Sunday, 11 October 2015
The Mountains of Corsica. GR20. Part Two and End of Trip.
Four days into our trip found us in the heart of Corsica's hot interior. For various reasons we left it late in the season for our visit so we were walking into August, long after any lingering snow patches had melted away and the streams were reduced to a trickle. Vegetation was also dried up and brown and any pools of standing water were either greatly reduced or gone altogether. I think it was also a sustained heat wave on an already hot Mediterranean island during our trip as not a cloud troubled the sky all the time we were there and it never rained once. Campsites were reduced to dust bowls and I'm wearing a dripping wet towel on my head to try and stave off passing out before my daily cold shower hopefully revives me. It was easily the hottest backpacking trip I've ever undertaken.
The reason I mention this is that I,m including a wonderful video at the end, of the same trip over the same mountains but in that journey, taken a month earlier, there are large snow patches under the high summits, it's very lush and green, and all the streams have abundant water in them. It could be two different countries entirely but going by the cloud cover in the video it may well have rained by mid afternoon some of the days which can be a typical weather pattern over European mountain regions in summer with late afternoon thunderstorms building up. Although I like the heat normally, this was under the grill temperatures every day from sunrise to sunset.
At this point we came across our first road since starting the walk and Shime decided he'd had enough. He wasn't a rock climber back in Scotland and didn't fancy the notorious scramble across the Cirque de la Solitude which came next but as we were staying overnight in this road end hut, due to the small campsite being full with normal road tourists, we still had some time together.
In the morning, Scott and Gavin decided they had to climb the highest summit, which was a full 7 hour day but the rest of us didn't fancy it and had a relaxing rest, reading books and festering around in the valley, in the shade. They came back absolutely shattered and there was no way they were doing another stage the same day.
We also said goodbye to Shime (pronounced Shimmy) who was leaving the mountains behind and heading for the topless beaches and bars instead. He would go on to explore more of Corsica than us but only at low level, travelling around the coastal resorts by foot and local bus.
Day Five therefore saw us setting off again to do the hardest day of the trip... in a scrambling sense. The GR20 at this point crosses a hanging wall of rock between two peaks with the aid of ladders, chains and mild via ferrata. Early in the season under snow or in rain this would be difficult but with our rock climbing background we didn't find it too hard and even worked in a few off route variations onto minor summits.
a vertical surface as smooth and steep as this one. Even climbing it with ropes would be intimidating. This photo doesn't do it justice at all as you get no idea of the height involved. Mind blowing.
I include this link not only for all the info required but also for the amazing video of the GR 20 North,(the route we did) which is filmed and edited to a professional standard. It may be 55 minutes long but it gives you a real idea of the scenery and quality of the GR20 and it's better than most of the outdoor/ adventure programmes currently on television. The guy must work in that industry I'd imagine as its one of the most enjoyable hill walking/scrambling/travel documentaries you will see.Great music and easy going backpackers means it does not drag at any point.Well worth a look even if you have no intention of going to Corsica just for the beautiful scenery and presentation alone. It clicks full screen in HD. Sit back and enjoy.