GR20 – Day 14 – Tighjettu to Ascu

Stage 4, the hardest stage of GR20. We got up extra early, at 4:30 a.m. and under the light of our Lucy lantern broke camp. There was just enough light outside that we could have started hiking when we closed our backpacks lids.

The initial ascend of the day. My eyes are still sleepy.

Delphine and her boyfriend Wouter, couple from Belgium with whom we met after Vizzavona, started about the same time as us. Soon afterward we caught up to our Dutch friends Christ, Nol, and Carlo and our group of seven made the ascend to Bocca Cruggeta together.

The uphill was steep. We lost the trees soon and were on a trail of rocks from then on, until the very last part of the day. At least in the early morning hour the air was cool and pleasant.

No complaints about the views today.

After Bocca Cruggeta, there was a traverse to the base of Mount Cintu, the highest mountain in Corsica. I liked that part, it was a gentle grade and though we were on slabs and crumbled rock, due to the grade, it was an easy stretch and we covered it fast, making it to the base in just three hours.

The descent was what I was afraid of. I knew there would be chains aiding some tricky sections, and parts where we would wish there were chains as we were told by several people. So when it was time to head down, after a wonderful hour long break, we did so carefully.

Rock huggers

In the upper slopes the path was steeper and filled with gravel and sand and it was quite slippery but manageable when walked with care. The path remained crumbly but gave way to sections of rock later and we arrived at the first chain. It was a short one. It was not needed today. The rock was dry and had a good grip.

At our high point with Mount Cintu behind us.

The second chain was also on a section of the rock that was relatively easy to descend under good weather conditions.

Actually none of the chained section were a problem or scary. It would have been a different story if the rock was wet or icy, perhaps, but today we zoomed through without a second thought.

Soaking up the views, and giving knees a rest.

The other sections that we scramble down, the ones without chains, were much easier than we expected them to be. We had to down climb several times, short distance and there were always good hand holds and places to rest our feet on. One gully required a long step over a gap, five feet deep or so, which could have been avoided by taking about ten steps off the trail and climbing down into the gully and then up on the other side.

It was a long, physically challenging descent but mentally there was nothing that would make my hair stand on the back of my neck.

Then we arrived at a footbridge, crossed the canyon the river carved over centuries, and the rest was a walk through forest. The trail was rocky, little down and little up, but after several hours on the upper slopes, it felt like highway. We walked along a creek, partly in shade, which was a welcome change, and the pools of cold refreshing water were tempting us. We didn’t stop. We heard that space was limited at Refuge Ascu and so we wanted to set up camp and be able to relax.

Well deserved drinks with Christ, Nol, and Carlo

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NOTES:

As of June 25, 2019 camping was €7.00 per person. Quality campsites were limited, especially bigger ones that would accommodate two or three person tent. Many were sloped.

The Refuge has a feel of youth hostel. It seemed to hold quite a few people. Loved the hot showers. Did not like the fact that there was only one toilet available for all the people. In the morning it meant a very long wait.

There is a hotel in the area, and a restaurant attached to it where you can pay by credit card. If you want to have dinner at the restaurant, you need a reservation. Otherwise they’ll stuck you inside and won’t pay any attention to you. We gave up after 35 minutes when we weren’t offered water or anything. Plus the prices are little steeper.

There is a another place you can get food. Small restaurant that serves panini, American Sandwich (burger and fries in a baguette), salads and few other things. They were super friendly and loved the American Sandwich.

You can eat at the Refuge as well, we’ve heard the food was decent, but it’s nice to have a break from pasta.

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