Greek Journal Part III
Greek Journal: 5/13/2005-6/8/2005
(Meteora)àIguominitsaàCorfu TownàIguominitsaàZorganian Villages, Vikos Gorge and
Starting up the trail to Olympus
What we have seen so
far is a land of quiet clean beaches, flowers, lush trees, steams, and
impressive mountains. Like the Canadian
Our hike started by passing over a small bridge in view of a small waterfall and in to a forest of chestnut and beech with ferns and some scrub oak on the forest floor.
As we climbed toward tree line the forest became dominated by evergreens with the ground cover becoming dominated by gray lime stone boulders and bright purple wild flowers.
We had a beautiful clear day and about five hours after starting our trek we arrived at the Hut. We were met my Maria and her husband and given a no-nonsense introduction to hut life. We were led to our sleeping quarters which was part of the new constructed dormitory. The entire hut was built from native rock all beautifully done in the same style.
The hut had just opened for the season 10 days before our arrival and the snow had receded just enough to allow hiking to the high peaks. Some of the special features of hut life included no hot water. The water came directly from underground springs fed by fresh snow melt. There was also no heat other than a fire place in the main common eating area, but there were plenty of big thick blankets for bedding. There were also NO shoes indoors, but indoor slippers were provided.
We sat on the sunny deck with a view of the Aegean 10 miles away and 6,000 ft below us, did a little writing and reading and prepared for the evening meal.
At dinner we met the other guests of the hut. The hut was built to hold about 110 people,
but at his early time of year there were a total of 13 people. Besides Maria and her husband we met a
wonderful English couple. Ken, the
husband, is a professional story teller who had spent most of his professional
Then there was Reuel, a math teacher from
There were three students from
5/19/2005: 9:30 pm in Leptokarya. A day with Zeus: This am woke to high winds and a very
painful right foot. We had breakfast at
7 am, but hobbling from the room to the main lodge was painful enough to
eliminate hopes of climbing 3,000+ ft today to the top of
Mo and Kelley
decided to leave the gimp behind and try for the summit of
Kelley fighting the winds just below the summit of Skala 9,300 ft
Up ahead we could
see Reuel plugging along by himself. We
caught to him at the top of Skala, the highest place he had ever been. Meeting at this point changed the course of
Reuel climb if not his life. Through out
his Greek studies he had dreamed of visiting
Zeus’s throne and placing an offering of some personal items that had belonged
to his mother who had passed away a short time ago. Now that he stood on Skala and looked across
the gap to the summit of Mitikis (the highest point in
was understandable. While it was only a
short distance to travel the last ½ mile involved down climbing 200 vertical
feet class 3 and 4 rock (using hands and feet) and ascending about 400 vertical
feet of class 3 and 4 rock on the way to the summit. While the climbing is technically very easy,
the consequence of missing a hold and falling would likely result in death or
serious injury. I felt completely
comfortable, Kelley had done some climbing and was totally in to going forward,
Mo had traversed some terrain that offered a similar bad consequence for error
just seven months before in the Garhwal Himalayas in
Mo and I down climbing Skala (steep) on the way to Mitikis. The red spots on the rock are the trail markings.
He finally decided
to employ the only reliable method of decision making that he had available,
heads he went, tails he didn’t. It was
heads. At 11 am, just 4 hrs after leaving
he Spilio Hut we all stood at the summit of Mitikis and tagged the Greek
flag. Kelley cruised it. Mo focused on the patch of rock in front of
her and Reuel focused on
The deities believed to have dwelled upon the mythic mount were Zeus, the king of the gods; his wife Hera; his brothers Poseidon and Hades; his sisters Demeter and Hestia; and his children, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, Hermes and Hephaestus.
To this group was added the Smilkstein’s and Reuel of
Given that the summit is about 10’ X 10’ it was crowded.
Mo and Reuel making an offering to the gods, note the tie.
Reuel made is
offering to the gods. We looked out upon
We had already put in a full day with seven hours of hiking and climbing, but the day was by no means done with us. Our immediate obstacles included the five mile 3,200ft decent from the hut and how to get from the trail head at Prionina the 15k to Letochoro. We had no car and there was no phone or other facilities at Prionina. We met up with our Brit friends at the hut and enjoyed a Greek salad, veal, potatoes and coffee. I could have followed that with a beer chaser and a nap, but it was time to go. Fortunately Ken, Barb and Reuel were also ready to go and Ken and Barb had a Micro Euro car at the trail head. We headed down the trail and 2.5 hours later six exhausted people arrived at the trail head. It was now 7 pm and our hopes of making it to Kalambaka (next destination) had faded a bit.
In the spirit of the college phone book routine, six full grown people and six back packs were fitted in a car that was made for maybe two adults and two children who had no belongings. We arrived in the town square in Letochoro and Reuel volunteered to drive us the 25 or 30k to Katirini where rumor had it that there was a rental car agency. Given the late hour and two days with out showers we modified our goal to getting a rental car and making it back to Lepokarya to the Poseidon where, assuming we could make it by 9:30 pm we could have an all you can eat buffet, a shower and a room.
We said good by to
the Brits and loaded in Reuels car for the theoretically short trip to
Katarini. With in minutes of our departure
it became clear that Reuel didn’t have the driving thing all together. Not only were his technical skills suspect,
but he seemed overwhelmed by traffic, highway signs and directions. With careful guidance we moved forward to
with in 1k of Katarini. At a small round
about Reuel had a melt down and before we could make corrections we were
heading south (wrong direction) on the main highway. No problem except that the next turn off was
10k, meaning that at the very least we were adding a 12 mile extension to an
already too long trip. At this time
Reuel chose to tell us that he had lived in
All good things must
end and with a little luck we made it back to Katarini to the car rental agency. Unfortunately it was closed. We all decided it would be best if Reuel
could just take us back to Leptokarya to the Poseidon. On our trip to the Poseidon Reuel informed us
that the only family he had was his students and that he really had no desire
to travel. Driving in
PS: We did make it to the buffet where we ate a lot, drank some bad Greek wine and loved it, got a room and had a shower and a fine nights rest.