Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 11: GR 20 South

September 21: Karolina and I woke up to another bright and beautiful morning! We packed up camp and hit the trail by 8:00. The trail climbed slowly but steadily towards Bocca Palmento, our high point for the day. Going over the crest, the Mediterranean Sea spilled out in front of us. We had seen the Mediterranean Sea every day on the trail, but this was the first time we got a good view of it to the east. At the beginning of the trail, it was off to the north. Several days into the hike, we could see it off in the distance to the west. The last several days, we could see small bits of it to the east. But now the view to the east dominated with a vast ocean of a view. Yes, it's not an ocean, but it certainly looked like one.

The trail started off with a steady but easy upward climb.

Far off in the distance, we could see a small island. Karolina wasn't even convinced it was an island at first because clouds covered most of it and she didn't know of any islands in that direction, but I recognized those clouds as the type formed by the island. Later in the day, though, the clouds cleared off completely leaving an unmistakable shape of an island. (Still don't know what it was, though.)

Most of the day was spent hiking through trees full of the autumn colors--which was appropriate with the autumn equinox approaching in just two more days. I loved the trees and the crackling leaves, but it was admittedly less spectacular than the vertical heights that dominated the northern half of the trail, but we had semi-regular viewpoints through the trees.

We clipped along at a pretty good pace since the trail was so utterly easy compared to what we'd been doing before, and we accidentally pulled off a whopping 27 kilometers. That hadn't been our intention when we started off. The refuges were awkwardly spaced to begin with. We didn't want to stop at the end of the stage listed on our guidebooks deeming it too short of a day at 16 kilometers (10 miles), but next refuge was another 16 kilometers away--which I probably could have done on my own, but Karolina wasn't the trail-hardened AT veteran that I was. Camping between refuges was illegal--and we had been busted for doing so once, but we decided to risk it again. Not only was it more convenient for how far we wanted to go today, but it would save us the cost of paying to stay at a refuge. Our cash, after all, was in short supply. Unless we got busted, at which point it would cost us even more. We were banking on not getting caught, though.

We tentatively decided to stop near a creek listed in our guidebooks, but we missed it due to the lack of detail on our maps. By the time we realized we had passed the area where we had intended to stop, we ended up near a small (and occupied) building with a lot of "no camping" posts posted around it. Definitely not a good place for us to stop! We continued on in the dwindling daylight.

The fall colors in the trees were really popping! =)

From there, the trail descended into a canyon and we found a wide, flat area near the footbridge over an energetic river. It would have been a fine place to camp.... except that it was so exposed. Right on the side of the trail in plain view of anyone who happened by. Which is a problem when you're camping illegally!

There was a small junction for a side trail that led off to who-knows-where. The trail was small and didn't look like it was used very much. Certainly not as much as the highway known as the GR 20. I told Karolina to hand loose and I'd scout down that trail to see if there was anywhere to camp that wouldn't be quite so visible to every person hiking through. A few minutes up the trail, I found a nice spot just off the trail. Well, it wasn't a really nice spot--but it was open, flat and very well-hidden from the GR 20. It was in complete view of the side trail, but this late in the evening, it seemed unlikely anyone would be using it, and we'd be gone first thing in the morning. It was kind of dark, among the trees and deep in the canyon, but the likelihood of us getting caught camping illegally seemed low so I went back to the trail and brought Karolina up to our home for the night.

She called it dark and "gloomy"--which I admit has some truth to it. But it was also well-hidden from the trail and we set up camp anyhow. It was very close to the energetic creek as well, so in the evening we soaked our feet in the water. (The water was far too cold to actually swim in, though, so just our feet got wet.)

Darkness descended much faster deep in the canyon covered with trees, so we went to sleep soon after eating dinner. But we knocked off a whopping 27 kilometers! Which, as it turned out would be our longest day on the trail by a wide margin. (Our second-longest day would take us a mere 20 kilometers by comparison.)

From Bocca Palmento, we got our first good views of the Mediterranean Sea to the east side of the island.

I stopped to shave by one of several creeks we passed during the day. =)

Karolina takes a break among the trees.

This is her view. =)

1 comment:

Mary said...

I love that photo of the "forest fire" type clouds - all bunched up on one side of the mountains leaving the other side clear. How dramatic!