June 19, 2014
5AM comes much too early. The tent is warm and cozy as it is definitely cooler than it had been in the south. The clouds hang about the morning sky but nothing too threatening.
This is a tough day. Not long, only 5 miles, but lots of rocky sections requiring scrambling starting with the 800 meter climb up to Bocca (pass) Piccaia.
You see the top of the ridge above you long before you arrive, but be warned, this is a false top. The scramble up continues to the left over a particularly rocky section.
The clouds rolled in early on this morning and by the time we reach the first view point there is nothing but water vapor in front of us.
The scramble in the clouds continues for quite a while to the true pass. As we start the descent off the plateau, really just a more level rocky section, towards Bocca d’Avartoili, the fog begins to lift revealing glimpses of the towering peaks and green rocky valley below, an awesome sight. Would be breathtaking in clear weather.
Although the clouds continue to hang on the highest peaks, the weather brightens quite a bit, sunny even at times. The trail across the ridge is tough going, up and down jagged boulders. Did I mention lots of scrambling?
From Bocca Carozzu it’s still a long descent to the refuge and although the “trail” is somewhat easier than it was crossing the ridge, much of it is on loose scree. I hate loose scree. It takes me another 1.5 hours to reach the refuge from the pass.
Threatening clouds build as we descend. The refuge in sight, it starts to rain just before we arrive.
Refuge de Carozzu
Tents are pitched in the woods above the refuge, usually not much off the trail. Camping spaces for the most part feel much more cramped than at some of the other refuges. Facilities include – 4 dry toilets with the usual dirty seat-less rims, 3 shower stalls with glacial cold water and sinks in the shower room.
By 6PM, tents have filled about every conceivable space. Lines, however, at the shower and toilet are minimal. We have a relatively secluded space just off the trail as you enter the refuge site.
There is not a great selection of provisions for sale – no bread, cheese or sausage. Like at the last refuge homemade tabouli salad and homemade cake are available.
Dinner, 18€, is served out on the terrace with amazing mountain views. Unfortunately it is one the worst meals we’ve had on the trail. The soup is the same kind of mystery thickened broth as the previous night but over seasoned with green pepper corns and yet lacking salt. The pasta had a minimal amount of over seasoned – too much oregano – tomato sauce. You could get seconds if you were still hungry and so inclined. Homemade cake – same as last night – chocolate or chestnut for dessert.
Breakfast, 8€, was about like yesterday – slices of bread, a small packaged cake, a box of juice, and instant coffee or tea. However, the refuge kitchen, completely dark at this hour, was chaotic as everyone had to heat an individual pot of water. The weather was nice enough to breakfast on the terrace. Unable to buy bread, we again saved some of the breakfast bread for our lunch.
*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.