Johanna Willi from Switzerland – Two GR20 experiences (Sept 2016 & July 2019)

Hello Johanna, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi there, I’m Johanna Willi aka Tinkle (Trailname PCT), 23 years old and I’m from Switzerland. My passion is to hike and just being outdoors. When I’m not hiking I work in a civil engineer office as a technical drawer.

Johanna-Willi-aka Tinkle-Trailname-PCT

Have you ever gone for a hike?

Since I’m little I went often on dayhikes with my family. I’m very grateful to live in such a beautiful country, where I can walk out of my door and go for hike. My first longer hike was on the GR20 in 2016 and I fell in love with it. In 2018 I decided to Thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail – a 2,650 mi / 4,265 km hike along the west coast of the US. It starts at the Mexican border and goes all the way up to the Canadian border. These 157 days out in the wild are the best experience in my entire life. Since then I’m addicted to adventures on the big wide world.

What about hiking in your country? Could you advise us some hikes?

Switzerland is one of the best hiking countries I would say. The stunning mountains and lakes are for sure a visit worth it! I try to explore new regions of my beautiful home country. That’s why I went this summer after the GR20 to the Valais and hiked parts of the Walker’s Haute Route to Zermatt. It was my first time that I saw the legendary Matterhorn with my own eyes! Because it wasn’t enough, I went for another trip to the Ticino. There I went for a 5-days hike on the Via Alta Vallemaggia – a very exposed trail with breath-taking views.

What about the GR20 ? When did you hike there ? Which way ?

I hiked the GR20 the first time in end August/September 2016 together with my mom. We started in Calenzana and walked all the way to Conca in about 17 days.


My second time I hiked it by myself in July 2019, also the whole the trail from Calenzana to Conca. I met people along the way and we decided to hike together. The second time I hiked it in 15 days.

What was the context for hiking the GR20 ? How did you prepare yourself to this target?

I wanted to walk actually the hole Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. But then I decided spontaneously to hike the GR20 for a second time, because I loved it so much and it was kind of my start for all the following (hiking) adventures. I wanted to come back and say thank you!


I didn’t train especially for the hike, just some day-hikes before.

What equipment did you bring ?

As I known from the PCT – every gram counts. So I tried to go e as light as possible with my gear. In my 40L Hyperlite Mountain Gear Pack was my MSR Hubba NX one-person tent, a (too) warm sleeping bag, sleeping pad, my Sony a6300 camera, one spare pair of socks and underwear, a down jacket, rain jacket and pants, some electronic stuff, my cooking set and 5 days of food. My base weight (without food and water) of the pack was about 7 kg. I had 2 liter water capacity, what was totally fine for me. I was wearing a long-sleeved sun shirt and shorts with compression socks and my new Scarpa hiking boots.


Did you think about Security while preparing the GR20 ?

Of course I thought about security before and during the trail. That’s why I had my Garmin in Reach mini with me. It’s a GPS beacon which can send emergency calls, text messages to family/friends and allows you to track your hike. I feel way safer when I’m hiking with it.


What are your positive feedbacks?

The Nature is just absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t imagine a better start into the day than woken up by these amazing sunrises in Corsica!


I like the simplicity of just being out there, all the essentials in your backpack. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, it’s all fine when you’re at the hut.

We had such good evenings hanging out together, playing cards, drinking wine/beer and just having a good time. Hiking connect people, wherever you’re from.


Some negative feedbacks?

I’m very very disappointed about the cleanliness along the trail. I’ve never seen so much tissues/toilet paper and human waste next to the trail. The PNRC should really make the hikers and the caretaker of the refuge aware to the Leave No Trace ( Principles.


What was your favourite feedback?

The Corsican food is the best of the best. It’s such a difference when you’re having a good cheese, sausage and bread for lunch on trail.

Which was your favourite stage, and your favourite shelter?

It’s hard to decide which stage is my favourite. But I really loved the Stage from Refuge Manganu to Refuge de Petra Piana, the views are just incredibly beautiful. Coming up on this ridge and having the panorama of the mountains and the lakes below you – awesome!

From the refuge I’m torn between Refuge Prati and Refuge Parliri. Both are on so beautiful locations that I can’t choose which one is my favourite. I really like that you can see the coastline from above.


If you should hike the GR20 a third time, what would you change?

Well, I don’t know if I would do it a third time. But I would leave for sure my stove at home.

Maybe also starting from the south and walk northbound. We’ll see if I come back.

Which advices could you share with people whom are think to go for a GR20’s hike?

Be prepared it’s going to be a hard hike, it’s definitely not a walk in the park. But in the end of the day you’ll be tired and so happy to be out there. Pack as light as possible. Walking with a lighter backpack is just more enjoyable than with a heavy backpack. Important if you’re going to stay in the huts or eat in the huts, bring enough cash. There’s no ATM in Vizzavona. And just embrace it, all of it!

Would you like to suggest something else?

Do what you love, no matter what. Life is your own adventure! Be kind to other people and you’ll get kindness back. Be yourself – always. Don’t care about what people think about you, you’re beautiful the way you are.


Thank you so much Johanna for your feedback! It will be very useful for people who prepares the GR20 hike. Just to remind you the French expression “Jamais 2 sans 3” (Things always come in threes), meaning there is a high probability for you to hike a third time the GR20 in the future 😉 But you are true, the GR20 twice is already cool, and there are so many other hikes to discover everywhere! Take care of yourself, and keep hiking ! But I know for sure that you will keep hiking 😊. Goodbye for now, and see you later 😉

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