CORSICA GR20 Phase 2: DAYS 6th-7th-8th
GR-20. HIKING DAY 7: l'Onda hut, 1.430m - Manganu hut, 1.600m
11h20min (9h 20min in movement) 16 km +1.430m/-1.220m
We got up at 5:05 a.m., although we set the awake at 5:15 a.m. since outside of the tent we heard many people and some with powerful headlamps wake us up earlier.
We pack up and have breakfast at the tables in the camping area (we heat up the coffee with milk in the hut stoves) and we start the our way before 6.30am, enjoying a beautiful sunrise with the sun rising over the mountains.
Starting the day from l’Onda hut
We go up following the yellow marks through the mountain range of Tenda, a variant of the GR20, which runs up to the Pietra Piana hut. The normal path of the GR20 goes down until you find the Manganelo river, going more calmly through the forest and beside pools of water, until you reach the Petra Piana hut, a very good option if you want to opt for a day of recovery and spend the day quietly taking a bath in this river. We choose the alpine variant to be able to “double” on this journey and finish at the next hut, the Manganu hut.
Although the first idea we had when we designed the plan was to take the alpine variant to the Petra Piana hut (about 4h) and in the afternoon climb Mount Rotondo (2,620m), the second highest summit in Corsica after Mount Cinto. (2,705m), for which it is necessary to reserve 4 to 5 more hours, but we rejected this last option the day before, due to the already noticeable knee pain, and thus advance the GR20 to finish it satisfactorily.
We therefore we take the alpine variant from l’Onda hut through the mountain range path towards N.
Alpine variant to Petra Piana hut
Alpine variant along the mountain range of the Sierra di Tenda, with the Monte d’Oro behind
We go up, always an easy climb, until about 1h30’ when we find a somewhat complicated step, where we have to use our hands to cross a gap. From here it begins a section with more stones with steeper slopes until reaching the highest point of this ridge, the Punta de Pinzi Corbini (2,020m), point where we can already see down the Petra Piana hute and at which time The Monte Rotondo massif and the spectacular set of ridges of the Capitello cirque, which we will visit during the second part of today’s stage, already appear before us.
Turning backwards we also see Monte d’Oro, still large and majestic, which behind us reminds us of the views we enjoyed from its top during the previous day. With these thoughts and full of strength we face the next section of descent, which more or less takes us 1h30 ‘down to the refuge, always on a rocky path and some sections with the help of our hands.
Finally we arrive at the hut at 10:30 a.m. (it took us approximately 4 hours from l’Onda). Once here, we rest a bit and buy bread, cheese and sausage, as well as 2 oranges. A charming woman attends us and tells us that the cheese and the sausage are local. We drink water and after the break we start walking again.
Pietra Piana hut, 1.840m
Pietra Piana hut camping area, 1.840m
The Petra Piana hut, as we have said before, has a full mountaineer atmosphere because it is the base camp to ascend Mount Rotondo, 2,620m (but we must add 4 or 5 hours to the day, which would mean stay overnight here).
So we resume the march, it is 11 am and the sun is already hiting a lot. We go up a south face, straight up the quite steep climb for the first 30 minutes, luckily, then it softens a bit bordering the mountain. Then we face the ascent to the Muzzela pass (where we arrive at approximately 12:20 p.m.)
Starting our way up from Petra Piana hut
Easy stretch on the way up, where you can see the entire Tenda range and Monte d’Oro behind us
Bocca Muzzella views
Last section before reching Bocca Muzzella
Collado de Bocca Muzzela. 2.210m
When we reached the hill we were amazed; what a glaciar cirque! What a rocky needles! What beautiful views!
Panoramic views from Bocca Muzzella
For the next 20 minutes we really enjoyed ourselves. Slight descent, leaving the small Rinoso lakes on the right until reaching the Bocca Rinosa plateau (2,150m), a wonderful balcony that offers a spectacular panoramic view of the great Capitello cirque, flanked by the entire line of teeth of a mountain range that only can be crossed through a marked gap that with some dificulty we can make out just opposite wall, at the other end of the cirque. And it seems almost impossible that we have to go there! But yes, we can indeed see other hikers. At our feet the great lakes of Melo (1,710m) and Capitello (1,939m) complete the alpine scene, typical of a great mountain range in the Alps.
Capitello cirque views
Capitello cirque views
From this moment, facing the entire section to the Manganu hut should only be undertaken in good weather conditions given the high exposure of many of the steps to overcome, which with slippery rock would be very dangerous.
Thus contemplating the beautiful views from Bocca Rinosa, the path continues to go down easily for the first 20 minutes, but soon we come to a steep descent with loose stone and then the path turns to the left towards SW direction, giving way to 2 sections of large rock blocks, one after another, where progressing gets complicated, and we have to literally go ‘jumping from stone to stone’. After this hard stretch, we decided to stop to eat and rest (it is already 1:00 p.m.).
Recovered, at 1:30 p.m. we resume the way along a path where the stones continue, but it softens somewhat until we reach the Bocca a Soglia pass (2,050m). After this section you can see more closely the route that will run through a steep orography. The path now turns NW direction and passes through a ridge also with complicated sections where we have to help ourselves with our hands to move forward and from here we already see the final climbing step, to reach the Capitello pass, always with the beautiful views of the cirque with these rugged pinnacles and the Melo lakes down in the valley, it really is spectacular.
In front of the climbing stretch, the most alpina section of the Capitello cirque.
Thus we arrive at two consecutive climbs (IIº and IIIº). These two steps have 2 consecutive chains to help walkers not used to it, as it is our case. The total stretch is about 7 or 8 meters long a on fairly vertical wall, but with the chains there is no problem, in fact, we climb very well and it is a lot of fun.
Climbing (IIº y IIIº) with chains, about 7 or 8 meters
Once this ‘climbing step’ is over, all that remains is to face the last climb up to the Capitello pass at the neck of Punta Alle Porte (2,270m).
We keep going up after climbings towards Capitello pass
Reaching Capitello breach
Once at the top, tired but excited, we took photos of these beautiful views and said goodbye to Monte d’Oro that it can still be seen on the horizon.
Bocca alle Porte, 2.270m, after Capitello breach
Beautiful views of the entire Capitello cirque, with Monte Rotondo behind and Monte d’Oro in the distance, from Bocca alle Porte
We go down the other side of the mountain, towards the Manganu valley, along a very steep path made of loose stone, which makes it quite difficult, especially at the beginning of the descent.
Very steep descent at the beginning of the opposite slope
We always continue descending quite steeply, but with fewer loose stones, until we almost reach the Manganu hut, passing through a couple of flat meadows that give us a break and where we take the opportunity to rest our knees. For us, this last descent is long and tiring, particularly for me, my knees already hurt a lot, we have to stop often and so it takes us about 2 hours to descend.
Already in the final section of descent, the alpine component disappears to give way to a valley with a river that accompanies the increasingly water-filled path through a very beautiful riverside landscape. We found a spring about 15 minutes before reaching the hut. Further down and very close to the hut, the river forms pools of water where we see the hikers taking a bath, and it is that with this heat we really want to!
River with pools at Manganu valley very close to Manganu hut
We cross a walkway and arrive at the shelter at 5:30 p.m. They take good care of us and we look for a place to put the tent. The camping area of this hut is much larger than l’Onda and with trees and bushes that provide shade and privacy. Here we are not crowded together, this is very welcome! We found a small place located among trees that is perfect for us.
Manganu hut camping area
Tent place at Manganu hut camping area
The showers go very well with hot water, and like in l’Onda, there are gas stoves and tables with benches to cook and eat there. The bathrooms are modern (unlike l’Onda, which are hole-in-the-ground) without chemicals or water, there is a kind of ‘conveyor belt’ where each one has to simply push a lever with the foot about 4/5 times so that the ‘things’ go to your septic tank.
Here, given the dinner experience at the l’Onda bergerie, we decided to eat our food since we still keep dehydrated meals ‘just in case’, but since we see that there are many places to buy food, it is not necessary to carry more weight.
While we have dinner, we meet a very nice couple from Extremadura who are also doing the GR20 from south to north. But the girl has fallen and takes her knee with an open wound, and the boy has hip pain since the second rout day, so they go slowly from hut to hut to complete the route in 16 stages, we wish them all the best!
Very happy for the day today, for the difficult sections conquered, which “a priori” we thought we might not be capable of, for contemplating these unique landscapes so beautiful between lakes, amazing mountain ranges full of rocky pinacless and blocks of rocks and for being able to complete the day with these knees that I hope with all my heart they don’t get worse … that I need them to complete the GR20!
And so happy, we go to sleep in our little tent 🙂
Manganu hut information:
- Price for camping in our own tent: € 8 per person