allows
Steve.



Gaffr

Posted: Sun, May 10, 2015, 12:13

Hello,
It is difficult outside of the GR20 where you can pitch your tent each evening. On the other multi day routes you have to scratch around if you wish to camp or just bivvy in quiet places.
At the refuge in Ota, when we arrived in 2009, there were two 'booked-in' groups in the gite so we camped on the very rough terrace and took a dinner inside the gite. I think that our favourite gite terrace was at Bisanao on the Mare e Monti Sud where we were shaded by a cherry tree groaning with ripe fruit.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the trail. I guess that you enjoyed the stage between Galeria and Girolata?

--

Gaffr



dinny

Posted: Mon, May 11, 2015, 12:50

Hey Steve,
Good to hear you are enjoying the hike, and have allowed extra days to explore and hang out - Tra Mare e Monti is perfect for that, I think!
Wishing you enjoyable days for the rest of your adventure,
Dinny