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Eat properly, drink plenty, prepare physically upstream, test your equipment ... All good advice heard at the dawn of setting off on the GR20. All these tips should be respected. However, if they are applicable to the legendary Corsican trail, they are not specific to it. Because the winding trek is unique and therefore deserves tips that are its own.
So we asked Guillaume Peretti about it, this high-level trail runner from a small village in the East of Corsica, who in 2014 lowered the record time of the trek previously held by Kilian Jornet of 32h54 to 32h. He who considers the GR20 like his back garden and knows Corsica’s every path like the back of his hand has tips up his sleeve that you will not hear anywhere else.
"Feet are the basic working tool of the hiker on the GR20. To neglect them is as if a musician went on tour without his instruments or if a stonemason went to the quarry without his chisel. Here, the supports are elusive and the descents really rocky. These are not classic hiking trails. If you have any pain or premise of a blister, you must anticipate and treat immediately." To anticipate and reduce the risks of discomfort or injury, we offer a complete range of specific insoles and an easily transportable kit containing all the necessary products to protect and relieve your feet.
In Corsica, it is customary to attack the trails at daybreak. Guillaume Peretti adds a slight nuance to this rule: "You have to be a bit more strategic and adapt the schedule of your departure according to the stage of the day, its topography and climatic conditions. Ideally it’s best to move up as high as possible in altitude to the hottest hours of the day and, conversely, to avoid the peaks at the coolest times."
"Corsica is subject to a unique microclimate in the world since it is an island adorned with summits that peak at over 2500 m in altitude. It's high mountain areas! Consulting the weather is thus made very complex by the speed at which the conditions change. To keep myelf up to date, I trust two reliable sources: an Italian maritime weather site and Mother Nature. I rely on the wind in particular. For example, a north easterly wind brings freshness and bad weather while heavy gusts tend to drive out the rain. "
Like feet, water is one of the most valuable elements available to the hiker on the GR20. Our local guide refines: "The challenge lies in finding the right balance. Neither take too much water, nor not enough ... Walkers are often too cautious and leave with more reserves than they need. There is no point in lugging 3L or 4L in your already heavy bag when you'll be coming across drinking water sources on the way. To locate them, you just need to have the minimum of basic skills of IGN map reading. I would simply recommend that you always have an extra 0.5L, as a precaution, in case the spring is dry. "
"The northern part of the GR deserves its reputation as it is technical and physically demanding. It's almost climbing. It has such an aura that one would be wrongly tempted to blot out the difficulty of some remaining portions. The crest road between the Prati refuge and the Usciolu refuge, corresponding to the stage 12, is very demanding. An endless succession of ridges and small bumps on a steep terrain and often subject to storms. Be careful, when you have passed the first three stages, you have not finished your GR! Far from it!"
"Most of the time, when we talk about the GR20, we become frightened by remembering the cumulated altitude gain. Except that the hardest part is not the climb but the descent! We focus on climbing, when in reality, the hardest is not to reach the peaks, but rather to leave them... "
To help you go downhill and reduce the trauma associated with it, we have developed a complete range of 3feet Outdoor insoles, of which the objective is to ensure a perfect support of your foot and thus avoid chafing, blisters and nails turning black.
"To facilitate the descent, especially when the path is very winding and rocky, I prefer slabs right next to it because they are smooth and therefore less traumatic. Do not hesitate to leave the beaten path, still staying very close, assuming that these slabs are dry."
As noted above, weather conditions are very changeable and can quickly become capricious. To prevent any inconvenience, Guillaume Peretti advises "to always have in one’s bag a spare T-Shirt to put on very quickly during the stage." In short, not to be confined to one article of clothing a day.
"I have a trick to dry in record time a T-shirt made wet by rain or sweat: enjoy the slightest break, including lunch, to lay it out on a rock exposed to the sun."
"Shelters are not just there to sleep or eat. They are there to fully experience the GR20. You do not have to stop for hours. Five short minutes to sip a beer or greet the concierge are enough. You can not go across Corsica without creating contact with its inhabitants. You'd be missing out on something ... "
To find out the 9 things to do first and foremost when arriving at the shelter, do not hesitate to check them out here: Read the article