Day 10 Col de Vergio to Albertacce

Guide says: 4hrs, 13k, 160m ascent, 710m descent.

Early morning sky

Breakfast was scheduled for 7 this morning, and our dormitory was empty by then with everyone eager to be gone. Colin and are were last up, having less urgency.

After breakfast we started off.

The hotel
The dormitory block

It was cool and windy. The trail being mainly downhill it took a long time for me to warm up. We were walking through woods most of the day, with the occasional stream crossing, and more open area. We were mainly traversing the south facing side of of an east west valley.

Albertacce is a very quiet village. No shop. The gite was unmanned so we let ourselves in. Then went back to the one bar cum restaurant in town only to find it had just closed for the afternoon. We pursuaded the proprietor to sell us a couple of beers, for which he highly over charged us, before he ushered us out saying it was time for his siesta. Back to gite for shower and to write this while Colin has his siesta.

One of many stream crossings
Flowers by a pool
Panoramic view of the other side of the valley
Our final bridge
Old water race bringing water to mill by the bridge
The other side of the mill
View back up the valley
Many blackberries along the trail today

Day 9 (Thursday 30th. August) Evisa to Col de Vergio

Book says 3.5 hrs, 650m ascent, 40m descent.

Today we left the Mare e Monti to join the Mare e Mare. Instead of turning back to the west coast we are now headed to the east coast.

We left around 8.30 after picking up supplies at the local mini super.

Another great looking day, sunny but cooler air first thing.

After a small uphill to get out of the village we were on a pleasant country track thru a pig farm and

lots of chestnut trees

Old storage ring for chestnuts

as we paralleled a river. Pleasant walking. Then we came to some nice pools but it was too early for a dip.

The next interesting feature was a hanging bridge, one person at a time please.

Then we had a bit of a climb on the other side

On the way down we ran into some cows who were very reluctant to let us pass. We ended up at some more pools were we stopped for a dip and lunch.

After that we had a nice piece of flat trail and then the stinger I the tail with a long, hot ascent to the final col.

View from the col
Last time we were here we came down from the mountains

After that a brief bit of road walking down to the hotel/gite.

Very busy here with all the GR20 hikers. Lots of opportunities for conversations which Colin is exploiting to the full.

Lots of hikers camping here

Day 8 Ota to Evisa

Book says 3.5 hrs, 570m ascent, 200m descent

Another leisurely start as it is a short day. A stop at the grocery for water, bread, cheese and a last smoothie, then off down hill into the valley

We end up on top of the ridge on the right in the far distance.

40 minutes brings us down to the river at the site of a retired genovese bridge.

Where we stop for a swim in a nice pool under the bridge.

Then we continue along the river bank following the stream upstream. Then, just before a road bridge things go ape shit. There is, incongruously a fenced soccer pitch between the river and the canyon walls. I passed it and decide to wait until the shade of a shuttered pavilion for Colin. I see him appear at the end of the soccer pitch, lose attention, then he is gone! I go back to where I last saw him, no he has not fallen down the bank. Mystery. I ask people coming up he trail if they have seen him, thinking he may have suddenly discovered he left something behind where we swam, it has happened, but no they had not seen him. Only conclusion is that he must be ahead of me. I call him but no response. Ok maybe he will have sense to wait at the place we had decided to have lunch and a second swim. I get there 40 minutes or so later, no sign of him. I wait by the bridge there. Suddenly there is a text from him, he is 500ft above me on the path, having his lunch. He has just decided to check his phone! Anyway we are soon reunited.

That final climb out of the valley is 2000ft, but the trail is way better than average on account of all the tourist traffic coming to see the gorge and the bridges and to swim in the river.

View back into the gorge rom where I finally found Colin

Well two hours later we were at the top and having a well deserved reward

Then on into the village and our gite. After shower etc we went back into the village and had a snack, this was around 4 and dinner want until 8. No way I could survive that long without something.

Day 7 Serriera to Ota

Guide says: 5hrs 40mins, 11k, 900m ascent, 610m descent.

After our late night we woke relatively late, nevertheless we left at 8.50am. Under a cloudless sky. A final time up the road to the village and the we were on the trail again. 2hrs 40 min of uphill slog was forecast, and it was, but the views got better and better.

An early view back to the village
A view back over yesterday’s hike

We got to the top in the forecast time, despite more than one stop to cool off. We found a good lookout spot, then retreated to have lunch under the cool shade of an ancient chestnut tree. Then it was time for the descent.

After a bit of a traverse it plunged down a ravine. We hoped for a swimming hole in vain, the best we could do was dunk our hats and cool our feet in a small stream.

A view back to the ridge we have just descended from

Then it was an up and down traverse until our destination can in view. Just in time as both Colin and I had just run out of water. We were soon descending thru the village to our gite for the night.

After rehydrating and showering we went for a short walk thru the village. Had a smoothie, and found the local shop which looks good for supplies for the morning .

Fitbit says : 24k, which I don’t believe. I think all the short steps I am taking, uphill and down, are fooling it: 30500 steps, and 3600 ft vertical – both which I do believe.

Day 6 Curzu to Serriera

Guide says: 3hrs 15 min, 8k, 430m ascent, 690m descent

Bernhard and Jacob left early and we will not be seeing them again as they are moving straight on after today’s stage to meet up with the rest of their family. We left after a leasurely breakfast. Clear skies, little wind and warm sun.

The usual compulsory climb to start with views back to the village and to the sea. Then contouring round and down a nice ridge and the a steep descent to the river. A signpost said twenty minutes for that last descent, took us 40! On this stretch we passed the only other hiker of the day going in the opposite direction under a very heavy pack.

The river was not to Colin’s liking, too shallow, but that did not stop me from stripping off and cooling off. He boiled up some water for one of his breakfasts while I had left over bread and cheese and a peach.

After this was another 1000 ft steep climb, done in stages. Then a pretty nice track/path brought us down to our distinction. Unfortunately there was no room in the gite so we had an extra 10 walk to a hotel down the road where we got the last room.

Fitbit says: 14k 1540 ft vertical

Day 5 Girolata to Curzu

Last to leave as usual, but only 8.20 so no worries.

An hour later saw as swimming in a deserted beach. The wind had dropped over night and it was cooler, but not so cold that we hadn’t worked up a bit if’s sweat.

Our timing was good as we then met many people walking down to the beach from the road an hour above. At the road we stopped from a drink and then continued upwards. Very steep for the first 1000 ft or so of vertical, and then ridge walking down and back up again. Great views on both sides.

Close to the top we stopped for a cool off and a bar. The descent was long and fairly nasty but eventually dropped us out at the top of the village. A rapid descent down thru the village brought us to our gite at about 1.30pm. Much water was then drunk before moving on to apple tart and ice cream.

Fitbit says 18k, 3030 ft vertical

Day 4 Galéria to Girolata

Guide says 5hrs, 12k, 770m ascent, 800m descent.

Very windy this morning, partly cloudy but still warm. 2 1/2 hrs of uphill to start the day. A pretty trail with a small reservoirmany crossings of the same stream and some great views, but long. Very glad to get to the top and stop for a bar. This is where we caught up with the others. Then the walk turned delightful travelling along a ridge with great views on both sides.

That’s our destination below

. Along the way we stopped for a hot meal, one of my breakfasts.

Then a long long descent, arriving here about 2.30pm ( 6 hours on the trail including breaks)

Approaching, genovese castle on headland above G
Looking down on the harbour

Girolata is only accessible by foot or by boat. Today, perhaps because of the high winds, no boat tourists. Just as well as there are sometimes 2000 of them. They come for the local nature conservature.

We had a swim, in the crowded harbour and relaxed.

Gite: le Cormorant
The gite nestled at the end of the harbour under the castle

No Fitbit data as the watch ran out of power half way thru the hike.

Day 3 Tuarelli to Galéria

Guide says 5 hrs, 11k, 230m ascent, 270m descent.

We started off around 9.30 under sunny skies but the air still quite cool. The first hour was a walk along the river bank towards the sea. We passed lots of nice swimming spots and eventually found one to Colin’s liking just before an old bridge. Very nice and cooling, and just in time as after that it got very busy with holiday makers who had driven up to the bridge.

Then it was a bit of road walking. The restaurant by the bridge was inexplicably closed, but shortly after we found another were we had ice cream and fruit nectar. Then it was back on the road again for a while. When it was time to leave the road we were happy to do so for the shade of the trees. However that’s when the going got hard and the days heat was building.

It was two hours hot slogging, with many false summits, up to a lookout overlooking the town.

I was almost out of water and Colin was very hot and tired. But the view was good and the promise of swimming even better.

The swimming unfortunately had to wait. First the descent, then a quick stop at a mini market for refreshments, then finding the Gite. We had been told the gite was full, but there did not seem to be any cheap alternatives so we went there anyway. It was a km out of town and fortunately we had been misinformed and they did have spaces for us. And very nice places too. The showers etc the best ever seen in a gite, though the number of toilets was limited .

Lots of water a beer a shower later and we were restored to the human race.

Later we walked back to the village, had a crepe, and then down to the beach for a swim.

Nice clear water, very salty, nice and warm.

Then back to the gite for a very good supper with Murielle, Beatrice, Bernhard Jacob, and and so to bed.

Fitbit says: 19.6 k, 1360 ft ascent.

Day 2 Bonifatu to Tuarelli

Guide says: 5.5 hrs, 17k, 655m ascent, 1100m descent.

Slept well and was surprised when coming down for our breakfast at 7.30 that nearly everyone had beaten us to it. Usual French breakfast.

8.40 saw use on our way. 2 hrs and 2000 ft of vertical to start the day. Hot and sweaty work but great views from the top.

Then 3800 ft of descent over the next 5 hours. Including a stop for a cooked lunch, actually one of Colin’s breakfasts’. Shortly after this we started to hear thunder and then it started to rain. We just put on our rain jackets and kept on. A bit noisy but not too frightening . Eventually it left us alone. Sorry no photos.

just before the end we met up with 4 others conferring at a junction. They were Bernhard and his son from Germany and Murrille Beatrice from France. We were in each other’s company for several nights after this. There was one other guy we were in sync with, but that was about all the people on the trail, at least in our direction. The gite at the end has managed to accommodate us all even if their tea and coffee machine has broken down. Having to make do with wine instead.

Fitbit says: 19k and 2300 ft ascent

2018 Mare e Monti and Mare e Mare Nord. Corsica

Day 1 Wednesday 22nd August.

Calenzana to Bonifatu

Guide says: 4 hrs, 12k, 560m ascent, 300m descent.

This year Colin and I decided to return to Corsica but instead of going north to south to go from west to east across the island to make it a little extra we decided to combine to hikes. So yesterday we flew to Bastia, and today took the train to Calvi , then a taxi to Calenzana, and by 1.15 we were hiking. However the day until then had not been entirely with out incident. This included a forced march round Calvi looking for camping gas, during which Yours truly realized he had left his hiking poles on the train. We found some gas at a supermarket just outside town then backtracked to the railway station. The train was still there but alas my poles weren’t.

When we got off the train I thought it was much cooler than I expected. A high of 30 was expected . It was beautifully sunny but with a hint of clouds over the mountains.

However when the taxi dropped us off it was under a grey sky with the treat of thunderstorms. Actually this was good as it sheltered us from the sun.

We walked with the threat of thunderstorms all afternoon but they did not rain on us until we were safely having our supper.

The hike started with an hours uphill slog, then two hours of almost contouring. In the second of these two Colins’ calves started cramping up so we had a stop to massage them. At this time he also discovered that the egg he had snitched at breakfast was not hard boiled and had leaked in his bag!

Colin oiling his legs

Shortly after this we reached a river with swimming spots. Very cooling.

Then the last hours hike which was the nicest part of the day following the river up stream on a not much used but thankfully well marked trail as it twisted and wound its narrow way. It finished with another significant climb out of the gorge on a series of tight switchbacks. It finished on a road and then we just had a 15 walk to our Auberge.

View back down the valley
View up the valley to our gite

All in all a tougher trail than any part of the JMT that I did, steeper gradients and generally worse under foot. However my fitness seems to have carried over.

Drank too much wine in the evening so retired early after a good supper.

Fitbit says: 17k, 2020ft vertical