Corsica – The Tough Way

It was day 11 on the GR20, our penultimate day on the trail, which meant facing the Spasimata Gorge. This was the sec­tion we had been dreading the most. It has a reputation, both in the guidebooks and on the trail, for being treacherous. The route crosses giant slabs at almost a 45° angle, with chains for support at the trickiest parts. Despite the chains, and the promise of assistance from my husband Wayne, the thought of crossing them set me into panic mode, especially after seeing hair-raising postcards of the Spasimata Slabs in every re-supply store along the way. South-bound thru-hikers did nothing to allay my fears either. Having accomplished their traverse of the slabs early on in their journey, they seemed to revel in greeting us as we crossed paths with their friendly warnings of what was to come. But having almost made it to the other end of the island, we couldn’t turn back now.

When you imagine two weeks in the Med, what generally comes to mind is gorgeous blue skies, golden sands and gentle waves lapping at your feet, while popping in a few olives and sipping on sangria. What we wouldn’t have given to be doing just that – it was our summer holiday after all!

Red and white marks and sometimes piles of rocks indicate the direction

Despite the red and white splashes of paint signalling which direction to go, the route was not clear.

It seemed easier to turn around and come down backwards, navigating the rocky pinnacles without having to look directly below. Our arms started to shake and our muscles were on fire as we gripped on to any handholds like a vice. What seemed like a lifetime later, we were immensely relieved to at last step down off the rocky rib on to a flat section.

After this little episode, we were verging on complete meltdown thinking about having to cross the Spasimata Slabs next. But by the time we reached them, Wayne’s confident and brusque attitude must have rubbed off. They were neither icy nor wet, hazards we had been worrying about for the last few days. With careful footing, the slabs are fairly straight-forward to walk across, causing us a lot less distress than earlier that morning. In fact, the GR20 does not even take you across the worst of the giant slabs, the ones that feature in all the pictures – they are on the opposite side of the valley.

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