The last 3 days of the GR20 seemed to whizz by. That said it was still a mental challenge; the weather was scorching hot and become hotter as we lost altitude each day, my ankle started to complain about walking and we were starting to play the food game too early in the morning (what do you hope we’re getting for dinner tonight? I really hope its a huge salad with cheese and a massive chocolate dessert. No I really fancy ice cream, a huge bowl with chocolate sauce – you get the picture).
We knew once leaving Vizzavona that the days would be longer and have to be at a faster pace, but that the walking would still be tricky with huge ascents (and descents) and just as much rock.
But, having slept well at the gite, (well except for the unfortuate one who got bitten by bed bugs!) we didn’t expect to wake to the deluge that faced us. So the next two days were to be a challenge not just for the terrain but also for finding the will to boost morale when faced with being soaked to the skin and blow to bits in the wind. Being British at least prepared half of the group for the weather!
As our trip was planned as 13 days of walking, we technically passed half way on our way to Petra Piana in terms of time, but there was still a long way to go.
The town of Vizzavona marks the halfway point in the GR20 due to easy access by road. Therefore it also marks the point where a significant number of people drop out, largely those undertaking the challenge without a guide. Its just to easy to stay in a hotel in Vizzavona and decide that the beach is a better choice for the rest of your trip.
We however did not have that luxury, or any luxury at all as it happens…… from cramped tents and rubbish food at Petra Piana to bed bugs for one of us at Vizzavona. But we have to get there first…..
After the excitement and hardwork of the Cirque de Solitude we assumed that the hardest part of the route was behind us. In terms of technicality we didn’t come across anything quite as difficult, but the pace was to pick up and the distances lengthen, tricky to maintain over bare rock, loose scree and still scrambling for the majority of the day.
Heading South on the GR20 is the direction most people travel, and while you could go against the flow I preferred this direction for getting the difficult bits out of the way first. Or at least the most difficult, as there isn’t exactly anything easy about the GR20.
The first three days on the route are useful for testing skills in the group and for working out a suitable pace to be able to ascend 1000m+ each day and not end up out of breath.
We had to carry over night kit (sleeping bags etc) on these days as the two refuges do not have road access.