Trip Report - GR20 Jun/Jul 2018

fiona

Posted: Wed, Jul 11, 2018, 11:59

Just got back from 3 weeks in Corsica on the GR20. Thought we'd write a small bit about the trip and hopefully provide some up to date comments for anyone about to start. 2 of us have gone from Calenzana to Conca, in 16 days (one stage a day, as we had no time pressures) and in Vizzavona, we took a day off to go to Ajaccio on the train and stock up on cheap food in the Carrefour there.

Firstly, the trip exceeded all our expectations and more. It was stunning, we met so many friendly people and both would do it again in a heartbeat. We carried a tent and all camping equipment plus our own food for 9 days in the north half and 7 days in the south half. We didn't carry a stove. The bags were heavy to begin with but still manageable and got lighter as we went. We both used walking poles which we can't recommend enough - everyone doing the walk should use them! It was our first long distance hike and except for one blister between us we were no injuries - which seemed unusual when compared to other walkers! But it shows there is a lot to be said for taking it slow and steady.

We would recommend a few things having done it:
-> start early, begin walking by 6am if the stage is over 5 hours, i.e aim to be in camp around lunch time.You avoid the heat, and the mornings were always sunny and perfect blue skies, whilst the thunder or clouds only ever came in after midday.
-> you don't NEED a stove/gas. We coped fine without, using the stoves available at the refuges. It is worth noting only the PNRC refuges will 100% provide gas for campers to use. There is a stove in calenzana campsite. We only had to queue once (but were relatively early in the season) and we used our own pans - but many had pans available to use.
-> Leave yourself as much time as you can fit in to your work schedule. What is the point in doubling stages if you don't have to? You risk injury and walking in thunderstorms - plus less time in the mountains, and once you get there, you'll want as much time in them as you can have!!
-> The better prepared for walking on rock and the better at scrambling you are, the more you will enjoy the north half - it is a lot of fun!!

We are happy to answer any questions after this slightly rambling post - but we took a lot of tips from this forum before we left and would be happy to repay the favour!!!



GRRR 20

Posted: Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 6:37

It sounds like you had a great time and it all went well because you had a good plan. It will surprise some people to hear that you went all the way to Ajaccio for cheap food, but nothing is cheap on the trail. The only other option would have been to go to Cortre but either way costs a whole day. I agree that there is no point rushing the route or doubling stages. There is even less point walking in the dark and missing the scenery bit some people do that. I hope you get a chance to return and maybe check out some of the variant routes.



ericab

Posted: Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 12:29

Hi Fiona

Thank you so much for your very useful post. My husband and I are planning to do the trek over the first half of Sep. Your info is very helpful! A few additional questions from me:

- How hard did you find it? We are fit 30 year olds but everyone I meet tells me how hard it is, so I’m now a bit worried.

- Did you find maps useful / how well marked did you find the track? I’ve read others saying the track is very well marked and maps are not needed - what do you think? (Will we need compass skills..?)

- How much cash did you take? We are planning to camp like you did.

- You mention leaving the track to buy food in Ajaccio. Do you think it’s viable to buy all food en route (and if so, how does it affect the above question)?

Thanks very much
Erica



Stom_slo

Posted: Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 14:57

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for the trip report. Looks like you've had an amazing time.

- What's the situation with water sources along the trail? Did you use filters?

- Doing multiple stages per day - yes or no? If one is fit enough and weather permitting, why not go for it? Basically, how hard did you find it?



Gaffr

Posted: Fri, Jul 13, 2018, 9:58

If I may add a few of my own findings on the route.
Have been along the route in both directions and would agree with the posters report.

There is nothing more useful than going out prior to reaching the island with a rucksack with the contents that you propose to carry on the GR20 and to camp and stay out for a few days.
The line maps provided in PD's guidebook are sufficient but for a look beyond the route the two 1:100,00 maps are useful...IGN 175 and 176 that will give you a complete picture from start to finish and beyond if for any reason you have to leave the route earlier perhaps.
Plenty of places to buy food especially at the places where the roads reach the GR20....Haut Ascu, Vergio, Vizzavona and at Capannelle, Col de Verde and Bavella along with most refuges and the extra Bergeries en route.
When I went first time I was on a three week holiday so plenty of time for me also to take the wee train down to Ajaccio.
For cash en route around 30 Euros per day but that was in 2007 and 2013 maybe a bit more now?
I have been to other routes in Europe but the GR20 has a special place in the memory....it is the contrast of terrain, the rock, the vegetation, the roughness and the meetings with folks throughout the walk that make it a good experience.
The guidebook gives information on where the sources are to found along the trail.
Have you looked at the two films of MC who is the Moderator here..Memories of a Trekker...Vimeo.com/15061401 and Vimeo.com/29148378. Possible the true spirit of the Trail.

--

Gaffr



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Jul 14, 2018, 16:04

GRRR 20 > I'd rather count it at half a day. Going down to Corte for shopping is a bit shorter, more pleasing to the eye, and can be achieved within a 4-hour span in summer - of course it helps if you know in advance what to buy at the mall in Corte. Did it two days ago: Vizzavona 4pm -> Corte 5pm (shopping 30mn, then laundry 40mn while having pints) till 6:30pm -> Vizzavona 7:30pm.

(And I agree how people on a "tight schedule" are poor company, may prove dangerous to themselves and others - "we have to be at the refuge tonite 'cause we paid big bucks to book it, let's ignore the t-storm!" - and pretty much miss the point of being in Corsica rather than in their backyard.)

--

Geology in Corsica



fiona

Posted: Mon, Jul 16, 2018, 22:00

So we were reasonably fit 23 yr olds, we hadn't been training beforehand due to work commitments but we didn't find it too bad - sometimes we had aching muscles after a longer/harder stage but generally didn't feel too tired. It's difficult to say how 'hard' it is - its rocky and scrambly in a lot of the north half so be prepared for this. Long descents are hard on the knees and can cause injuries to flare up. In other words, its not that hard if you've walked in mountains before and know what to expect.

We bought 2 maps but didn't ever need them, the trail is almost perfectly marked and you really can't go too wrong! You won't need compass skills.

We camped but had our own food, saving a lot of money compared to eating at the refuges. So we probably spent around 20 a day, when you average the whole trip out. Beware this was a very cheap way of doing it, for example a can of fanta will cost you 3 euros, beer 7 euros, chocolate 2 euros etc, so it could quickly get expensive! (but if you have the budget, you could eat very well!)

Water sources at every campsite, most bergeries and occasional other points. We took sterilising tablets and used 1! So not too necessary, worth bringing a few just in case you need water and the source isn't clean.

You can definitely do 2 stages in a day, look ahead through the guidebook to see which easy stages you can double (i.e don't do 2 long stages in one day) but it will be harder and you might enjoy relaxing afternoons enjoying the view at the campsites...

Hope that helps!