The little house in the desert


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………The place ^^’
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On the wuthering heights of Ikaria 305 by Eleni Ikanou on Flickrmount Atheraς in the center of a sandy plateau surrounded by windswept round boulders lies a tiny cube-like building with a chimney on its flat roof. This is «To Spitaki tis Mamis» (the little house of the midwife), or «Saint Panteleimon Mountain Refuge», as the marble plate in the wall next to the door says. Built by a kind woman in 1960 for the benefit of all mountain walkers, Spitaki tis Mamis, despite its miniature size, is a mountain shelter properly speaking, not associated to a church or mountain chapel, as it is usual in Greece, but built hiking-wise at important crossroads in a location where a hiker cannot possibly miss. This makes Spitaki tis Mamis, if not the oldest, undoubtedly one of the oldest mountain shelters in the Aegean islands. With my own ears I have heard about the lives it has saved through the years. On the chimney there was a fog bell to guide lost souls in the mountain and inside, as if by a magic hand, it was always provided with firewood, cooking pots, lamps and lamp oil, coffee, sugar, rice etc.
It was a place that wrote history.
However and in spite of all that, in the course of events and new road building in the 1990s Spitaki tis Mamis was forgotten and fell in oblivion. As a result, today -57 years after it was built- it’s in very bad shape: cracked walls, no door and window and a roof almost ready to fall in.

………The project ^^’
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Last month, answering Announcement by OPS Ikarias on Google+: 'We are in the pleasant position to announce that our request to the Municipality of Ikaria to grant permission to repair on our own expences and volunteer work the derelict mountain shelter to a request made by several local associations, Spitaki tis Mamis was declared by the Town Council as a cultural monument – standing reminder of the times when there were no roads and cars in Ikaria and the only way to travel from one part of the island to another was by walking long hours across uninhabited, mountainous landscapes in rain, snow or fog. Following this desicion, the Town Council granted permission to the interested parts to repair the old shelter and adapt it to modern needs. As they said, that would be done on the own expences and voluntary work without help from either central or local government…
Volunteers going to work in the wilderness on dream project…?
Oops! I know that! I must help!

………My involvement ^^’
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Dear readers, the purpose The oldest mt. shelter in the Aegean islands by angelos ka on Flickr of this article is to advertise the aforementioned project and call for funding and support. To do so I can’t find a better way than to show you a set of 16 photos taken many years ago on a hike along half the length of the mountain ridge. That great, mind and soul filling, two-day trip would not have been possible if Spitaki tis Mamis didn’t exist.
In the middle of that desert of rocks, sands, ferns and srubs, although abandonned and broken, it was still there marking the way, connecting the present with the past. It still said «Hello, I am here for you». I want it to be repaired. If not for any other reason, because of an experience I will never forget. Many years ago when I was single and young, while lying in my sleeping bag on its old cracked concrete roof, still warm from the sun, Nightsky over the mountain shelter in Ammoudia, IkariaI gazed at the biggest and brightest summer night sky I’ve seen in my life!

……… The pictures
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On the path inside Ranti Forest

On the path inside Ranti Forest

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Walking on the ridge and leaving the forest behind

Walking on the ridge and leaving the old forest behind

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A typical Ikarian rock house on the way to Rahes

A typical Ikarian rock house on the way to Rahes

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Checking the map in the sunset. Got to reach that mountain shelter before nightfall

Checking the map in the sunset. Got to reach that mountain shelter before nightfall

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Unpacking inside the tiny mountain shelter

Unpacking inside the tiny mountain shelter

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The fireplace!

The fireplace!

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Sunrise on Ammoudia plateau, alt 860 m.

Sunrise on Ammoudia plateau, alt. 860 m.

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On the road inside Erifi plateau in the morning

On the road inside Erifi plateau in the morning

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In view of forested uplands

In view of forested uplands

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Hike across barren wastelands

Hike across barren wastelands

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In view of the southern coast at last

In view of the southern coast at last

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Walking down to Karkinagri on a beautiful stone paved lane for a while

Walking down to Karkinagri on a beautiful stone paved lane for a while

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Old houses built on steep ground in the historical part of the village next to a very violent mountain torrent

Old houses built on steep ground in the historical part of the village next to a very violent mountain torrent

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Climbing down along a mountain stream near Karkinagri

Climbing down along a mountain stream near Karkinagri

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source

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That was all from me for now. You can read the official account of the project at this link. For donations, as well as for extra hands, you may write to opsikarias2008@gmail.com and/or kinisi.politon.ikaria@gmail.com. I will keep you up to date for further developments.
Follow me up! ^^’

Eleni Ik ❤

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Saturday, June 6, 2017

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A Day at an Exhibition


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Dear readers💗
As things are at my work I sometimes have to stay for hours at nerve-racking standbys. To relax tension the trick is always to turn my mind to Ikaria and then to look for something interesting to blog about my island. In most cases things don’t fall in as I wish. Inspiration is a bird in flight, but sometimes there are exceptions.😋
Parea on Ikaria south coastLast week during one of those standbys I mentionned above, and while I was surfing fruitlessly in Flickr, I looked for new stuff from friends and a wonderful new set of 29 pictures from Ikaria appeared in front of my eyes: «A Day at an Exhibition» – «Hard hiking, wild swimming and admiring rocks scuptured by nature in Cape Papas, Ikaria». What a brilliant title, description and of course, visual content!
These pictures were taken by my friend Angelos, amateur photographer and leading member of the Ikarian hiking club, on a day of March while he and his friends were trying to find a trail through «a jungle of rocks sculptured by nature» (sic) to connect the remote village of Karkinagri with the even remoter westernmost tip of Ikaria and the historical, spectacular lighthouse which stands on it.
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As you could see in this great map above, the trail was found! Therefore, I think we should expect to see more shots from this colorful and naturally artistic, wild coast of Ikaria very soon. But for the time being, these are the best I have seen. I am letting you enjoy them! Move your mouse over the thumbnails to read a few words written by the author about each picture. They are very expressive and enlightening!
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Posing to demonstrate size and proportions of a stone house. In general this is a place as if from neolithic times. Several hollow rocks in this area have served as human shelters through the ages.

All pictures © Mountain Climbing & Hiking Club of Ikaria

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. . .Like 7 years ago, the task of the day was to discover a practicable hiking route across a jungle of naturally sculpted rocks and connect Cape Papas to the village of Karkinagri. The team was great so this time we succeeded! View of the lighthouse from the new hiking trail
. . .Opening out to the vastness of the horizon Colors, reflections, shapes, make the most alive landscape I have ever seen. Hard to adjust the camera and take good pictures though...
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. . .3 pictures to demonstrate how hard it was sometimes for us to go round just one of these rocks! 3 pictures to demonstrate how hard it was sometimes for us to go round just one of these rocks!
. . .3 pictures to demonstrate how hard it was sometimes for us to go round just one of these rocks! If only we had more time to explore, pose and play with these rocks... But the task of the day was to discover a trail which we did! Let the rocks wait for another day.

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'The Scream' by Edvard Munch. It was her idea and that cavity was perfect so we couldn't resist!
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. . .The first one who found the trail is already swimming! Fair prize for good scouting. We are making our way slowly down to the little cove while the scout is sunbathing. The hardest part of the hike is over and the route across that jungle of rocks to connect Cape Papas and the village of Karkinagri is more or less fixed.
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. . .Having done most of the job with the new trail, it was time to try and take one or two good shots of this beautiful wild cove. Naturally sculptured shapes of sandstone make the scenery behind the little wild cove of the previous pictures. The trail runs across these amazing clusters of rocks.

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Having done most of the job with the new trail, it was time to try and take one or two good shots of this beautiful wild cove.
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. . .This round little pool in the rock filled with sea water could be seen from far above. We were very happy to have found a trail that runs through so many natural wonders! Many sea monster shapes sculptured in this rock.
. . .Among the rocks we found this unidentified orchid for Eleni to add to her collection Some of us take time to examine every detail of the sculptured landscape, while the photographer is struggling with the sparkling rocks, the changing light and the saturated color of everything. How happy we were to have found a trail that runs through so many natural wonders!
. . .Everybody insisted on capturing the lines, the texture and especially the shape of this rocky protrusion which by some mystery resists the huge winter waves of the Cape. I don't think it's a success. I should have set the camera differently. I think it's a good tribute though. Everybody insisted on capturing the lines, the texture and especially the shape of this rocky protrusion which by some mystery resists the huge winter waves of the Cape. I don't think it's a success. I should have set the camera differently. I think it's a good tribute though.
. . .Shot taken as were leaving. I like it. Inside this scenery maybe the secret is not to aim at anything special but leave everything to chance. But as I said ... the task of the day was not photography but to discover a trail between a village and a lighthouse. This time we succeeded! The southwesternmost end of Ikaria is generally called
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After taking so many pictures of this unearthly scenery I felt a bit alienated. For a change I took a shot of the warm wet face of one of us. Picture taken somewhere between the lighthouse of Papas and Karkinagri.
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. . .Two of us caught at rest. It's not as thick jungle of sculptured rocks as before but we still had a long way to go untill we reached Karkinagri. It is an exhibition and that's only one of the millions of exhibits! Area highly recommended to photographers, now that the trail is more or less fixed.

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. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ . .A place as if from neolithic times. Several hollow rocks in this area have served as human shelters through the ages. The new trail runs right through this historic neighborhood and of course we are very happy about it!.

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.Besides everything, the photographer kindly cited under each picture two articles from my blog and one article from the blog of my friend Nana, as he thought them related to the material. These articles are:
Côte de Naufragés Sauvés
Wild coves & beaches in southern Ikaria
Thank you very much, Angelos!💗
. . . . .Eleni Ikanou
Sunday, March 26, 2017
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Two big hikes Google mapped!


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airship Ikaria

One’s own country is the country where one does not need a map, even less a Google map with coordinates, to go around. But Ikaria is not your country so maybe you do. As a matter of fact, I think you do. Our little island is very complicated and if you have a doubt just go and browse through my «landscapes of others» set of illustrated entries. I’d rather see people walking these landscapes, instead of those disastrous goats, therefore, besides my explorers, I hold in great esteem the people who make maps and share them with the world, evenmore, when these people go for originality, have good taste and stay away from clichés. ^^’

As you have assumed, since my last entry about the «Ikaria Guidebook», I have changed course, and have taken on to the practical side of things. Let’s say, how about hiking safely in the famous but little known, ancient Forest of Radi? How about going in the depths of the upper part of Chalares canyon to find waterfalls and pools to swim naked?  😉

Don’t worry about crowds, ’cause the articles that I will suggest speak  about places only for the few. And I would be surprised if you met even few. Take my word, I have been in both these places several times and in spite their breathtaking wild beauty, I never met a living soul!

Although Ikaria has all the assets to become an AAA mountain and outdoor destination, nobody on the island seems to care to know what to do about it so things are left to chance. Taking everything into account, it doesn’t matter. With the exception of the short tourist boom of August, we are and, as it seems, we will always be an island for the few – the few hunters of adventure in a wild and exciting unknown! 😎

But even hunters of adventure need help sometimes…

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 The first Google mapped hiking route I would like to present to you today was created by the local Mountain Climbing &’ Hiking Association (OPS Ikarias) and it is about a circular hike in the Forest of Radi which lies between the village of Petropouli in Messaria and the village of Frantato in Perameria. Their blog can be easily translated through Google translate, so here is what they say in the announcement of the completion of this hiking route:

«Hello Readers! After many hiking trips and searches which ended in defining a circular route in Radi Forest, our Hiking Club proudly presents the digital map: «The Round of Radi Forest»!»

They have indeed made many trips and searches and their Google map the best evidence. This document contains 70 pins with coordinates along an intricate trail of more than 12 kilometers, most of them inside a thick forest, as well as 145 photos! If not for anything but only to appreciate the ammount of their work I think it’s worthwhile to zoom in to make a virtual walk from pin to pin and browse through the pictures. What a feat! But as they said when I asked, that magical forest was worth it!

 
If you click on the image below you will be transported to the OPS Ikarias website where you can read/translate their entry. At the end there is a list of advice and instructions which you may find useful before you do this hike.

 

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And now, after thick mysterious woods, let’s speak about rocks, sun and river water. Do you remember our friend Zdeněk Šenkyřík, the Czech photographer who I praised in my blog last July? Well, Zdeněk recently revisited his material from Ikaria as well as other islands and reorganized everything into something that I would call «Do it like Zdeněk

Hello to all friends of Greece and to all travelers who like this beautiful country and have not visited us just by chance or entered out of curiosity. My name is Zdeněk and together with my partner Petra  we go on holiday to the Greek islands every year! I first visited Greece in 2003...

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Introducing his chapter about Ikaria Zdeněk says:


«In 2014 while we were planning our trip to Samos, we made a small change to visit Ikaria as well. We wanted to get to know this paradise for lovers of wild nature – canyons, waterfalls, mountain hikes – awesome!»

Xenia, the OPS Ikarian guide, checks the water level in the first poolIndeed, once on the island last June he and his partner Petra were guided by the members of OPS Ikarias and they discovered several places of the kind they were looking for.  A list of these spots which are so well shown in Zdeněk’s photos appears in a Google map inside the general page about Ikaria. But the best map and the best photos are included in the subchapter «Chalares Ikaria – swimming in waterfalls». Click on the image below to be transported to that page. We ❤ Zdeněk and Petra!

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Chalares Ikaria - swimming in waterfalls

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Still, before closing this, I have to advise everybody who found these hikes appealing to read again my forenote about the situation in Ikaria about hiking. To find and explore safely and succesfully the amazing forest of Radi or the wild and secluded upper part of Chalares canyon the best thing to do is to contact the members of OPS Ikarias, either at their blog which is open to comments or at their facebook page. Like they did with the Czech friends, not only they will be willing to help but they will also have other interesting suggestions according to your likes and the time of the year.

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Eleni Ik ❤

Saturday February 28, 2015