Cayman’s veteran fund raisers Derek Haines and Mike Burcombe are currently making their way across the GR20 - a 125-mile trail that follows the backbone of mountains that divide the Mediterranean island of Corsica in two - in order to raise funds for Jubilate, a very worthy charity in Cayman.
Derek and Mike are well-known in Cayman for their philanthropic hikes and runs, having hiked across the Pyrenees three years ago and raised over US$1 million for Cayman’s Special Needs Foundation. Prior to that heroic effort, Derek ran six marathons to raise funds for Jasmine, Cayman’s hospice care facility.
The pair are currently trekking through very tough terrain, through a mountainous region of peaks, many of which soar above 6,500 ft. With its dramatic gorges and rocky hillsides, this trail is popular with advanced hikers and deemed the hardest trek in Europe. The pair estimate it will take them approximately 15 days to complete, having begun the arduous journey on 6th June.
Having arrived in Corsica on 5th June, the pair were greeted by spectacular scenery and hot weather, and signs of snow at the top of the mountains that they would be trekking across. They spent the day getting acclimated, packing their kit, and hearing tales of hikers who have attempted the GR20 and not completed the first day.
Beginning their hike the next day, Mike and Derek confirmed the first day was “brutal”. Within the first hour, they had climbed 1,000 ft and by the end they’d ascended about 4,000 ft.
Since 6th June, they’ve been trekking for nine to 12 hours every day. They’ve faced steep climbs, large boulders, and valleys carved out in the last ice age. They report that the mountains are beautiful, but unforgiving if you lose concentration.
The days have been long and arduous, the pair, who are in their sixties and seventies, said. Most days they are too tired to send an update and they need all the encouragement they can get from the Cayman community. People can encourage them by donating to Jubilate to support the future leaders of Cayman. Jubilate is an after-school programme that teaches less advantaged children from the Eastern public schools various life skills through music. There are currently more than 70 youngsters on the programme, aged 8-15, from eight public schools in Jubilate.
You can donate by completing a Pledge Card at https://www.jubilate.ky/donate or make your donation to the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.