GR20 Day 7 Stage 11: Bocca di Verdi to Bergeries d’E Capanelle – (low route)

  • Time- 5hr50 with rest
  • Distance-13.83km (8.59 miles)
  • Elevation-800mtr (2624 ft) ascent, 629 mtr (2063 ft) descent
  • Fun score
  • S- 2- Easy route, I was just mentally drained
  • T- 1

Started cool in the valley but warmed up quickly. The walk began in a wooded valley, crossing streams and fallen trees. Gently climbing to a col where a bergerie sold local cheese.

Then a long, gentle, undulating, forested slow decent to a bridge over the road.

Finally a sharp, rocky climb of about 250mtr up to the gîte.

View from our lunch perch

During the hike we decided that we would end the hike at Vizzavona (completing the southern part of the course, and over 90km). We had the option of pitching the tent or staying in a dorm – we ‘pitched’ for the dorm which had hot showers..mmmmmm.

Once at the Refuge, and with patchy cell service we plan our next few days: Airbnb in Ajaccio, and car hire.

I felt depleted so went to bed early and skipped dinner, whilst Trey chatted to some other hikers, one of which had dislocated her thumb and then had her nose broken when a women in front of her fell. When people say the GR20 is steep, imagine someone in front of you falling while hiking and then they hit you in the face… I was happy with our decision to end our hike conquering the South.

GR20 Day 6 : Bocca di Verdi – Zero day- rest

Today was a rest day – It also coincided with a rainy day so we were glad we didn’t hike.

We checked in for dinner that night (we wouldn’t be caught out again – no sir)

We spent the day eating and rehydrating. We were really depleted in both so it felt good to refuel. The menu in the refuge was pretty confusing, or rather, the menu may have been clear, maybe my French was not sufficient to gain the answers I needed from the guardian. In any case, we had missed breakfast (of course, they were full) so we bought a couple of tins of ravioli (yes you heard me) and we inhaled that for breakfast. You should try it – it was pretty tasty.

Lunch was a complete shock – whilst playing cards in the refuge, sitting by a roaring fire, one of the staff started to clean a grill above the fire. Interesting we thought…

One hour later, we saw plates of steak frites being carried to an outside table… with our mouths open and with noticeable drool I asked “Monsieur, C’est possible?”

So lunch was steak frites. It was gone in a matter of minutes.

That night we shared a table with a Brit and 2 Americans who were experienced hikers who reiterated the technical aspects of the Northern section. It was nice to chat with them and to share stories of hikes and refuges.

No rain that night.

GR20 Day 5 Stage 12: Refuge D’Usciolu to Bocca di Verdi

  • Time- 8hr48 with rest
  • Distance-16.11km (10.00 miles)
  • Elevation-921 mtr (3021ft) ascent, 1472mtr (4829 ft) descent
  • Fun score
  • S- 2.5- Uncomfortable climb – very challenging physically
  • T- 1.75

Around 10pm that night T came down with food poisoning and had a dreadful night (see previous note on toilet situ). I wondered if we would have a rest day rather than continue.

T decided that he was able to push though to the next refuge which was supposed to be better. We started with an ascent which followed with a ridge section with multiple false summits. It was a brutal climb and I honestly don’t know how T managed it. With relentless multiple peaks and scrambling/ mountaineering not fun/ exhausting. This is not Marin County hiking as we know it, this is mountaineering -lite.

Middle 1/3 of the hike is to climb over the peak in the distance… yes, really!

We started discussing the idea of finishing at Vizzavona as it was becoming apparent that the Northern section of the hike was a lot more technical that the Southern section. We planned to map out the Northern stages looking at exit options, low routes and possibilities. No plans would be made right away. I wanted to keep an open mind.

We descended a technical ridge and passed through Refuge Di Prati where we refilled on water and continued to hike towards Bocca Di Verdi where we would stay for the night (and take a rest day).

We checked into the refuge and tried to book for dinner. They were full and had no space. I think I stood and stared at him for a few minutes in disbelief. I may have even tilted my head like a dog waiting for a different answer..At that moment our Brit/German friends arrived and offered up some of their dinner for us (their had brought their own food). We gratefully accepted.

The camp was ‘ok’ with showers and proper toilets with a flush (how modern).

We grabbed some wine from the refuge and ate dinner with our friends before heading to the tent.

GR20 Day 4 Stage 13: Refuge de Matalza to Refuge D’Usciolu

  • Time-5hr12 with rest
  • Distance-11.5km (7.14 miles)
  • Elevation-793 mtr (2601 ft) ascent, 621 mtr (2037 ft) descent
  • Fun score
  • S-1.5 – tough and technical
  • T- 1.75- heat and poor sleep

I started with upset stomach (I blame the lentils from the previous night – healthy food – bah!) The day started hot with a slight breeze becoming stronger on ridge. The immediate ascent was manageable hidden by trees. It looked like a gentle start, with forest and shade but this was to change….

Ascending to the ridge and the ridge walk itself was intense and very technical with lots of scrambling up and down. Every time we looked for the next refuge, it seemed to be further away… not very motivating.

But generally, and I say ‘generally’, the scrambling was fun but exhausting mentally. Having to be so focused on where you are placing your feet so you don’t roll an ankle is exhausting.

The refuge was pretty rough with a steepish slopes with limited flat spaces to pitch a tent. Those with their own tents were placed at the bottom of the hill with a steep ramble up to get water and food: MEH.

There was a squat toilet close to us with no light, lock or proper door… interesting.

We booked our dinner (pasta with mushrooms and carrots) and struggled to eat it (due to fatigue (us, not the pasta)