Hello Yuri, could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, I am Yuri Crepeele, 32 years old, married and living in Belgium. In normal life I’m an optical fiber technician. I have a strong passion for the outdoor life which is totally in contrast with my dayjob.
Have you ever gone for a hike?
The love for hiking was something that evolved during the years. The seed was planted during my time as boyscout. I remember going to Denmark to camp for a week and hiking to Kattegat, the craving for the outdoors had begun.
After I dropped out of college, I joined the army, which obviously involved camping, hiking, mapreading and living on the terrain.
After the army I gained some friends who hiked too. Together we went for numerous small hikes during the weekends in the Belgian Ardens and some bigger ones during the holidays (West Highland Way in Scotland, Gavarnie/Ordessa in France and Spain (GR10T/GR11))
In the beginning of the year I solo-hiked the GR16 for about 185 km and The GR20 North of course.
Concerning about hiking in Belgium, could you advise some hikes to us ?
We have a lot of GR trails in Belgium, the most beautiful are the ones in the south.
I love the GR16, it’s about 209 km and starts in Arlon, it goes all the way to Monthermé in France. You follow the river called “le Semois” from where it begins to where it flows into “la Meuse”
The GR57 is also a very nice choice, it follows the river “l’Ourthe” and is divided into 5 pieces (Sentier de l’Ourthe + Sentier de l’Ourthe orientale + Sentier de l’Ourthe occidentale + Sentier du Nord + Liaison Parc de la Boverie). There are many more but still to discover for me also.
What about GR20 ? When did you hike there and which way ?
I arrived the 22th of June alone by plane in Ajaccio where I spent the night. The morning after I took the train to Calvi. I met a guy named Thomas from Lithuania on the train, also a solo-hiker, we teamed up and got a lift to Calenzana from a friendly old lady who apparently always gives hikers a lift when she sees them walking aside the road.
So Thomas and me started the adventure together. We walked GR20 North from Calenzana to Vizzavona, sometimes together, sometimes alone.
My friend Dieter from Belgium joined me to walk from Ascu Stagnu (the old ski station) to Col de Vergio, he only had a few days to spend on the island.
I did the alpine variant from Petra Piana to Onda since I arrived around noon at Petra Piana. I am very glad I did the variant (a bonus : there is 4G connection on the rocks 😊 😊 😊)
What was the context to hike the GR20 ? How did you prepare yourself to this target?
I did not really prepare for Corsica since I was recovering from an injury, I had some problems with my leg at the end of last year and the beginning of this year so the plan was “Hike a little, Rest a lot”.
Before that I already did a lot of sport and watched my diet. I also planned on doing one stage a day and do it at ease to enjoy it at the max.
What equipment did you have ?
I took with me my :
- Berghaus Crusader backpack, (90l)
- Goretex raincover
- Berghaus camelbag (3l)
- Thermarest trail pro regular matress
- Carinthia Eagle sleeping bag
- Goretex cover instead of a tent
- Medical kit
- Opinel knife
- 2 Nalgene water containers
- Washing kit and towel
- Straps, cord and sewing kit
- Go Pro , batteries and powerbank
- Not enough cash
- 3 synthetic T-shirts
- Thermal underwear
- 5 pair of socks and boxers
- Swimming shorts
- Hiking trousers
- Buff, gloves and a cap
- Meindl Borneo’s
- around 12 drymeals (don’t know exactly anymore)
- Protein bars and powders
- 2 big bags of Skittles – “to taste the rainbow” 😊
- Some soup and a lot of coffee
The rest of the food I bought at the refuges (bread, cheese and potato chips)
The weight of the bag was about 18 kg more or less.
Still some snow-covered parts of the way ?
There was still some snow covered terrain, mostly when we did stage 4 (Monte Cinto). Stage 7 (Manganu to Petra Piana) had also still snowy parts although it was melting and the borders were hollowed out which could be dangerous if you don’t watch out.
Since it is a popular hike it makes it easier to navigate through the snowy parts due to foot traces and most of the time you see people walking in front of you, far or close.
The rule was “pay attention and go slow”. Sometimes you saw a hiker dropping down half a meter because of one foot shooting trough the ice 😊
What are your positive feedbacks?
Raw terrain, magnificent views are the main reasons why you should try it out. A true hike as it should be !
Don’t be afraid to go alone, everyone is social and talkative. You meet new people, even if you are alone you are never alone.
It is an experience you will never forget for your entire life. It’s your small personal adventure. If you are a sportive person it should be no problem and for people who don’t practice sports that often it is a perfect challenge.
The people at the refuges are very friendly, you can tell it’s a lifestyle.
The weather is amazing, cool enough to hike, nice and hot to relax and swim in the afternoon.
There is not that much rain and even when it rains the sun comes back out very fast.
Due to the difficult access to food, drinks and utilities, it is not possible for the refuges to sell food at a low price. They have to bring everything up by mules or helicopter.
If you are on a tight budget this could be something to be aware of.
Which was your favourite stage, and your favourite refuge?
A real favourite stage I did not have, I liked the all in their own way. Although stage 2,3,4 and 5 were the coolest to do in my opinion, a lot of variation in scenery.
The best way to sleep was the refuge of Manganu, I had a good meal there, some wine and itw as a beautiful refuge. I met a couple of dentists there that were hiking a few stages all together, they insisted on buying me dinner and all the drinks were on them 😊 😊
If you should hike it again, what would you change?
I would not change anything except for the food. I would eat at the refuge every day, breakfast or dinner. Buy some bread and cheese for lunch and bring one drymeal and 2 snacks a day with me from back home.
Which advices could you share with people whom are thinking to go for a GR20’s hike?
Get some hiking poles, it is not luxury and no it is not for weaklings.
Try to enjoy every second of the trip, don’t overthink too much, just do it and go with the flow, you will not regret it.
Sounds great Yuri 😊 and thanks you soo much for all your feedback and advises in this English interview !
Now, let’s play the Yuri’s GR20 video :
We hope to see you soon again back to Corsica and on the GR20 !