GR20 Stage 11* – Refuge de Prati to Bergeries d’ E Capanelle, Corsica, France

June 13, 2014

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

We left the Refuge de Prati just after 7 AM taking the main, low-level route. The morning starts with a short climb up the hill behind the refuge followed by a short tramp across the top of a ridge and then a long descent down to Bocca di Verdi, first along an open ridge and then through the woods.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

At Bocca di Verdi there is a small café restaurant where we bought a can of tuna to add to our lunch. They don’t have much of a selection, but it is adequate in a pinch.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

After Bocca di Verdi starts the climb through the woods, a pretty forest trail, nothing spectacular but pleasant – nice temperature, dry air, light breeze.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

Just past the Ruisseau (stream) de Marmanu we begin the climb up to the Plateau de Gialgone. The trail, sometimes steep and rocky but nothing very difficult or long, is mostly in the woods with pretty, open sections as well.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

Once on the plateau we traverse a long section that alternates between open stretches along the mountain slope with stretches through forest and stream crossings. Distant mountain views are diminished by hazy skies and building thunderheads. Still, it’s a pretty walk with a variety of terrain on mostly good paths, a welcome change from the previous days’ rocky tracks.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

Once we hit the road at Pont (bridge) de Casacchei the easy part of the day ends. Thunder showers continue to threaten as we climb up the last two and half kilometers to Bergeries d’E Capanelle. This section, however, is much more dramatic. Craggy tortured pines line the way up with a rushing river below and snow-capped peaks above.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5 GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

Near the top it starts to rain, not much, just enough to get everything wet, as we descend down to the bergeries. With dark clouds looming above, we decide to try a refuge bed rather than pitch our tent.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

The Gîte d’Étape U Fugone is primarily a ski station with plenty of space for the hordes that descend upon it in summer. Accommodations include gîte rooms, refuge bunks and tent spaces.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

We take a couple of beds in the bunk room of the little stone refuge up the trail from the main house. It’s your typical refuge with a small dormitory, sleeping 12, and a main room with a table, gas burners, a sink and racks of dishes and cooking utensils. 7€ per person, the same as pitching your own tent.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

The gîte dining room is a large bright space with plenty of seating and a small bar and store. By 6PM the place is brimming with guests hanging out at the picnic tables along the outside terrace. The clouds having cleared leaving sunny skies and a beautiful end to the afternoon.

GR20 Stage 11 - Day 5

Dinner is served family style. For 15€ you get Corsican vegetable soup, a main course of two kinds of polenta, plain and chestnut, served with chunks of beef in sauce – quite a lot compared to other places – and for dessert a choice of chocolate or chestnut cake. Bottles and carafes of wine are also available.

The restaurant is very well organized and designates each group to a particular table. We were with other small groups, i.e., singles and couples. The seating arrangement created a warm and convivial ambiance and we chatted throughout dinner mostly in French but also English. One Scotsman spoke French and one of the Frenchmen spoke some English. Overall a very fun evening.

The establishment accommodates a lot of people, both trekkers and other guests, but has adequate facilities, including clean flush toilets. Hot showers are also available.

*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.

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