9/5/2013 – GR20 Day 1: Conca->Bavella according to Ryan
11 miles (19k), 5,500 feet gained (1670m), 2,300 feet lost (700m), 7 hours and 53 minutes
This morning began when the floodlights that illuminated the campsite at La Tonnelle turned off…finally. Then the roosters began to call and what seemed like two notes being played on a recorder resonated throughout the village…on repeat. It was 5:40am and we were ready to go. So we packed everything up and slathered our bread in Nutella before hitting the trail. It felt good to be finally moving toward our goal – even if our packs felt heavier than we would have liked (estimated at 30+ pounds). An aerobic ascent through the roads of the sleepy town of Conca (except for the occasional donkey call) followed until we finally found the unassuming start of our trail.
The first ascent toward the pass was unremarkable. Jamie didn't think so though when it came to how much she was exerting herself and how hot it was so early in the morning. When we rounded a corner on the pass the sunlight finally hit us and the landscape of Corsica (at least what we came here for) finally came into view. Low forest and shrub punctuated by the errant rock tower and rolling hills toward the sea. We didn't see anyone for the first three hours of the day, the seriousness of our objective seeming now more real then ever. It wasn’t long before we stopped for lunch and tried the fromage de brebbis with the charcuterie purchase from yesterday – quite good. Rounding another corner after lunch we came upon an amazing view of the towers of Bavella and after a brief rain shower, a cool double rainbow emerged in what seemed like the gully beneath us.
It wasn't long before we came upon the Refuge d I Paliri, where it was happening, and it was tempting to stop for the party but we soldiered on with the promise of Bavella in only two hours! Jamie was very “oweee!” here as we made the initial ascent and then descent and then ascent into Bavella. But it was worth it. Cool happening village with a great resupply. AOC charcuterie, Haribo candy, and cookies were purchased. We got the “Demi Pension” at the auberge, which included breakfast, dinner, and lodging for the night for €38. Sitting around now, on my 2nd Pietra at L’Auberge du col de Bavella laughing at the cool wait staff sing and dance to the mix of funk and lounge music as the clouds swirl around the towers of Bavella.