Thursday, December 29, 2022

Short crossing of Tisseon: western part (Panagia-Tsitsourava peak 424 m.-Trikeri-Agia Kyriaki)

Αegean Blue

Distance: 9,4 km.

Time: 6 hours

Altitude: from 15 m. (Panagia) to 424 m. (Tsitsourava peak) to 0 m. (Agia Kyriaki)

Total elevation gain:  629 m.  Total elevation loss: 641 m. 

Signing: red paint marks, cairns

Drinking water on walk: no

Start: Panagia chapel (signpost on the asphalt road)

End: Agia Kyriaki harbour

Last checked: December 2022

Download GPS file (gpx):  from Wikiloc

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        This is the western part of the Tisseon crossing. Starting from the chapel of Panagia next to the asphalt, we climb towards the Karatassos pit and then, moving along the ridge to the west, we reach the village of Trikeri, from where we finally descend to finish in Agia Kyriaki. The route has spots that offer excellent views of the Aegean sea and Pagasitic gulf.


        From Panagia to Karatassos clearing we walk through mixed Mediterranean vegetation that offers enough shade, but then the holly trees dominate on stony ground, as is the case in the rest of Tisseon. This makes walking more tiring and at the same time requires continuous attention, because the stones slip treacherously if wet from the morning moisture. And the holly trees (quercus coccifera) have a tendency to flare up in the absence of a goat flock, making it difficult to pass. Nevertheless, the route is expected to be cleaned and signposted within 2023, along with others, with money from the European Leader program.


           Note: the new recording of the route near the peak of Tsitsourava at 424 m. is more correct, easier and offers a much better view than the previous recording, shown on the maps so far. We recommend it.

           On the road from Milina to Trikeri, after the fish farm, we see by the road the sign (in Greek) ΙΕΡΟΣ ΝΑΟΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΣ, meaning "Holy Church of Virgin Mary (Panagia)"). The church is located a little lower, close to the sea and is not visible from the asphalt. Next to the road there is also a fallen marble commemorative plaque that refers to the battles fought here by the rebel Greeks, led by Karatassos, with the Turkish army under pascha Kiutachi in 1823.

The path near Panagia

         A signpost on the other side of the road marks the beginning of the path. It climbs through a maquis forest. We pass a first small uphill glade and soon we come out to a large, elongated clearing, named after Karatassos. Approximately in the middle, there is a cairn marking  the path that leads to the peak Evzonos (644 m.) to the left.


       We do not follow this, but continue straight ahead on a westerly diretion. From the upper edge of Karatassos glade we find a path with red markings, that heads west-southwest. We pass through a couple of other clearings and eventually we reach a small rocky plateau. If we stand on the edge of the cliff that is to our left, we will have a wonderful view towards the Aegean.


         From here on, the path becomes unclear, as we climb into stony ground with holly oak vegetation. We walk close to the edge of the cliff in the direction of the pillar of the Tsitsourava peak (424 m.) and the wind measuring mast next to it. Note: this beautiful and unique natural environment is in danger of becoming a wind  farm by greedy investors,  thus suffering an irreversible damage. Let us hope this will never be allowed to happen.




        After reaching the top, we continue in the same direction, passing close to a cairn on our left.


            Finding a passage through the holly trees, we descend and reach a small glade at the foot of the hill in front of us. From there, moving in a westerly direction, we climb on a narrow goat-path, pass by another small glade and climb to the top of the next hill.
Trikeri at a distance
       
         Keeping the same direction, after a while the path brings us to another hill (Kastro (Castle), 281 m.), where we meet a wall that extends for quite some time on the ridge and we walk next to it. This was built during the Greek revolution, at the time of the battles with the army of  pasha Kioutachi in 1823 (more information can be found in the book of  Kostas Liapis "Tα Παλιόκαστρα του Πηλίου'', Ta Paleokastra tou Piliou-The old castles of Pelion (in Greek, Volos 2010).
Κastro

        Continuing in the same western direction, we pass by another mast and further down we come out on a dirt road, at the location called Diakopi, near a pen. In a few meters we meet the asphalt that goes to Agia Kyriaki on the left. 
Agia Kyriaki

        Here in Diakopi we have two options: either we will walk for half an hour downhill on the asphalt to go to Agia Kyriaki, or we will go straight uphill on the dirt road, which will take us to the cemetery of Trikeri and then, as a stone paved road, to the village square (a 2-3 meter section of the old kalderimi still survives near the cemetery).
Trikeri square (in summer)

        From the square we will descend on a nice cobblestone road towards Agia Kyriaki. For this second option, which we followed here, the time from Diakopi to Agia Kyriaki is one hour and 15'. In the picturesque port of Agia Kyriaki, at least one restaurant-café operates all year round.












Friday, December 23, 2022

Short crossing of Tisseon: eastern part (Floka peak 547 m. -Evzonos peak 644 m.)


 Distance: 9,9 km.

Time: 5-6 hours

Altitude: from 31 m. (Panagia parking area) to 644 m. (Evzonos peak)

Total elevation gain: 741 m. Total elevation loss: 697 m.

Signing: red paint marks, round yellow signs, cairns

Drinking water on walk: no

Start: 1,5 km. after the road sign to ''KΟΥΚΟΥΛΕΪΚΑ''going towards Trikeri, taking the second earth road on the left

Finish: Parking area of Panagia chapel (at the road sign ''IΕΡΟΣ ΝΑΟΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΣll)

Download GPS file (.gpx): from Wikiloc         

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       The full crossing of Tisseon is a tempting idea for mountaineers, but it also presents significant difficulties. Starting from the quarries, having difficult access by narrow dirt roads, the hiker walks for hours on a hard, rocky landscape without water and shade, mostly on uneven ground without a proper path until he reaches Trikeri. On the contrary, the short crossing, in addition to the shorter distance, has the convenience of starting and ending on the asphalt and going up and down on a path. However, it does not fail to offer the experience of moving on the bare rocky terrain with unobstructed view of mountains and seas.


        Αttention is needed when walking on the rocky part of the route, as the rocks can be slippery when wet from the morning moisture and a fall can have unpleasant consequences...(it has happened). The walk is recommended for winter and spring, when the sun is not burning, as there is no water anywhere, nor any shade on the ridge. It is very important to have clarity in the atmosphere, so that we`re able to enjoy the magnificent panoramic view that is the great asset of this crossing.


         The direction of the walk can be either Milina to Trikeri (east to west), or vice versa. In the first case, coming from Milina, about 1.5 km after the road sign for Koukouleika settlement, and before reaching Marathias, moving on the asphalt towards Trikeri, we see a red paint blob on the left side of the road, and we start walking on a dirt road that is passable by cars with average ground clearance, entering an olive grove. In about 2 km we reach a pen. Here we go right and in about a hundred meters we leave the road to the left going up a wide path. (Parenthesis: there also is another dirt road climbing from the asphalt to this point. This is after Marathias, at a distance of 4 km from the sign to Koukouleika. The distance we walk is the same in both cases, about 2 km).


          The track on which we walk, initially rather seems to be an abandoned road. We keep following the red marks, continuously climbing towards the south, sometimes on stony ground and sometimes in a forest, while we also cross a clearing. At some point the forest ends and we come out onto the rocky ridge. We are close to the visible top of Floka (547 m.), where there is a fallen wind mast (wind turbines installation is scheduled, a terrible prospect that will destroy the unique natural beauty of Tisseon for ever.


       We continue straight on the ridge, without the red paint marks anymore as they are unnecessary, to the highest peak called Evzonos (644 m.) Here, if the atmosphere is clear, we will enjoy a magnificent view. We are located between two seas, the Pagasitic and the Aegean. We  see the North Sporades islands (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos). Evia (Dirfis peak) and Parnassos can be seen in the background and the other mountains of the mainland up to Olympus. Sometimes Athos is also visible. Opposite lies  Chlomo  mountain at the entrance of Pagasitic gulf. Trikeri, Tzasteni (perhaps the most photographed spot of Pelion), the south-facing villages and Volos can also be seen. On the side of Pagasitic, the slope is wooded and descends more smoothly, while on the Aegean side it is cut off sharply by a cliff of hundreds of meters. Only a few low trees can survive here on the rocky ridge.



           From Evzonos peak we descend the rocky slope to the west towards the clearing that appears in front of us at the base of the next hill, passing successive cairns. As we descend, the rocky terrain becomes undergrown with holly trees.


        After the first clearing, there is a regular path. Then we come out in the middle of a second clearing (Karatasou Lakka). We follow the red signs downhill on a path passing through a third smaller clearing and finally we reach the asphalt, immediately above the small church of Panagia which is near the sea and not visible from the road (next to the road there is the sign "Holy Church of Panagia'' (IEΡΟΣ ΝΑΟΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΣ), as well as a marble plaque commemorating the battles that took place around there in 1823 during  the Greek war of Independence, between the rebel Greeks led by Karatassos and the Turkish army led by Kioutachi pasha).


                 We also have the option of walking in the opposite direction, if that suits us better. In this case, we start from the Panagia church and go uphill, reaching the clearing "Lakka Karatasou" where we turn left at the cairn and climb to Evzonos, the highest peak (644 m.). We continue east on the ridge and reach peak Floka (547 m.), where there is a pole and a fallen wind mast.


           Following now the red marks, we enter the forest path. Further down thee is stony ground. Eventually we come out on a dirt road and go right. At the pen in a hundred meters we go left and walk on the dirt road straight to the north. We cross an olive grove and the road opens to the main asphalt, 1.5 km before the settlement of  Koukouleika (going towards Milina).