Sunday, 9 July 2006

Corsica GR20

200km, 11,500m
Just hiked/jogged (actually not much jogging) along the GR20 Sud-Nord in 6 stages. Kicked off from Conca in the south on July 1st at 10.30am in roasting heat for the 1st stage up to Col de Bavella to watch England lose on penalties to Portugal (quelle surprise). On the 2nd Juillet I plodded past Asinao, over Monte Incudine, past Usciolu to I Prati. A longish 13 hour day with 12 hours of actual hiking. I spent a good 40 minutes or so dossing around at Asinao chatting to Le Gardien and partner lazing in the sun.

Juillet 3rd was pleasant enough to start with a downhill hike to Col de Verde for coffee and stale bread, then scenic wooded trails to the Col de Vizzavona. I accidentally followed a variant of a variant which I thought might save time, but instead lead me deep into La Valley Perdu. I should have guessed from the name that this wasn't a brilliant idea. The tail end of the day was a 600m flog up past Les Cascades des Anglaises and over a 2000m col to drop down to the shepherds' hideout of l'Onda. I was so hungry when I arrived, after another 13hr+ day, that I just scrounged the leftovers of what the locals were eating.

The following morning my toes were pretty sore and blistered so I carried on, taking the haute route along the ridge to Petra Piana. It was very tempting to lounge around here for a while, but instead I pressed on along the roughest and most spectacular section of the GR20 high above les Lacs Melo et Capitellu, and through the forbidding Breche Capitello to the long rough descent to Manganu. It was on the final section of descent that I stood the greatest risk of being overtaken. Some guy was right on my heels forcing me faster and faster. When I reached the refuge at Manganu I realised he was just Le Gardien running back to get the tea on. I then had several more hours to plod on to reach the Castel di Verghio.

That night my foot was agony and blistered and looking infected. Some French guys had a right good go at draining the pus and blood from the offending toe, and then told me I should probably call a doctor. They cleared off and left me unable to walk for 2 days. I also had a problem that I'd almost run out of money, so could hardly eat or drink anything for 2 days.

Finally July 7th I decided to press on. Toes exploding with pain at each step or not. The weather was looking pretty dodgy too, with gathering storm clouds as I crossed La Cirque de La Solitude. Luckily only a spattering of rain materialised, but it encouraged me to get a move on with the descent to Haut Asco.

July 8th was the final day on the trail, and still a fairly long outing with exactly 10 hours of hiking or running. I bumped into Alice Garnier's mother and father-in-law on the descent to Carrozu. The familiar faces cheered me up for a while, but later on when I was descending the long final section to Calenzana in scorching heat, I was beginning to wonder whether I'd imagined seeing them.

Anyway, I finished the entire GR20 in 6 days of hiking, with 59 hours 51 minutes of actual hiking or running. My backpack was about 10kg which was too heavy for much running. The total stats for the route are about 200km with 11,500m of ascent.

I've a fair way to go to get anywhere the record of 36hrs 53min set by Pierre Santucci in September 2005. Still, at least I completed the first of my 3 GRs. Only another 2 to go now... 3GR Challenge

Profile of the route Map of the route


hyena said...

WOW! GR20 in just 6 stages? you are crazy :).

Chris said...

I've also run the GR20 in 5 days since that trip!