09-Jun-2002 -- Corsica, the French island in the Mediterranean Sea features one of the last confluence spots close to Central Europe. The French call it "île de beauté", and the island with its rugged mountains and beautiful coastline definitely deserves this name.
So we decided to make a visit to Corsica and to the confluence 42N/9E. Equipped with the two GPS, a 4x4 vehicle and some hiking gear we thought to be well prepared. The only problem we could think of were rock walls, only accessible by climbing or an unfriendly landowner, who wouldn't allow us to enter his property. Well, we didn't think of the Maquis and our own stupidity, which combined together made us go through some bad times.
The confluence is near the little village Bastelica. The area is quite hilly and rocky, but from the road to Bastelica we could already determine that the confluence should be in a location accessible on foot. After some driving on dirt roads, we found a nice footpath heading into the right direction. The start of this trail was only about 3km from the confluence away. For a while we made good progress. We already saw triumph approaching quickly and stormed ahead without paying much attention to our way.
But our luck with the track didn't last long since after a while the track got lost among the bushes. We finally climbed a ridge and had a good view of the area of the confluence. It was only about 500m away. The next 1.5 hour we tried to work our way through dense bushes, high ferns and thorny blackberries. We tried different routes to the confluence, but wherever we turned we were always stopped in the end by impenetrable bushes. The closest point we ever reached to the confluence was 330m away. And still no route was to be seen how we could get any closer without spending hours fighting our way through the bushes. We had to give up for this time.
As we turned back to get to our car we quickly realized that it was as difficult to find the way home as to get to the confluence. On the way up we had our eyes fixed on the GPS and the compass and totally forgot to mark enough waypoints with the GPS. We had set a waypoint down in the valley, which was only 800m away from our current position, but the bushes made it impossible to follow a direct line to that point. If we ever wanted to get back, we had to find the trail again on which we had come up here. But we had no clue where this footpath was. We were trapped in the Maquis! The Maquis is the name of the dense, nearly impenetrable scrub bush on Corsica. It is the most common vegetative cover at low and medium altitudes. It took us more than 1.5 h of a struggle with Maquis before we found our trail going down into valley again. A struggle that had become more and more desperate, you know precisely where you are and where you want to go, but you don't see a way how to get there. When we finally got back to our car we bruised and battered but we had learned our lesson: mark your waypoints!
Many thanks to Herbert for providing us with his new GPS and Thomas for lending us his digital camera.