‘the trail of the elves’ >>:::>> THE MAP (at last)
Angelos made the map of the trail we were talking about the other day .
He also wrote a long long long text (once he starts he can’t stop) which we edited together and we left only a part of it. I hate cuttings on my texts, but I enjoy cutting other’s, so we sort of butchered it. For example, we left out the memories of his father as a school kid, what the first «school bus» looked like, what are his problems when building a new trail e.t.c. Anyway, I hope that what’s left makes sense.
Angelos apologizes for not having made a proper webpage for this. He says that even he had time to do it, he was afraid that there would be a misunderstanding : people might think that this is a «ready hike», while it is only a survey. So he let the map and the description look as sketchy as is the situation «in the field».
As far as I was concerned, it was an experience to witness how trails are actually made (in this case, «retrieved» or should I say, «re-invented»). It’s a *mind* thing. For example I had walked though many parts of that area and I could never have guessed that these «nice spots» were connected and there had been a long hikeway across them. I takes someone with a deep knowledge of the old culture to find this, dig it out and most of all,
GIVE A NEW CONTEXT to it.
Get the map and Read the description:
Here is an extract (view large) of a map of Ikaria showing the middle northern side of the island. This map was published in the small book under the title “Tourist Guide of the Municipality of Rahes, Ikaria” (Touristikos Odigos Demou Rahon Ikarias), issued in 2004 and distributed for free by the Municipality of Rahes (name of the western part of the island). This booklet was very good if not for anything else, because of the maps it contained. Unfortunately the stock is exhausted and it isn’t likely that there will be a new edition.
This map is in Greek only. It includes too many (very specific and unneeded) place names, which create ‘noise’ and confusion to the reader of a map. On the other hand, there is a good side in this pedantic ‘localism’: this is the only general map of Ikaria which shows the footpaths!!!
Almost forgotten today, the “trail of the two monasteries” (Eleni’s “trail of the elves”) used to be ‘the main road’ from Rahes to Evdilos until the late 1960s when a motor road was built to connect the two towns.
If ever this path was restored, I’d suggest that hikers take it from Rahes. On a long hike like this, it’s always better to head for the sea instead for the mountain.
From Christos in Rahes ((ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΡΑΧΕΣ) to the 1st monastery (Evangelistrias ‘Mounte’ monastery -Μονή Μουντέ), the area is inhabited. The ‘wild part’ of the hike starts after the lake ‘Μικρό Φράγμα’, across deep pine and oak forests, machia and bushlands, over hills and across mountain streams with pools and falls. There are many low tone ‘anonymous’ sights (‘lowlights’ to use one of Eleni’s own terms).
I wasn’t supposed to deal with this path. I’d rather have waited for the authorities to show some interest. Instead of looking for ‘trails of the elves’, I’d rather work to improve the solid paths included in the ‘Round of Rahes on Foot’. But curiosity took the better of me, as it always does.
A first long survey proved that the path was still there (of course many parts were altered, covered in growth, ‘eaten’ by roads- but most of it was there!). Then I took my cutter and cleaned some parts as far as the mountain stream “Chalikias” (Χαλικιάς). It was a comfort for me to find occasional marks in red paint made by hiking parties a long time ago. I added a few stonemarks too. I usually do this when scouting, so that I am able to find my way back!..
After Chalikias I got involved in a very deep forest and if the path was not so well made I would never have found it. Anyway, after quite long I somehow managed to reach Lidi (“Λίδι”), where I came out in a narrow dirt road going the right direction -west!
*(They are about to build a small irrigation dam in Lidi right where the path comes out of the forest. When I made it there, covered in dust and sweat, I so much wished it was ready and I could take a dip!)
From Lidi I followed the road to the 2nd monastery (Theoktistis Monastery, see Eleni’s blog entry: “highlights»), which is very near the village of Pigi (ΠΗΓΗ). From there I walked to the main road (Evdilos-Pigi) and I waited for a friend to pick me up. There are three small whitewashed old churches on the eastern side of that road. That’s where the path goes on from Pigi to Kampos (and then Evdilos). These three churches are important landmarks.
Though I didn’t walk any further and I don’t have first hand knowledge, I can assume that the area along the stone paved mule track from Pigi to Kampos is very beautiful. These hillsides under the villages of Pigi (ΠΗΓΗ), Maratho (ΜΑΡΑΘΟ), and Frantato (ΦΡΑΝΤΑΤΟ), have the privilege to face the east and there are many springs, good soil, limestone and … no goats! So I’m sure they would be covered with flowers in spring!
1) The green lines on the map are the ‘traditional‘ paths. Some of them have become roads; some have disappeared. The dark purple lines represent the paths of the system of the Round of Rahes of Foot which, unlike the green ‘theoretical’ or traditional paths, is a reliable and well marked network of hiking trails.
2) I’ve drawn the ‘trail of the 2 monasteries’ in pink, because this colour makes a good contrast with the colours of the map. If you are good at Photoshop, you can put my map as ‘layer’ on a scanned image of the Road map (which you should first make smaller to fit the scale). Then you can erase all other info from my map and leave only the pink lines. It would be interesting to see if and how they fit on the Road map.
3) Besides the “trail of the 2 monasteries” (west-east, I’ve also painted pink the path in Myrsonas (Μύρσωνας) river (south-north), though this path is not ‘elfish’ but a reliable hike already included in The Round of Rahes on Foot. I did this because the Trail in Myrsonas is very closely associated with the ‘trail of the 2 monasteries’. The western startpoint of the trail of the 2 monasteries is situated right in it (in a place called “Φυρή Άλωνα”, marked with a pink arrow in the map).
4) The motor road between Rahes and Evdilos is exactly 17 km long. I estimate that the pink path from “Φυρή Άλωνα” to Kampos must be about 10 km long. Good news: a) there are no steep climbs up and downs. More good news: more than half of this hike is on secondary country roads (not shown in this map)!
5) the pink path ends (or begins) in the square of the village of Kampos, near the church of Agia Irini (“Αγ. Ειρήνη”), which is marked in the map with a “church” symbol. For the time being, however, I don’t advise you to hike all the way down there on the trail, because the last part of it goes through the village and gets very confusing. Instead of this, head for the main roads above Kampos. So, as you hike down from Pigi, after “Καλανταρέ” you will meet a narrow dirt road; there leave the path and follow the road to the left; it will lead you to the main motor road to Pigi (I marked this spot with a pink arrow on the map) and then out on the main road Armenistis-Evdilos (I’ve marked that spot with a pink arrow too).
6) This is a sketch of a map and a sketch of a description. Do not expect from me to give you altitudes, exact distances, e.t.c. Even the pink line I’ve drawn, I’m not at all sure if it fits in a proper geographical map. This is something that I did because I like it and because I very much like to share it with you.
7) Inspite of the beauty of the land, there is no policy whatsoever for the environment or for ecotourism in Greece. My fellow country men are only just now starting to grow an awareness in these issues. So when you hike, do not take things for granted. Take the situation in your hands (or rather, ‘your feet’)and behave like explorers: a) never get sore if you are lost; there is fun in it! b) when you see piles of stones as marks in the paths, repair them if possible and maybe add on some more.
8) I may have made mistakes. Make your comments and ask your questions (preferably in English or Greek, though any language is good) in http://www.facebook.com/groups/hikingIkaria/