June 12, 2014
At the overcrowded Refuge d’Usciolu there was no possibility to boil water for the morning coffee without our own pot so breakfast was just a junk of bread and a couple of oranges that we had bought the evening before. Still, due to a long queue at the toilet we didn’t leave the refuge until 7AM. Like the previous morning, a long line of trekkers leave about at the same time.
The morning starts with a moderate climb up the ridge behind the refuge, not as difficult as the previous morning with only one boulder scramble.
Next, a long descent down an open slope followed by patches of forest, sometimes steeply down, sometime more gently.
At Boca di Laparo the long climb back up 500 meters in 4K starts. The climb is gentle in places and difficult in others requiring scrambling up and down granite boulders. The views are stunning – massive rock formations all around you.
Once you finally reach the summit (there are several false tops) the cross is clearly visible. The main trail doesn’t actually summit but skirts around near the top.
From here it’s another scramble down and along another ridge to the Refuge de Prati.
Arrive at Prati at 2:30 with ½ hour for lunch and other short stops.
Refuge de Prati
Set on a grassy meadow between ridges it’s a much more pleasant setting than the last two refuges, with newer facilities and fewer campers. Having rebuilt after a lightning strike in 1997, facilities include two showers and a trough rather than a sink for washing.
Camping is on a relatively flat grassy area below the refuge, the lawn kept manicured by grazing cows. At 7:30PM the area is full but not as overcrowded as the previous evening.
Dinner, 18€, was very much like the first night at Refuge d’ I Paliri. The meal is served family style by group and starts with charcuterie and bread, followed by a big bowl of pasta with a few morsels of pork and a couple of olives, and ends with a wedge of cheese.
Breakfast service starts at 6:30AM with a reservation made the night before. Collect your bread, butter, jam and hot beverage at the window.
*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.