- Ascent: 1300 meter
- Descent: 50 meter
- Time: 6hr 30min
The first stage is a great test of fitness. It has a bit of everything (except for a knee-crunching descent) and prepares you well for what comes during the next two weeks.
You first hike up steeply through the desert to the Bocca a u Saltu, a small dip in a grassy mountain ridge. Behind you lie commanding views of the sea, in front of you the mountains rise up ever higher. Along your ascent, the sweet smell of the prickly Maquis will surround you. Leave early, getting caught out by the burning mediterranean sun in the desert is not fun!
After Bocca a u Saltu, the path traverses across ancient pineforest while high granite peaks soar above you. A series of easy scrambles leads up to Bocca a u Bassiguellu, after that it is about 40 minutes of mostly flat hiking to the refuge. Make sure to get water from the source a few hundred meters beyond the hut, the water from the hut itself is not suitable for drinking!
The scrambling should be no problem, as there is much more scrambling of a somewhat more serious nature just up ahead on stage 2. Anyone seriously exhausted or unable to deal with the scrambling should consider doing a low-level alternative for stage 2 or dropping out of the hike completely. Although relatively easy and well supported, the GR20 is no trail for the unfit and unprepared!