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I didn't write any post about the #GR20 for a while! Here is our final episode of this amazing Trek and one of the hardest...because we were quite hangover! We left our campsite at 9:30 am with a strong and way too hot Sun! (People doing this #GR20 between July and August are mad!!!) every step forward uphill was a big effort and it was really hard to appreciate the scenery around us... Fortunately, there is a spring where we stopped a solid hour to refresh ourselves 4km before Conca, the end of this journey. Both we felt happy to reach the end of the #GR20, but a few days later we were missing it, remembering how great was this adventure.

I hope you appreciated the pictures I took! And if you wonder if you should do it, do not hesitate longer: DO IT!
2017-06-09_Paliri-Conca
2017-06-09_Paliri-Conca
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This 7th day on #gr20 started with a rad sunrise! There is not much wind left and the sky is clear. Our plan is to reach Asinau as we walked very well this past 2 days. However, two students from Paris plan to reach "Col de Bavella". From Usciolu to Asinau, the roadbook says 8 hours. It's already a long way to go even if we walk faster. However this refuge burnt last year and is not rebuilt yet.


A little bit before Monte Incudine (where we got film from an helicopter by the company Ricordu), Romain suggested me to go to Col de Bavella where we can have a real meal and eventually a hot shower. I don't mind much and I accept his plan.
After a quick break at Asinau, we continue towards the Alpine way that goes throughout the needles of Bavella. There is only one very steep climb to get there and it's worth the scenery behind!

I can tell this is one of the nicest part on the #GR20: The trail is technical, you have section to climb up and down and the view toward the ocean i s rewarding. However we still meet people who doesn't have anything to do here: no equipment, no experience, carring a baby facing death if his dad slips or fall, ... it's unbelievable. We asked 1 couple to turn arround as the way to go is really exposed and unsafe for their baby. They just had 1 backpack with 50cl water for 3 people, when we drink between 4 to 6 liters per day per person!

Once at Col de Bavella, we look for a restaurant for lunch... but they stop serving at 3 pm and it's already 3:20... Also, we can't set up our tent anywhere. Romain looked at me and said "Paliri doesn't seem too far, it's only 1h30 in the Road book. Shall we?" After a Panini and one hour break, we put back our shoes and continue this third massive day hiking...

On the way to Paliri, we make fun of ourselves, babbling incoherently: " Why you never say no Julien!?", "it's never enough, always more!", "we are insane", "you are a shitty person! " "it' not over yet", etc. It wasn't really reasonable, my knees and ankles start twisting sometimes but 1h later we arrived at Paliri and it's time for a big party!

Fun fact, the guardian of the refuge of Paliri is one of Romain's friend when he was doing his bachelor degree 5 years ago... I reckon we won't sleep much tonight!!!
2017-06-08_Usciolu-Paliri
2017-06-08_Usciolu-Paliri
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6th day on #GR20. This one didn't started well with regular gust of wind up to 80 km/h all night at 1600m. We didn't wake up at 4:00 am this time, waiting for the wind to slow down...but it didn't. When we wake up at 6:30am, we decide not doing Monte Renoso.
This track isn't part of the GR20; I just heard people talking about it. However we won't enjoy ourselves with 110 to 130 km/h gust of wind on the crest for at least 4 hours. Yesterday hike was really tough too, so we don't mind missing this part.

From Capannelle to Col de Verde, the GR20 is pretty much flat and smooth allowing us to walk at a good rythm. Then the track goes uphill toward Prati. The landscape is really peaceful and relaxing although the heat makes every steps harder.

In the forrest, we were quite protected from the wind. When we got to the pass, we realized the wind hasn't stopped. It's as strong as it was during the night, forcing us to wear our jacket. Around 12 o'clock, we stopped 10 minutes at the refuge of Prati to get some bread. We didn't feel any difficulty (other that the wind) before Bocca di Laparo. From here til the end, we don't have much energy left. The wind attacked our mental and the heat our energy. We walk slower, the track is more aerial and we pay attention to our knees becoming inflamed.

In mid-afternoon, we arrive at Usciolu. This refuge has the biggest store on the #GR20 ! We buy dry sausage, cheese, paté, jam, beers...everything to prepare a massive lunch to recover from our journey!

Yesterday was long, technical, mental and physical. Today was the same and I guess tomorrow will be too. We regretted waking up at 6:30 this morning, so it won't happen again! Waking up at 4 is definitely the best thing to do if you wanna enjoy such technical trek!
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This fifth day on the "GR20 was endless. Stopping at Vizzavone isn't worth it so we decided to reach Capannelle. Moreover the track is mostly flat and smooth, it shouldn't be too hard...but it was really hard!

Waking up at 4 am was easy. I guess the 4 hours nap yesterday afternoon helped a lot! Packing the wet tent was laborious though... The day start towards the crest on the Alpine track where we saw many boars 300m away. They couldn't smell us as the wind was blowing towards us.

The way down to the pass in the mist above "l'Onda" felt endless and we're happy going up again to "Pointe Muratello". At the top, we meet the group who left yesterday afternoon under the storm with our belgium mate and they are surprised to see us so quickly. They explain that Sebastian was bored walking with them so he left them at the top to continue on his own.

After some cheese and sausage for breakfast, we loose 1000m elevation on a technical trail. The people we cross are brave going uphill with this heat and humidity in the air in the middle of the morning. Romain starts telling me about the shelter where we can have delicious French fries! I only think about it all the way to the "Cascade des anglais" but unfortunately, they won't be able to serve french fries as the shelter doesn't have an electrical group powerful enough...

Anyway, after a quick jump in the river to refresh ourselves, we continue our journey. IT's already 12 o'clock. We've been hiking for 7 hours alreadyh but 5 more are ahead of us...
We took a shortcut behind "La Halte du Prince" near the Vizzavone Pass (instead of going throughout Vizzavone) that saved us a solid hour. Even with an hour saved, our mental is starting to fall in our socks... Luckily the track isn't as technical as we use to, but there is still a fair way to go...we have no choice, we must reach Capannelle! we walk pretty fast, without thinking, step after step. Sometimes we look ahead and look down again... the ultimate uphill was quite nasty and Romain reached his limit... but once we were on the road, he knew we were not far away. "Ce n'est pas finis!" like he says so! after the road, we go down again 10min to reach the refuge of Capannelle, where a big meal and a very hot shower are waiting for us!
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What a beautiful sunrise this morning! One of the nicest we saw from the beginning of #GR20. Our plan is to reach Petra Piana today. It was a good idea to chill all the afternoon yesterday at Castel de Vergio because today is gonna be hard with a lot of elevation gain as well as aerial section through the needles.

Also, the weather won't be really good in the afternoon: "Il ne faut pas traîner!" (we must hurry up!) like Romain says all the time! Our body are getting use to do a lot of elevation gain and long days hiking now. It can't be too bad!

The #GR20 starts quietly to "Le Lac de Nino". The landscape towards us is a peaceful place that looks like Kenya I guess. I can't stop taking pictures while my two friends just walk straight forward...

We take a quick break at the sheepfold Vaccaghia for our second breakfast: Cheese with bread and fig jam and dried sausage at 8:30am! Here is some rocket fuel to get to Petra Piana quickly! We fill up our water tank at Manganu Refuge and go straight forward to "Bocca a Soglia".

There is still a little bit of snow on the North face but very soft and it is easy to make steps. From here, it is getting more aerial and technical until we reach Petra Piana 2hours later. Our rythm is getting slower and our motivation is getting low. When we start feeling tired, I play a fantastic song that almost makes us run uphill: Sangria Gratuite _ La Transhumance.
With this song, there is no more uphill or long downhill. This song takes you out from Hell and makes you happy for the next 6min30sec!

Once at Petra Piana, I can barely walk. However going fast was the right thing to do. While we take our shower, Rain starts falling around 2pm and won't stop until 7 pm. Our belgium friend decided to go to the next refuge with some other hikers under this shit weather on the alpine way, while Romain and I take a 4 hours nap in our tent to recover from today.
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Charly made us laught a lot. Do not hesitate to ask for its "pschit pschit" after dinner (which is by the way MASSIVE and CHEAP regarding what we get in the other refuge for 15 €).

These last two days on the #GR20 were really hard physically. When I wake up (with a lot of diffficulty) this morning, my right knee hurts. I must be more careful when I walk if I want to finnish this adventure in good condition. Fortunately today is an easy day.

After 700m elevation gain, the track goes slowly downhill to Castel de Vergio. We took a big break at the "Cascade de Radule" to finish our short night and chill out. Even though the water is insanely cold, it's good for my legs to dive in.

The wind is getting stronger and hunger is up on us. We leave this amazing spot after one hour to finish our walk to Castel de Vergio ( a little uphill) and have a big lunch, a hot shower (yes, HOT SHOWER!!!), a great afternoon chilling and a nice piece of meat for dinner!
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Pierre and Mathieu are really nice guardians at the Carrozu Refuge. While the thunderstorm hits the mountains, we spend the afternoon talking about our outdoor adventures and they have so many to tell! On the other hand, passionate talking lead us to late night...again...and this 2nd day on #GR20 is one of the biggest!

2000m+, 2200m- and only 12,83km! it seems a lot of elevation gain/loss on a short distance. But this short distance took us 9h15 to finish! Yes, this trek is really technical!

The track towards A Muvrella pass is easy early morning. Starting to walk at 5:00am allows you to wake up and warm up slowly, while the light is getting stronger and the colors more saturated.
The way down to Asco is more technical and slippery on the south face, but the hardest part is coming soon: 1300m elevation gain to the Monte Cinto, the highest Corsican summit: 2706m. The "Cirque de la Solitude" is now closed after 7 people lost their life in it 2 years ago and the alpine way became the normal way to follow.

As I told you in my previous post, north faces are covered with snow and this one is the most dangerous: 500m elevation gain on snow, and up to 47% slope. If you fall, you hurt yourself very badly so you must be really self-confident before engaging the climb.

Sebastian, our Belgium friend, was happy to be with us as he was not equiped at all to do this trek. Therefore we made the stairs in melted snow for him (we started the climb on snow around 11:00am, letting enough time to the snow to get softer). It got more tricky to go from the snow to the rock as ice surround them.

This transition got all my attention as I was leading my friend. I wanted to find the safest way and none of the options were good. We couldn't walk back down either. There is only one way to cross and we must man up. Relax, focus, take a big breath and...I'm on the other side on the rock! It's time to my friends now and I'm watching them, holding my breath until they reach the rock.
Even though we're on a safe spot, it's not over yet, The rock is really bad and fragile and require our attention to try every holds before putting our weight on them. This section was really engaged and as Romain said once at the top "on a bien failli pas allez boire la bière" which I would translate by "the beer could have wait us forever".

Once here, we took a quick break before running down a 1000 elevation loss to the best refuge on the GR20: Tighettu and Charly his guardian!

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The #GR20 is one of the most popular/difficult trek in Europe. I don't really want to speak about distance and elevation gain as these data won't be very accurate from my phone. What I can tell you is the north part of the trek is technical and physical, the south part is smoother but the steps longer (still physical though).

Before you start the trek, I recommend a last good meal at the GR20 Restaurant in Calenzana with Michel. He is a very nice local and meals are excellent here.

Let's start our story now!
The low season is the best time to enjoy this trek (June or September). However this year, Corsica has known one of its biggest dump of snow. Every north face above 2000m were still covered with snow or ice, adding one more difficulty to our journey.
In order to avoid the use of crampons or ice peak, we chose to do this trek from North to South to climb the north faces(the ones covered with snow).It is easier to create steps uphill than downhill in melted snow.

After a late night, Romain and I woke up at 4:00am. It might seem early but we want to double the steps in good conditions, taking advantage of fresh morning, sunrises, not too many people on the tracks and to chill during the afternoon after lunch and our washing. This is how we met Sebastian, a fit belgium guy with sneakers and without poles who want to do his first trek! He woke up early too and joined us for this first day.

The track climbs slowly but regularly to the first pass where I took our first group picture. It gets harder on the other side, with more aerial sections. Take note that no chain or safety guear are installed. Therefore you need to remain focused and careful all the way to Conca. We arrived at the first refuge 4hrs later. It was easy regarding what follows: the temperature gets hot when we start what I felt as the longuest climb of my life. With no air we sweat a lot, jumping from boulder to boulder. Once we got to the pass, the view is amazing, rewarding and reminds me Peru. But it's not over. You go up and down in the needles and the thunderstorm is catching us up. This atmosphere is stressful, the ground is slippery, the track very technical. We do no hesitate to throw down our poles 10 meters underneath to use our hands. It's raining. We are tired physically and mentally. I dream about the refuge, being dry and seating at a table with a cold beer and a warm dish. I realise this dream 1hr and a half later, after running down a scree.

This first day was exhausting. Nethertheless this is what I'm gonna get use to for the next 8 days. Streching and good sleep will be the key to accomplish this amazing adventure without trouble!
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