GR20: Corsica, France
The day had finally arrived for Sam and I begin our trek across Corsica`s GR20 trails. We rose ready for battle blissfully unaware of what was to come. The gradual uphill day that was described was not what we found. It took only a few hours to realize that our packs were to heavy. Our spirits were lifted as we reached one of the most amazing vantage point. What can only be described as a doorway to our first peak gave us a much needed sense of accomplishment and motivation. In retrospect we realize how severely unaware we were at that moment of the pain and agony that was to come.
The plan was to complete roughly 15km in 6 1/2 hours (this was calculated based on our speed during training , adding in time to enjoy the scenery). Let us just say that this was not what happened. By 1pm I had hit a wall, a mental and physical barrier I could not surpass. The heat of the day was intolerable. The mantra “I’m going to die” was all I could focus my mind on. After a long, focused, contemplative rest in the shade I channeled my energy into a new mantra. “COLD SHOWER”. The idea of that cooling water was the motivation I needed to keep moving. As I began to move past my internal struggles , Samantha was greeting hers. It was a rough few hours in the sun, but struggling had it’s own form of motivation when we were reassured that we were struggling together. It wasn’t that one of us was out of shape or ill prepared. It just truly was that difficult.
Shortly after an old french man passed us along the route and we asked him how much further we had till our refuge.
“1 hour”, he said.
We should have realized that any one his age attempting such a vigorous hike alone would be a well seasoned and speedy hiker, but we took his word for it. With an end to our day in sight our packs began to feel lighter and our demeanor was at an all time high. I’m sad to say that the joy was once again short lived. Around 1pm we ran out of water. The only source near where we were was camp and we soon found out that we were still roughly ” hours away. For those of you who can’t imagine, this was not fun. This was extremely dangerous. Heat Stroke and dehydration set in quickly. With the effects of the heat and our bodies lack of water to combat it, the amount of time on the open mountain with no water reached roughly 5 hours. I have never before experienced that degree of thirst. I began examining plants to see if there was water inside or resting on the leaves. We contemplated straining and purifying the water of a dirty puddle. My tongue became completely dry and I was not able to swallow. We had both reached a point of utter exhaustion. We sat huddled under a small path of shade, defeated and hopeless for quite a while. I stopped a lady who came past us and asked her if she had a sip of water to spare. She did not but she assured us that camp would not be much further and encouraged us to continue with her. I still have not decided if this was a blessing or a curse but within ten steps from the spot where we had sat for so long was our camp. I shouted behind me to Sam in a sigh of relief and then very literally charged towards the water source to quench my intense thirst. We had arrived. We have now completed more than 15km and have experienced every degree of human emotion… and that was day 1