Saturday, 23 October 2010

Day 3 - Refuge de Carrozzu to Haut Asco

Unfortunately I woke with a bad cold, most likely caught from the woman we shared a cabin with on the ferry. The bottom of my sleeping bag also seemed a little damp - a combination of a poorly pitched tent and Jack having laid his wet clothes on top of it in the hope they might dry. His hope was in vain. Breakfast was a good decision, not least because it meant we were able to retreat into the warm after packing the tent up and have a large thermos and tray waiting for us (available from 4am for those that like an early start). The day began with the infamous `Spasimata Slabs'; after crossing a suspension bridge above the Spasimata gorge the path starts a long and steep ascent in which walkers have to pick their way up the bare rocks, occasionally with the help of fixed cables. This is the kind of terrain that I found quite enjoyable, but I was very grateful it was a dry day. 800m above the suspension bridge lies Bocca a i Stagnu, where we met The Green People again. From here they pointed out that we could see the old ski station of Haut Asco below (now catering solely for walkers), which was our destination for the day. By the time we got there we had walked 6km in a little under 5 hours, which seemed ridiculous especially seeing as we'd made up an hour on the climb according to the guide book, but that's the GR20 for you!

Haut Asco (1422m) is a little bit of paradise on the GR, advertising hot showers, double rooms and a Bar-Restaurant that serves a five-course walkers menu for 18 euros. It also has the best stocked epicerie on the trail and, while the food was still at mountain prices, to have a choice of what to eat for lunch over the next couple of days was very exciting and we stocked up. The shower was unfortunately more of a trickle, but the toilets did have seats, which almost made up for it. We ordered the `randonneur' menu at the restaurant, having discovered that they had a vegetarian option, and joined Pierre-Yves and Lydia in the bar for drinks first. We'd only realised a couple of hours previously that they also preferred to speak in English, and when we discovered that (most unusually) the restaurant had assumed all pairs would be wanting a romantic dinner for two we moved the places so that we were sat together. We had a wonderful evening chatting and the food was absolutely amazing - best of the whole trip, though Pierre-Yves said that the meatball wrapped in veal served for main was not of particularly high quality or done in the proper French style. Sadly this was the last time we saw them as we would be attempting to `double up' the stages on the next day.

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