Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Mare e Monti Hike - Part 1

The Mare e Monti hike in Corsica, as its' namesake would suggest, covers a wide variety of terrain from the sea up to the mountains. While there are not really huge elevation gains and losses (high point was 1200m), the trail is often covered in loose rock of varying sizes which does not make for easy, casual hiking. Thankfully it didn't rain too much during our time on the trail as wet rock would have been treacherous! We were extremely fortunate to have quite good weather throughout.

We did the full 10-day hike but it could easily be done in shorter sections or even as a series of day hikes. The majority of the stages start and finish in villages or places that are accessible by vehicle. In the summer there is a Gite d'Etape (hostel/accommodation for walkers/hikers) at each location that provides a variety of services (dorm rooms, camping, showers, kitchen facilities, restaurant, groceries, etc.). However, most of them close by mid-September or early October. We really enjoyed the quiet of the off-season (we saw very few other hikers on the trail) even though we seldom knew what we would find at the end of the day in terms of sleeping/camping accommodation.

Day 1 - Calenzana to Bonifattu

Our starting point in the village of Calenzana, about a 20 minute taxi ride from Calvi.
A cloudy first day, just above Calenzana. 
Unique rock formations.
Tree bark and woodpecker holes.
Bright red shutters on a lovely old stone building.
Day 2 - Bonifattu to Tuarelli

Bright green moss covering rocks and trees. Very moist conditions near Bonifattu.
A view back to Calvi and the ocean.
Another cloudy day.
Enjoying the view.
With a couple hours left in our second hiking day, we saw a dog coming towards us on the trail. He stopped to look at us and wagged his tail enthusiastically. We expected to see his human soon after. But he started following us and no human appeared. He was just a puppy, very quiet and well behaved, still growing into large paws and ears. He was obviously well taken care of and we couldn't figure out where he would have come from. His collar had a phone number so when we got to our location at the end of the day (the gite was closed but owner let us camp) we managed to convey, in our limited French and charade-type actions, that a phone call should be made to his owner. A message was left and we hope the puppy made it safely home. 
The puppy who adopted us for a day.
Day 3 - Tuarelli to Galeria

We followed this river most of the way to the ocean and the village of Galeria.
Beautiful clear river water.
The ocean-side village of Galeria -- where we found a closed gite but an open campground with showers, a grocery store to pick up some fruit and veg, and a boulangerie/patisserie where we had breakfast and re-stocked our bread supply.
Colourful kayaks on the beach and evening light.
Day 4 - Galeria to Giroleta

Trail maintenance required!
Looking back at Galeria

Finishing the laundry drying process during our lunch break. What a view!
Curvy Corsica roads.
The ridge walk to Girolata.
Looking into the sun, down to Girolata.
Girolata is a small fishing village accessible only by boat or by foot. A bustling place in the summer, the guidebook indicated the population varies between 1-10 in the off season. But as we approached, loud music was playing and it seem to be a "happening" place. But it was Saturday night, lots of boats were in the harbour and a couple was celebrating their wedding with family and friends. No camping is allowed here but luckily the gite was open and we didn't have to go any further. 

Panorama of the Girolata harbour.
Day 5 - Girolata to Curzu

I really liked Girolata, located in a secluded bay and the Genoese tower overlooking the ocean. As we left in the morning I took even more photos than Andrew! 

Another ridge hike.
Looking back towards Girolata.

There are lots of very old trees!
There was no place to stay in Curzu so we continued on and cleared a flat spot beside the trail to set up our tent.
Day 6-10 to be continued in next blog post! 

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