GR20 – Day 3 – Refuge D’Asinao to Refuge D’Usciolu
It was windy today. Very windy. I haven’t experienced a wind of this strength for quite a while. We have experienced it at its worst at the summit of Mount Alcudina where I literally had to hold on to the large wooden cross on the top of the mountain in order not to be blown from it.
To get to Mount Alcudina was quite an adventure. The hillside we had to climb had the route marked with the traditional red and white blazed but at some spots, there were quite a few trails leading from the blaze to blaze and neither was them could be considered a walk. Scrambling we were, for about an hour before we reached the ridge and from there the path got little easier but not much less windy.
Our French friends with whom we shared a room at Conca, and whose names we never got, though we shared quite a few conversations, were originally headed to Refuge D’Usciolu as well but the wind changed their mind, and instead they decided to descent to Refuge Mezzaluna on a route that was much more protected, and tomorrow they will continue to D’Usciolu.
Dave and I faced the same decision. Were we brace enough to face strong wind for the next several hours just to hike the ridge? We for sure wanted to climb to the top of Mount Alcudina which is more or less on the route and so we decided to give it a try. We had enough time to turn back after the climb and retreat to the calmer variation leading through Mezzaluna if the wind proved too much of a challenge.
In the end, the ridge walk was not nearly as windy as we expected. The gales came from the ocean and except for few areas, we hiked on the more protected side of the ridge and did not have to deal with more than an occasional gust than more than once undermined my stability but I preferred that to the heat they predicted.
The ridge run was lovely and offered excellent views all the way to the coast. Once we dropped, we had an opportunity to enjoy some shade in a forest of beautiful trees where once Refuge I Pediniedi stood. It burned down in 1981 after being struck by lightening. The effort was never made to rebuilt it but at least the spring is still there and flowing beautifully well for those who suffered the sun on the exposed part to get there. Dave and I stopped and made a cup of coffee, it was close to 10:00 a.m. and we were due our hot morning beverage.
The next few miles were a pleasant downhill through forests and pastures, scenery that makes one relax, and calm nerves we needed because once we hit the next ridge we were back in a world of scrambling and though not dangerous or life threatening at any point it was physically very demanding to pull ourselves over tall rocks, down climb gullies, and cross large angled granite slabs.
We could see our destination from miles away, it let us have a peek, than it disappeared from our site just to allow a quick sight later, but in no point it seemed to get any closer. Until the very moment we walked up to it.
At least two people warned us that the next stage requires even more climbing skills. I’m curious, and quite anxious to tell the truth. My legs are sore from today, Dave’s knee is on fire. I can just hope our bodies can push through this adventurous stage.
We did not wait for breakfast at Tefuge Asinau. We got some bread and a can of ravioli the previous evening that we ate instead and it was cheaper and probably just as filling as what they’d feed us for breakfast.
Refuge D’Usciolu is a beautiful place etched into a mountain side. It can hold about 20 private tents but some of the sites are rather small and I’d recommend arriving somewhat early if you have a bigger tent. We arrived at 4:00 and snatched one of the only two remaining sites that would fit us.
There is a store at D’Usciolu where you can get some fruit like orange or watermelon, and salami, bread, cheese, chocolate, and variety of other snacks. We’ve heard that going North this is the last place like that.