Thursday, September 16, 2004

Mt Olympus 2- Epineas Gorge

Relieved to find the entrance to the Park, I started on my way along the path, filling my water bottle at the tap. Well, nothing prepared me for what I met. It was torturous. Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. I didn't turn back because I knew what met me there. Somewhere along the route, I was hoping it would level out and be easier. Ha!
For all the sweat and panting, I must say it was one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. I think the fact that the hike was so arduous made the scenery that much sweeter. Every now and then, more often than not, I would stop and look. Watch the birds, listen to the River below and look towards the town of Litochoro and the sea. I was travelling alone, so of course I had to make my own fun. I would do impressions of the bionic woman, Jamie Sommers, climbing the steps of the path. You know how they would always show here bionic speed in slow motion. I thougth out loud too much, built an Inukshuk, but most of all I cursed the uphills. I started to call every set of steps I came accross "KaKa Skala" like the path to mitikas (evil Staircase). At first, I would jump up and down and rejoice whenever I saw a downward path. 2 hours into the hike I stopped, realising that everytime I went down meant that I would have to climb up again later.
Along the path there are at least 7 bridges that cross tributaries to the Epineas river. The water is clean,clear, crisp, cold and refreshing. At the second bridge, I took a gander down the river a bit. In the water were little tadpoles; the deeper pools were green. I took off my boots and slipped my feet into the water. All along the river, the water cascaded down like little waterfalls. I laid back and took a siesta. I continued my hike through the paths, every turn was a marvel beyond the one before. At one point, I came accross this sheer cliff covered in moss. Amongst the rocks and the moss, I could make out a face.
Towards the end of the path, up on a cliff was a little church built on a spring. It was fascinating, and the water tasted real good. The hike in the forest reminded me a lot of Canada. I hadn't imagined that they would have forests that big in Greece. I felt very comfortable and safe the whole way.
Not too much further down the path was an old monastery, originally built in the 1500's and was destroyed by German Bombers in WWII. Today they have rebuilt the church, and a couple of monks live there. I walked around, took pics and admired what was left even after the bombs.
I left the Monastery and started back down the path, realising it was starting to get late and I was nowhere near the Refuge where I wanted to stay the night. I started signing 99 bottles of beer on the wall and skiping. Of course, I tripped and lost my balance. I didn't have my day pack strapped on so when I bent to catch my balance, the pack went over my head and pulled me down. It wasn't on any of the steep paths I had travelled earlier that day. I scrapped up my right knee and elbow. I sat and cursed for a few minutes, cleaned myself up, and headed on my way learning the important lesson that I always had to keep my pack strapped to my back. It got dark faster in the forest than I had remembered. I followed the path for a while with my flashlight. After a while I decided my beast bet was to bunck down for the night. I found a spot under a tree and pulled out my sheet and sarong, put on all my clothes and a silver emergency blanket that I opened and tucked into my sheetbag. I asked my spirit guides, angels and ancestors to keep me safe through the night. I woke up a few times. once to pee and found an even flatter spot to sleep. Once I awoke to an odd sound and found that a squirrell or some other animal had been chewing on my bag to get at my bag of nuts. Overall, only small animals came to check me out throughout the night and I woke up, went to the river, washed up, ate, and started back up the path. I'll tell you, that water is enough to get the dead moving in the early morning. After about 45 minutes to 1 hour of hiking I made it to Prionia and the begginning of the next leg of my hike.