GR20 Stage 1

GR20 Stage 1: Circumstances, events, hiking route and a lot of information for the camping and food. Additionally difficulties will be higlighted.  Find here information how to start.

GR20 Stage 1 – The planned route

The first trail will lead us from Calenzana to D’Ortu Piobbu. The trail looks easy on at the map.

Route Start Goal Distance Metres in Altitude Duration
Calenzana Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu 10,37 km 1360 m 6:30 h

GR20 Stage 1 – Good morning eary birds

We put an alarm for 6:30 am and I was ready “early” to get up. However everything came different in the morning. The first sounds of life were  arround 4:30 in the morning. Rustling, chattering and a lot of other not noise. At 04:45 am the camp was alive. We grabbed our stuff explored  the showers and the toilets. Enjoy the last hot showers, the next places will not be so comfortable anymore. Even the toilets are great, you can sit down.

We prepared our breakfast at the kitchen at the campsite. The kitches comes a with stove and places to sit. Too bad it was not possible to book breakfast, so we had to use our own rations. We ate our first real GR20 meal – milk powder and cereals. The kitchen comes additionally with a water tap, we used the water for our bladder and for cooking. Our bladders had a capacity of 3 liters per person. Its better to take a little bit more than to less, because it will get very hot during the noon. Packing up, washing, tent dismantling and the food was done at 6:30 am, during this time we left the camp.

GR20 Stage 1 – Departure

Next to the campsite leads down a road. We followed the road 200 m to the right until the next crossing. Following the crossroad to the left, we came deeper in to Calenzana. Inside of the village there are lot of signs, to help us to find our way. We followed the markings to Gîtes d’étapes GR20 in the opposite direction. At the street I felt my back unusually wet and cold, and also the bottom of the backpack was slightly damp. Panicked, I realized that my water bladder was leaking and so the water was partly in the backpack. But that was not so bad as it sounds, since everything important was packaged in waterproof compression bags, such as the sleeping bag. For the next days I wont have 3 litres of water available, only 2 litres. I hoped that will work out.

Inside of Calenzana we had to search for the marks from time to time. Themarks of the GR20 are red and white lines.  The white-red sign are sometimes drafted at walls or hourse corners. But all in all OK signposted. We left the village through an iron gate that looks like an old bed. After passing through we were on the GR20. A sign pointed us then:  6.5 hours for the GR20 Stage 1. The sign also speaks off “Mare e Monti”, maybe something for the future? Another trail on Corsica? My curiosity is aroused. The path behind the gate is sandy and there is a steady ascend which was very exhausting.


GR20 Stage 1 – On the road

The initial ascend should went on for the whole day.  But the hardships worthwhile: In between we passed several beautiful places such as Cliff (7km) where you can sit and gaze down at Calenzana and we saw Calvi too. The sea was visible, but we knew we have to say sooner or later goodbye. Calvi will disappear behind mountains. We turned around many times to enjoy the view, a little plaintively, that we let this part behind us, but euphoric forward because many beautiful parts lie ahead. After the cliff there is a part that has is less sandy and more like a forest. He we had many ascents and descents following each other, down and then immediately back up again. There will also come a part where climbing is needed, only secured by a chain. It goes down about 3-4 m. This was our first climbing exercise for the following days.

Behind the climbing part, there is then a little encouragement, we saw the place for the night, the first day is almost done. D’Ortu Piobbu is based on somekind of hill. Unfortunately when we saw the hut, it was still about 90 minutes of walking.

GR20 Stage 1 – D’Ortu Piobbu

D’Ortu Piobbu is a nice place to stay there was the possibility to build up our tent on a slope. For each tent there was a bay. The small tent bays are surrounded by a semicircle of stones, for windprotection. The property itself had cold showers and toilets. We used the possibility to book the offered menu and additonally ordered breakfast for the morning.  For dinner we had a very good lentil soup and a really big piece of cake.

In the evening we set up the tent and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. In the evening a lot of salamanders were arround. 14 days were still in front of us – so we decided to go to bed early. From the experience of the first night: we set the alarm clock 5:00 am.


GR20 Stage 1 – Trail Summary

The first day was exhaustive but not stressing our bodies too much. The trail had some places where we needed to climb and were sometimes secured with a chain. The signs of the route wer very good, except for the initial part of the village in Calenzana. We didnt had any orientation problems. The whole track was about 10 km of walking. For GR20 Stage 2 please continue reading here.

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