This is the highlight of the second day’s walk, and one of the highlights of the entire GR20. Bocca Piccaia is 1950 metres which is 6400 feet. When I return from foreign mountains, British hills seem puny and dull. This shows you why. Look in magazines, books, the internet, and you find a predominance of boring grey and tame outlook. I love British hills actually, but not British weather.

The valley below is called Ladroncellu. These sharp pinnacles are like nowhere else I’ve seen. There are a few small parts of Torridon which have a similar quality, the Cuillins on Skye more so, and I think of the hard rock on La Gomera. There’s not much in the Alps or Pyrenees which is similar. The Italian Dolomites are probably the closest.

It rained slightly later in the day. As I dropped down a slope a young lady whom I’d seen at Calenzana climbed up to me, eager and relieved. Monsieur, she said nicely, which way is it. There was another col with a stark left or a stark right. Attends, I said, thinking there might be some complication I should investigate first. There wasn’t. When I reached the col the paint flashes were also visible down the slope on the left which led eventually to Refuge de Carozzu. I was concerned that she thought the route was possibly to the right.

We walked together a little. I thought she was French but she was from Quebec. Why Corsica, I asked. It was her first backpacking trip ever. Because a friend told me it was the most beautiful place in the world and I wanted to see it. She was studying urban design. When I told her about Scotland (wonderful, bad weather, appalling midges), she told me she liked Rennie Macintosh.

We arrived at the refuge together. I was exhausted. We went to find the guardian. She spoke in French on my behalf about vegetarian food. Now we just have to put up our tents, she said. Later in the evening, I enjoyed the uninhibited shouts of a woman in the cold shower. I smiled, her partner waiting outside smiling back at me.


Corsica GR20: Bocca Piccaia

Wednesday September 16, 2015