My thoughts on the new routes implemented last year, with video of my trek

Mostrup

Posted: Fri, Jun 2, 2017, 23:22

Hello everyone.

I hope you all are well and ready for another summer of hiking!

Last summer, I did the GR20 for the second time. The first time was in 2014 and my elaborate thoughts on the hike back then can be found in this post: http://corsica.forhikers.com/forum/p/24925

As it can be read, I was quite cynical and surprisingly negative about the trek. Why you may ask? I pushed myself too hard, not taking my time to enjoy the beauty of it. Last year I thought that the trek deserved a new try, this time with another mindset, and boy am I glad I did that. The video of my second trip can be found on this link, for anyone interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN0HJ8xJRrM&lc=z12hx54bqpazvd2jf04chvfhk...

I took every alpine variant possible and it changed the trek completely, especially for the south. I personally don't like walking in the woods for an entire day. I want the technicality and the views and you just get those by taking the alpine variants.

I walked south to north the second time to evaluate the two directions to each other. As for which one I prefer, it really depends. Scenery and enjoying the view, definitely south to north. The views get constantly better and better and you don't feel like "oh, I have seen better on this trek". No, there wasn't a view I did not enjoy and they all blew me away. I remember from doing it north to south, I was so demotivated for the south since I had seen way better views in the north.
For me however, I walked the southern part in 4 days since it was an easy trek and my body was fresh. I enjoyed walking for most of the day and my body had no problem doing it. However, as soon as I reached Vizzavona, my knee injury just started tearing me apart. Especially from l'Onda I was walking slowly but steady with a lot of pain. I wanted to climb Monte Ritondu and Paglia Orba, but my body was telling me no. Therefore for me personally, north to south was easier since your body is fresh for the northern part. The southern part is just easier to do with pain due to its smoothness.

Back in 2014, the Cirque de Solitude was open and the route from d'Usciolu to Asinau was one stage.

As we all know, Cirque de Solitude was closed and the route was changed to go over Monte Cinto instead. And in my honest opinion, the new route is so much better. Cirque de Solitude is definitely spectacular, but way over hyped if you ask me. I very much preferred the views from Monte Cinto. The trip to Monte Cinto is not part of the main route so if you stay on the main route all the way, Cirque de Solitude was better. However, take the trip to the top of Cinto and you will not regret it.

As for the Usciolu to Asinau route, I don't like it. I very much preferred the old route. The new route honestly seem so poorly planned. The route from Usciolu to Matalza is nothing but forest, and we already have plenty of that in the south.

I slept at Bergerie d' Croci instead of Matalza, because I kept getting recommendations from people to do that. I swear, it is the best place to stay on the trek by far. The guardian is so friendly, talkative, polite, as opposed to many of the others. The food was great, lots of green beans, eggs and protein in general. I would highly recommend a stay there! Oh, and hot showers! Very important! When I passed Matalza, it just looked sloppy with no people around. The construction looked half made and it did not look very appealing. It may have been a great place to stay, I didn't try it so I don't know. I only know what I have heard from people and they all told me to go to Croci.

The route from Croci to Asinau is actually very nice. You walk on the shoulder on Monte Alcudina, which I would highly recommend using an extra hour to climb. Because that is probably the saddest thing about the new route. Most people will not take their time to go to the top and it's a real shame.

In conclusion, I prefer the new route over Monte Cinto and dislike the new route through Matalza. Feel free to ask any questions or if you need me to elaborate on something.

Take care guys



ianr8

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 10:21

Hi Mostrup,

Very many thanks for taking the time to write the post. Some very useful information.

My daughter and I arrive tomorrow and have got two weeks to go as far as we can from north to south.

All the best



Mostrup

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 15:31

I am so jealous! Have an amazing trek and remember to enjoy every second of it. ;-)

Thankfully, there are many places to get off the trek in the south if needed; Bocca di Verdi, Matalza and Village de Bavella.



rosbif_rebuffat

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 20:00

Hi Mostrup, thanks for the information and good to know you enjoyed it 2nd time round.

I too am headed out for my 2nd trip starting on Tuesday and have taken on board your advice regarding Bergerie d' croci. I can barely sleep for the excitement.

It's good to see you appeared to enjoy the southern section more this time, I remember you were quite scathing first time around.
For me it's the best part as a more discernible path, quieter, and more forest sections which I really enjoy



Mostrup

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 20:25

I were definitely way too scathing the first time. After my trek in the Dolomites, I was so impressed by that trek and contemplated what went 'wrong' with the GR20 the year before. It was my first both long-distance and solo hike ever and my priorities have changed so much since. Thankfully!

Damn, that's exiting. When was the last time you did the GR20, and are you sticking to the same direction as your last time, or are you trying anything differently this time?

I really got to appreciate the southern part of the trek this time around. It is a whole other style of walking, for which I just needed the correct mindset. Please let me know how it went after your trip. What you thought of the routes, refugees, everything really. ;-)



rosbif_rebuffat

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 20:41

It was Sept 2015. This time am going North to South again but only because of my travel timetable which makes it more convenient. Last time I did the 'cirque de bonifatu' route instead of the high level route for the first two stages (very scenic and pleasant) this time I will take the high level.

Also, last time I took the low level route to Vizzavona from Refuge De l'onda, this time I plan to skip Vizzavona completely and go from Cascade d' Anglais direct to Bocca palmentu via La Foce.

I promise I will be back and update with my experiences in detail as you have done.



Backstroke

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 20:52

I did the old route last year going NOBO from Asinau to Usciolu and really enjoyed it. It is a long day with a lot of variation of landscape and views. I thought that the old Pedinielli refuge area in the middle was in a pleasing setting, and as there is water there it definitely should be considered for those with tents who want to break up that section. I also thought that the South was beautiful, different than the North, but equally great in its own less alpine way.



Mostrup

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 21:08

rosbif, you are in for a treat with the two first stages. And skipping Vizzavona, I am actually all for it. I haven't been staying at Capannelle either treks and I really want to try it out. Vizzavona does not offer much if you ask me, so it can easily be skipped.

I will look forward for your report. Happy hiking!



Mostrup

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 21:12

Backstroke, I couldn't agree more. It's a great route and the new kinda seems like a money grab. I don't understand why you wouldn't just rebuild the old Pedinielli area, but they have their reasons I guess.

How was the route? I heard it was very overgrown and heard some say they removed the bridge, others that they hadn't. Many conflicting reports.

Taking more alpine variants in the south definitely did it for me. I enjoyed the south immensely.



GRRR 20

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 21:18

It's great that there are so many variants. I try and find something different every time I go. I like the new route over Monte Cinto, but I also miss the Cirque. I miss it, but I won't be going back either. A lot of people finish the "classic" GR20 and wish they had done some things differently. I have enjoyed climbing nearby mountains and visiting nearby villages. It makes it all more interesting. I think the old route across the Plateau de Coscione is better than the new route via Matalza. The only trouble with the old route is that it's a long way from Usciolu to Asinau, so you can end up on Monte Incudine in afternoon cloud or even a thunderstorm. If you climb it in the morning from Croci, chances are it will be clear and cool. Last time I was there it was October, with frost in the morning. Very cool!

Mostrup - that bridge. Someone took a chainsaw to it some years ago. They reckon it was a hamfisted attempt by someone local to "force" trekkers onto the new route. The PNRC fixed it pretty quickly.



Mostrup

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 22:21

I definitely agree. The many variants makes it possible for everyone to construct the hike as they want. And yeah, the option to choose between Monte Cinto and Cirque de Solitude is always preferred.

I can totally see where you are coming from. Personally, I don't think I will return for many years. I have so many other places I want to see, but this trek will always have a special place for me. Mainly due to Corse itself. I am leaning more and more towards the same as you, taking my time, taking detours and such. It is a gradual process, but I am starting to appreciate the small things now, which is just great.

There is no doubt that the old route is very long, especially for people not as physically fit. They will most definitely struggle, or just a long tiring day of walking. I totally agree that splitting the stage up was the correct decision. But the way it was done is just so half-hearted. I would have much rather that they rebuild the old Pedinielli refugee area. Going over Matalza might have been the cheapest solution for them, but the trek would have been far better off just splitting the old route in two. But who are we kidding? As if they ever considered what's best for the trek. See e.g. with investing in better facilities. The refugees some places are so basic, there are two toilets for 20-30 people. Bed bugs are never getting dealt with cause they don't care enough. There are so many things being mishandled so I cannot really say I am surprised that they chose the easier, cheaper solution when splitting the stage in two.



Backstroke

Posted: Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 23:57

There were a few places through the trees where the path was less clear, and the balisages are missing in some other places so that map reference is necessary, but really it was all pretty obvious and easy to navigate.



Trurl

Posted: Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 3:24

Chris,

thanks for another writeup and video. I wish you made a longer one: sometimes I can't recognize places they run by so fast... You first video I must have watched 30 times, alone or with family/friends (like the classic video by Michele!).
Speaking of places to stay: I very highly recommend Bergeries de Radule! Maybe my best stop in 2016, beautiful, quiet and only the right vibrations. Cool people choose to stay there. Ciottulu & Vallone and good stops too, but Vaccaghia I did no like, will continue to Manganu next time.

Funny -- I've done the Northern part 3 times by now, but not yet the South...
I am wondering how to get out of Conca?

My pattern so far has been to leave my car at Tattone, take train to Calvi, Calenzana and walk towards the car. It is a recommended pattern. But it skips the South. Maybe I should walk to Conca, and then back to Vizzavona/Tattone? Few more days, different direction, but why not?

--Jacek

--

--Jacek



rosbif_rebuffat

Posted: Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 4:18

Re: Conca, there is a hostel in the village where GR20 walkers often seem to end up, Sorry I can't remember the name of it but it's next to the village school and it's quite a pleasant place with a bar.

There is a daily shuttle service from there into Puerto Vecchio leaving about 1700 ish, at least there was back in September 2015.

If you arrive early or miss it like we did then you can take a taxi into Puerto vecchio, it took about 40 minutes and cost us 55-60 euro. It's a lot of money but split between a few people it's not too bad.



Mostrup

Posted: Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 4:49

I know the videos are cut rather short. I absolutely love watching videos like Michele's and similar, which are purer and not as edited as mine. However, I just think there are plenty of those around on YouTube, wherefore I want to try a different approach. This video in particular was very experimental for me. I tried with a different type of music and I honestly prefer the music I have used previously. But hey, you won't know for sure until you've tried it. ;-)

I would definitely recommend you trying the southern part. There is a Gite d'Etape in Conca which is very nice. There are two shuttle services to Porto Vecchio from which you can take a bus to and from Bastia. The shuttles cost less than 10 bucks as far as I remember and leaves early in the morning 100 % and I believe also around midday / afternoon.



Trurl

Posted: Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 20:31

Christopher,

you have great video material, you can go for a longer form w/ music too, like Michele did :-)
So yes, I'd like to visit the Southern GR20 too -- all of Corsica is sooo beautiful and special.
For instance, I always come back to a great loop (boucle) Quenza, Zonza, several variants are possible
there, even walking to and visiting Cucuruzzu, beautiful, ancient places even if of a completely different character than the alpine GR20. Amazing nature no matter where you go on Corsica!

--J

--

--Jacek



Mostrup

Posted: Mon, Jun 5, 2017, 16:17

"Amazing nature no matter where you go on Corsica!". I couldn't agree more. Whether you want to hike, bike, mountainbike, sail, waterski, beaches, you can get it all on Corse.



corsicatrek

Posted: Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 14:02

Thanks for the tip about the Bergeries in Croci! I tried calling just now to reserve a spot because I'll be there in early July but they didn't answer. Do you think it's necessary to have a spot reserved?

Thanks!

--

Eve



corsicatrek

Posted: Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 14:02

Thanks for the tip about the Bergeries in Croci! I tried calling just now to reserve a spot because I'll be there in early July but they didn't answer. Do you think it's necessary to have a spot reserved?

Thanks!

--

Eve



Mostrup

Posted: Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 1:21

It sort of depends whether you are camping or sleeping at the refugees. If you are camping, it is not needed at all. It shouldn't be necessary if you are sleeping in the refugees either, but you can never be sure. When I were there, there was a big group occupying most of the beds, but big groups generally shouldn't be an issue in early July.



Nelly30

Posted: Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 16:11

Hi Mostrup,

I am doing the GR20 from North to South (but we are seeing how far we can get in 6 days) next Weekend.

I have a few questions for you please.

First of all, how severe is the terrain in terms of scrambling? I have a very mild fear of heights so am nervous about there being situations where there is shear drop on either side? I can handle chains, and narrow paths. But I am no scrambling expert.

Secondly. In terms of fitness. I recon I run about 15-20 k per week - spread over 3 days. We have done 6 hiking weekends where we have climbed all over the Lake District and Brecon Beacons with our packs. One a month since Jan. Do you think this is adequate?

How many miles do you personally cover per day?

Realistically, how much food should we carry in our packs? We plan to eat at refuges every night.

Can the weather be temperamental at this time of year to your knowledge. You did your two trips either side of when we are doing ours I think?

Sorry to bombard you. It is my first (longer than 3 day), serious hike. So want to make sure my expectations (and packing list) is managed.

Many thanks!

Flick



Trurl

Posted: Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 17:54

Scrambling is not bad at all and no sheer drops. Just rugged terrain, sometimes "more" rugged :-)
Helpful chains occasionally.

Fitness, however, is very important, especially in proportion to weight you will be carrying in your backpacks! My personal favorite conditioning exercise is StairClimber in the gym, with backpack + 45/50 lbs dumbbells. Nothing beats this exercise.
Do an experiment *now* with packing everything and seeing how it feels.
I made the mistake at least twice of not checking ahead of time, but just packing and going. Any kilogram extra will cost you, turning pleasure into challenge and sometimes even "torture".

Food is always an issue: I wish one was able to buy better food at the gite'es.
I still have no better idea than freeze dried food (like Mountain House and similar) + sports bars
but hopefully others will chime in w/ ideas.

Check your pack weight, try walking w/ it, possibly reduce, and ENJOY this wonderful walk :-)

--

--Jacek



Trurl

Posted: Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 20:43

Resending an old favorite:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18jxHr5yR6tLAT2N1DnGnxTNWmtnlY1md...

--

--Jacek



Silversurfer

Posted: Mon, Jun 26, 2017, 19:28

Flick,

I'm packed for next weekend ( arrival 02/07/17 ) and my pack weight is 8kg but remember with water it is going to be heavier on GR20. We camped on a very misty windblown mountain in Donegal,Ireland as part of our training with same pack size/weight.......anywhere else without the rain,fog,wind and damp ground will be like heaven even though my body will be aching! Enjoy.

Silversurfer

--

Silversurfer



Gaffr

Posted: Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 8:41

Hello,
Catching up a bit with the Forum having been away for a bit.
I agree with the poster of this item S-N.
I also would say that the small amount of effort to reach Monti Alcudina top is well worthwhile and to also say that Croci overnight is well worth including in the walk.
I got around the 'dull terrain' between Croci and the other alternative overnights by avoiding the marked trail from Croci and using an old track....probably the way that Croci gets supplies to the refuge.
The old track took me to Cavallara bergeries quickly, turned right, and after a kilometre or so joined the GR20 where the sign boards for the overnights are placed. You don't miss any of the delights of the stage up to Usciolu by going this way.
This would work also when coming from the North.

--

Gaffr



Nelly30

Posted: Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 18:03

@Turl - thanks so much. That has REALLY reassured me - and that spreadsheet is so handy. I honestly cannot wait for this now. I am all packed now and ready to go but will no doubt reshuffle a number of times. We have trained with our packs before so I feel OK on that front. I only packed two pair of socks with the intention of washing them along the way. Thanks again!

@Silversurfer - Brilliant. See you there maybe! We are actually only doing 5-6 days from North to South. I am hoping the heat will be better than the wind, sleet and rain of the Brecon Beacons and / or Donegal. Enjoy!



Trurl

Posted: Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 19:45

Flick,

consider freeze dried food + means to boil water for that food and coffee/tea.
Gite food I have generally found inadequate except at Haut Asco & l'Onda.
More expensive than nourishing. The only strong reason to eat at refuges
is the communal aspect :-)

--

--Jacek



Silversurfer

Posted: Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 21:57

Nelly30,

I think we're a day behind you. Good luck! We're doing Haut then up Monte Cinto back to Haut then blob on beach and enjoy this great island. Look out for a White haired Australian called Dan and Belfast Ciaran,both punk rockers now rock punkers!

Dan

--

Silversurfer



Silversurfer

Posted: Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 21:57

Nelly30,

I think we're a day behind you. Good luck! We're doing Haut then up Monte Cinto back to Haut then blob on beach and enjoy this great island. Look out for a White haired Australian called Dan and Belfast Ciaran,both punk rockers now rock punkers!

Dan

--

Silversurfer



Mostrup

Posted: Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 23:13

@Nelly
I see the others were very helpful with answering your questions. :-)
As for my experience, there is a lot of scrambling in the northern part of the trek. However, no shear drops or anything so I would not worry about vertigo.

In terms of fitness, you are much better prepared than 70 % others on the trek, especially me. There are of course always ways to improve even more, but I wouldn't worry too much about that, since you have already done plenty (in my optic).

The mile coverage really depend on the stage. Generally, I do one stage a day with the occasional 1½-2 stages on some days. The Cicerone guide gives a very good indication of the difficulty of each stage so that is a big help to bring along.

Realistically, there is absolutely no need to carry any food. I carry 1-2 emergency dried food, but that is it. The dinner at the refugees are mediocre at most, but it is not that bad. Generally just pasta with some sort of sauce. You can also buy pasta and such at most places and use the available kitchens for free so I would carry as little food as possible. However, find alternatives for breakfast and possibly lunch. Breakfast is expensive and not worth it (from what I've heard, haven't tried it) and lunch was a problem for me almost all of the time. I ate so many cookies and chocolate, since proper lunch/sandwiches are not easy to come by.

The weather should be pretty predictable. I have yet to encounter any issues on any of my two treks on the GR20. I had one close call with a nearby thunder, but I honestly knew that I shouldn't have continued onto the 2nd stage that day, since it was starting to pull up. Generally, be cautious and have respect for the weather, and you should be fine. Leave early to eliminate the risk of thunderstorms (since they usually hit in the afternoon).

I hope that answered your questions. Feel free to tell me if you need something elaborated. :-)

@Gaffr
That seems like a good alternative. I wonder why they didn't place the route there in the first place. I assume you are well known in the area, cause even though this was my second trek on the route, I would have no idea of where to go besides the marked stages. :-D



Nelly30

Posted: Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 8:44

WOW @Mostrup. What a great message. Thank you for taking the time to write that! That has answered all my questions perfectly. So excited.

@SilverSurfer. Ha, we will look out for you two indeed but yes, we are a day ahead of you. At the end of our trip we are picking up a boat with our friends and going off sailing for a week to blob like you. ENJOY Rock Punkers!

@Jacek - our plan was to eat at the refuges however after reading what @Mostrup said about breakfast and lunch, and your advise, we will now carry noodles, protein bars, nuts and fruit to keep us going in between. I love chocolate but I'm not sure that will last longer than a day, let alone in the heat. Most excited about a cold beer at the end of a long hot day. Bring it on!



Trurl

Posted: Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 10:57

@Nelly30/Flick

The way I see it, the walk is a strenuous physical exercise: many hours of walking over rugged terrain with hundreds of meters of ascent/descent -- with backpack! That's more exercise daily than I do at the gym in a week's time. I typically burn a few kg because of effort and calorie imbalance and and as a slim person (I like that effect of the GR20!) But that means we need proper proteins and fuel! Starting with breakfast to fuel the day. Good carbs, not cookies, etc. Unfortunately, no fruits or veggies on the trail and too heavy to carry :-( Bottom line, I have not found a better way yet than freeze dried food and protein bars as snacks on the way. Freeze dried: one bag for breakfast, another after arrival at the next gite. About 2 protein bars on the way. Even so, calories burned dwarf the intake, hence the slimming effect. Protein bars, about 70g each, freeze dried bags: 160g. So each day my pack is lighter by 460g which is very nice. I *really* wish one ate better at the refuges. Good corsican sausage/cheese can sometimes be bought (Petra Piana); it does provide good fuel.

--

--Jacek