Brilliant morning, then rain, finishing off with the Milky Way.
Refuge d’Asco Stagnu – Refuge de Tighjettu (Stage 4)
Distance 9km, 1150m Elevation gain, 738m Elevation loss, Guide book said 6 ½hrs, we took 7hrs, which included a long rain delay.
Went to bed the night before, knowing the forecast was for rain. Woke up early at d’Ascu Stagnu to incredible thunder and lightning echoing through the valley. It was in some strange way, relaxing, so went back to sleep, woke up when the rain had stopped and we had blue skies. So we were up later than usual. We decided to do the stage, despite forecast for rain around noon. Many other hikers were taking a shuttle that allowed them to skip the stage, other hikers were taking a rest day (or “zero day”, hiker talk for doing no distance) to wait for better weather.
The trail started out on a forested path, gentle compared to the previous day. Crossed a bridge and quickly we began scrambling up over slabs and cliffs using chains.
As we gained elevation, we lost the blue sky, it clouded over and with the clouds it started to drizzle. After hiking for a short while, we took refuge under a small rock, then as the drizzle intensified, we decided to drag ourselves up to a huge rock overhang, where we could see other people hiding from the rain. We hunkered down under the rock with about 4 other people and ate lunch. When the rain let up, we continued on chasing the red and white blazes up the trial.
There was some more scrambles, and chains, the rock was wet, but at least it wasn’t raining, and we were reasonably dry and warm. We saw hikers coming the other way without proper rain gear, looking very cold. One hiker we talked to, gave us some encouragement in French, that Emily interpreted as “be brave”. That actually didn’t make us feel great, what were we going to face that we needed bravery. Emily later decided that he was just wishing us good luck.
Like typical on the GR20, as we approached the bocca, the trail headed straight up a very steep path. Emily took to counting her steps to force herself to keep moving. We reached the Bocca Crucetta (2574m), completely shrouded in clouds. From the bocca, the plan was to summit Mt Cinto (2670m), the highest peak in Corsica. The scramble is less than 100m vertical, and takes about 90 minutes round trip. Since it was very windy and with lots of heavy cloud, we decided against doing Mt Cinto, as there would be no views.
The trail traversed a ridge for a while, side hilling on rocks, then over a bocca and down a lovely soft scree trail. Something that we are bit more accustomed to. Down lower, the scree changed back to rocky cliff/slabs, but no chains. We took a rest on a ledge and spied the refuge down in the valley.
The last section was on a rocky path, which ended in a very friendly greeting at the Refuge de Tighjettu. The refuge was in a very stunning setting, on a steep hillside. We found a camping spot quite aways away from the refuge, so I made Emily walk up the hill to get the water.
While feeling very tired again from the hike, the rain and the cold, nothing actually hurt. We talked to some people who had taken the shuttle and had walked up from the trail head to refuge.
After a hearty meal of rehydrated Mountain House, we went to sleep early to the sound of singing from the refuge above us.