GR20 stage 15: Refuge d´I Paliri to Conca Distance: 14 km, asc/desc: 500/1390m, 7h
August 21th, 2016
An uncomplicated, very pleasant walk down to Conca: A short climb to Bocca di U Sordu and then it is downhill past a couple of (uninviting) mountain lakes, the ruins of Bergeries de Capeddu and finally through a the curious gap of Bocca d´ Usciolu before the final ascent to Conca.
GR20 stage 14: Refuge d´Asinau to Refuge d´I Paliri Distance: 13 km, asc/desc: 750/1145m, 7h
August 20th, 2016
Despite the weather not being 100% stellar, I nevertheless took the higher trail via Aiguilles de Bavella, which turned out to be vastly preferable to the very hot and not overly inspiring lower trail I walked in 2014.
The circular day hike from Bavella through Aiguilles de Bavella is very popular, thus many people are encountered on the trail. This day also marks the last scrambling section of the GR20: A short scramble up a rock supported with a cable:
Bavella is a tourist center, where camping is officially not allowed. Probably just as well as Refuge I Paliri, two hours further on, is one of the most atmospheric campsites of the entire GR20. When I was there, they were short of water (it was dripping from a rock) and the showers are far too far away, however the colours and ambience of I Paliri is wonderful:
GR20 stage 13 : Refuge d´Usciolu to Refuge Asinau Distance: 17 km, asc/desc: 1010/1225m, 11h
August 18th, 2016
This stage starts scrambling along the final part of the Corsica Spine Ridge from Usciolu, through a final gap, and then down to Bocca di l´Agnonu, where the trail splits in two:
1. The official trail: Via plateau de Cuscioni, over wonderful farmland passing three Bergeries, the last being the wonderful Bergerie de Croci, located only 2,5-3 hours walk from the summit of Monte Alcudina, alternatively 3 hours walk from Refuge Asinau. I walked this trail in 2014 camping at I Croci.
2. The variante: Crossing the plateau de Cuscioni before passing I Pedinieddi, the only place on the GR20 where camping is allowed, though no facilities are available and the nearest water source is a 30 minutes walk away. I camped here, thus splitting the stage in two. The next day is a straight-forward two-hour walk up to the summit of Monte Alcudina followed by a quite challenging ascent down to Asinau, placing right after the descents to Carrozzu and Haut Asco in difficulty. In fact I saw man being evacuated with helicopter due to an ankle injury.
Asinau is located at the top of the valley. It can be windy but the views are great. Note: The Asinau Refuge burned down in early 2016, and as I understand it there is (2016) nothing left on the site except water, thus it should should be possible to pitch a tent. Alternatively, Bergeries d´Asinau offers accomodation a bit further down the valley (reservations essential).
GR20 stage 12: Bocca di Verdi to Refuge d´Usciolu Distance: 16 km, asc/desc: 1290/830m, 8h
August 17th, 2016
One of the great stages of GR20. From I Prati the GR20 is essentially a ridge walk all the way to Usciolu and even a couple of hours beyond. The ridge has been described as The Spine of Corsica, with extensive views and frequent shift from one side of the ridge to another, undulating with only a couple of major ascents and descents.
The scrambling is moderate and technically the trail is not exposed, however it can get very windy up there and obviously it is only recommended to walk in dry weather.
Somewhat curiously, I camped at exactly the same spot at Usciolu in 2015 as I did in 2014: