Hello! (And a couple of Newbie questions - Sorry!)


Posted: Fri, Jun 17, 2016, 15:33

Hi there,

What a handy resource you have here. Many thanks to all you lovely contributors - You are a veritable mine of info, and I've spent a happy afternoon plotting my adventure. However, I had a couple of questions that I wondered about - My apologies as I'm sure they've been asked before but I haven't managed to find the relevant thread - So here goes:

So, I'm in a bit of a muddle about distances/times. I'm lucky enough to spend most of the year trail running/ski touring, so can cover a reasonable amount of ground each day. I'm suddenly free for the next twelve days or so, and I thought a last minute dash along the GR20 might be a great way of spending my unexpected free time. Can I:

...turn up with my little tent unannounced at a refuge and still expect to be able to eat, or do they only cater for booked guests at this time of year? Ditto breakfasts/picnics. I'm worried about going hungry! I'll have a stove for emergencies, but if I can avoid carrying loads of grub then so much the better.

...expect to cover similar distances as I do here in the French alps? Is the going an awful lot tougher in Corsica? I'm struggling to calculate which refuge-itinerary would most suit my fitness levels.

I'm completely aware that I sound like a heathen who's more interested in racing his time on Strava than admiring the lovey views, but my girlfriend will have my guts for garters if I'm not back in time for her birthday in two weeks so timing is a very real concern!

Sorry for waffling. Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Paddy Morris


Posted: Fri, Jun 17, 2016, 16:02

You can book dinner when you arrive at a refuge, no need to book in advance, though you probably have to be there before 18 o'clock. For breakfast you need to book the day/night before.

You will find that there are food items for sale in most of the refuges (there is a post here with a link to a site containing the food items on sale on the different refuges). Though the assortment might not be very huge, though, it should be enough to provide you with food for your hike.
At Haut Asco, Castel de Vergio, Vizzavona the stores have a larger assortment. I didn't bring a stove and based myself on eating the dinner that the refuges provided. Between the refuges, I brought with me granola bars, sausages (they are really good there) and other food items that are easy to carry.

And....what distances do you do in the French alps???

If you have twelve days available for the trail, you should get through it fine, if no problems arise underway (like illness, bad weather, etc). If you have twelve days in total, you will be more pressed for time, though people have done it in 7-8 days.
And remember that the trail probably won't take leave and walk away, so you can always do either the north or the south section and return later for the remaining section.



Posted: Fri, Jun 17, 2016, 17:11

Awesome, thanks Tarjei.

Great news about the food. I'll pack a few reserves and maybe ditch the stove altogether. Bliss. No more sooty socks and pasta that tastes of meths.

I guess a normal french alps day would be 45km or so, with probably 2,500m vertical. So a bit more than the GR20 stages but on quite nicely marked trails so you can chunter along at quite a lick. I'll possibly just take it as it comes, if I'm not bound by refuge reservations.

Oh - another question - Do we think poles are a bad idea, if there's quite a bit of scrambling? Or is it not as rubbly as all that?


Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 6:47

I have always taken my poles to Corse....use them everyday. There is a great range of different stage surfaces scrambling through to pleasant walking a good trails. When reaching the parts where hands are useful I shorten the poles to minimum length and let them dangle from the wrist or alternatively shorten and clip into the rucksack waist-belt-loop.

Out of interest the 45 kls days in the alps are maybe on the good paths such as in e.g.the GR55 Vanoise or on GR5 rather than reaching, on foot, some of the Swiss refuges usually at circa 3,000 mtrs. :-)




Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 6:53

I always take poles but rarely use them. They get in the way on scrambling bits. You also have to be careful not to get them stuck in cracks, so that you end up breaking them. You can spend all day covering very little distance on the GR20, and being exhausted at the end of it. Sometimes, just getting 10km covered is an achievement. On routes like the GR5, there are many stretches where you could cover 25-30km and finish the day without feeling too tired. It's hard to find a route that compare with the GR20. It seems to be in a class of its own.


Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 7:34

Magic. I'll chuck a pair of poles in then. There's a flight tomorrow. Will finish this pot of coffee and dust off the credit card.

Really looking forward to seeing what the GR20 is all about. Sounds like quite a beast! Did London to Asia a few years ago, but haven't been under canvas since then. Wonder if I can remember how to put my tent up... Maybe a practice in the garden is in order. Thanks again for all your hints and tips. :)


Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 8:42

After getting away from Calvi/Calinzana you can send your credit card back home....most of the transactions in Corse on the higher ground are made using cash....take many Euros. :-)




Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 9:24

Credit card's for dear old Stelios at Easyjet!


Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 13:32

When back write how is gone. I ll be on gr20 in july. It could be usefull to Know how is. Thanks.


Posted: Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 14:32

Of course! Trip report and photos will be forthcoming. Assuming I don't sleep through my alarm.


Posted: Wed, Jun 29, 2016, 12:04

All done! Home time for me. But the trainers are going in the bin!