Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Μakrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri

Distance: 21,4 km
Time: 8,5 hours (walking time 7 hours)
Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1415 m. (refuge) to 475 m. (Pouri)
Total ascent: 974 m.  Total descent: 1088 m.
Signed with red paint marks, some metal signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Krio Nero)
Download GPS track (gpx):  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc
         A well-worn classic trek in Pelion, most of which runs into beech and chestnut forest. This is the middle one of three alternative routes, the other two being Makrinitsa-Lagonika-Pouri (more westerly) and Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri (more easterly, requires a permission from the Air Force authorities because it passes through the military installations at Pourianos Stavros).
              As we come to the parking lot at Makrinitsa, at the end of the asphalt road, we see on the right a kalderimi (cobblestone path) heading uphill. A red handmade sign indicating to “Pouri”(Πουρί) is nailed to a tree. This was made, along with  many others, by a local volunteer hiker, Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the fountain in the parking.
Ascending from Makrinitsa, view over Volos
            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.  
Agia Paraskevi church
           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, which then turns right and comes to an end. We continue on a path with sections of cobblestone, climbing into chestnut forest.
           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 between chestnut trees. Further up, we walk parallel to a water ditch, noticing another handmade sign to “Pouri”. From a certain spot, we can see lake Karla at a distance to the west.
Seeing lake Karla at the distance

             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. The road to the right leads to Flambouro and Pourianos Stavros. We take the downhill road to the left, initially heading north, then turning west. We soon come to another junction with a shrine. 
            Here we take the road to the right on a north-northeasterly direction. This has replaced the old path (we can notice two small surviving sections of it on our left) and eventually leads to the stone bridge of Karias, built in 1934 over the stream of Kaliakouda (Xerias).  
Karias stone bridge
          After the bridge, the earth road continues uphill to the north and we pass next to a hut at location Krio Nero (meaning ''cold water''). Here we can fill our bottles with drinking water, as there is no other proper fountain on our way. Heading on, the road  takes a northeasterly direction. On our left is the large ravine of Elatorema stream. The firs that grow there are the only evergreen trees in the winter, in an otherwise grey scenery of deciduous beech forest. 
Evergreen firs at Elatorema (early December)
       After a juction with a downhill road on the left (here goes the route to Lagonika), the uphill road we follow finally ends, we cross a wooden bridge and continue uphill on a path.   Higher up, this opens to a deserted earth road, where we notice another handmade sign by Kottalis. We walk on the road uphill for a few meters and find the continuity of the path at the turn, climbing on a southeastely direction. The path opens to another road, which we follow to the south (right), reaching the West Refuge (altitude 1415 m.). This hut was built in 1997, remains always open and can house up to ten people in case of need. Here we are at the highest point of our walk, under the peak of Pourianos Stavros (1624 m.), which lies to the east.
West Refuge
           After a necessary stop to rest, we continue on the road for a few meters and then enter the path on the left, descending to pass a stream. This is the beginning of the large ravine of Lagonika. The wooden pedestrian bridge is broken and we cross the stream with a little difficulty. 
          Descending into the beech forest, our path eventually opens to the beginning of an earth road. Here one option is to follow that road for about 2 km. and then take the downhill path (signed with red marks, see the walk Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri) that leads to Agia Marina chapel. The other option, as followed in this recording (also leading to Agia Marina), is to turn immediately left downhill to reach a hunters` hut just below. 
Walking in the beech forest
       Two downhill paths with red marks continue from that hut (attention!). The left one goes northwest to Lagonika peak. We take the right one, initially heading north and then northeast. After a while, we come to cross a concrete ditch and an earth road. A few meters further down we meet a second earth road, which we follow to the right (east). We walk on this for about an hour, on a parallel course to the irrigation ditch that takes the water from the spring of Lagonika down to the groves of Pouri.         
Agia Marina chapel
          Eventually, we reach Agia Marina chapel, next to the open cistern that collects water by the ditch. The chapel was built over a century ago in 1891, when permission to use water from Lagonika spring was allowed by its owners to the people of Pouri, a very significant event for the village at the time. Water from the spring arrived at the cistern on the nameday of St. (Agia) Marina, on the 17th of July. 
Interior of Agia Marina

          Following the concrete ditch on the right (southern) side of the church, we reach another open cistern below.  We continue on a dirt road northeast and we meet 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 signed junction we go left downhill and reach the small chapel of Profitis Elias, next to a kiosk.
Profitis Elias chapel

         That spot offers an excellent view to the east and south. We see Horefto beach and the villages of Zagora, Anilio and Mouresi lying on the overgrown slopes  descending from the peaks Kotroni and Pourianos Stavros. Rising from the deep blue Aegean sea, the Sporades islands (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos) are visible too.
View from Profitis Elias chapel
          We continue on the road and in a little while we easily find the continuity of the path descending on the right side in chestnut forest. This opens to another earth road further down. Reaching a concrete water tank at the end of the road, we go right crossing a concrete ditch and immediately find the kalderimi, which brings us down to the main church of Agios Dimitrios, just above the end of the asphalt road.
Agios Dimitrios church, Pouri

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