Corsica trip planning for hikers
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Posted: Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 19:49
Hey I'm coming to Corsica in early may and am looking to hike from Conca ti Vissavona, how is the snow looking so far this year?
Posted: Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 8:02
If I were you I would have a regular visit to the PNRC randoblog online.
At the moment, the 10th, February, the latest post shows a very big snow cover on the high areas.
May can be, evidence can be read within the postings to this site, a tricky month for the GR20....early May even more so.
However starting in the South would give you the best chance for 'getting through'.
Try to delay your starting date and are you aware that the refuges and other services along the route may not be available until late into May.
I have just realised that yours is a six day trip to reach Vizzavona from Conca and not the full traverse. Likely to have less snow.
Posted: Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 10:06
Like Gaffr said, the first thing to do is to regularly check out the PNRC randoblog site; although their posts are rather random, it's the first place to get an update about the snow cover.
So far it's been a very snowy winter in Corsica with heavy snowfalls all over. And winter is not over yet. So unless we get an early summer, I reckon you will find - in May - large snowfields starting from Mount Alcudina. But, since you're doing only the southern section you might get lucky and find little snow past that point. But we're still in February and it's impossible to make any reliable predictions.
Posted: Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 0:03
Thanks for the tips! I'm kind of playing it by ear and am just hoping for the best :)
Posted: Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 15:42
My friends and I are also trying to do the Southern part of the GR20 in mid May. I'll check back in soon but it's kind of hard not to decide now with plane ticket prices only going up! Anyone have recommendations on how to get to where the Southern part of the hike starts? Was thinking of flying from NYC to Marseille and then taking a ferry over.
- Jesse Rice
Posted: Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 17:34
Only ever taken the ferry from Nice to Bastia then boarded a bus from Bastia down the East coast.
Don't know where the Marseille ferry docks?
Get off the bus at Sainte Lucie-de-Porto Vecchio. Then either phone to the La Tonnelle Refuge/camping in Conca or ask at the Bar in the village to phone through.
The navette provided by the Refuge will get you to the start.
The phone number that I have is: 04.95.71.46.55 but check this out.
Posted: Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 3:04
I am doing it in late May/early June and anticipate starting walking on 1 June or thereabouts. Someone else on here was kind enoughto point me in the right direction for bus and train timetables.
Basically, fly in to Calvi, catch either a bush or train towards Bastia but not as far as Bastia, then a bus to Porto vecchio. Apparently travel on weekends is difficult and from what I can see, you'll need a day to do the travelling.
Posted: Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 7:36
Yes Sunday arrivals on the island are difficult. Sunday is the day that the direct flights from GB, where I am from, into Corsica are available.
I have been a few times to the island and the only time that we have reached the start of the route in the North ( well a camp in Calenzana ) was a Sunday flight into Bastia in the middle of June when the internal links are up and running on a Sunday.
All other times, end of May or early June, whether our arrivals were by ferry of by aircraft an extra day of internal travel was needed. A couple of times when arriving on a evening ferry we had to stay overnight in Bastia before getting to the Northern start the following day but not at a time when we could begin walking. Another overnight camping in Calenzana was required.
It would appear that internal travel whether by bus or train certainly on the ferry/fights timings that we had there was no linkage with transport to get anywhere.
Being retired we realised the problems prior to reaching the island and decided on all of our visits to allow three weeks which allowed for the problems with internal travel.
The other solution that probably many folks with just two weeks of holidays adopt is to double up on a couple of stages along the trail or as many others do is to relax and split the route into nine day holiday and then return for the six day walk on another occasion.
My last visit in 2013 my flight arrival was on a Sunday around midday. The north was still affected by snow cover and there had been problems in the Cirque. I walked out to the East coast road and attempted to hitch down to the start at Conca. Well I reached Moriani and camped there for the night. Arrival at Conca using the bus and navette was PM so camped again and began the route the following day. So one and a half days of internal travel before starting the walk.
Your options after arriving in Calvi would be to begin the walk in the North, conditions permitting, when you could start walking on the following day or to go the internal travel route to reach Conca.
The big question would be your arrival time of your flight in Calvi and just how that fits in with internal transport timings.
Posted: Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 10:17
Just a thought.
You talk about getting transport from Calvi to Bastia or nearby to Bastia to connect with a bus to the South.
If taking the train from Calvi you have to transfer onto the train coming from Ajaccio/Corte at Ponte Leccia to continue to Bastia direction. The Calvi train terminates at PL.
You also say 'bus to Porto Vecchio' but you have to alight at Sainte Lucie-de-Porto-Vecchio ( a few kls prior to Porto Vecchio ) to get on the navette that will take you up to Conca.
Posted: Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 15:16
It is always best to do the following things -
* Avoid travelling on Sundays
* Allow one full day for travelling to the start
* Allow one full day for travelling from the finish
* Allow at least one extra day for the trek
* Always double check transport timetables
Posted: Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 12:13
As for snow conditions, check the PNRC blog. You shouldn't try and book ferries or flights in advance if you want to start walking early in May. It is better to wait and see what the snow conditions are, the book all your travel at the last minute if it looks good. Remember that hardly anything will be open on the GR20 so you will have to carry much more.
Posted: Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 21:43
Thanks, that is a great help!
Posted: Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 20:31
A few images of the 2007 walk North - South.
These came out the wrong way round ....so the last image of mine is in fact the first in the direction sequence.
Also that the image in the Cirque de la Solitude is no longer the stage four of the route....the route is now up to close to the summit of Monti Cintu then down to refuge de Tighjettu.
Posted: Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 20:37
A few images of the 2013 ...South - North.
Also that the route, when coming up from the South, is from Tighjettu up to near the pointe des Eboulis and then down to Haut Ascu.
Posted: Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 21:25
So I am aware that the refuge's might not be stocked or have anyone working at them in early may, but will the water still be on, and do they lock the refuges up in the off season? I'm bringing my tent and sleeping pad, I'm sort of assuming that the refuge will be locked up, my only concern is water.
Posted: Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 23:38
If you can post the conditions when you get back - I am starting on 30 May (assuming I can catchg the bus after I land at Bastia to Conca on the same day) and planning on walking South to North.
Posted: Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 7:40
the refuges in the off season are always open (although not manned). If the water is not running inside the buildings (frozen pipes? or whatever), the source outside is always active so you should have no problems.
Posted: Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 8:10
Looking at the timetable for Corsica Bus.
The times in operation from Casamozza ( a village a few kls. from Poretta airport ) is a.m. 0900hrs or at p.m. 1630hrs.
That is on the timetable that operates from 16th.Sept. through to 14th. June. I guess that is from Sept 2016 - June 2017.
Your arrival 30th, May will fit into these times since you arrive midweek.
Check out Corsica Bus on-line for Timetable.
Posted: Wed, Mar 1, 2017, 8:26
The Randoblog PNCR is showing a great deal of snow at the moment....latest report was on the 27th, of February...see report.
All you can do is to check regularly but I think that going North from Conca that you will probably be able to make progress in May...The earliest that I have started from Conca was after reaching there after the Poretta flight on the 1st, of June.
However we did meet a person in Calinzana on the 8th, of June who had travelled the GR20 from Conca to the North....I guess that he must have started in the middle of May.
Depends on the year.
Posted: Fri, Mar 3, 2017, 21:26
I'll post pictures and conditions the moment I get back to the mainland! Assuming I can even get to the trail :)
Posted: Fri, Mar 3, 2017, 22:11
So if I decide to sleep in the shelter do I still have to pay even though no one will be there to collect the fee?
Posted: Sat, Mar 4, 2017, 17:55
As far as I know there "should" be a box in the shelter where you can make a donation. I don't think there is any compulsory fee to be paid. Please someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Posted: Sat, Mar 4, 2017, 20:59
My knowledge of the inside of the refuges is very limited. Apart from the odd purchase at the hatch I haven't been much inside since they were always very crowded places.
I have been in a couple of unmanned refuges in Valais at Col de Dent Blanche and at the Aarbiwak, Oberland and the system there was to leave the fee inside an envelope and post it in the refuge wee box.
Posted: Tue, Mar 14, 2017, 23:28
In the unmanned refuges what is the sleeping situation like? are there sleeping platforms or you just find a spot on the ground. same question goes for the typically maned one's.
I am trying to determine if I really want to bring my tent or not.
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 7:33
Remember that only the PNRC refuges will be available to you. The private ones will be locked. With the PNRC refuges, the door will be open and at least the kitchen and sleeping area will be available. The staff quarters will be locked. You will need your sleeping bag and food. The gas stove should be working, but you might find the gas has run out and no-one changed the gas bottle. The water inside the building might be disconnected, so you will have to look for the source outside. The toilets might be trashed, depending how people have treated them, and the showers might be disconnected. If the showers are working, they will be freezing cold. If someone has treated a refuge badly in the winter, then it might be like a pigsty! All this is based on my experience of un-staffed refuges in the months of November and May. Take a few candles. They really help cheer the place up, but if you burn a refuge to the ground, they'll hunt you down and shame you on the front page of Corse Matin!
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 7:47
... but if you burn a refuge to the ground, they'll hunt you down and shame you on the front page of Corse Matin!
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 7:53
Firstly the unmanned refuges that I mentioned are in Switzerland. I am now scratching my head here to try to think of anything unmanned on the GR20. Of course they are all unmanned and open as far as I know outside of the main period of GR20 activity roughly May through to early October?
At the Bocca di Laparo roughly between the Refuges Usciolu and Prati I did see a wooden hut structure that would offer shelter and oddly enough when coming to Laparo while walking the Mare a Mare Central there was a direction board to another wee hut? that is also marked on the map...never went there...a bit off the trail perhaps for the GR20.
So long as each of the Refuges are up and running for the season and you seem to be travelling early May which should be quiet perhaps not a problem being without a tent.
Modern tents are generally lightweight and do not take up much space in rucksack.....I always carry mine and then I am totally flexible. Many of the refuges do now erect tents for hire.
Another thought is that Asinau refuge...day two overnight when coming from the South...was destroyed by fire last winter. I don't think that this has been replaced?
Alternative would be to head up to Monte Alcudina...leave your sack at the col. reach to summit if that's what you want....then return pick up your sack then head down to the Bergeries Crocu. A longer day but the bergeries are a friendly place to visit....camping or hostel type room and very hot showers there.
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 8:40
Croci and Prati will both be locked and bolted in May. I contacted the owners of Croci to try and stay there out of season in October, but they wouldn't open. I had better luck at Prati, where a builder let me stay in one of their enormous fixed tents, the day before they dismantled them. I also tried at Basseta, which is supposed to be open most of the year, according to their publicity, but they just turned me away from the door. Seriously, if you don't want to be left outside, take a tent. (I did have a tent, but I was keen to avoid using it in chilly weather)
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 10:55
I second what GRRR20 is saying. You will be better off by carrying your own tent. Nowadays there are very lightweight tents on the market that weigh less than 1 Kg (about 2 lb) and they are very small and compact when closed. You don't have to use it all the times but keep it as a plan B situation.
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 11:00
At least Croci has a website that may offer more information by contacting them.
For Prati it is not a great deal of extra distance to head down to Col de Verdi where the roadside location may offer an earlier opening time in May....perhaps.
Just going backwards....S-N.
The services at Conca will open early...yes?
If nothing doing at Paliri there is always Col Bavella...roadside.
Asinau tent needed here whatever month you arrive...at the moment until it rises from the ashes.
Usciolu...possible do you think..easy access for the service folks from Cozzano and of course the same folks run the Bella Vista hostel/camping in Cozzano.
Prati....extremely doubtful...but possible at Verdi.
Surely Renosu or the other place at Capanelle... you can drive up to here.
....the delights at Vizzavona await you...after 6 days of walking.
Posted: Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 18:16
Yep... I got the contact details off the Croci website. Lovely place for a refuge, and lovely people if you say so, but a locked door, and no-one willing to open it when it's freezing cold, well... it might as well not exist at all. I'm sure that if I'd been a group of 20, instead of being all on my lonesome, might have resulted in a bit more enthusiasm.
The only guaranteed 'open all hours' option in that area is the tiny room beside the Chapelle St Petru. You get a hard floor and a table, and maybe even a couple of chairs.
Actually, it's worth the effort to go down to Zicavo. That's a proper Corsican village and well worth the very lengthy detour.
Forget what I said about Prati earlier. My brain must have died. I meant Matalza... the private refuge. Prati is PNRC, so it will be open, but it's too far from Bavella, if anyone is starting from there.
Posted: Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 6:40
Hope you don't mind me asking but what time of the year did you have the problem at Croci?
I camped there for a change and to have a look around when heading North. Since there is a drivable track for 4 x 4 motors that was in evidence when I was there....parked up beside the Bergeries I was wondering if this was around when you arrived there?
I regained the 'normal' GR20 route, after Croci, by heading out along a track to Cavallara berg. then easily onto the track coming down from Alcudina. So by doing this I missed out on the Chapelle, Matalza and Basseta berg. all obviously providing some sort of accommodation at times during the 'season'.
I recall the loop that includes all of these came onto the scene a few years back to provide an extra stage if needed by folks who wanted to split the long stage between Usciolu and Asinau which is in keeping with several other stages on the route where alternatives are available to suite either fitness levels or to avoid higher ground in poorer weather.
Posted: Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 8:22
It was October, and even though the PNRC refuges were un-staffed, there were still quite a few people trekking the GR20. In the area around Coscione and Incudine, where there aren't any PNRC refuges, I thought I would contact the private ones and see if I could stay there. Here's what happened...
Croci - I contacted them, but they wouldn't open. When the refuge is closed, there's no emergency option, like a basic room left unlocked. I got the feeling I should have said I was a large group, and that I would drink all their wine! I could see their point, it's a long drive for them to open for one person.
Basseta - I stayed at this place once, and they assured me that they are open nearly all the time. They seem to get skiers staying in the winter. No luck when I visited in October. They pointed me in the direction of Usciolo, with one hour of daylight remaining! You know what that would be like in the dark.
Matalza - I never managed to contact them in advance, but I remember this place from before it was a refuge, when it was just a building anyone could use. I got there just before it got dark, and a builder was just finishing some work. He said I could stay in one of the big fixed tents, and refused to take any money. A proper gentleman! The next day, a gang arrived to dismantle those tents for the winter.
Chapelle St Petru - I stayed in the small room next to the chapel once. It's very basic and not at all comfortable. You get water from a spring, and that's all you get.
The dirt road that connects all the refuges was being hammered by commercial quad bike tours while I was there. Surely, the last thing you want to see on the GR20.
Posted: Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 9:05
Many thanks for that info...it will be helpful to others using that part of the trail.
I understand why the folks did not want to come out. From what I understood from the Lady at Croci was that they lived on the other side of the range and came to Croci for the entire summer.
To get to that side maybe a drive over the col di Verde road to reach there?
When I was camped at Croci there were many other campers staying and of course a large group in the Hostel having had luggage brought in by a vehicle. For me it seemed a bit out of the spirit of the traverse so I went looking for another way of regaining the original GR20....hence the track out past Cavallera berg....and of course it was a much quicker way to get to Usciolu....and as well I knew from a trip N-S the delights of the Plateau du Cuscione that the alternative way misses out.
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