GR20: Northern Half. The plan is tight because of time lost in transfers. I have to get to the start after landing which is difficult on a Sunday. The 1st train leaves before landing and the only other is 5.30pm. I can only do 1 week’s worth so may not even make Vizavona. Other escape routes are available.
Transfer to start point: Wake at 02.40 for a small breakfast at home. The taxi came on-time at 3.30am. The driver was a nice guy in a white Skoda for Kwickars. Driving through the rain we got to Manchester airport early (05.20). Good man, deserves some +ve feedback.
Dave and the race across the island. Dave sat in the row behind in the jet and revealed that he was on the same quest. We agreed to travel together to the start. My anxiety vanished into elation; I clapped my hands together in delight.
Sitting in my row were two young women who nattered quietly all the way. After a while, they included me by asking about the GR20. One was a primary teacher, the other I can’t recall but has a wide breezy smile. Both were fine company. With this and Dave’s introduction. This is going to be good.
The walk up to Caruzzo. For me, Caruzzo would be my start. Problem is – how and when do I get there. I suggested to Dave that we head over to Comozzo to either get the last train, or at a push – hitch. There was a nice but basic foodie place for pasta and a sharp coffee in Comozzo. Round the corner is a suitable roundabout to try our luck with the thumb. We had hours to kill before the second train, so why not?
Then the day really started! After a full 15 minutes in hitchhiking pose a white Audi A3 pulled over. He was going to Calvi! The guy was a dude, all dressed in white, driving the two of us in his white convertible through the northern mountains then along the coast. We chatted, he was a locksmith from Paris. At times he gunned it, passing cars at over 120km/hr, at others, sitting in. Some of those cars, I remarked to Dave, were those who didn’t pick us up! All the time, hip-hop pumped out of the car stereo. The time.of our lives!
We arrived in Calvi at 16.30, a full hour before the train was due to depart Comozzo. We had time to stock up in the Super-U and get to our start points. Dave wanted Calenzana and I wanted Auberge de Bonifatu. I was back to plan A. The idea of postponing my ascent to Monday hung over like a gloomy disappointment. Goodbye disappointment, it’s all Go for the start from Auberge de Bonifatu.
A taxi took me up to the forest, after some negotiation in Calvi, first offer was €66. I pulled a face and he dropped it to €60. I mithered with Dave and then the offer of €50 if cash came. I took it and arrived at the Auberge at 19.30.
Up through the forest. A familiar route, but this time the pack was heavier. Under some pressure from the setting sun, I hoped to arrive in evening twightlight. As you proceed, eyes adjust to the failing light well after sundown. Eventually, you can’t see the marker flags so it was the to get the head-torch on.
Some buildings and a howf appeared then I knew the helipad was near. Then, voices. Outside the refuge, people were still eating, drinking and smoking by torchlight. My head was quite spaced-out which made struggling with poor french worse. But I was there. The guys who ran the place seemed to understand, perhaps my tiredness was obvious.
The only food remaining was bread and sliced boar sausage. It washed down with a half beer nicely. I don’t normally eat meat, but out of necessity…
19°C, wet start but brighter now.Intermittent faults are tricky to diagnose. On the off-chance, I tried my record deck today and it works perfectly. I’ve not switched it on all summer because it would not run up to speed. It’s as though the motor is running on one channel only. Chris Brookes thought the Valhalla board may be at fault, but perhaps it’s a connection that is intermittent.