Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri

The stream at Flambouro, after heavy rain

Distance: 17,2 km
Duration: 7-7,5 hours with stops (walking time: 5.50’)
Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1590 m. (Pourianos Stavros) to 490 m (Pouri)
Total ascent: 920 m.  Total descent: 1122 m.
Signed with: red marks, some metal signs
Drinking water on walk:  Agia Paraskevi church near Makrinitsa
Download GPS track:   from Wikiloc    from Everytrail     

     This used to be the shortest route from Volos to Pouri, 5 hours by mule in the old days. It also is the highest trail one can walk in Pelion mountain, reaching a maximum altitude of almost 1600 meters. Αfter the construction of  military radars at Pourianos Stavros in the 1960`s, the peak became a restricted military zone and that route was abandoned. Τhe present walk is passing very close to the peak. Warning:  Do not attempt to walk on this route without prior permission from the Air Force authorities (call +302421076180), otherwise you risk getting arrested, because the area around the top remains a restricted military zone. If we have no permission, there is an option to avoid the military zone via the West Refuge (see further on).

       Arriving to the parking lot in Makrinitsa, at the end of the asphalt road, we see on our right a kalderimi (cobblestone path) heading uphill. A handmade sign indicating to Pouri in Greek (''Πουρί'') can be seen nailed on a tree. It was made, like  many others, by a local volunteer hiker, Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the fountain in the parking. The kalderimi winds uphill among the village houses, passing by a lone pine tree next to a bench and two fountains and eventually opens to a narrow dirt road, which leads us to the old monastery of Agia Paraskevi.
Volos city as seen from Makrinitsa

       Having enjoyed a refreshing stop at that tranquil spot and filling our water supplies from the fountain, we continue uphill on dirt road. After a right turn we find the path on our left. It soon opens to another dirt road turning right to an end. We continue on path with cobblestone sections, climbing into chestnut forest.
On the path to Trano Isoma, looking down at Volos

       We cross an earth road and further up turn left on another road. Watching on our right side, after about 30 m. we find the path again, climbing among chestnut trees. Further up, we walk parallel to a water ditch, noticing another handmade sign to “Pouri”. Passing next to a water tank, we enter a secondary dirt road, which after a few meters joins the main dirt road coming from Makrinitsa. The location here is called Trano Isoma. We continue to the left and in twenty meters reach a junction next to a concrete ditch (attention!). The downhill road heading north leads to Makrinitsa-Profitis Elias chapel and also to Karias bridge-West Refuge.We take the uphill road to the right, heading steadily northeast. 
       Further up, we see a marble signplate on the left, commemorating the construction of the irrigation ditch in 1938 to bring water from Flambouro spring. After a while the ditch turns right, entering into the beech forest. A few meters on, we turn right too, following the path which is marked with red marks, just like in the entire trail.
Path in beautiful beech forest on the way to Flambouro spring, above Makrinitsa

    From a certain point, we have a magnificent distant view of lake Karla to the west. Our course is to the east and after crossing a stream we continue northeast onto a marvellous path. Eventually, we join a dirt road which soon leads us to the bed of Kaliakouda stream (Kserias).
Walking along the dry riverbed

      Walking into the wide riverbed, after about four hundred meters the concrete ditch takes a turn from our right side and  comes to end at Flambouro spring on the left. There we find the path again and start climbing a rocky slope.

      Walking on the ridge steadily uphill, we eventually come up to an open space, having an excellent view to the east and south. On our left to the east we see Kotroni peak (1550 m.) and to the south peaks Aidonaki (1537 m.) with the telecommunications antenna tower, Pliasidi (1547 m.) with antennas as well, Kokkini Rachi and Rachi Giftou (1340 m.). A stop here is mandatory.
View to the peaks Aidonaki, Pliasidi, Rachi Giftou
      A few meters up, we join a narrow abandoned earth track and go right. After a few meters, it joins a wider earth road. If we take this to the left (west), we will reach the Western Refuge in half an hour, and from there we can either return back to Makrinitsa, or continue to Pouri (see the walk Makrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri). This option has the advantage of avoiding the military zone,  so there is no need to get permission from the Air Force.

       In this walk, we take the road to the right (east) and in fifty meters we reach the asphalt which leads to the radars at the peak. Here we are at restricted military zone. We walk on the asphalt uphill and after six hundred meters, as the road takes a sharp left turn just under the radars, we go right on a dirt road. After another six hundred meters, on a left turn, we find the path with red marks crossing the road and head downhill. From this point on, it`s a steady downhill walk until we reach Pouri village.
View to southeast from Pourianos Stavros

      In a few meters, we reach another excellent spot with an even broader view. We can see Agriolefkes peak (1470 m.) featuring ski tracks, and behind it Schidzouravli (1450 m.) and Dramala (1455 m.) fading beautifully into the Aegean. Another mandatory stop to enjoy Pelion`s inexhaustible beauty here.
      We continue downhill into dense beech forest walking on the ridge called Kseforti, heading northeast. The path is clear and well marked all along. At some points parallel routes arise, meeting again shortly. Further down, we cross a road (which to the left comes to end at the hunters` hut in Kanalakia area, connecting to the Makrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri and Makrinitsa-Lagonika-Pouri trails) and then cross a second road. We pass through a clearing with a concrete pole (1103 m) and further down come across a second clearing which is on the right.
Concrete pole at Kseforti (altitude 1103 m.)
     Eventually, after crossing another road, the path opens on the upper side of Agia Marina chapel, next to the cistern that collects water coming by a concrete ditch. The church was built over a century ago, after permission to use water from Lagonika spring was allowed by its owners to the people of Pouri in 1891, a very significant event for the village at that time. Water arrived at the cistern on the nameday of St. (Agia) Marina, on the 17th of July.
Agia Marina chapel
       Following the concrete ditch on the right side of the church, we  reach another open cistern down below.  Walking on a dirt road, we come to a signpost where the main path to Pouri branches off to the left. It`s a wide downhill path heading northeast. At that point, instead of taking the path, we elected to continue on the road to visit Profitis Elias chapel, a minor detour well worth the trouble. So, we continue on the road, reach a junction and turn right following the red paint marks. From the end of that road we continue on a path descending in chestnut forest. This opens to an apple grove and becomes earth road. We follow the road downhill. At the next signed junction we go left downhill and reach the small chapel of Profitis Elias, next to a kiosk.
Pouri: Profitis Elias chapel
Chestnut forest on the way to Profitis Elias
       This location offers an excellent view to the villages of Zagora, Chorefto, Anilio and Mouresi, from the Sporades Islands (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos) in the Aegean Sea and up to the overgrown peaks of Kotroni and Pourianos Stavros.
View from Profitis Elias chapel
        Going down the road from Profitis Elias, we find easily the path again on the right. This opens to another earth road further down. Reaching a concrete water tank at the end of that road, we go right, cross a concrete ditch and immediately find the kalderimi, which leads to the village square and the main church of Agios Dimitrios, just above the end of the asphalt road.

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