As I started this article, my intention was to present to the world the aestetic and environmental value of the limestone surfaces, crests and cliffs in a very special part of «Atheras», the ridge which makes the backbone of my island, Ikaria. This part is called «Pounta», a hellenized Italian word used by old seamen to describe a sticking out edge or protrusion of rocks like a promontory into the sea.
But after writing a few words, I changed my mind. I had to change my approach on the subject. You see, the landscape of Pounta is not at all «beautiful» in the common understanding of the word. Nor is the environmental value of this endless succession of barren, fragmented and cragged surfaces an easy thing to explain to a broad public. You see (again), along the irregular leaning pyramids of Pounta there is no water and none but very few weather beaten trees, the vegetation being restricted to thorny spurges of all kinds and sizes growing in the gaps between the limestone slabs.
It’s a nothingness, an emptiness, an inhospitable rocky wilderness.
But on the other hand, it’s one of the most impressive (read, majestic) landscapes I’ve seen in my life.
I’ve read that otherworldly landscapes like this were shaped by the movement of ancient glaciers. I can understand that for mt Olympus, but glaciers in Ikaria?! Glaciers in the Aegean Sea?! Well, if you want my opinion, I prefer this explanation than no explanation at all. After all, we had dwarf mammoths and rhinos 50.000 years ago. Why couldn’t we have had glaciers as well?
Anyway, my point here isn’t hard science. My point is the effect these landscapes can have to the soul of the traveller -in this case, the hiker.
I’ve already written about it when I blogged on a similarly dramatic landscape in another side of the island. It was one of the most destitude and wildest places I know, but – oh my God! – so spectacular! There I experienced strong feelings of anchoritism, like a voice calling me to escape from the worldly turmoil and settle for the rest of my life among dark hanging rocks on one side and the blue immensity on the other.
Now, as I crossed Pounta for the first time (that was in 2006) I experienced a similar, though somehow different feeling. It wasn’t about God; it was about me, as a human being. I felt brave and I felt strong and I felt persistent and decisive. Especially when few years after I tried the crossing again and the weather – as it usually happens up there – switched to gale and blew upon us thick blankets of vapor and dence sheets of fog.
In one word, I felt indomitable. 🐲
I love all the wild untamable landscapes of my island. By challenging my fears and reservations, they have strengthened my character through the years and helped me evolve to a more self-confident and more independent person.
However, in spite of their timeless, unshakeable appearance, limestone crests and cliffs like Pounta are very complicated and extremely fragile landscapes. Human activities of a gigantic industrial scale, such as the rumored installation of 110 mega-size wind turbines, would totally anihilate their actual high quality. An industrial eolian plant on mt Atheras would devastate Pounta. The prodigious ammount of excavations needed to install these monsters will sooner than later turn its proud crests to mere piles of gravel – piles of gravel rolling and dropping on our heads!
But enough with words. Just below you can see a choice of photos from a recent hiking day trip across the limestone crests of Pounta taken by my friends the OPS Ikarians.
I chose them from 1) Flickr, 2) Google, and 3) the photos contained in the Google map of the hike. If you like this visual evidence and therefore, you think like me that this very special landscape should stay untouched by capitalist piracy, please consider signing the petition! 📜
Afterword: This was eventually one more article about the landscapes of Ikaria with a stress on the mountainous nature of the island. I wonder when I will post another one. I do hope that I’ll do that soon, though. All I know right now is that the land is closing in for winter and everybody is picking olives …
Eleni Ik ❤
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
The Sturmvogel 💗
said «Soul Powered Works»!
And I say now «Seven Power Spots»!!!
It’s wintertime and summer is a long way ahead, so let’s forget «narcinstagram» 🙂 for a while and get down to serious business. Because here I am going to catch the pending threads from Nana’s glorious old article «Hiking routes…» and weave some more cloth on the loom.
Skip the metaphors…
This article is actually about the work of Hiking Club of Ikaria in mapmaking! Let me quote Nana’s words about these people…
«In spite the lack of support by government and privates, OPS Ikarias are doing more than their best to promote hiking in Ikaria. In the course of time they have literally built with their hands a large network of very popular hiking routes in the island’s varied landscapes and since 2014 when they owned a page in Google they started making Google maps of some of these hikes. Though I have helped several times, it is never enough. There is and there will always be plenty more to do.»
«This entry stands as a due tribute, promotion and encouragement to their effort. As I said and as surprising as this can be, the OPS Ikarias are not funded by anybody. On the other hand, as far as marking and mapping the paths are concerned, given that they are very few and that the terrain of the island is very rough and complicated, they haven’t done badly at all!»
«However, their task is far from being concluded. The maps that I am presenting below to do not correspond to organized, marked and clearly secure trails of the kind we see in other parts of the world. So very often advise and guidance in needed in advance. But the good thing is that the OPS Ikarias are residents who live on the island all year long. So, before you take up any of these hikes, I am asking you to get in contact with them either through their Google page, blog, photo gallery on Flickr and group on facebook.»
And I, how am I involved? Well, I was the naive and ignorant newcomer who put a few red marks on this map of Ikaria and posted it on my blog back in 2006. It became so popular so fast on the net that I felt awkard and had to take it down (Nana, our good archiver, stored it though). You see, although I have done a lot in this direction, I wouldn’t take it on me to draw maps of my island, thus offering reliable guidance across its exciting but rough, exhausting and sometimes dangerous landscapes.
These times are over! Since that old red marker stained sheet of paper, we have had fine quality digital mapmaking on the net, interactive, with a signature, and for free, created by OPS Ikarias for the sake of hiking, nature, tradition, pleasure and sport. There is so much love into this things that I have decided to call the places included in these maps -places where they have dedicated so much time and work (Soul Powered Work!)– I have decided to call them «Power Spots»!
How many are they until now? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 !!!
So here they are, dear readers, nature lovers and possible future hikers of Ikaria, the Seven Power Spots of the island, checked, signed, branded and… blogged!
your faithful weaver
[♦] See the map & description of the 1st hiking route in the area:
A hiking round in the wild mountains of western Ikaria
Also in the OPSI blog: «HINTERLAND»,
γύρος στην ορεινή ενδοχώρα της δυτικής Ικαρίας.
[♦] See the map & description of the 2nd hiking route in the area:
«On the old dry stone built trails of Northwestern Ikaria»
Mavrianou – Vrakades – Langada – Amalou
[♦] Finally, for the experienced, the bold and the demanding:
«The Round of Upper Chalares Canyon»
7) Μονοπάτι του Αθέρα
[♦] This amazing long trail running on Ikaria’s high mountain ridge starts from the Tower of Drakano. Read the OPS Ikarias review of the place and check out the location on the map.
[♦] Finally, the map of the first part of this hike. It’s one of the best I’ve seen on Google maps! I so hope OPS Ikarias will continue with this project!
«THE TRAIL OF ATHERAS RIDGE»