​GR 20 Day 1 – And We Are Off – September 3, 2017

Calenzana to Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu 

Distance 12km (7 ½ miles) 

Total ascent 1550m (5085ft) 

Total descent 235m (770ft) 

Guidebook Estimated Time 7hrs (doesn’t include time for breaks)

Our time 5 hrs 15 minutes with breaks.
I knew there would be lots of hikers on the GR 20. And there are LOTS. Some started hiking at 4am. It doesn’t get light til a little after 6. 

Ready to go at 6:30

FRA LI MONTI is what the Corsican call the GR20.

It looks so much like Southern California here. Dry, scrubby, rocky. 

Looking down on Calenzana

Views of the Mediterranean

I feel lucky to start this hike after 2 months of hiking in Europe. I am fit and it helps. The guidebook estimated 7 hours for today and it took us 5 hours 15 minutes. Most of it was on good trail. Some of it required the use of our hands. It all seemed pretty easy. I think it is a tease. It will get harder.

Sharing the view with so many others

When we arrived at Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu a man in a hazard suit was spraying the inside of the refuge. Later they took all the mattresses out into the sun. The general assumption is that they are spraying for bed bugs. My tent has never been so inviting.

Composting water closet…

…and how it works.

Our plan is to carry as little food as possible and buy along the way. There are refuges, gites, restaurants and bergeries. The bergeries are farms that cater to hikers that offer food and sometimes camping. We had some of the famous Corsican sheep cheese today. It was delicious.
The refuge we are at is supposed to have meals and food supplies. They had a really good tabouli salad which we got for dinner and a piece of cake for breakfast. They also had cookies and chocolate bars. Plus they  serve a hot dinner (€20) and breakfast (€10). Breakfast always seems to be the worst deal and the least food per €. It is coffee, juice, toast, butter and marmalade…. not enough food to start a hard day of hiking.  I’m sure at some point our choices and hunger will make that a good deal. For tomorrow we should be able to get to the next refuge in time for lunch. And then we want to get to the next one for dinner and sleeping. So we only have to carry snacks.

Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu


Camping is only allowed around the refuges or gites. No stealth camping, freedom camping or wild camping. So you have to end your day at a place that allows camping. There are tents all over the place here. We were able to find a spot that is away from all the hub bub. 

Some of the camping and GARBAGE CANS!

Our tent site

3 thoughts on “​GR 20 Day 1 – And We Are Off – September 3, 2017

  1. jerrywh

    The only time I ever got bitten in the Pyrenees was inside refuges. It can be painful being bitten in the pyrenees 🙂
    LOVING that loo diagram! Wonder what makes the rollers go round..

  2. Lynn Duncan

    I am fascinated by that diagram, with the conveyor belt for the poo! And the worms.

    You mention being fit. The first picture actually showed me, prior to your comment, that you look especially fit and vibrant.


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