Monday, May 30, 2022

Makrinitsa-Pliasidi-Zagora

 

View to Horefto 

Distance: 18,5 km.

Time: 8 hours (with stops)

Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1480 m. (max) to 510 m. (Zagora)

Total elevation gain: 1075 m.

Total elevation loss: 950 m.

Signing: red paint, some metal signs

Drinking water on walk: Agia Paraskevi mon. near Makrinitsa

Start: Brani parking lot,  Makrinitsa (end of asphalt road) 

End: Agios Georgios square, Zagora

Download GPS file (.gpx): from Wikiloc


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        In his book ''History of the Provinces of Volos and Agia'' (published in 1960) Yiannis Kordatos, a renowned scholar of Zagora,  mentions an alternative, higher way used by locals to go from Zagora to Makrinitsa-Volos: (sic) starting to climb from ''Kordateika'', passing by the ''middle Kotroni'', reaching ''Schizopetras'', turn west, get past ''Machera fountain''  and from the peak ''Plesidi'' go down to Makrinitsa. We tried to unearth this forgotten route, and after some research came up with this 8-hour walk.  After having some rest and refreshments at Agios Georgios square in Zagora,  we may wish to  continue descending for an hour or so to get down to Horefto beach  for a refreshing swim to the sea.


          As we come to the higher 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 ''Πουρί'' (Pouri village)) is nailed to a tree. This was made, along with  many others, by the late local hiker Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the drinking water fountain in the parking.

Makrinitsa

    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 chapel

        Having enjoyed a refreshing stop at that tranquil spot and filling our water supplies from the fountain (no other fountain is on our way), 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.

Path in 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.

Agios Augustinos chapel at Trano Isoma

         On our way is also the newly built chapel of Agios Augustinos, where we can have a stop. We continue on dirt road and come to a signed road junction. We continue straight ahead on a northeasterly direction, next to a concrete irrigation ditch. The road ahead leads  to Flambouro springs and Pourianos Stavros peak. After 50 meters we turn right on another dirt road that climbs steeply uphill. On a tree a small round sign indicates the direction to ''Pliasidi'' to the right.


        We pass by the Tzanopoulos estate, where there is a hut. On our left we see a square building, probably a water tank. Immediately after the estate the road makes a slight left turn downhill goeing to Flambouro. At this point we leave it and go straight ahead uphill in an easterly direction on a path, which eventually takes us to the asphalt that goes to the military radars. We are close to the peak of Pliasidi (1547 m.), which is on our right, but getting to the fenced  top is prohibited.


        Reaching the asphalt, the red-on-white marks turn to the right (attention). We turn left and walk on the asphalt for about 2.3 km, going towards the radars. At the second junction with a dirt road on the right, we leave the asphalt and take the road, which descends northeast into the beech forest.  We pass by a large rock, which the locals call "Machera". From some points we have a very nice view to the south, seeing three large wooded ridges descending to the sea one behind the other.


 

       Further down, at an altitude of 1180 meters, as we join another dirt road (which comes from the asphalt just below Chania), we reach a small shelter for hunters and firewatchers that has the inscription "ΘΗΡΟΦΥΛΑΚEΙΟ ΠΥΡΟΦΥΛΑΚEΙΟ'' (in Greek). On the day we passed (7/11/21) it was being renovated by a group of hunters. 

At the hunters shelter

        We walk on the road for two hundred meters and go right at the junctions (straight ahead, the road goes to Xeforti and Agia Marina). The area here is called "Schizopetra". Descending, we find successive sections of path that alternate with sections of road and we need to pay attention to the red marks. Οur general direction is to the northeast.

Path in beech forest

        Further down, we cross an apple grove (as the path on the side of the grove is very overgrown), and join a dirt road again. Going downhill, the road below is paved with cement as it passes between cherry and apple groves. From one point we have a nice view to the chapel of Agios Athonas, built on a hill above Zagora. 
Agios Athonas chapel

         A little further north we see another hill with antennas at the top, which on the map is referred to as "Lefko Kotroni" (732 m.).

        Going down the concrete road and watching for the red signs at the intersections, we pass by the church of St. Magdalene. Furtther down we find a section of the original kalderimi as we descend next to the fence of a cottage. We continue on  kalderimi covered by cement. Further down, as we get into the village and cement paving ceases,  the original kalderimi reappears and leads us straight to the central square of Agios Georgios.

Agios Georgios (Zagora main square)




Sunday, May 29, 2022

Katigiorgis-Promiri-Rodia (circular)

 

Promyri

Distance: 18.2 km.

Time: 7.5 hours with stops

Altitude: from 0 m. (Katigiorgis) to 234 m. (Promiri square) to 373 m. (maximum)

Total ascent / descent: 622 m.

Marking: red marks and round signs

Drinking water on walk: Promiri

Start / end: Katigiorgis beach

Download GPS file (.gpx): from Wikiloc

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         In the book of the late Nikos Haratsis "A Pelion Guide for Walkers", published in 1995, there is a description of the route Promiri-Rodia, noting that "the route has been completely abandoned for many years, and therefore is closed at many points''. After another 28 years of complete abandon, one can imagine how closed the kalderimi-path was.

The path before cleaning

        However, in the winter of 2022 with voluntary work and with a lot of patience and perseverance, we managed to find and open the lost path. So now, restored and signed, it can be used either in combination with the other route via Lyri (Promyri-Lyri-Katigiorgis)  to create a circular walk, as we did here, or to walk only the new path section from Promiri to Katigiorgis (Promiri-Rodia-Vromoneri-Katigiorgis, a distance of ten kilometers). In the latter case, we must have arranged how to return to Promiri. One solution is to take the bus that makes the route from Katigiorgis to Promiri-Volos at 14.00 on weekdays and 13.30  on weekends (that is in summer, 25/6/2022 to 11/9/2022, winter schedule is different, check timetables of Katigiorgis-Volos route at www.ktelvolou.gr) .

Approaching Promiri via Lyri

        In the circular route that we present here, we first climb from Katigiorgis to Promiri via Lyri and then return by the new path via Rodia-Vromoneri. 

Katigiorgis

        Starting from the beach of Katigiorgis, we go up on the main road. After 100 meters, as the road turns, we go straight ahead on a narrow uphill concrete road, which surely was a cobblestone path in the past. We cross the asphalt and continue on a dirt road in a pine forest. At the intersection we go right, paying attention to the red marks. Here this road section looks abandoned. Our course is generally to the north-northwest. Further on, walking on a dirt road, after a fence on our right, we leave the road to the right and find a path that goes down and crosses a small stream.


        We ascend through an olive grove, leaving a kiosk on our right and reach the ridge, where we cross a dirt road and  continue on a straight line, in an area with pine trees. Descending, we find ourselves in an olive grove again, keeping the same (northern) direction  and cross another small stream.

Οlive grove

      We climb again in an olive grove, just next to its border with wild vegetation, which is on our left.  Reaching the ridge, there is a crossing of dirt roads and we go straight downhill. A little further down we have an intersection, where we go straight. In front of us is the Laskos estate. The path is on the left side of the road. After it was cleaned in 2018, it is again today (May 2022) closed by vegetation and needs cleaning again. In any case, if it`s closed, we follow it walking on the road along its side, until we see it become passable again, so we enter and walk in it. It soon becomes a kalderimi.

At Laskos estate

         Further on it comes out on a dirt road, which in turn comes out on the asphalt, opposite a bus stop shelter. We walk on the asphalt to the left, through the settlement of Lyri. At the exit of the settlement we cross with a stream. This is the large Gerogianni stream that comes from Promiri.  There is a metal bridge on the right side of the road. We turn left, walking on a vague path with red signs next to the stream. Further on, we cross the stream and pass to its left bank. When we did the walks (June 2019 and May 2022) the path was maintained and we had no problem. If this section is unmaintained and closed by vegetation, we can always walk into the stream bed (the stream is normally dry, unless there is rain).

Walking on the streambed

         At the end of this path section, we cross to the right bank of the stream and walk parallel to it, into an olive grove. We cross the stream a couple more times, until we come to a dirt road that also crosses the stream. We are now walking on this road, having the streambed on our left. In a little while, at a fork in the road, we take the left branch, which goes just next to the riverbed. As we ascend, we can make out sections of kalderimi in the road. Approaching Promiri, the road becomes asphalt and then stone paved.

Dormition of Theotokos church, Promiri

        We pass over the central church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, built in 1760. A little further up is the village square, where we will definitely have a long stop for coffee or refreshments. So far we have walked about three hours from Katigiorgis.

Promiri square

         Now it`s time to walk back. Keeping on the main street we come to exit the village. After the gas station there is an information board on the side of the road made by the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion. A few meters on, the cobbled stone path branches off descending into the ravine, going to Platanias and we follow it. We cross a stream and in a few minutes we reach a crossroads signed with a pole (attention!) The path to Platanias continues straight, but we go left, changing direction now towards Rodia. In a few meters we see on our left an old fountain without water.

At Kanalaki

        We are now at the location "Kanalaki", in an impressive setting with rocks, running water in the streams, large plane trees whose trunks take strange shapes, a magic forest. The old half-ruined cobbled path, after crossing two small streams, begins to climb with sharp turns. Here it is wide and in good condition.

        Leaving the wooded ravine, we continue uphill on a grassy unused dirt road and in a few meters we see the path on our left and follow it. We continue in the same direction at the right border of an olive grove and higher up we cross a dirt road. Here at the making of the road, the bulldozer dug the ground half a meter below he path level, and we have to climb this to continue on the path. We ascend parallel to the road, which is on our left, but after a while the path joins the road, on which we come to walk on. Further on, we find the continuity of the path on our left (a cairn marks that point along with red paint). We are at Mavron Oros (Black Mountain), which is really a hill and not a mountain,  422 meters high, located south of Promιri. On our way we reach a maximum altitude of 373 meters. 

View to Skiathos and Aegean sea

        A dirt road passes on the ridge as we come and cross it, next to a pole with round signs. From this point we have a nice view to the Aegean and Skiathos. 

A pole with round signs by the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion


      The path now descends steadily in a southeast direction. We cross the stream of Kriovrisi on a section of kalderimi and then we ascend in a wooded area, until we reach an olive grove.

Crossing Kriovrisi stream

                 From now on, until we reach Vromoneri, we will be walking on rural earth roads. Reaching a  hut we go right and at a new intersection we go right again on the wider road. We come to another intersection, where we go left on the wider road, noticing the round sign on the tree. Again at a new intersection we go left (right goes into the settlement of Rodia, which is at close distance, but we do not need to enter the settlement). In a little while we see in front of us the chapel of Agios Ioannis the Theologian, a good place for a stop. 

Agios Ioannis Theologos chapel

        We continue on the dirt road to the east, then we take the asphalt for 500 meters and then we follow the road sign to Vromoneri beach.

Vromoneri beach

        A path continues from Vromoneri parallel to the coastline, through pine forest. Various signs help to guide us to Katigiorgis. On our way, we pass by the tiny deserted beach of Vlachorema.

Vlachorema beach

Vlachorema

    
   
We go down through the yard of the '' Aura '' studios and finally reach the beach of Katigiorgis and the cafe-restaurants that operate there.  
Katigiorgis