/ GR20 questions

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Ardo 10 Aug 2019

Looking at doing the GR20 in September, so a couple of questions to anybody that's done it: north to south or t'other way round and bivvy bag plus tarp suffice or small tent better?

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Pedro50 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

North to South is conventional and much more popular but possibly for no good reason except that the northern section is more rugged and strenuous. We did it that way.

I just used a free standing tent flysheet as little rain was expected although we did it in June not September. 

If your tarp requires trees to erect it, it would limit pitching opportunities, but I am not an expert in their use.

Enjoy.

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Calvi 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

> Looking at doing the GR20 in September, so a couple of questions to anybody that's done it: north to south or t'other way round and bivvy bag plus tarp suffice or small tent better?


We did it North to South, just used a bivvy bag.

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Dave in Kendal 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

We did it south to north reckoning on getting fit on the “easier” southern section so we would find the tougher northern section not so hard. This seemed to work for us. We took a small tent and slept outside the huts (about €6 each from memory) as you then don’t need to book places in advance which you have to do if you want to stay in the (bed bug infested) hut dormitories or hire ready erected tents. We ate evening meals in the huts. It was about €20 for an evening meal which seemed to be largely salami for starter, meat in tomato sauce with pasta for the main course and cheese for desert. You could buy expensive beer and slightly less expensive wine. Breakfasts were poor value at €8 so we tended to have biscuits and water for breakfast. It’s a great walk but I believe that the Cirque de Solitude is closed off now and that there is a diversion in place.

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Ardo 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Dave in Kendal:

Ta to all for replies.

Dave, south to north for fitness is my thinking and huts for evening meals whilst kipping nearby, great minds or fools seldom? ;-)

The cirque is open, but not official anymore - http://www.le-gr20.fr/en/blog/14th-june-2018-the-opening-of-the-cirque-of-solitude.html

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skog 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

I'd say North to South, for the simple reason that whilst it's all wonderful, the North part is better, so if you start with it and for some reason can't finish, you won't have missed the best bit.

I've never used tarps. In September there's the potential for it to be pretty cold some nights, possibly even slightly below freezing in the wee small hours; I don't know whether that would matter.

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skog 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

Alternatively, if you can be flexible, see what the weather's looking like at the start and if it's a bit unsettled maybe start from the South end.

I've -heard- there's a problem with bed bugs in some of the huts. That might not matter to you, if you're camping.

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mbh 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

We did the northern half S-N from Vizzavone with three teenagers. The first day was tough!

We stayed in the refuges and ate in them a few times. I don't recall anyone complaining of bedbugs at the time (2011), but the food was very expensive. 

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Ardo 10 Aug 2019
In reply to skog:

If I can't finish it then it's an excuse to go back, but planning on spending at least 3 weeks on Corsica, so plenty of leeway for weather and rest days.

Various tarp setups, so it's more biting insects for me. You can always just put all your clothes on if it's cold! Bedbugs seem to have become a problem, so another reason to sleep under the stars.

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Ardo 10 Aug 2019
In reply to mbh:

The GR20 site admits there's a problem, so probably depends on location and luck - http://www.le-gr20.fr/en/blog/bed-bugs-and-the-immortelle-de-corsica.html

Probably mix and match carrying food and eating at refuges, but I'll have to fork out for booze!

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Wil Treasure 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

I walked it last month. Some of the hut dormitories were closed because of bed bugs. We rented the tents, which came with decent inflatable mats as well. They were a bit dusty but no bugs. I wouldn't bother carrying a tent personally, just pay the extra few euros to rent one. I don't think you'd need to book in September, they were never full in July/August when we were there.

The "campsites" are generally poorly dug flat areas of gravelly dirt. Getting pegs in is hard, mostly you be tying stuff off to rocks. It can be very windy, some (unoccupied) tents blew away when we were there.

As said, food in the huts is pretty rubbish, especially for 20€. The private ones are better. All of the refuges sell some supplies, you're better off buying these and taking your pan to cook with (gas rings are supplied). Refuges near a roadhead have better supplies, and one in the south is a proper little shop. It's all quite pricey, but much cheaper than the hut meals.

North to south is traditional. Personally I didn't think any of the northern days were particularly big (the day over Monte Cinto might be an exception), but there's lots of minor scrambling or very rough paths. Many people walking it were clearly not familiar with this kind of terrain and had a hard time. If you're used to it it's fine. There were also a lot of people carrying huge (60/70 litre) bags which IMO would just make for miserable walking. I have no idea what they were carrying to fill them!

The southern section has much easier walking on generally good paths, the days around Bavella are lovely. 

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daWalt 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

went south to north, many years ago, with tent. I'd prefer to save the best until last.

going S to N you descent the steep hard side of the circ. last I knew all the ladders, chains, and markers had been removed. the red & white paint markers are essential for route finding on this descent - it's a very windy un-obvious line.

personally I'd not bivvy; when it rains it really chucks it down and everything is sheeting water. we had daily afternoon rainstorms in the mountains.

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JStearn 11 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

I went north-south also, gets the harder stuff out the way. Personally I wouldn't take just a tarp, in some sections there are not a ton of pitching options and storms can roll in quickly. I got caught in a short thunderstorm and was very glad to be in a mid. Even more so than any other trail I've been on, go as light as possible because there is a ton of ascent/descent on rough ground. Having said that, it's nowhere near as bad as the guides make out and not hard to double up on stages. You will see some massive packs on the trail though (even saw a few people carrying popup tents). I didn't stay in any huts, I only had €30 for the week because the ATM at Calenzana was out of order! The resupply at halfway at Vizzavona is ok for basics. It's easy enough to camp undisturbed away from the huts. Here's a short trip report: 

https://www.spektakl.co.uk/gr20/ 

It's a great trail, should be nice and quiet in September too if you like that sort of thing!

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mbh 11 Aug 2019
In reply to Wil Treasure:

>There were also a lot of people carrying huge (60/70 litre) bags which IMO would just make for miserable walking. I have no idea what they were carrying to fill them!

On the front terrace of Ciottulu di i mori we met an Italian guy who had arrived from the north with such a huge sack. He took out of it by far the biggest piece of parmesan I have ever seen.

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HB1 11 Aug 2019
In reply to Ardo:

We walked the GR 20 forty years ago N to S. My partner (then  and now) still recalls our traverse of the Cirque de S with horror. There was late-lying snow, and all chains/ladders were covered. I carried both sacks, and we made do with tent pegs to steady us. Dangerous/foolhardy at best. We made a detour afterwards down into Corte, where the police were called when I pointed out that the salad in the cafe where we ate was 'moisy' but that's another story!

We saw VERY few people in the two weeks. Probably different now

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Ardo 12 Aug 2019
In reply to HB1:

Thanks for all the replies, very helpful, apart from the 'moisy' anecdote: what the hell is moisy? Confused face emoji.

Decided on south to north, because I'm a contrary, (and to try to get some miles in the legs before the harder stuff).

Just need to book flight and adjust my Yorkshire financial stance to accommodate coughing up €20 for us tea.

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