Refuge dormitory vs rented tent vs staying at bergeries

Argonaut

Posted: Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 1:04

Hello, I would love to hear from you GR20 veterans as to what is better. I guess the tent gives more space than dormitory but maybe bergeries are most comfortable of all? ... I have no idea... All comments welcome. Thanks in advance.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"

Norman McCaig



Gaffr

Posted: Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 4:31

Hello.... You don't always have that kind of choice at each of the overnight stopping places.
At those where there is Road... Dead end or passing from at col..
Usually plenty of choice. At most others refuge bed or tent hire or carry your own tent and pitch up. Most bergeries are in between refuges.... Some have hire tents.
Two refuges have been burned down so I guess rudimentary accommodation available at them.
The only secure and hassle free way is to carry your own tent..no booking no crowded space in the buildings etc. And of course cook your own food with the occasional meal at the restaurants that have Road access.

--

Gaffr



SwissMountainLeader

Posted: Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 4:28

The other reason to carry your own tent is to avoid bedbug outbreaks.

--

SwissMountainLeader - Leysin, CH



Argonaut

Posted: Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 7:54

Many thanks for the advice Gaffr and SwissMountainLeader. If I go refuge, I will reserve. I'm struggling to get my pack weight down, so I'm dreading taking a tent. :)

I can't find a bergerie reservation site like for the refuges... hmmm...

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 10:54

Unlike refuges which are operated by a single entity (the Regional Natural Park of Corsica), "bergeries", gîtes, hotels, guestrooms and other accommodation do not have a single central website - they belong to many different private owners, or municipalities. A few of them might be on AirBnB or BookingDotCom, though. Just contact them directly by e-mail or phone.

--

Geologist in Corsica



Argonaut

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 6:41

Thank you. If I do take a tent, what is a reasonable pack weight including tent and matress?

Now, I'm at 12.3kg without water, food or tent. I have a tent and mattress that will add 2.5kg. I plan on carrying 4kg water and 1kg food. 19.8kg at the start, which will be 15.4 kg by the end of day 1. 19.4 kg start of day 2. Does that sound reasonable? Many thanks in advance.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



SQFP

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 8:42

Depends on your physical condition and training (and body weight). The lighter it is, the safer you'll be. In case of excessive weight, it's probably better to carry no food and no tent (having dinners at refuges, renting a tent there) than carrying everything then giving up on the 2nd day because of joint pain or a twisted ankle. Also 4 liters of water is probably overkill, this is no Sahara.

--

Geologist in Corsica



Argonaut

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 12:33

Thanks for the comnents. I'm 92kg in my late 40s and would probably meet most basic military fitness requirements for my age group.

On the other hand, I haven't carried loads this heavy for years and several decades have passed since I did a multi-day hike. I think my joints are robust but I simply don't know for sure, nor do I know what my recovery rate will be like.

Thanks for the tip about water. I may drop by a little )

For food, I plan to eat at refuges but also to carry high calorie foods like saucisson and some pain d'epice. I may rethink this too :)

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



SQFP

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 14:33

A rule of thumb around here is that the average guy (or girl) with no specific training can long-term carry on their back about 1/7th of their own body weight, without increase in the risk of injury (loss of balance, joints fatigue etc.).

According to this rough guideline that would be about 13kg in your case -- everything added on top of that will slowly increase discomfort while decreasing physical safety. Packing a rucksack properly matters too, so as to avoid unusual pressure or tension on joints and muscles, as well as for those tricky places where a large, poorly-balanced bag could make you fall.

I'd aim for that (hard to attain?) 13kg target as much as possible if I were in your shoes; keep in mind how many items and tools are optional or make little sense on the GR - you can buy extra food here and there, you can use gas burners at no extra cost in each refuge where you'll spend the night, snow/winter gear is no longer needed, and so on. Carrying less may imply less comfort sometimes, but means more comfort most of the time. ;)
(Oh and usually water is not taken into account because its weight varies greatly throughout each day; most people seem happy with a max capacity of 2~3 liters, or even less if refilling frequently along the way)

--

Geologist in Corsica



GRRR 20

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 14:04

I aim for less than 10kg for all my backpacking kit, but not including food or water.



Michele
moderator

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 21:48

Personally I found my "ideal" backpack total weight at 14 kg (I'm 62, fit and trained). In the past I did the GR20 with 18 kg on my back and that was hell.

On a different note, Argonaut I read in your latest post "I haven't carried loads this heavy for years and several decades have passed since I did a multi-day hike" which raises a red flag from my point of view. I think it's a risk to start this adventure without proper training and previous test of your kit. Like you also said you also don't know what your recovery rate will be like.
I don't mean to discourage you but it's crucial that you should know in advance how your body will react to the difficulties of this trail. Just my 2 cents.

--Michele



Argonaut

Posted: Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 23:21

Thanks all for this fabulous input folks. It's greatly appreciated.

And thanks Michele, I possibly overstated my uncertainty. I frequently hike and scramble over alpine terrain on single day treks with up to 10kg of gear and recently I did a few trial scrambles with 25kg over 3-4 hours just to see if it killed me, which it didn't. I run 5-8k steep hills a few times per week and do 5-6 hours of bodyweight fitness sessions per week. I've had this active lifestyle for years, so I'm not just building suddenly.

I've planned electrolyte supplements, fish oil to help joints ward off inflammation and I will set off at a pace I can sustain.

If after a few days I'm done, I will bail. I have planned for that outcome.

If everything goes perfectly, the furthest I can go is Vizzavona.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



Argonaut

Posted: Wed, Jul 17, 2019, 10:57

Thanks again guys. I just finished the Northern section with no pain and only slight fatigue. I don't yet have the words to describe the beauty of what I saw and felt.

The GR20 made almost everyone good. I mean that it may be self-selecting in that only certain types of people do it, but also that it brings out our better selves.

It's amazing how quickly we recover from such stress on the body, to allow us to go day after day. I kept thinking "This must be what my hunter-gatherer ancestors evolved to do."

I will post a few thoughts later, but now I want to thank those who gave me advice. You helped me to prepare at very short notice and I am grateful!

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



Redlesweb

Posted: Sun, Aug 4, 2019, 8:05

Well done Argonaut, it sounds like it’s been quite the experience. I head there in 3 weeks and can’t wait. Out of interest did you used to post on a west highland way forum some 15+ years ago?

--

Lesley



Argonaut

Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 18:49

Thanks Lesley, you are in for a life-changing experience. I'm still dreaming about it. I washed my backpack this week and it saddened me to watch GR20 vestiges disappear down the plug hole :)

I will do the Southern section as soon as I possibly can.

I'm afraid I didn't contribute to the WHW forum, though I did do the trek twice :)

There's a lot of great GR20 advice here and you may not need mine, but a few thoughts may help.

1. Take a Camelback and a separate bottle. The Camelback for regular drinking as you go and the bottle for hydration from sources.

Force yourself to consume as much water as you can stomach before setting off each day. It postpones the moment when you need to start draining your camelback.

On stages 1 and 2, water sources are rare. When you pass a source, stop for a few minutes and repeat the forced hydration step.

I learned this tip from an ultralight backpacking couple after 2 days of running out and of completing stages dehydrated.

Water requirement is a function of muscle mass. I needed more water than many of my lightweight fellow trekkers did.

2. Hire a tent at each refuge. It saves you from setting up, dismantling and carrying your own. It costs around 16 Euros per day (whilst pitching your own tent is around 8 Euros, I think). Worth it to save the weight of the tent and mat. Or save 3 Euros per night and stay in the refuges with a farting, snoring mass of bodies, being mauled by bedbugs :)

3. Even if you plan to stay in tents, carry earplugs. On my first night, I had a blowhard perched on a rock near my tent, pontificating late into the night. My earplugs blocked the worst of it and tiredness took me off to a broken sleep, which was better then none at all.

Some tents are pitched on slopes. Just accept that you may have to sleep wedged against something. Sleep will take you easily anyway :)

4. Refuge breakfasts are junk sugary carbs absolutely devoid of nutrition, but take them anyway. Take cakes, cheese and saucisson with you each day. Eat pasta every night.

I also took multivitamins and fish oil capsules with me. I grew fitter by the day and completely avoided joint injuries.

5. You will probably have no phone reception until you reach the heights above Ascu Stagnu nearing the end of stage 3. Ascu is on a main road and is resupplied daily, where the first 2 refuges are supplied by mule trains. Even if you don't stay at the hotel at Ascu, have breakfast there... they serve fresh pains au chocolat and croissants with good coffee :)

6. Most days, you will have to rely on weather forecasts from the refuge guardians. If there are to be storms, they mostly happen in the afternoons. The solution is usually to set off early to (mostly) avoid them.

7. On stage 5, stay at Castel di Verghio, not Ciottulo. The views from Ciottulo are fabulous, but the extra 2 hours of walking on the short day stage 5 are easier than when taken on stage 6 (and Verghio has fantastic facilities).

8. On stage 6, the refuge at Manganu was very welcoming and the facilities were good.

9. On stage 7, the refuge at Petra Piana was run by cretins who appear to hate the public. Brace yourself.

10. On stage 8, the crest variant from Petra Piana to Onda is one of the most awe-inspiring, spectacular routes I've ever taken.

11. Use Aluminium walking poles not Carbon ones. Your poles will jam at some point and Alu can withstand more abuse. It would be a shame to finish on one pole (or none).

12. Enjoy yourself to the full :)

Wishing you an amazing GR!

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



MrFaulty

Posted: Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 4:34

I did it in 2017 and started walking with 25kg - would I recommend it? no, not unless you are one of those who really enjoy pain. I did train up well before hand though and so I reckon the best advice is that you can carry a reasonable weight as long as you train and build up to it - if you think you can just throw a good weight on your back and start walking you will suffer an injury



Argonaut

Posted: Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 7:15

Hi MrFaulty,

Yes, you must have suffered!

I got my pack down to 11kg before leaving, 10.2 on the return (I guess due to toothpaste, soap, suncream etc consumed).

On the technical days, I would not have wanted to struggle with brutal pack weight as well as trying not to fall to a messy death :)

Happy to hear you survived the endeavour :)

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



dob24

Posted: Wed, Aug 21, 2019, 17:32

Hi All,

I'm a new member of this forum so let me introduce myself quickly:

I'm a french hikker with quite some hikking experience in the Alpes and Pyreneas and I just did the GR20 from north to south last month in 9 days with a friend
Here is the (shaky) video if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpE1sCThRsk (at least there are english subs :))

Backpack weight is one of the most important topic in my opinion.

I was planing to carry around 10 kg max but ended up with 14. This was really the most difficult part. In fact we are used to carry our own tent and food because we usually hike in desertic areas so we thought we should do the same here.
Actually carrying the tent is a good idea in case you need to sleep outside of the refuge area (but keep in mind that in summer it's not authorized unless you are far from shelters)

However, I don't recommend to carry a lot of food. Take a snack and 1 or 2 meal max (dried if possible) in case you want to eat in a great place next to a river for example. But buy stuff from the refuges. It's expensive it's true but it's worth the additional weight.

If I do it again that's how I will proceed. I trained myself before and I managed to carry the 14 kg without problems but each day started with back pain.

Hope that helps
Cheers
Gerard



Argonaut

Posted: Thu, Aug 22, 2019, 22:03

Nice film Gerard, thanks. Congratulations on completing it in 9 days.

A month after finishing the North section, I still can't find the words to describe what I experienced. Your film refilled my nostrils with the aroma of Immortelle and reminded my limbs and lungs how good it felt to work as they were meant to.

Cheers!

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



Fleur

Posted: Sun, Sep 1, 2019, 13:16

This thread has been helpful! I'm planning on going mid October solo. Due to reducing weight I'm planning on not taking a tent/mattress (though I fear the bedbugs). Does anyone know whether Ortu di u Piobbu is still inaccessible because of the fire in May? If so I would need to hike to Carrozzu directly on day 1 (or bring a tent + mattress after all).



Argonaut

Posted: Sun, Sep 1, 2019, 17:45

Hi Fleur,

The refuge building at Ortu was completely destroyed when I was there 7 weeks ago, but there were plenty of tents for hire, the toilets and showers were good and they had a Porta-cabin serving food and drinks.

In general, if you plan to hire a tent at every stage, you only need to think of taking a sleeping bag. Bedbugs seem not to have infested the tents or the inflatable mattresses provided.

Also, I don't know what fitness level you're at, but doubling stages 1 and 2 would be very challenging for most people.

Having said all this and having just re-read your post, I'm not sure if all of the refuges will be open in October. It's maybe worth confirming this?

Cheers

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



Fleur

Posted: Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 10:37

Hi Argonaut,

Indeed the huts will be closed (I'm going in the second half of October: http://www.corsica.forhikers.com/forum/p/26268 ). I don't plan on combining 1&2, but the Cicerone book mentions a shortcut to stage 2. I suppose I have to do that, or take a tent after all! The first stage sounds (demanding but) nice so it would also be a pity to skip it.



Argonaut

Posted: Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 11:34

Hi Fleur, I guess this will come down to your personal judgement. If the refuges are open and beds are available (but unsupervised), then you could save on tent weight, but you will be exposed to bed bugs (especially at Carrozzu and Petra Piana), though maybe they will be less active in October?

A tent gives you privacy and would allow you to not skip stage 1, but, along with a mattress, will add around 2.5kg to your pack weight.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



GRRR 20

Posted: Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 17:38

It's a pity the Auberge de la Foret at Bonifatu will be closed in October. You can easily walk there from Calenzana, then continue straight to Haut Asco. I don't think you can avoid staying at Carrozzu in October, so you'll either have to take a tent or take a risk with the bed bugs. I've walked between Calenzana and Carrozzu on the low level route in summer and winter and it's no problem. Maybe go for an alternative start and get a taxi to Bonifato, instead of staying at Calenzana. Climb straight past Carrozzu and go to Haut Asco. I've done that and it wasn't too bad. On my current trip my tent weighs less than 1kg, so it's no big deal to carry, and I don't plan to stay in the refuges.



Fleur

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 9:53

Thanks :) I think I might go for a tent!



Argonaut

Posted: Tue, Sep 3, 2019, 18:29

Hi GRRR 20, may I ask what model of tent you have? What does your bed mat weigh?

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



hubertc

Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 10:15

I did the GR20 using a 1200 gram tent from decathlon a couple of weeks ago,
recommended ( i paid 120 euro )



Fleur

Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 16:50

@hubertc: which tent is that? sounds like a good deal.
I have a Vaude Power Lizard (1160g). Not freestanding though, so it will probably take me a while to get it in place on the rocky grounds, finding large rocks to keep the pegs in (or are non-freestanding tents just impossible over there?)



Argonaut

Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 18:35

Hi hubertc, is it this one? https://www.decathlon.fr/tente-trek900-ul-1p-grs-id_8492462.html

Looks like a bargain. Was it comfortable?

Not sure I understand the idea of weight being 1.6kg but minimum weight 1.3kg. How can you shed 300g and still have a functioning tent? Sorry if that's a silly question.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



Fleur

Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 19:57

I think you can use either only the inside tent if it's good weather or just the outside tent as a tarp, so 1.6 for regular camping. Still sounds like a good deal.



SwissMountainLeader

Posted: Thu, Sep 5, 2019, 20:24

My non freestanding tent works fine. It's a Terra Nova laser photon 1 weighing about 700g. The 1g pegs aren't great and I use some others that are around 8g and can take being banged in with rocks. I use an exped multimat Uno as a footprint tensioned onto the main anchors which also adds some comfort. It's maybe a bit light and specialised for most use. I'd probably use my TN voyager if I wanted a bit more space or an MSR Hubba which is very comfortable

--

SwissMountainLeader - Leysin, CH



hubertc

Posted: Fri, Sep 6, 2019, 9:39

that is the one i have ,
there is a extra sheet under the tent, which you dont actually need, so i did not bring it.
that brings the weight down to about 1200 grams..
you need to make sure it is well pegged to the ground if you expect wind, but i was pretty impressed, considering the price.

i have a 2 person MSR tent, it is great, but too heavy to carry if you are on your own and 4 times the price!



Argonaut

Posted: Sat, Sep 7, 2019, 16:12

Thanks hubertc, I will check it out in Decathlon.

The MSR 2 person tent HubbaHubba's weight is 1.7kg and it can be reduced to 1.5kg, by removing something (maybe same principle as the Decathlon tent?)

That's 300g to have more space than is needed.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



Argonaut

Posted: Sat, Sep 7, 2019, 21:14

Fleur, your Vaude tent sounds good. You probably won't find much better... though SwissMountainLeader, 700g is just insanely light. What mattress do you carry?

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



SwissMountainLeader

Posted: Tue, Sep 10, 2019, 19:39

A blue one

Exped airmat I think. With a multimat under the groundsheet.

--

SwissMountainLeader - Leysin, CH