8 days to Hike and sleep in refuges on the heights of « the Isle of Beauty », in Corsica, in the south of the France to meet the high mountain sheepfolds on the famous hicking trail Gr20.
Highs & Lows
Peace and quiet place for an adventure in the wild
Not all huts have a water supply in the middle of summer
I left by ferry from Toulon, in the south of France, on the night of Thursday 25 May 2022 to arrive at Ile Rousse in the north of Corsica on Thursday midday. Then with another hiker, we took a taxi to go to the starting point of the great hike which crosses Corsica from north to south, in Calenzana. After a first night under the tent, the departure on foot, backpack on the back, and sticks in the hand will be done on Friday morning at dawn to prefer walking in the morning and avoid the high temperatures of the afternoon. I left by ferry from Toulon, in the south of France, on the night of Thursday 25 May 2022 to arrive at Ile Rousse in the north of Corsica on Thursday midday. Then with another hiker, we took a taxi to go to the starting point of the great hike which crosses Corsica from north to south, in Conca. After a first meal prepared with the help of the stove night under the tent, the departure on foot, backpack on the back, and sticks in the hand will be done on Friday morning at dawn to prefer walking in the morning and avoid the high temperatures of the afternoon. We are ten hikers on the departure that day and it is gone for eight days of intensive walking, on 180 km of demanding paths to climb the high summits of the island where there are sometimes some snowfalls to cross, to go down rocky and technical slopes and to cross rivers in which it is not rare to meet hikers to relax their legs a little before setting out again towards new breathtaking panoramas. At the end of this epic adventure, the hiking boots will have climbed with me no less than 11 000 metres of positive vertical drop.
After having arrived at the refuge of pietra piana and having tasted a local Corsican beer, a pietra, it is invigorated that I take back the backpack in the middle of the morning to walk to the refuge of Onda in the middle of the mountains and Corsican scrubland. Two itineraries are possible, one by the valley, the other more vertiginous by the crests. I choose the second one (strongly disadvised in time of big wind or at the beginning of season the orc of snowy corridors are still present). First a descent in an alder forest to start. It is possible to make alte to the sheepfolds of Ghjalgu to taste the local cheese. After crossing a footbridge, you start the ascent in a beech forest to reach rocky ridges. Sometimes ropes are used to help you to get over tricky passages. After a few places of climbing, a stop is necessary to admire the landscape at 380 degrees which rewards the effort provided. After this well deserved break, a long descent of 800 meters of negative difference in altitude awaits me towards the refuge of the wave that we perceive in the distance during a long moment before finally being able to put its bag to settle there. We arrive there in a sheepfold, perched at 1430 meters of altitude, I am welcomed by the sheepdogs and the shepherd himself who repairs a broken fence. Indeed these barriers surround the camp which is next to the refuge and prevent animals like wild boars from inviting themselves inside the camp where the hikers install their tents for the night. The restaurant is typical, we sit on long farm tables made of solid wood where we are served a vegetable soup and lasagna with broccu, the famous fresh Corsican sheep's cheese, accompanied by fresh local beers, which brighten up the evenings of the hikers who are happy to regain their strength around a good home-made dish.
The place to bivouac, green is really pleasant and the reception of the guard leaves an imperishable memory to the hikers stopping there.
Departure at dawn from the refuge of E Capannelle for the 11th stage of the GR20 hike. Here I am in South Corsica and I leave for 6h10 of walk and 17 km in direction of the refuge of Prati for which I will make 890 meters of positive difference in altitude and 600 meters of negative difference in altitude. On the way you will come across the sheepfolds of Traggette, goats, sheep, with a little luck and depending on the season marmots. You will pass by the Col de Verde and cross a thick forest of pines and beeches. On the way I refuel at the relay of San Pedru di Verde before climbing to the Col di Verde. The climb is steep but the arrival at sunset is worth it, the view on the valley and the Mediterranean Sea at least below is a majestic open-air spectacle that immediately made me forget all the pains endured to climb to the refuge. The refuge is located at 1820 meters above sea level and is open all year round, but it is only guarded by a guard from hand to September. It was destroyed and rebuilt in 2000 and is therefore very recent. It is possible to sleep in a dormitory, I chose to pitch my tent on the places provided for this purpose around the refuge, I benefited from the infrastructure of the refuge allowing me to take my shower being located outside while admiring a superb panorama. Here routine and superfluous comfort have no place and this is what I was looking for, I found it!
Q & A
What would you have changed?If I do Gr20 in the future, I won't this alone but with someone, in a team.
Restaurant recommendations?On each stage there is at least one place where it is possible to refuel. It is not necessary to carry food if you want to walk as light as possible. Please note that many places do not accept credit cards.
Tips you would give a friend?Keep your pack as light as possible, ideally no more than 20 percent of your body weight. Think of the special blisters in your first aid kit!
Packing tips?Make sure you have a first aid kit in your bag.
Transportation Tips?Make sure you get used to your hiking boots before you start walking on the very technical Gr20 trails.
Any surprises?Even if you do the Gr20 on summer, there is still snow on the way sometimes in mountains.
Booking details?Refuge of Onda in camping area next to the refuge. Refuge of Prati in camping area next to the refuge. Check the availability of places in the huts a few months before your departure on the website dedicated to the GR20 or by calling directly the huts.