Sunday, December 30, 2018

Makrinitsa-Stagiates-Portaria (circular)

Distance: 8,8 km
Time: 4,5 hours (walking time 3h20')
Altitude: max 888 m., min 394 m.
Total elevation gain/loss: 635 m.
Signed with various signs and red paint
Start/finish: Makrinitsa (end of bus line) or Portaria (Adamena fountain) or Stagiates (square)
Drinking water on walk: yes (Makrinitsa, Stagiates, Mana spring)
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  After a new path was opened in 2018, which connects Mana spring of Portaria to Makrinitsa at a level higher than the asphalt road, we now have the opportunity to create a circular walk Portaria to Makrinitsa, avoiding the asphalt as much as possible. Caution is required after heavy rain, or when the snow melts in spring, causing the stream to flow enough water to make crossing difficult (usually it is dry). The walk is best avoided in such circumstances. 
      The walk may start either from Makrinitsa (end of bus line), or Portaria (Adamena fountain), or Stagiates village square. On this occasion, we elected to start from Makrinitsa.
      Starting from the bus U-turn at the entrance of Makrinitsa, we walk down on the narrow road going to the underage refugees' Hostel (ex-Preventorium), to find in a few meters the start of a kalderimi (cobblestone path) on our left. Going steadily downhill -the view from certain points is fabulous- we come to cross the Mega rema stream over a wooden bridge, built by local volunteers of the Association of Stagiates, at a beautiful spot with running water under the shadow of plane trees. After a little while, the path opens on a sharp turn of an earth road, which we follow on a straight line. Entering the village of Stagiates, the road becomes asphalt paved and leads to the main church and to the square next to it.  
Stagiates square

             Νext to the drinking water fountain at the square, the main  kalderimi goes uphill and we follow it. We cross the asphalt and continue climbing among houses. Higher up, as we exit the village, the kalderimi becomes road paved with cement. Ιn a few meters, we leave it at an angle to the right and keep climbing on earth path. Road sections and path-kalderimi sections alternate on our way up, until we come το join the main asphalt, just under the cemetery of Portaria. Walking on the main asphalt to the right (towards Portaria), after 400 m. we reach Adamena fountain and a cafe which is nearby. Here we leave the asphalt and start climbing on a path following the course of Mana`s stream. Several wooden pedestrian bridges make crossing the streambed easier, as water is running for the most part of the year (not in summer). We can easily imagine Centaurs strolling up and down in this fabulous scenery.
The path at Mana stream

         The path opens to a small plateau, next to a building of the water system collecting the water of Mana spring and a drinking water fountain. We continue uphill, following the plain red marks (attention!) and ignoring the red-on-white marks pointing downhill, which belong to a mountain running race (Ultra Trail Pelion, UTP).
Having a short break at Mana spring

      The path opens to an area where a few goats and other animals are kept and a stationary caravan is on our left, and we continue uphill on an earth road, ignoring signs in Greek to ''ΞΕΝΩΝΕΣ ΠΟΡΤΑΡΙΑΣ'' (a closed summer camp). In seven hundred meters we come to an earth road junction and take the left branch uphill. After another three hundred meters, as the road takes a right turn, we leave it on a straight line (the signpost we put here has sadly been removed by an unknown person), cross a small stream and continue on a narrow path traversing a rocky slope. 
Approaching the stream Mega rema. The path runs above the cliff 

         We come to cross the stream of Mega rema, an easy task as the stream usually is dry, but can be more difficult in case of recent heavy rain or melting snow in spring.  
Crossing the Mega rema (in spring)

      On the other bank the path, cleaned by volunteer work in 2018 and again in 2022, is half decent  and long trousers are still recommended. At some point there is a balcony offering truly magnificent view to Portaria, Makrinitsa, Volos and the Pagasitic Gulf below. 
View to Portaria


  In a little while the path seemingly disappears, as we come to a small plateau that used to be a vineyard previously, according to its owner who came to see what we were doing on his land. The path actually continues descending on the left edge of the plateau, but this section is deserted long ago and is totally blocked by overgrown vegetation. So, for the time present, we climb down to a second small plateau and turn right, finding at the edge a narrow path into oak forest.
A section of the path (we couldn`t lift the fallen stones, too heavy)

           Eventually we come down to an earth road,  on which we walk for one hundred meters. At that point we notice a kalderimi joining in at an angle from the left. Here we have the option to walk another hundred meters on the road to visit the small and quiet monastery of Agia Paraskevi and drink water from its fountain. Otherwise, we follow the kalderimi downhill. This gets us to the parking at the end of the asphalt road, on which we walk to return back to the end of the bus line, where our walk had started.