Fien Bonamie from Belgium – GR20 hike with her boyfriend Tim

Hello Fien, could you please introduce yourself?

Hello I’m Fien Bonamie from Belgium, Flandres, Ghent. 29 years old and work as a physiotherapist/teacher for the University. I live with my boyfriend Tim Ghyselinck and his little boy Lou. We’ve been together for 1.5 years. I like to sport a lot. Running, swimming, biking. Everything which includes in being outdoors makes me happy.

Fien and Tim - Happiness and Love at Conca - GR20 southern arrival
Fien and Tim – Happiness and Love at Conca – GR20 southern arrival

Have you ever gone for a hike?

Yes. I’ve hiked a part of the highland ways in Scotland, Wicklow way in Ireland, One etappe (stage) of the GR20 7 years ago, little hikes in Belgium…

Concerning about hiking in Belgium, could you advise us some hikes ?

In the Flemish Ardennes you have the panorama route. Not hard, only a couple of hours but very pretty. I don’t have experience in multiple days hiking in own country because Belgium is very little.

What about the GR20 ? When did you hike there, which way ?

In July – with my boyfriend Tim – from North to South – from Calenzana to Conca in 11days !

Brèche de Capitellu - GR20 - Corse
Brèche de Capitellu – GR20 – Corse

What was the context for hiking the GR20 ?

I’ve done one etappe couple of years ago and it was really a dream to do it once in my life.

Tibetan prayer flag - GR20
Tibetan prayer flag – GR20

I’ve had hip surgery due to a running injury a couple of years ago and this was really an accomplishment for all the hard work to get back on track. If you set your mind to it – you can do ANYTHING! I run often – my boyfriend doesn’t – I tried to convince him in taking long hikes with me…but he wasn’t really keen on doing them.

Food : we brought our own food for breakfast and lunch and in the evening, we ate in the refugees. We also brought protein and high energy bars to keep us going during. I’m really glad I bought walking sticks because they really were a helpful aid during the GR20. We doubled some stages in order to have some more resting days at the end of our holiday. We walked 11days and rested 3 before heading back home.

Flowered Corsican Mountain in July
Flowered Corsican Mountain in July

What equipment did you bring ?

My backpack: 14 litres with no water
Boyfriend backpack: 12 litres with no water
Tent: 3 kg (too much but okay)

Underestimated the cold at night : needed a warmer sleeping bag.

Sunrise - GR20
Sunrise – GR20

We drank water from sources or from the refugees.

2 walking outfits, 1 chill-out-sleeping outfit – 3 pairs of socks -3 pairs of undies – washing equipment – first aid kit – solar panel (which didn’t work due to the height they said) – chargers for the phones – GR20 book from Cicerone – multivitamin tablets – magnesium tablets – painkillers (for when needed) – that was about it.

  • Breakfast for me: oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal / my boyfriend bought bread
  • Lunch: bars and we bought sometimes tuna in cans
  • Evening: Pietra and food at the refugees

One pair of walking shoes and some hotel slippers which I found along the way
My boyfriend: sandals and walking shoes

We slept in the refugees for 4 times and the other times we slept in our tent.

Still some snow-covered parts of the way in July ?

Some little parts but we never had to walk through it!

What are your positive feedbacks ?

  • Nature was phenomenal !
  • People were amazing
  • Walks and directions were perfect
Sun light through mountains
Sun light through mountains

Some negative feedbacks ?

Sometimes a bit of a competitive atmosphere… A lot of people that are comparing their journey : « we’re doing it in 6 days – we in 7 days … »

Some refugees (especially some couple of them in the south) were beneath standards. Cold showers, I don’t mind but showers that aren’t showers and verryyyy dirty were not amusing. Especially after a long day walk.

Some beds were dirty and altough there was room enough to divide people into different sleeping doorms, they stacked us all together in 1 room.

GR20 South part - Paliri / Bavella
GR20 South part – Paliri / Bavella

Which was your favorite stage, and your favorite refuge ?

Refuge Ortu di u Piobbu. After the 2nd day. Great food and hosting from the helpers at the refugees. And also Auberge U Vallone with the lovely riverpools and good food.

Nino's Lake - Corsica
Nino’s Lake – Corsica

If you should hike again there, what would you change ?

  • Bring no tent and sleep in the refugees.
  • Bring only powerbars or oatmeals for food
  • Take more days to take it more easy and do some extra hiking trips along the way

Which advices could you give to people whom are thinking to go for a GR20’s hike?

  • Train in advance
  • Buy walking sticks
  • PACK LIGHT!!!!

Would you like to suggest something else?

Take 3 weeks : 2 weeks hiking – one week visting Corsica !

Corsican Mountains - Sea cost view from Mountains
Corsican Mountains – Sea cost view from Mountains

Thanks a lot Fien for your feedback, all your advices and specially the last one 😉 Indeed, if you have time, you can plan to visit Corsica and get fun on the sea cost, it’s a cool way to take it easy after the GR20 hike 😉 Pack light, take your time, no race comparison…. lots of advices that make sense as well…

Enjoy the end of year guys, and good preparation for next GR20 hikers !

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