GR20 – Day 10 – L’Onda to Petra Piana

Sun greeted us early today. We were already high in the mountains and the moment we hiked up from the Bergeries and touched the ridgeline that we would follow for the rest of the day, the first morning sun was upon us. It was early though, and the rays still were few hours from being scorching hot, and for the time being, we enjoyed the pleasant temperature as we made the first steep climb.

Following the top of the ridge was quite an adventure. We walked through a gap and as soon as we did, our hands came quite handy when we climbed up and down and up again through the rocky terrain. The first descent was the worst, with rocks polished smooth that did not allow our shoes much purchase. It was rather steep rock we had to get down off and I was glad for the bushes growing close by that I frequently used as belays.

The views were spectacular though, and despite the fact this route had more scrambling than the valley alternative I was glad we chose it. We could see long ways, ridge line after ridge line all the way to the Mediterranean and even further on the other side.

During our short break at the high point we ate lunch, much needed calories for the next section. The sausage was really good. Bread not so much. It was the first time we weren’t able to buy real bread or a baguette. Instead they sold this very white toaster bread at Bergeries L’Onda, if you are from America the term wonder bread will give you the visual, that had the word natural written on the wrapper just under the words long lasting.

We had a short respite from scrambling after the lunch. The slopes on the other side of the high point were rocky but slightly less steep and for about 20 minutes we were able to quite simply walk down a reasonable path. Afterwards we bumped into another rocky outcrop and it was back to scrambling, nothing too scary but there sure were few exposed steps we had to make and I was glad for good hand holds.

When we reached the trail again, we thought the scrambling was over. It wasn’t. The last part, shortly before we reached Petra Piana had another rock ready for us, of course now at the end of the stage when we were tired and weary it was trickiest one for today with short exposed ledge, and climbs that were little taller than the rest.

“If you can’t do this, you probably should not go any further,” said a couple we met through Melina yesterday. I was glad I could do this stage without feeling that death was imminent and I hope I have enough exposure tolerance in my reserve to make it through some of the more serious sections that are still ahead of us. Tomorrow I will have a chance to test myself. The section we would climb is said to have more “climbing” as they call it here than what we experienced today.

It’s really interesting to have dinners at the various refuges as well. So far we experienced everything from tables already set for us with different plates for each course, silverware and real glasses to where we were given a sponge to wipe our table before dinner ourselves, where wine was served in metal Viking like pitchers, and we drank from a flimsy plastic cups. Everything is so classy in the mountains. But everyone is in the same boat and everyone is enjoying the company of the fellow trekkers, even though sometimes due to language barrier you can only exchange few word. I love it. I would not exchange the experience for anything else.

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NOTES:

As of June 21, 2019 camping at Petra Piana is €7.00 per person.

Dinner costs €20.00 We had lentil soup with bacon, cheese and bread, and peaches. It was good.

Resupply options are limited to sausage, white toaster bread, pâté, crackers, pasta, sweet bread with candied fruit, and rice. They also sell cold Coca Cola or Orangina (their version of Fanta) for €3.50 and large can of Pietra Ambree is €6.00 Pitcher or red wine is €8.00 for a liter, that’s a good deal.

Camping is somewhat limited at Petra Piana. They have recent amount of rentable tents (€11.00 a night) but space runs out fast for private tents. We arrived at 11:30 a.m. and got a good site. By 1:30, most sites were gone and people started pitching anywhere they could, often times on a very sloped ground.

Petra Piana overlooks the valley in the direction you climbed from (if you are Northbound) and in the backdrop there is a tall wall the trail somehow scales the next day. It’s a very scenic refuge, with two squatting toilets, two cold showers, some shade to hide in on a hot day.

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