June 10, 2014
After fussing over breakfast we started out at 6:45AM, a bit later than we planned. The walk towards the town of Bavella climbs over the Foce Finosa pass, descends and then climbs again up to the village.
Most of the morning was in forest with not a lot of great views. What few views there were were into the sun, so not many photo ops either.
In Bavella we stopped at the grocery store – alimentation – and picked up lunch – a morsel of bread, a can of tuna, a hunk of brebis (sheep) cheese and 2 apricots (a special treat). In retrospect this was one of the better food buying opportunities on the trail. The town itself has several of places to stay and restaurants.
Leaving Bavella we took the alpine variant (marked with yellow blazes) that climbs through the rock towers of the Aiguilles de Bavella, a hard but worthwhile detour in good weather.
Such a spectacular feeling climbing around the enormous granite spires.
The trail first winds up a grassy and rocky cliff side up to the Bocca di u Truvone.
Then, the next stretch climbs up and down and around the pinnacles including a steep slab of granite with a chain to aid you. If you are going down be careful at the bottom as the rock is worn smooth and it can be a little difficult getting down, especially if you are short.
At the last tower, Punta di u Pargulu, the trail finally descends the other side. Be careful to watch for the yellow blazes as you descend. The cairns will lead you to a longer path that hits the main GR20 trail at a point further from the Refuge d’Asinau.
As we had missed the yellow blazes down from the pass and took the longer trail to the refuge, we arrived later than we hoped. The last steep slog up to the refuge seemed endless at the end of a hard day.
The high level route is definitely steeper and more difficult than anything we encountered the previous day, requiring rock scrambling in a number of places. However, the views were absolutely worth the climb.
The refuge was already quite full when we arrived and 4:30PM. About the same number of tents as the night before but more densely packed in small spots on the slope outside the refuge. Outdoor cooking facilities, i.e. gas burners, are available for campers but generally not pots and pans, they are only for guests sleeping in the refuge. This would turn out to be true for most all the refuges. Facilities also include 2 showers and 4 newer dry toilets, although these are frequently dirty as people pee on the seat-less toilet rim.
Compared to Paliri, Asinau has a more crowed and unkempt feeling with a lot of new construction going on.
Dinner, 18€, was served family style at 6:30PM and included charcuterie and a small baguette to start followed by lentils with a few morsels of sausage, a brebis cheese course, and a small pot of apple sauce. Additional bread could not be bought as they only had enough for the meals. We were therefore obligated to eat the served breakfast the next morning. Moreover, in order to have enough bread for lunch, we saved bread both from dinner the night before and breakfast.
Breakfast at Asinau is served at 6:30 and 7:30AM. Plates with a small loaf of bread are set out on the table. Communal butter and jam are available as well as a thermoses of hot coffee and water for tea.
*Note: The GR20 consists of 15 or 16 stages over 118 miles, generally done north to south starting in Calenzana and ending in Conca. For this blog I’ve retained the commonly used stage numbers from the Cicerone Guide Book even though we did the stages out of order, starting in the south stages 15-10 and then restarting in the north 1-9.