GR20 trip report Aug-Sept 2016


Posted: Sun, Sep 18, 2016, 15:12


Me and my friend (both women in our early twenties) did the GR20 Calenzana-Conca 22.08.16-05.09.16 (15 days, just like planned). Here's a little summary of our hike.

We chose to do all the high variants, except for the one between Capanelle and Verdi. Also went straight from Usciolu to Asinau in one day, skipping the new official route refuge in between. Very happy with the route choices, as I loved the ridge walks the most and found the relatively flat surfaces a bit boring. I'd say that the North was more interesting (more challenging in a way - loved the climbing parts - and better views). But the South had it's tricky parts and I'd even say that the last three days were the hardest as the heat got worse and feet started to get tired/blisters evolved to massive size. Especially hard was crossing Monte Incudine on the high variant from Usciolu to Asinau (but also very rewarding on the top).
Yes, there are rocks everywhere and in the end you feel like you've seen stone in all size and shape. A lot of people use poles but we didn't bring any as we prefer walking without them and I wouldn't say that we were worse off because of it. Probably lost some speed downhill but we were in no hurry and there were definitely many places where poles would've gotten in our way.

We always stayed in our tent so no idea if there were bedbugs or not. To all the people criticizing the situation of the refuges, I would recommend going to the mountains where there are no facilities at all. Yes, the houses aren't really modern, everything is expensive and the showers are mostly cold but the opportunity to have a shower (even a cold one), get weather reports, buy/cook food and sleep in a house (if wanted) is something that should be appreciated highly.
We had no problems with pitching a tent - even on hard ground, we got our pegs in with some help from the rocks and there was always enough flat ground to pitch on. Of course depends on when you arrive and how many people are staying there..

Took some food with us (basically all the breakfasts - porridge material - as we aren't really happy with the bread-butter-jam solution and a few days lunch and dinner material). I'd say that was the perfect solution. We didn't carry too mach weight but saved some money, not having to buy all the food from the refuges. Our usual purchase included pate, cookies, chocolate bars, pasta, tomato sauce. Never bought a cooked meal as we found it to be too expensive (20 euros dinner, 10 breakfast). Cooked our meals on the stoves provided or used our own gas canister and pot. We didn't see any big queues behind the cookers but at least in E Capanelle (ski station not refuge) there weren't any pots. Also didn't find outdoor cooking facilities in Petra Piana, but we had no problems using the indoor cookers even though we were staying in our tent.

We started with 15kg bags (with water), which probably reached around 12 by the end. We had all the sleeping equipment with us (all nights in a tent) and also some food. Didn't bring very warm clothes (only a sweater and long pants), but they were usually enough.

We had mostly warm and sunny or a bit cloudy weather. Only one day between L'Onda and Vizzavona there was a thunderstorm that included lots of rain and even some hailstones but we started early as we knew it was coming and only had about 15min of rain before reaching Vizzavona. We heard afterwards that there were some people stuck between newly-formed rivers and got out only thanks to an experienced hiker who crossed the river with a rope and helped others over with it. Also ascended to a cloud to reach Prati but the sky cleared out by the evening to see the wonderful stars and a view of the city lights on the coast.

All the people on the trek were friendly. The guardians were also nice, but some of them don't speak any English so if you have problems with French, learn a few words and use body language.
It was really nice meeting all the people on the trek, thank you for the interesting talks and friendly faces! (We were the 2 Estonian girls you heard laughing way too often).

If you are in doubt whether to go and whether you can do it then I can say you this: my friend is not a regular excerciser and she hadn't done any treks before but she completed it. The first days were hard but if you are not overweight, you have a normal amount of stamina and a lot of willpower plus your doctor gives you the permission, just do it! Don't rush it, take you time and you'll be fine.
The GR20 is a wonderful experience: it's beautiful and challenging at the same time, the perfect combination for an active holiday. I loved every second of it and we already made a deal with my friend to go back before we are 30!

Big thanks to all the people who have written in this forum, it was a lot of help before going. Hopefully you'll also get something out of my very long post.

Lots of love,


Posted: Sun, Sep 18, 2016, 19:01

Thanks for all the info and the feedback, Tuuli. You post is much appreciated.


Posted: Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 6:27

Sounds like it was a great trek, especially for your friend who you say had never done anything like that before. The high level routes are all good and more people should include them.