Mare a Mare Nord, Day 6: Albertacce – Evisa

When I open the tent in the morning, I see that the morning sun has set a few white cloud streaks on fire. Behind the tent, the highest mountains are also catching some sun rays. Under the burning clouds their tops dress up in a beautiful orange-red color.

During breakfast the cows awaken. Curiously they come to see what’s on the breakfast buffet. But besides some muesli and a cup of coffee, there is not much to be found.

To get back on the path, we have to cross the river again. We jump from one boulder to the other and also this time we reach the other side without getting wet feet.

We climb a few meters upwards until we rise well above the river. When the path turns to the right, we take a last look at our bivouac place. We smile at each other. What a unique place we had to spend the night. One can only be indescribably grateful for that.

The path runs relatively flat along a ridge. It’s pleasant and we are able to wake up quietly like this. The legs feel smooth and the tongues are well on the move as well. While we enjoy the first panoramic views, we talk about the most important and unimportant things in life. We dive down again until we reach a medieval bridge at an ancient mill. A fire ring with blackened wood in the middle tells us that this place next to the mill is being used frequently to camp wild.

Past the mill the path leads us immediately uphill again. When we have climbed out of the forest, the landscape opens up. Right in front of us we see in the distance the mountain pass that we will have to cross later today. But to reach it we still have quite some hours of hiking in front of us. Before we can peep over that ridge, the trail winds us over a handful of other mountains.

Slowly but surely we are getting closer to the pass. Gradually the path becomes a bit rougher. It is a precursor to the GR20, a very known and tough hiking route that we will soon be connecting to. But before we are working up a sweat, we take a break at a beautiful viewpoint. When I want to sit down on the path, I prick my buttocks on some maquis. Maquis is a bush with vicious thorns, which thrives well in dry areas such as Corsica. I take a dozen broken thorns from my pants. But also my arms suddenly look suspiciously much like a porcupine.

At a river we fill our drinking bottles. We immediately take a few sips of the wonderfully fresh water. Just before we start with the last steep climb over large rocks, we meet a German couple. They tell us they are lost, so we help to put them back on the right track.

We arrive at the most technical part of the entire route. We climb steeply over rough rocks under a blazing sun. To the left of us the water from a river clatters straight down through the rocks. At the bottom a pool has formed, in which we see two people taking a bath.

Where we have to cross the river via a newly built wooden bridge, we end up on the GR20. Although we have already done the GR20 a few years ago, we both don’t recognize anything of the landscape. What we do recognize however, is the crowds on the route. The GR20 is a popular trail. Where we have been wandering around alone for days on the Mare a Mare Nord trail, we now have to share the path with a dozen other adventurers.

Fortunately, the peace returns quickly. Our route runs only a few hundred meters along the GR20 trail. Beyond a hut, our roads split again and we leave the other hikers behind us.

We have to clamber over some rocks. The path isn’t clearly recognizable everywhere, so we have to stop regularly to “scan” the landscape and find the right path.

The rising path turns into an easy sandy road. Gently ascending, the route takes us to the pass, we have been on the road for all day. Behind every curve we think we reached the top, but the path is fooling around with us and seems to constantly put our goal further and further ahead for us.

When we finally arrive at the highest point, we are pleasantly surprised to find a small bar on the top. We decide to eat our picnic and buy a bottle of wine to consume at the tent tonight. Once our batteries have been recharged again, we search on the other side of the mountain a way back to the valley along a wooden fence.

The descent takes forever and the fatigue starts to place strains on us. Over a wobbling suspension bridge – which already requires the necessary flexibility to even get on it – we cross a river.

We leave the savage mountains behind us and enter the peaceful village of Evisa. Wim does a quick purchase, after which we continue on our way. We have an hour left until sun down and we are desperate to find a bivouac place. Suddenly we are startled by gunshots. We can hear the bullets whistle past us. A group of wild pigs is less than ten meters away from us. The bullets are clearly meant for them. And although the guns may not be directly aimed at us, we find ourselves in extremely dangerous territory. We panic slightly, fearing that we will end up finding more than just some maquis thorns in our buttocks. We start to shout loudly, so that the hunters know that there are hikers in the area. Not much later, one of the hunters comes to us. With a hunting rifle resting on his shoulders, he asks us kindly but firmly what we are doing in the woods at this hour. We explain that we are going wild camping, which seems to somewhat reassure him. Because the next village is completely deserted, he explains. The hunters briefly cease fire and give us the time to make our way out.

The search for a bivouac place turns out to be far from easy. The slopes next to the path are so steep that we can’t put up our tent anywhere. The golden glow of the evening sun reminds us that we must hurry up.

Wim increases the pace. When we find a flat spot to put up camp just a few minutes before sunset, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

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