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  • Writer's pictureHans Faber

"The man wants another steak," she snapped at the waitress

When thru-hiking, special encounters are part of the experience. One such encounter happened when one of the Frisian bastards completed the GR20 on Corsica in September and October 2018. It’s also a story that teaches you always to keep an open mind towards every person you meet and not to be distracted by personalities that behave differently from the social norm. They might be your lifesaver. Especially when hiking the GR20 which is considered Europe’s toughest and most deadly hiking trail.

After seven merciless days on the trail, the bastard arrived at the camp spot Petra Piana. Besides hikers, also cows trudged in the camp area. The first thing he did was to go to the shed where provisions were sold. It was at the end of the season and most provisions were sold out. Luckily, the bastard was able to buy some cheese and sausages, and most importantly, a litre of red wine. While lying on his sleeping pad with the wine, other hikers arrived. Most of them he knew already from the days before. But there was another hiker between them who caught his attention: a woman in her late 50s.

It was the proprietor of the camp spot who made an inappropriate semi-sexist remark about marrying her. She responded about being married and not to be interested at all in him, etc. From the way she responded, quite loud too, and how she talked and acted you could sense she was communicatively different. A bit special and not fully in touch with the people surrounding her. Anyway, the bastard didn’t pay much attention to it. He was drinking his wine, eating sausage, a smelly but delicious Corsican cheese, and enjoying a wonderful sunset from his sleeping pad.

The next day, at refuge de l’Onda, she was there again. The bastard approached her to make small talk. However, the conversation wasn’t flowing. For three more days, the bastard hadn’t seen her. In the meantime, almost no hikers were left on the trail. Most had stopped at the village of Vizzavona; the end of the first leg of the GR20. Only a very few continued the second leg. Above all, most refuges would be closed by now, since the month of October was well underway. But at Bergeries Capanelle the bastard saw the woman hiker again. This time they had a longer chat. Together with two other hikers they were surprised by the owners of the Bergeries with a lot of free food. It happened to be the day the Bergeries closed down and they had to get rid off all the remaining food items. We had candy, cake, and even pastry. As much as we could eat. After eleven days on the trail, this was almost heaven.

From then on the bastard would meet the woman hiker every day in the afternoon for the rest of the hike. The bastard always started very early in the morning and she was on average an hour or so behind him. Her name was Anna. She originally came from Switzerland but lived for most of her life in Montana State in the United States. She also told that she had ADHD. When she was a child nobody knew what ADHD was. The only diagnose was she had too much energy. So her parents send her up the mountain every day to ski and the get rid of her tired. “That worked pretty well,” she said to the bastard.

“And if the ski-lift didn’t function, I would walk up the mountain.”

Since then she hiked all over the world long-distance trails.

Anna was married to an American marine. They had a company together specialized in giving survival trainings and how to recue people in the wilderness and up in the mountains. The bastard realized that other hikers might have maintained a distance toward her, not knowing she was actually their best safety insurance to have around during the dangerous GR20 trail. Once Anna would have accomplished the GR20, which runs more or less from north to south over the island, she said she would also cross the island from west to east. The bastard felt tired and his knees were wrecked during this tough trail. His mind was focussed on making it to end alive and then simply relax.

That Anna was from Montana, from the Rocky Mountains where all men wear Statsons, swear and spit tobacco, became clear in the village of Bavelle. It was the second last day on the trail, more than two weeks hiking in the meantime. Bavelle was pure luxury for the bastard. For the first time no need to pitch his tent, and an excellent restaurant as well. The bastard arrived early in the afternoon and ordered a steak. Too tempting. It was perfectly grilled. Crispy and a bit black-burned on the outside, and super tender at the same time.

By the time the bastard had finished his meal, Anna arrived. She joined him at the table and ordered a meal. The bastard said to the waitress he would like another steak. The waitress didn't understand it. "Wasn't the steak good? Do you want to pay?" were questions she asked in her confusion. After some more back and forth talking, half French half English, Anna was fed up with and interfered. She snapped at the waitress in a heavy Montana-American accent:

“The man wants another steak!”

It worked surprisingly well. Also the second steak was excellent.


Note – This hike fits a series of semi long-distance walks in the territories of Europe’s autochthonous minorities, or coast trails, in an effort to experience, understand their landscape and culture. Exactly where the Frisia Coast Trail is all about too.

For these reasons the Frisian bastards hiked the Cape Wrath Trail in the northwest of Scotland (read our posts “My God, the Germans bought all the bread!” cried Moira and A Horsewoman from Harlingen in the Scottish Highlands), the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in the southwest of Wales (read our post Croeso i Gerddwyr), the Rota Vicentina in the southwest of Portugal (read our post Surf on someone else’s Turf. Hiking the Rota Vicentina), and the Andalucian Coast to Coast Walk in the southwest of Spain (read our post Naranjas and Reservoir Dogs: Hiking in Andalusia).

Suggested music

John Denver, Wild Montana Skies (1983)

Further reading

Abram. D., Corsica Trekking GR20, Trailblazer (2008)

Davis, R.C., Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters. White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (2003)

Dillon, P., Trekking. The GR20 Corsica. The High Level Route, Cicerone (2016)

Fabrikant, M., Grande Randonnée, GR20, À traverse la Montagne corse. Parc naturel régional de Corse, TopoGuides (2016)

Goscinny, R. & Uderzo A., Asterix in Corsica (1979)


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