Late the next morning, we were hiking on fine white sand along clear blue water. We left the crowds behind for the far end of the beach, evidently the nudie section. Undaunted, we staked out a square of sand for lunch, canned mackerel on baguette.
The lifeguard sign listed 24, 28, and 33 degrees as the temperatures for the water, shade, and sun, respectively. We took a quick dip, but the nudies had been pushed to the rocky, seaweed-filled area of the beach, and we had still a lot of ground to cover.
The plan was now to walk along the coast across the Desert des Agriates on the north side of Corsica. We had about four days and 28 km total, so there would be lots of time for sitting on the beach.
However, hiking in that heat, with full packs, within sight of that bright ocean, felt like unusual punishment. We stopped after just a couple kilometers, too hot to do anything but clamber up to a bit of shade against a wall of rock. When it was clear we would bee waiting out the heat of the day here, Colin constructed a shelter from the sun out of his ground tarp and a log frame. The afternoon passed with journaling and swimming and inching away from the sun. When it wasn’t too hot to move, we packed up and continued another couple kilometers to a cove to make camp.
The following days were similar, with our packs steadily getting lighter as we went through food and water. Hiking through the sand was like sludging through flour, and the sun only eased up one day. It happened to be our first two-star-beach day—these two two-star beaches are the crown of the Desert des Agriates, and on the day we crossed the first, the clouds opened up and poured on us. We had built a shelter out of our ponchoes and an odd log frame, but it wasn’t enough, and we had to set up the tent underneath. The wind pushed the storm through after about an hour, and we spent another hour drying out and warming back up.
Our final day of hiking was a long one that started with the second two-star beach and went a bit downhill from there. Our path was like a backward S, so we went out to a point and around a bay before making it to St. Florent. I found it frustrating to see our destination across the water and be surrounded by boats but still have to walk. We arrived, as planned, with no food left and only a little water.
We camped that night and hopped on a bus across the cape back to Bastia the next day to meet the ferry. I imagine my final memory from Corsica will be the unmistakable smell of bread baking as we were walking through the dark Bastia streets the following morning to board the ship.