This is Adam Monk. He is a professional photographer from Australia who specializes in wide wild landscapes of the type that Australians call “outback”. Adam who is an artist, calls them “Naked Landscapes”. They are, as he says, «places far from the influence of man«. Last June he visited Greece and took photos of our «outback», our Wild Nature (“Άγρια Φύση”) or “Virginal Nature”. Naked Landscapes, Virginal Nature, one metaphor for another. Metaphors is tricky stuff. To use them one has to know well what he or she is talking about. Undoubtedly Adam does. See here some great photos from Fournoi isles and four well chosen Naked Landscapes from Ikaria. On his permission I have connected them into this entry. I couldn’t also help copying the stories that go with them as well, which he was so generous to share with the viewers.
Last year in June/July i had the opportunity to go to Greece with my girlfriend Electra, who is Greek. Greece is one of the places i’d always wanted to go but had never made it to… it’s a long list! We stayed only 4 weeks, which is not long enough to really explore Greece, but seeing all of it wasn’t the objective, but to experience the life and culture of Greece a little, hear the language and eat the food… and eat more of the food… Greek food is great, usually quite simple, but really good!
One of the places we visited was the Island of Ikaria, not one of the main tourist islands, and right over near the coast of Turkey. Ikaria was quite different to what i expected Greece to look like, and very different to the other Greek Island we visited on that journey, more on the other island later.
I had always thought Greek Islands would be more like Rottnest, the island off the coast of Fremantle, and many of them are, very rocky, dry and windswept with low scrubby vegetation and small white painted houses. In contrast to this Ikaria is green, forested and has beautiful gorges with rivers and waterfalls, and the houses are not painted white!
One thing that was as i expected it to be was the crystal clear water of the Aegean Sea with it’s amazing deep aquamarine blue colour that just invites you to jump in, which i did on many occasions, including just after making this image here, which is the bay of a tiny fishing village at the end of a long rough dusty dirt road (it was a hire car…). I cant remember the name of the place, but when we finally arrived it was around midday and the whole town (all 15 houses) was asleep for the afternoon, so it was quite eerie, like a ghost town, we had the whole place to ourselves. So, we went down to the bay and swam around naked! It was lovely.
The Greek Island of Ikaria is a haven for bushwalkers and nature lovers. Unlike many Greek Islands that tend to be dry and windswept (though still beautiful), Ikaria is thickly forested and covered in gorges, rivers and waterfalls… i’m starting to sound like a travel agent or a travel documentary! Way too formal.
Well, as much as i love beaches, freshwater rivers and waterfalls amongst shady forests are really my favourites, there is something more surreal and almost imaginary about them. Its probably something left over from my childhood when i would ride off on my bicycle into the bush and spend the day wading around in creeks and rivers catching little freshwater crayfish and turtles (then letting them go again), only to turn up at home again hours later wet and smelling of the swamp!
Whatever the reason, for me Ikaria was a paradise of rivers, waterfalls and freshwater crayfish (i tend to eat those now…), with lots of long lovely walking trails through shady forests and rocky gorges, that would take you down to places like this one…
This magical little spot was just a short walk from the room we rented just outside of Nas on the Greek Island of Ikaria. It is a small pool in the Chalares Gorge which cut right through the landscape below the balcony of the room and ended at the beach shown in the previous post. This spot is cool, shady and tranquil, perfect spot to lean on a tree and read a book or just do nothing…
The reason Adam chose Ikaria is obvious. He speaks about it in the descriptions and, most of all, through his photos. The reason now I chose Adam was of a different nature. It had to do with destiny. Only few months after his visit, torrential rainfalls hit the island and violent landslides altered the looks of the sites where he took photos.
This is Trapalou (site of Adam’s 1st photo and story) in October 2010.
This is Nas (site of Adam’s 3rd photo and story) in October and the riverbed of Chalares (site of 2nd and 4th photo and story) in December 2010.
Who can say if it’s better or worse? Who can judge the course of the planets?
Someone would love the new beach (for as long as it stays). Someone else lost an ancestral old house and property. Someone loves the new clean stony bed of the river. Someone else weeps over the loss of the pools, the plane trees and the waterfalls. A romantic is shocked. A stoic is not.
Yet there is a thing we can do. We can eliminate the influence of man in what so ever aggravates the consequences of nature’s changes on man. Only rain can’t break down a mountain. That mountain had been eroded and broken already. Not by mining or excavations but by… goats! Who on earth would believe?
An extravagance for another, first thing I do when I am back in Ikaria will be to bathe in the goat-made new beach and hike in the goat-made new river! I am more than sure they will still be beautiful, though different, Naked Landscapes. And when some day people realize that too many goats is a disaster and get rid of them, the new Naked Landscapes of Ikaria will stop breaking down They will be very green and that day I will call Adam back!
Note: Adam Monk’s photos © Adam Monk, see technical details inside the original entries. Photo of Trapalou and Nas © Christos Malachias. Photo of Chalares riverbed © «angeloska».
.No please don’t think that this is another tale ! On the contrary this going to be quite technical. We call this path «trail of the two monasteries». because it stretches between the monastery of Mounte.and the monastery of Theoktisti.I had known about it since autumn and I had even given a name : «the trail of the fairies» ! But then I wasn’t aware than that it was all one long path and that the elf was A. who had been trying to clean it (then he gave up at some point).
Accoring to AKK, ‘the trail of the two monasteries’ (or my ‘trail of the elves’) connects to the mule track I discovered. My mule track makes the last part of ‘the trail of the two monasteries’. It’s the ‘exit to the sea’ and the outer world. 🙂
Until we have the map, here is a photo taken from a spot in my mule track. It shows the elevation (about 250-300 m.) and the distance from the sea. The light was very bad so I’m not sure if I’m going to upload it in Flickr. Instead I will surely upload a good take of the conical mountain on the opposite side. By the way, if my memory doesn’t fail me, all of my Flickr photos tagged «trail of the elves» have been taken from that wonderful hillside..
Here is an extract of a map of Ikaria showing the middle northern side of the island. This map was in the small book «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 between 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 – Μονή Θεοκτίστης, 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/
Angelos Kal -21/02/2006
Friday February 17, 2006 – 01:18pm (EET)
First I’d like to thank everyone of my silent readers. I’d like to meet you all and shake your hands.
Then I’d like to thank S. who understands drama like noone else I know and he is so quick to respond to it. (eh, look out! by drama we don’t mean broken hearts and everybody dead in the end, ok? a comedy is drama too.) I’d love to work with and I’d have to learn a lot from a person like you…
I’d like to thank Greg because he is a man of good taste, high principles and global views. I will always wonder how you found me, so don’t bother to explain how it happened.
I’d like to thank Angelos, my guardian angel, as well as many others’. Who’s your guardian angel? I’d like to know that.
Matt, Nana, Jude, I already feel that we are very close to each other, with everyone of you for a different reason. ‘Thank you’ would sound too formal.
Why am I writing this? I’m not going to commit suicide. I’m writing it because I have to confess that I’m not a real writer and I have never made a book. I’m a script writer and I work for TV ! OK, I have studied a lot, the classics and the moderns and the post-moderns and I’ve taken courses in anything under the sun (the sun? of Brussels?) and I can speak 3,5 languages, but my first job was in a TV studio and I was the script girl in a soap opera. More about it in some future entry in this blog. I just wrote this for you to know (and I’m very sorry if I have dissapointed anybody) that I’m not some kind of big shot writer in disguise.
Ben bof ουφ -I’ve said it !
Now, here are my doubts. I shot some reeaaly veeery interesting seascapes the other day with the storm. Then today I spent a lot of time in front of my screen watching them and wondering what to do. They look weird. D’you know why? I had covered the lense with car grease! There was so much salt dust and snow and spray, so I was afraid that my camera would catch some severe cold and rust and get electronic flu. The first photos I took were destroyed and came out as ‘photos from a shipwreck’ , because I was so worried to protect my camera that I didn’t see the waves coming on me or the loose earth at the brow of the cliff. So I had to do something. No want no miss such a storm. Not to mention that I was all wet and I didn’t want to waste my wet situation (and possible pneumonia) for nothing and bugle retreat.
Then I remembered I read somewhere that some times professionals use vaseline. They use it for filter for the lense in chemical cameras, but what the h-, the conditions were so extreme and spectacular, so I had a fit of megalomania and thought of doing something like it . I couldn’t find no vaseline there (and I wouldn’t ask for it in the village ‘just like that’ -what would they think of me?) But I thought that a car can provide so many useful raw materials for a survivor. What’s next like vaseline? Motor grease ! I have a small can with thick yellow grease of excellent quality in my car. I’ve been told to use it to cover the tires so that they do not crack when the car stays for long in the sun. I’m not sure if I was told right, so I hardly ever use it and the can was there almost intact. So with my fingertip I put a thick drop on the glass of the lence in hope that it was transparent. And the rest I used to cover the joints of the movable parts.
My camera worked fine in the spray and then I was able to clean it from the grease, but ….
…my photos came out in a light yellow hue !
I might post them. Writng this makes me feel like posting my ‘thalassographs’
So see you in Flickr
Here also soon. Subject: ‘compare highlights of neighbour islands‘
I have a minor confession then as well. One of my guilty pleasures is Coronation Street. Yes I know, it’s disgusting, but…
Thursday February 9, 2006 – 02:50pm (PST)
1) There’s no shame in writing for TV. I’d wager that the average line on TV get’s 10 times as much audience as the average line of print.
2) Yes yes! Highlights of neighbouring Islands.. Help me plan my trip.
Friday February 10, 2006 – 12:12am (EST)
Filenada, you are really taking off ! From now on I’ll call you a ‘pocket size all terrain 2×2 intellectual’. How about that?
Very curious for your motor-greased thalassographs.
Friday February 10, 2006 – 11:17am (EET)
Ah Greg…me too. Cam’t resist my fix of Coronation St 4 times a week…Perhaps I should ask Doctor S for help….
El, what is the Greek equivalent of Coronation st?
Friday February 10, 2006 – 10:01am (GMT)
El yes, there’s no bigger compliment to a person who pushes words around than a paycheck!
Friday February 10, 2006 – 06:24am (PST)
Our work team often talk and praise an old Greek series, ‘To Cafe tis Haras’ (=Hara’s Cafe), as the nearest equivalent to Cor.St. Hara (Χαρά) means ‘joy’ or ‘happiness’ and it’s also a woman’s name. It was about a young woman who was dissapointed with her carrer in the city, as well as her married life, so she took her daughter and moved to a typical Greek village and she opened a small cafe. The place becomes the center of the social life. The mayor (very funny guy) is jealous and wants to kick her out of the village because Hara is supposed to destroy morals, order and peace. So they plot one against the other and they make many mistakes and …they are secretly in love with each other ! => BIG SUCCESS
It didn’t last for more than 3 years though. I missed the last episodes, but I was told there was a wedding in the end !
(oh Greg, thanks… yes, I know… I love my job for that too. I’m not ashamed at all. I just didn’t want readers to idealize me, you know, the cliche of the lonesome genious etc. Wher I work there are 25 people shouting all the time. I shout too and louder. But I must have breaks, otherwise… paf ! Eleni kaput!)
Friday February 10, 2006 – 02:30pm (PST)