What follows is a saga of rocks and wine. It is the story of stage four of the GR20.
There was a giant looming over our head when we started day four. Monte Cinto was towering some 1700 meters above the valley floor and we had to pass right over its shoulder to make it to the next hut. We climbed high, scrambling across rocks and scree. Then we climbed higher, with the views opening up all the way to the sea. The mountains from whence we came seemed small in comparison to the giant we were ascending. The air grew thinner and we settled into an uncomfortable rhytm. Take a step, gasp for breath, drip with sweat, take another step, repeat.
When we finally crested the ridge, Luuk and I got the stupid idea to try and climb Monte Cinto proper. Just for clarification, we could have also just turned right and started the descend to the valley floor 1400 meters below. We didn’t. Now that we got to its shoulder, why not go all the way to the head of the giant?
So off we went, leaving our heavy packs behind. Immediately, we boldly went into unknown territory (the wrong direction). Eventually we found the route and slowly picked our way up the mountain. Eventually we reached what looked like the top of the world, with jagged peaks stretching as far as the eye could see. The view was breathtaking and we were out of breath.
The hike down was hard and seemingly endless. Our motivation had stayed behind on the mountain and our energy was depleted. More over, there was a stabbing pain our knees that got worse every step. It was in this moment that we hit rock bottom. All we thought of was rest, food and a cold shower.
We planned to stay the night at Auberge U Vallone and it turned out to be the safe haven we needed. The Auberge was run by Marvin, an ex-army guy who by pure chance settled in Corsica. His smile, wine and kind words boosted our morale and it made us forget the hardships of the day. That is, untill we got up and tried to hike anywhere, at which point our entire body ached and knees popped.
Once again, Marvin came to our aid. He lent us his foam rollers so that we could properly stretch and massage our tired body. It helped. Soon we felt much better (although it could have been the wine). All in all, it was an epic day, one that I’m not sure I want to repeat anytime soon. I probably will one day, but first the memories of the pain have to fade untill all I can remember are the breathtaking views. That’s it for now, there is a thunderstorm rolling in. Cheers!