"What is your best memory from the GR20s? The Aiguilles de Bavella, the Cirque de la Solitude, the Brèche de Capitello?" somebody asked out of curiosity. "No, none of those! I prefer the fantastic moment when you sit down each evening, on the shelter’s deck, after a long day’s hiking, and from there, you look into the distance, over those ridges caressed by the last rays of the setting sun," he replied enthusiastically.
A little bit due to the endorphins, the splendour of the scene and above all the present moment.
Yet to fully enjoy these delicious minutes, with the taste of Pietra and ewe cheese, you need first to have carried out a few simple gestures, from your arrival at the shelter, in order to set off again with total peace of mind.
Brice Sarti, ‘mountain artisan’ and founder of A Piuma, has been accompanying groups on the GR20 for nearly ten years. With his experience of sixty treks across his Ile de Beauté, he lists for us "the last efforts at the end of a long day, for sure, but completely necessary to be able to enjoy the rest of your adventure…"
"The first thing to do upon arrival at the shelter is to go meet the concierge. If only to reserve your meal, your bed or your tent pitch. Being limited in number, they prove to be popular, especially in peak times. There is a myth surrounding these concierges, but their Macagna, this typically Corsican sense of humour, although it can sometimes be sharp, it’s never mean!"
"You then need to quickly take off your shoes. On the GR20, your feet are your main ally. So then obviously everything which may be a threat to their health becomes your n° 1 ennemy. In particular humidity, whether it be due to sweating or as a result of a rainy day. The ideal solution would be to leave your feet in the open air, to free them from the constraint exerted by the shoe. If you get the possibility to put on a pair of flip flops, then that would be ideal!"
For this purpose, we can suggest flips flops which help foot recovery after physical exertion.
"Once your feet are out in the open air comes the stage so fundamantal that it’s become a reflex for me that I almsot forgot to mention it. It’s the repacking of your bag. That is to say completey empty the bag which has been hurting your shoulders since daybreak and spread out all of its contents on your bed. This allows a very clear overview of what needs to be taken out, dried or washed… Directly unwinding without passing by this crucial stage is to take the risk of having a nasty surprise when you next open it, at bedtime. And by then, it’s too late…"
"In Corsica, the sun which has exhausted you all day long soon disappears behind the ridges. Quite quickly, the meteorological conditions become cool and damp. The answer is therefore to optimise drying time. Starting with your shoes, after having rinsed them and removing the insoles. Then, the wet items found in your bag. If the weather is very changeable, a mistake to avoid is hanging out your wet gear, along with everyone else, in the common rooms. The air gets very quickly saturated in damp there and it’s thus preferable to look for a small sheltered corner of the deck."
We have developed a range of very complete and mobile shoe dryers.
On this subject, Marie Maligorne, the head of SIDAS sports orthopaedic centre takes over from Brice Sarti: "To best preserve the properties of your insoles over the long tem, whether it be in terms of comfort, stability or protection, it’s important to brush them every night using soapy water then to dry them, ideally out of the sun, especially when the UV index is high."
Brice Sarti speaking once again "Taking a shower has several virtues, especially if it’s cold: to wash away the impurities accumulated throughout the day and optimise recovery, by stimulating blood circulation. My little treat if there is a river nearby, is to roam the few hectometres which separate me from it and submerge my ankles up to my kneees, for 15 to 20 minutes. It works great, I really feel the difference the next day. Cold water is a physiotherapist at my entire disposition who follows me throughout the GR20!"
"Once your feet are clean and meticulously dried, you can carry out the necessary care to treat any damage brought about by the day’s excusrion. Be aware that it’s very simple self-medication: piercing a blister, disinfecting it then leaving it to dry; cutting nails that are a bit too long… All depends on the material at your disposal and the first aid kit that you compiled beforehand!"
Marie Maligorne details the contents of the emergency first aid kit containing the essentials for such an adventure: "the added wight is undeniable but to have disinfectant, dressings, a tweezer, scissors and anto-inflamatory gel on you seems to be the strict minimum to me!"
"To fill the time in between showering and supper, I also recommend small localised massages. I haven’t got a particular protocol in mind, but I would advise massaging the strained zones during the hike, particularly the toes and the foot arch, rather than stretching. Stretching, at this precise moment, would only strain even more an already exhausted fibre."
We have developed a massage gel inspired by the effects of cryotherapy to maximise these massages.
"Once the whole lot of these tasks has been ticked off, it is essential to know how to reward yourself. To live it up. Other than drinking lots of water, I would advise a certain lightness concerning eating. I imply by that to avoid being too drastic.. A morsel of bread, a piece of ewe cheese or ripened goat cheese, a few slices of Corsican sausage and a magnificant panorama over the ground covered that day as well as that which lays ahead the next day… That’s also the spirit of the GR20!"