GR20 stage 6: Hotel del Vergio-Refuge de Mangano Distance: 17 km, asc/desc: 670/475m, 6 hours
August 10th, 2016
The stage itself is moderate and probably the easiest of the entire GR20. However it was here, right after Lac de Nino that I found myself in the middle of a genuine Corsican thunderstorm complete with massive lightning:
When I left Hotel del Vergio around midday is was already cloudy and I heard thunder from far. At Lac de Nino it started to rain lightly and 30 minutes later the rain was heavy and the thunder and lightning began. The trail had turned into a river, the lightning seemed to come closer and the moment before I arrived at Bergeries de Vaccaghja a lightning struck right in front of me not more than 50 meters ahead on the plateau.
More than 50 people were squashed into the Bergeries waiting for the storm to slow down. I specifically remember a German couple who, contrary to regulations, had camped on the ridge above the Lac de Capitellu, where their tent was torn apart during the night presumably by foxes searching for food.
The storm slowed down and completely soaked I walked up to the Manganu refuge. I carried a lightweight raincoat with me, but knew beforehand that if heavy rains occurred I would have to take a rest day to dry off. This was now.
As a side note: A detour has been made at the southern end of Lac de Nino, presumably to benefit the nearby Bergeries des Inzecche. Just keep walking straight ahead unless you want to visit the Bergeries.
GR20 stage 5: Auberge U Vallone-Hotel del Vergio Distance: 15 km, asc/desc: 850/870m. Time: 8h
August 9th, 2016
The toughest stages are now over. I took a rest day after the fourth stage as I only walked the 45 minutes downhill from Tighjettu to Auberge U Vallone. From now on, the intention is to walk every day.
The stage to Hotel del Vergio was indeed significantly easier despite a few scrambling sections before reaching Refuge Ciottulu i I Mori, the highest lying refuge on the GR20 at 1991 meters. A cold and windy place.
A thunderstom passed close by on the way down to Hotel del Vergio.
Probably the better choice would have been to pitch the tent at Bergeries de Radule, about one hour before Hotel del Vergio, located right in the middle of the mountains and serving great crepes with nutella. Hotel del Vergio, on the other hand, is a rather dull place and right next to the road.
GR20 stage 4: Haut Asco-Refuge de Tighjettu Distance: 11 km, asc/desc: 1430/1400 m. Time: 10h
August 7th, 2016
According to my plan, I should have rested one day in Haut Asco. However, as thunderstoms were forecast two days later, I decided to skip the rest day. As the Cirque de Solitude was closed after the deadly accident earlier in the season costing the life of seven hikers, a variation (now the official route) via the Monte Cinto summit ridge (Pointe de Eboulis) to Tighjettu was put in place. Some chose to take a minibus skipping this section.
While incredibly beautiful, this is definitely one of the toughest stages of the GR20. Some completed it in 6 hours, I took 10, including several hours of rest during day.
The scrambling on this section is moderate and the normal ascent route from Haut Asco to Monte Cinto is followed all the way up to Pointe de Eboulis on the Monte Cinto summit ridge. It is long and tough and at one point I had to resort to a schedule of one 5 min break every 50 m ascent. I was exhausted when I finally arrived at Pointe de Eboulis at 2 pm and opted out of the detour to the Monte Cinto summit as I faced a 900 meter descent to Tighjettu.
Though endless, the descent to Tighjettu is not overly difficult, however for some reason the yellow markers are not always placed along the easiest route.
The views from Bocca Crucetta, on top of the descent are superb and Calvi may even be spotted in the distance.
I arrived in the middle of dinner at 7:30 pm at Tighjettu, where the food supply shop is very well stocked: I opted for canned Cassoulet and a large beer.
GR20 stage 3: Refuge d´Orto di u Piobbu-Refuge de Carrozzu Distance: 6 km, asc/desc: 860/710m. Time: 7h
August 6th, 2016
The main difficulty of this day is the descent to Haut Asco, which is only second to the one down to Carrozzu in difficulty. On the contrary, the Spasimata slabs are quite moderate.
In early morning the walk up the Spasimata Gorge is exceptionally atmospheric and the Lac de la Muvrella is very atmospheric with mouflons descending to the lake in the evening.
2014: I left Carrozzu at 9 am being exhausted from the second day.
2015: I left Carrozzu at 5:45 am after having spent one rest day here.
2014: I took a wrong turn out of Carrozzu and descended 150 meters before realizing my mistake.
2015: I took the correct trail.
2014: I stopped and spent the night at the Lac de La Muvrella, completely exhausted after being cooked by the heat of the Spasimata Gorge.
2015: I left at 5:45 pm after having rested one day at Carrozzu and I reached Lac de la Muvrella as the sun hit the Spasimata Gorge below.
2014: I got a ride out of Haut Asco and continued on the GR20 South.
2015: I pitched my tent under the pylons in Haut Asco preparing for the next stage.