The route cuts a diagonal from North West to South East - it is 112 miles and 35,000 vertical feet of climbing - we completed the 15 stages in 11.5 days, some days walking 10 or 12 hours with 15 -18 kilo packs depending on the water bottles we carried and the springs along the route - yes the odyssey was a complete trauma for my feet but learned to shut the pain out and I completed the final stage to Conca in 3.5 hours (2 hours quicker than the average time by running since it was the best way to put my feet on the ground for the shortest possible time!) I'm hobbling about with serious lesions but the fitted carpets will soon heal the wounds - Many people were lifted off the mountain by helicopter and many failed to complete - the variety of nationalities and cultures attempting the route is astonishing - some just do a couple of the stages - the Corsicans are tough people
Below is what I wrote on completing the route but there is much more to tell about the trip than this:
I'm home! Back from my walking odyssey through the mountains of Corsica.
What a route! Much tougher than I expected and harder than the ascent of the Mont Blanc in 2004.
The trail goes from Calenzana in the north of Corsica to Conca in the south - it's a relentless 112 mile roller coaster of sweating, grunting and scrambling over 35,000 feet of rock (not to mention the descents which I find even harder!).
Why did I do it?
Foremost I can't quench my thirst for discovering wildernesses and the mountains of Corsica are visited only by shepherds and their goats (and a few climbers of course.) Because it is Europe I was able to keep my carbon footprint to an acceptable level. It is a remote place and I love the reward of bathing in wild springs, torrents and mountain lakes and meeting local people off the tourist trail - the goats cheese and "saucisson" and local red wine are not bad either.
But something really special about climbing the mountains of this small island is glimpsing the glinting azure of the seas to the east and west all along the route (I sometimes wished I could be swimming lazily in the ocean rather than sweating it out on the rugged rocks!).
And finally The GR20 spiked my adrenaline on many occasions
One notable occasion was traversing the Cirque de la Solitude. This is a fin of 400-foot-high cliffs at an altitude of 2218 meters which can only be crossed with the help of chains bolted to the rock. It is not a place for those that suffer from vertigo.
Being in the presence of the Cirque made me feel like a spec of dust on the surface of the earth - insignificant in the extreme. There is nothing in the Cirque but gargantuan rock - nothing human - it is a place of total indifference to the human species. Sometimes you have to go to places like this to experience things you've experienced nowhere else. The Cirque is one such place.
As you sit atop its ridge you know that everything around and underneath has remained unchanged since the time of creation - since the prehistoric time of fire and ice - since the creation of the sun and stars above.
Up there, perched on the ledge of the Minuta pass, I was reminded of my frailty and vulnerability - I was overcome by a terrifying moment of complete solitude and separateness (despite the company my climbing companion Jean-Luc) - we are small and inconsequential when compared to the forces of wilderness and that is very sobering when most of our lives we live the illusion of being in control and masters of our destinies
For now it feels nice to walk on shag pile carpets and not the rugged stone and grit my blistered feet have endured the last 12 days! After I grow bored of the home comforts we shall see....
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?