U Vallone Sheepfold in Calasima
GR20 Stage above Calasima
At its 1100 meters altitude, Calasima is the highest village in Corsica, making the hike to Vallone sheepfold a potentially perilous ascent in winter.
Corsica's highest peaks
Having become administratively a hamlet of Albertacce, Calasima sits at the feet of the highest peaks on the island such as Cintu or the Paglia Orba which can be seen from the sheepfold. On the descent, the sun setting casts its rays on the cinque frati (the five monks), which corresponds to 5 peaks in sequence to the east of the route. The hike is part of the GR20.
Recommendations in case of snow
Suitable equipment is mandatory depending on the conditions on the ground: snow hiking shoes, boots or snowshoes, change of clothes, waterproof jacket. The elevation change of over 300 meters reminds us that the snow cover at the start is not the same as at the finish, hence the need to be well equipped. Favorable weather is also recommended as well as a morning departure to avoid the earlier nightfall deep in the mountains.
Also, be aware of the many pigs and cows roaming free between the last houses and the start of the hiking trail.
Route to the sheepfolds
The Ballone sheepfolds, also spelled Vallone sheepfolds, are the first stop for those wishing to then reach the Tighjettu refuge located a little over 1km above. The elevation gain increases gradually as you ascend. To shorten the route, you can cut through the forest at two places on the main trail by following the markers on the stones and trees.
Snow and forest landscape
Despite the difficulty of the route, the landscape is a feast for the eyes and is characterized by a singular silence amidst snow-capped mountains.
At times, you cross the municipal forest of Albertacce mainly made up of pine trees. At several points along the route, you run alongside the Crucetta stream which carves through the snow from its source on the flank of Punta Minuta, as well as a spring.
In summer weather, both the destination and the scenery completely change, with a restaurant, drinks, light meals and even the possibility of swimming!
Still, plan to have good hiking shoes and something to keep warm up there.