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Thread: GR20 The Rong Way Round- A question for Paddy

  1. #41
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Stuart - I've used the refuges and I've camped - and I much prefer camping on the GR20. However, you can't camp anywhere you like. You have to camp near the refuges, or at the few bergeries that allow camping along the route. The only place you can camp 'wild' legally is at the ruins of the old Refuge d'I Pedinieddi on the slopes of Monte Alcudina. There's a spring of water nearby, but no other facilities.

    A tarp will be fine in good weather, which should mean pretty much all of the time, but mountain camps can be exposed and if there is heavy rain or wind, then you can always retreat to the refuges. Bear in mind that the ground is very hard, and it can be difficult to get pegs into the ground exactly where you want, so your tarp might be a bit floppy at times. Of course, you can always tie guys to lumps of rock instead of pegs.

    During the peak season, when the refuges are open and staffed, you should be able to buy food while passing. Some refuges just have a basic shop/store, while others provide la carte menus throughout the day. All the refuges, except the Refuge d'I Paliri, do hot meals in the evenings, and you can get one of these even if you're just camping nearby. However, tell the 'gardien' that you want a meal as soon as you arrive, rather than turning up at the kitchen door when it's all being served.

  2. #42
    Widdler
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    Good grief !!!! I've only just noticed the awful spelling in the title !!!!

    Didn't quite manage all the walk, got some unseasonable weather that washed us off the mountains... more to follow !

  3. #43


    Hi Paddy - wife and I are heading to Corsica arriving on Ferry toAjaccio at 7am on 13th May - returning to Marseille on evening of 18th so have 6 days to trek. What would you recommend?

    Abig chunck of GR20 would be great - we have done 5 day hikes in Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees so fit enough - but not big fans of exposure - ie not keen on Crib Goch! . Also a bit concerned that mid May could be a tad early in the season for the northern end.

    Another factor is weather forecast - fair amount of rain due next week.

    I had looked atdoing Vizzavano to Conca - then ferry back from Porto Vecchio but is that whimping out of the best bits further North????? Happy to to look at alternatives to GR20 butaim isto get into the wilder and higher areas.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

  4. #44
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Stephen... you're right... it might be a bit early for the northern stretch of the GR20. I've never tried it as early as the middle of May. I was successful starting at the end of May one year, but the bits with snow and ice on them were touch and go. I had an ice axe and crampons with me, so I was fine, but other people on the trail really didn't like those bits.

    Concentrating on the stretch from Vizzavona to Conca isn't wimping out. Lots of people do that half of the route and reserve judgement on the northern half. Just be warned that the southern stretch still has its rugged moments, though it's also generally easier to bail out to a nearby village if things get awkward.

    You'll need to be aware that not everything will be up and running in the middle of May. The refuges will be open, but they won't be staffed, so you won't find any food there either. That means carrying a heavier pack, which makes it a tougher trek.

  5. #45
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    Hi guys

    Excellent forum - thanks for all of the varied info and tips.

    I did the GR20 with a co-walker in 2006. Although we had budgeted 14 days, we finished in 10 - The reason being that Air France lost my backpack and we were sitting in Calenzana for 3 days waiting for it to arrive. We were so giddy to get going that as well as drinking copiously (what else to do in Calenzana after 2 days?) we ended up doing the first couple of hours of the trail and back to Calenzana twice before actually going for good. The day we actually left we were so fired up we arrived at the Refuge de Ortu di u piobbu shortly after 10 am. The bag never did arrive in Calenzana but luckily I was wearing some of my essentials like the boots and after cobbling some stuff together including a old backbag (without hip straps) handed to me by the very friendly but very drunken village hunter (complete with feathers; the bag, not him) and taking one of my co-walkers poles, we got going eventually. I really loved the trail and the folks we met (still in contact with some!) and since returning I've been planning a re-run.

    This year I'm going it alone and have a even more limited time budget - 10 days in Corsica in total. I arrive in Calvi on 11.08, hit the trail on the morning of the 12 and fly back out on the 21.08. This means I should finish the GR20 in 7 days (if I want a day at the beach) or 8 at the most. Now I know that many would find this crazy, especially Paddy Dillon, whose fantastic book I have just acquired, but I don't have a choice: 1.5 kids at home and this was the maximum I could negotiate. In any case, a good holiday for me means nature, the terrain, fantastic scenery and the satisfaction of achievement.

    Ok - rather than writing my life story, maybe you guys can helps me with some advice. I haven't found specific answers to these questions after having looking through the forum.

    1. Reservation system 2010 - apparently obligatory. But does that mean "obligatory" as reported in 2009 (i.e. not obligatory) or is it stricter this year? What happens if bad weather skews plans (for everyone?) - does it mean that all stages have to be planned in advance? I'll have a tent (gossamer squall - less than 800g!) so I'm not looking for a refuge place.

    2. I have to double etapes on 6 days and triple on 1 day. Where to triple? These guys:

    http://randonnee-gr-20-corse.com/eta...-a-i-mori.html

    tripled day 2 - with the cirque being the middle stage. Sounds very difficult.

    Any advice would be appreciated!!

    Paul

    PS. This year I'm taking my backpack as carry on!


  6. #46
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Paul... normally I'd tell someone with a plan like yours to think again... but heck... you did it in 10 days last time, so why not try for 7 or 8 days?

    Another way of looking at it... the GR20 has been covered non-stop in something like 36 or 37 hours. (I'm not at home, so I don't have access to any of my notes.)

    Doubling-up stages is the only way it's going to work successfully for you. As for the triple stage you mention, the trick would be to stay high and used the 'old GR20' described in my book. (I give it just the same amount of detailed description as the 'main' route.) In other words, don't waste time descending to Haut Asco, only to have to climb all the way back into the mountains again. If you're lucky, you'll reach the Cirque after the day's log-jam has cleared, so you might get a clear run at it.

    If your backpack is going as carry-on, then I guess it's going to be less than 10kg, so I don't need to preach to you about packing light. As you're packing light, you'll be able to cover the distance more quickly... but NEVER pass an opportunity to scoop up a drink of water!

    One other thing that you haven't mentioned is how you intend to bail out at the end. Make sure that you have all the relevant bus timetables with you BEFORE you even reach Corsica, because information about them won't be readily available on the trail.

    Oh...

    And Good Luck!

  7. #47
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    Hi Paddy thanks a mill for the tip - will stay high. Your book is a fantastic help and I really appreciate you taking the time to personally provide an expert opinion. Will anyone accuse me of cheating if I skip Haut Asco though ?

    I've planned the pack already and intend to keep it between 6 and 7 kilos total (before water). I've managed to keep the weight of the tent, sleeping bag, mattress and backpack down to well under 3kg total.

    However after carefully studying KLM/AF carry-on rules (I am in NL) I have discovered that my walking pole are not allowed. So I guess I'll just check them alone and fingers crossed they will arrive.

    After studying bus and train timetables on how to get back from Porto Vecchio to Calvi with a limited time budget, and reading here and there about how unreliable the Corsican system is, I've finally gone and reserved a rental car. More expensive than public transport, but heck if I miss my flight it could cost me hundreds. Actually I found the rental quite reasonable, especially if the group is larger than a solitary 1! For the smallest car, 1 day, 17.30 pick-up in Porto Vecchio and drop-off at Calvi airport 17.30 the following day, Hertz are charging me Eur 67.

    Cheers

    Paul


  8. #48
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul O'Sullivan View Post
    Will anyone accuse me of cheating if I skip Haut Asco though ?l
    Quite the contrary... they'll accuse you of being a purist!

    The GR20 was never intended to include Haut Asco, but a bunch of Corsican patriots burnt down a crucial refuge at Altore, in an effort to 'encourage' trekkers to go down to Haut Asco, to spend their money in the Corsican economy. The authorities realised there was no point re-building the refuge, because it would only be torched again, so the detour is now 'official'. I met a Venezuelan guy with precious little hillwalking 'creds' who did the long stretch you're planning. For a non-walker, he was incredibly relaxed about the whole GR20, but he said it was 'boring' because it was over a week long, and according to him, a week was more than long enough to be in the mountains. Ah well... can't please everyone!

    By the time you go to pick up your car, you might have made a few new friends on the trail. Try offering three of them a lift for ?25 each, and you'll be making a profit!

  9. #49
    hi paddy, i did the southern half (north to south) a couple of years ago and am going back this June 18th to knock off the northern half , although we will go south to north this time. when i did the southern half we managed to double up a couple of stages and did it in 4 days. if we were to double up any stages on the northern half (going south to north), which ones would you recommend? thanks Toby

  10. #50
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Hi Toby - You probably don't need telling that the northern half of the GR20 is tougher than the southern half, but there are some ways you can double up stages.

    First, if you leave Vizzavona early, and if you're fighting fit and walking strongly over to l'Onda, then you might just be able to continue to Petra Piana. I've done it myself, but it was a very long day. The trick is to take the high-level route from l'Onda to Petra Piana, which is certainly shorter, and in good weather, should be easier than the low-level route, which is actually the main route.

    Getting from Petra Piana to Manganu is all steep, rough and rocky stuff, but again, if you were able to cover that stage in very good time, then the continuation from Manganu to Castel di Vergio is possible. Bear in mind that you're unlikely to be able to do this if you've already covered Vizzavona to Petra Piana on your first day. You'll be too knackered! If you break yourself in gently and cover that over two days, then it might be an option to walk from Manganu to Castel di Vergio.

    If your schedule pans out so that you leave Manganu one morning, the stretch to Castel di Vergio is fairly easy, so it could be possible to extend the day by climbing all the way to Ciottulu di I Mori. However, most people seem to break at Castel di Vergio in order to get a hot shower and pub grub, in which case you'll probably end up walking from Castel di Vergio to Vallone or Tighettu. It's either/or with these two places, which are only half-an-hour apart. Basically, if you can manage the last bit of climbing and can spare half-an-hour, then finish at Tighettu.

    Leaving Tighettu, if you can get through the Cirque de la Solitude fairly quickly, without getting stuck in walkers' traffic jams on awkward scrambles, then it's well worth switching to the old GR route, and skipping the long descent and steep climb from Haut Asco. This means that you could get straight to Carozzu, and even save yourself a lot of hard work. On the minus side, you'll miss the hot showers and pub grub at Haut Asco.

    On the final part of the route, if the mountains suddenly get clobbered by violent thunderstorms, there is a fairly simple and straightforward low-level route from Carozzu to Bonifatu and Bonifatu to Calenzana. On the other hand, if you stay high, then you'll probably need to cover this in two days, the same as anyone coming the other way. However, the descent from Piobbu to Calenzana is, relatively speaking, a doddle compared to the long and exhausting climb from Calenzana to Piobbu.

    So... there should be enough options for you to kick around there. You probably won't be able to achieve all the doubled-up stages, but every time you can manage one of them, you save yourself a day. I'll always remember something an LDWA member said to me, when he doubled-up over and over again along the route... "You quickly reach a point where you start tripping over things that aren't actually there!" On the GR20, tripping over things, real or imaginary, is definitely NOT the way to go!

  11. #51


    thanks paddy that is great advice. i take your point about tripping up. not the thing to do on the gr20

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