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From Askifou (Ammoudari) to Niáto, Kástro, E4, Katsiveli, Stérnes, Petradhé, Eligias, Ag. Roumeli, E4, Sougia, Palaiochora

(PRAGUE) - by a plane (CHANIA) - by bus ASKIFOU/AMMOUDARI (the plain) - NIÁTOS (the plain) - KATASTROMENO (a cistern) - ascent/descent KÁSTRO - "lower" E4 - KOUTALA SELI (the saddle) - MAVRI LAKI (an area) - the saddle under ASKIFIOTIKO SOROS - SIDEROPORTI (the saddle) - LÍVADA (a mitato) - KATSIVELI (the plain ) - ascent/descent STÉRNES - KATSIVELI (the plain) - E4 - PETRADHÉ (the plain) - POTÁMOS (the valley) - ELIGIAS (the gorge) - AGIA ROUMELI (a village) - E4 - DOMATA (a beach) - PIKILASSOS (riuns)+AGIOS NIKOLAOS (a chapel) - AGIOS ANTONIOS (the church) - SOUGIA (the village) -  LISSOS (an archeological site + the beach) - KOUKOULE (the plain) - E4 - GHIALISKARI (thre beach) - PALAIOCHORA (a town) - by bus (CHANIA) - by a plane (PRAGUE)

It seems, a style of my Cretan visit in October this year as though continues from my April’s visit. As well as in April, in October some negatives came. Fortunately, it proved just one negative happened. However, step by step. I set out not alone like in the Spring but now with a friend of mine who accompanied me to Crete more times already. The departure from Prague, the change in Athens, the arrival at the Chania Airport, our luggage, catching the last bus into the city - all these passed all right. A lesser surprise was the fact, the “gyros-shop” in the city centre where I usually buy my first meal was cancelled, completely liquidated, but there are many other similar shops where we could buy this – for me – a sacrament of every first day of my Cretan holiday. Of course, with a beer. So, we bought and ate it up sitting on a bench in Square 1866 – as usual. And now go toward Neo Chóra beach to overnight here. It was after midnight. As usual… We found a good site near a group of tamarisk trees at the beginning of the beach but because there was a dead rat lying on the sand we shifted onwards the beach. Nice temperature despite it was about one hour after midnight, and windlessness was a great benefit. However, as I couldn’t fall asleep (also, as usual) I could note a light, like a torch-light, slightly shining through the fly-tent, as though approaching from the beginning of the beach. The light came as far as to the tent and then started moving down to the lower margin of the tent above its apside. It was the moment when I exclaimed and shouted out something like “Do you have any problem, fucking shit” but in my language. The light immediately turned off and I could hear then only as somebody runs away. Not very pleasant incident… And in the morning, we found an injury of the fly-tent like a result of using a knife… as though the night mugger stank in the tent-like in revenge… But not rather clear it was because I’m not sure if it happened in such a way. When the mugger ran away he didn’t do any stop for using the knife and I also couldn’t hear a sound of tearing fabric… Nevertheless, the truth could be this person could creep up quietly later to take revenge, to do this damage… Nobody knows but the result of this night experience is – for me – a great problem to overnight there in the future again.

THU 02/10 – However, the nice morning came, the sea was rather like a pond, the sun started ascending, the temperature was excellent and we took our first bathing. After it, we checked up the injury of the tent (fortunately, it was under a small roof above a ventilating opening) and sealed it up (using a piece of a transparent plaster) as protection against an eventual rain. Next activity was as usual – to have a breakfast (a classical double-combination – beer + coffee) in a tavern just beside the beach, to shift in the city and to buy next coffee + apple pie in Sweet Corner – a cafeteria at the main bus station, also to do some shopping (mainly a cartridge for the gas stove) and to buy the second gyros+beer for a lunch. And then – to take a bus heading for Sfakia on the southern coast but we left after about one hour of the journey in the village of Ammoudari on the Askifou plain to start our trek here. A fine refreshment in a local tavern and we could set off. First, along the bitumen road upward (a road sing “Tavri”, which is a name of a plain and also the name of a refuge staying not do far from this plain). At the sharp turning of the road we changed clothing (for civilization -> for hiking), I switched on the GPS device and we could ascent by the E4 route. I (and we both, too) ascended along this way (an old and very well-built mule-track) more times in the past and reached its top in a good time now. The mule-track joins the road (here, just an unsurfaced dirt service road). We continued along it without doing a stop at the refuge as far as the Niátos plain to cross it and take the road again. Short ascent to a saddle, short descent to the first, “upper” cistern, then a track down to the second, “lower” cistern (the place is called Katastromeno) and not so far from it we found an excellent camp-site for overnight. It was under a big cypress tree. A small problem was the fact, there was no container or a canister with a rope fixed to it for taking water from the cistern (water seems to be very good but its level was for about 1.5m lower) but we took the water from a trough on the ground and used a filter which was sufficient. We pitched the tent, prepared the first outdoor menu and coffee and after a gulp(s) of brandy (the excellent one made of apricots) we could go into the tent to overnight hopefully without any muggers.

WED 03/10 – The morning was very nice although before the sun reached the camp-site the air was rather cool (an altitude about 1230m). The friend of mine didn’t feel rather comfortably like a cold should come. For this day, our single goal was to reach the summit of Kástro, the big peak (2219m) towering above the Niáto plain. It should be my third attempt and I hoped to be (finally!!) successful. Indeed, in the book-guide to Levka Ori, my lady-friend Loraine (Wilson, the author) describes a certain way to the summit (directly from the Niátos, 3rd edition, page 156-157) but we decided to do it in a different way: to ascend along marks/poles of the (older) E4 route (following the northern ridge of the massif) but at a spot where the footpath turns down (heading for Koutala Seli – a saddle) to go on following the ridgetop constantly and just at the certain (upper) spot to turn left traversing a slope as far as a saddle just under the Kástro flank. Then the ascent and for the descent to use another ridge, the southern one. It should be such a circular trek. So, when the sun reached the tent we packed all our things into backpacks, stored them on a tree for protection against goats and could set off. First, to take water supply from the upper cistern (using the canister with the rope disposal) and started the ascent. I’m not about describing it again, descriptions are here

https://afariz.estranky.cz/en/articles/from-askifou--ammoudari--to-anopoli--agia-roumeli--plus-big-5days-circular-track-in-mountains---palaiochora--chania.html (find TUE 16/09)

or here:

https://afariz.estranky.cz/en/articles/from-askifou-to-palaichora--via-e4-sideroporti-pavlia-harlara-rousies-pachnes-katsiveli-e4-sougia-lissos-.html (find 3rd day - 25/05)

As soon as we reached the spot where E4 poles start going down we went on up for a certain distance (maybe for 20m of elevation?? – see a profile of the way in the Photo Album of this website)


and swerved then to the left traversing roughly contouring the slope. The way was with rough stones/rocks underfoot which alternated sometimes with a lesser scree field. However, the way wasn’t very difficult and we got to the saddle under the flank of Kástro in good time. Now, the ascent and for about 20mins we reached the summit. On the top, there are two leewards and a cairn. And – of course – excellent view around!! The weather was nice even though a chilly wind blew but a range of visibility was not fully excellent due to a light haze. Nevertheless, all the important summits of Madares, the heart of Levka Ori, were fairly well in sight. The descent was very easy at the beginning but when a first beak of the slope came the way became difficult. However, under it, the way along the ridgetop was easy again. But because we could see the second break of the ridge in front of us we decided to get down at the marked footpath which we used for the ascent. Horrible way with rough terrain with shrubs and rocks underfoot!! But when we got at the path to get down to the upper cistern didn’t take a long time and a high effort. From the cistern – to go toward our backpacks, to pitch the tent again, to prepare a meal, and because a health state of my friend got worse a little, as soon as the sun hid beyond hills and the air got cooler we went into the tent to overnight here, at such excellent place, for the second time.

THU 04/10 – The very nice and sunny morning. First, to go upward without backpacks to the upper cistern to take a supply of water for almost two days and to set out then along the "lower" newly marked E4 route around the Kástro-Fanari massif. The first section is running rather steep up along three or four E4 poles but as soon as one gets to the fifth one (on a low rocky spur showing on the skyline), the way is easier. It is, indeed, ascending, but not in a difficult gradient and only at parts where the path is running on desk rocks is – not directly difficult but rather not very comfortable because ankles suffer. There are only two spots where a short climbing (but without hands) is necessary (to get over small gullies falling down from slopes) and just the last ascent is longer and steeper. Behind and under it, the not so large plain appears (called Loutsolaki on ANAVASI maps). The way continues over two or three low ridges to reach (above mentioned already) Koutala Seli. Now, the next way as far as at the beginning of the Mavri Laki area (where we were going to overnight) is described again here:

https://afariz.estranky.cz/en/articles/from-askifou-to-palaichora--via-e4-sideroporti-pavlia-harlara-rousies-pachnes-katsiveli-e4-sougia-lissos-.html (find the last sentence of 3rd day 25/05) and the first part of the 4th day – 26/05 as far as the place called Sideroporti)

FRI 05/10 – The camp-site at the beginning of Mavri Laki was nice mainly because there was almost no wind and temperatures didn’t fall to the zero (the altitude of about 1850m). This night was worse for my friend than the previous one, he had a lower fever and took some pills but in the morning he felt much better. After breakfast, we set off upward along waymarks through a gully. The next way is again described here:

https://afariz.estranky.cz/en/articles/from-askifou-to-palaichora--via-e4-sideroporti-pavlia-harlara-rousies-pachnes-katsiveli-e4-sougia-lissos-.html (find 4th day – 26/10 and follow its first part as far as the place called Sideroporti)

The route now was actually the same as the one from the link and just one difference was the season – at that time the end of May was, whereas now was the beginning of October. Due to the fact we didn’t have enough water in the spring, we reached the saddle under Askifiotiko Soros in a different way because we have to do a stop just beside a large drift of snow to thaw it. And another difference was now – the weather. When we got to the saddle under Askifiotiko Soros, drizzling came and lasted for about a half an hour. So, now we are at Sideroporti, the saddle under the next peak – Grias Soros. From this place, one can see even northern shore and here can be caught even a mobile signal, even though a weak and unsteady. The footpath from Sideroporti is ascending, first in very easy gradient whereas later it is getting up and in the last section before reaching a belt of sharp dark rocks one has to climb a little (but without hands). As soon as one gets to these rocks, there is a narrow crevice and behind it, the way goes on at its highest point of the whole trek between plains of Omalos and Askifou (the saddle at 2080m). After reaching it the descent comes after and then the path follows the bed of a valley. There is just one difficulty standing on the way – rather a sharp rock with the E4 pole on its top. But after getting over it next way is winding more or less among low rocks, swallow holes but always on flat ground. At the end of the way through the valley, there is the ascent of the saddle between slopes of Agio Pneuma (right) and Svourichti (left) where a pipe appears for the first time. This pipe fed water troughs under the Lívada mitato and it goes from the spring Lago Nero high on the slope of Svourichti (on the left side up). The way down is comfortable as far as the mitato. We did the lunch stop here. This mitato is among the largest in Levka Ori, consists of several rooms and a sheepfold. Necessary to say, almost all the rooms are with roofs more or less damaged and just one is evidently in use. When we had a break drizzling started, thus we went on down from the mitato and through the valley dressed in waterproof jackets especially due to the fine rain into which drizzling turned later. The way through the valley is easy and when one reaches the rocky spur with the E4 pole on its top, the Katsiveli refuge is visible high up at the saddle showing against the skyline. Last ascent and we are just beside it. Because the weather got better, the rain stopped and even sunshine came we did the stop here to dry up our jackets. We had a lot of time to get dawn on the Katsiveli plain where we were about overnight at our well-known favourite camp-site. Down, on the plain, there is a big water trough made of concrete which is fed by pipes from the spring located very high on the slope at the altitude over 2100m. The water inflow was so strong I had never seen it before – water running away created even a small stream and, in a distance, a large pool/small lake. We finished here drying up the things, pitched the tent, prepared meal and when the dark was coming we disappeared into the ten.

SAT 06/10 – For this day, we intended to climb my/our last summit of Levka Ori reaching more than 2300m – Stérnes. It is a peak above the saddle Rousiés and between Katsiveli and Rousiés there is running the good and well-tramped mule-track. We were going to follow this way and at a certain spot to leave it here and start ascending of the long ridge from the summit. The morning was nice again. We packed all things including the tent into backpacks, hid them among rocks and set off light, with a small day-sack only (a bottle of water, something for a light lunch and thin wind-stop jackets). The plain was crowded from early morning hours, many hunters appeared here, often climbing tops of hills and tooting at each other. After easy walking along the good footpath (about 1 hour, also here several hunters missed us) we came at the spot where going to leave the path (the saddle of Rousiés was in sight already). Not too long ascent and we were on the ridgetop. From here, the amazing view of Madares, the heart of Levka Ori, opened beneath our feet. We could also see the peaks of Kástro, Askifiotiko and Grias Soros where we were two-three days ago and, of course, more and more others. And when we turned facing south the second highest peak (Trocharis, 2410m) was in view and just beside the massif with the highest summit of Levka OriPáchnes (2453m), and to the right Bournelos which we climbed one year ago. Here, at the altitude well above 2000m, the wind got up but the sky was glass-clear and sun rays were burning. Reaching the top is not difficult it took to us less than 1 hour. From the top (2335m), also the view of the Ammoutsera valley with the road coming from the Anopoli plain was nice. I found the top of Stérnes can be reached by a marked way (large red spots on stones and rocks) from the road as well. The descent and reaching Katsiveli was easy and rather fast so we can take a break on the plain because the next part of the trek (along the E4 toward the Petradhé valley/plain) should take less than 2 hrs and there were a couple of hours after the noon only. The way down from Katsiveli toward Petradhé (from 1900m to 1650m) is very nice and easy, the mule-track is winding among many low spines coming down from both sides of the valley and as soon as the mitato Klissidhia comes in view the last descent (much steeper than the previous one) was in front of us. However, this descent is not so long and soon we were at the nice green flat site for our tent to overnight here. And the same like at Katsiveli – as well the mitato Koumi showing behind a low rocky ridge in front of us (about 150m) was full of people, crowded, still, at the evening next persons came and in the dark somebody with a head-torch was engaged in doing something in the valley up. And what was, very surprising, it was the fact, in the mitato, there was a local woman as well – it was for the first time (during many many years of my Cretan adventures) when a local woman overnighting high in the mountains in a mitato I could meet.

SUN 07/10 – The last day of our mountain trek. We should descend through the Potámos valley which turns later into the genuine and authentic wild gorge of Eligias. The morning was excellent again and after breakfast, when sun rays reached the bed of the valley we set off. The footpath is running through the growth of thorny Berberis shrubs and in this section, my knee-socks were very advantageous. The first stop was next to the cistern (with water year-round) to take enough supply for the incoming difficult day. Not so far behind the well, the way changed and now it is running on the stream-bed with stones underfoot. At the Potámos mitato, there was another group of hunters (or hikers?). Here, first trees appeared – ambelitsia and maples, and a little bit down cypress trees took in with them. The way down was still nice, easy, the stream-bed was wide (about 10m) and went down in very easy gradient. But after about a half an hour or slightly more (from the mitato) the valley turned (finally!!!) into the real gorge, with boulders, high rocky walls/sides, sometimes so narrow parts where one hardly fits into it with the backpack on shoulders…There is also a detour by virtue of high rocky step (about 10m) lower down. The spot where branching is necessary is still marked by a large blue arrow pointing to the right and up but recently it is so pale that anybody who doesn’t know this place (and doesn’t know the next way is impassable) hardly takes a note of it. The detour is climbing up, then traversing the slope as far as a gully steeply falling down as far as the edge well 5-6m above the gorge-bed. The gully is full of loose stones, loose gravel and gravel-scree which all are gliding. I knew well, there is a rope fixed on the heel of a tree helping to get down but the problem was how to get there. We chose the descent on the right side alongside rocks. This way wasn’t easy but we succeeded without any accident. Next section is “easy” if one doesn’t have a problem with using the thick rope at the steep slope and in a vertical crevice as well. The crevice is with many ledges and one can hold the rope in one hand whereas the second one can hold ledges and also these ledges are good for standing at them. Just one more place with the rope is lower but much less adventurous. The section from the ropes as far as the place called Fliskounias is very difficult: huge boulders, narrow crevices, even trunks of cypresses which must be used for getting over a hole (in one case, the hole was with a decaying stunk goat’s cadaver), as well several detours (all to the right) over big stones screes…exhausting. Fliskounias is a very interesting place. It is a barrier across the gorge, about 20m or slightly higher, which blocks eventual water-stream, and due to it, a large pool used to create in the springtime when snow is melting and (eventually) a heavy rain comes in. The barrier is overgrown by pines. The break at its top was well-earned. The last section (from Flikounias) of descent is much easier. Except for very unpleasant first part across the large scree field (about 200-300m), it is a good footpath among sparse trees, mostly pines. About 2 hours and we were on the shore. Of course, the first bath followed immediately!!! To the next site of overnight (an informal camp-site in Agia Roumeli), it is about 30mins only alongside the coast (this part has also its own local name – Skonyari). We got there in the dark, found the place for the tent and pitched it, took a shower, put on clothing for civilization a set off to the tavern of Tarra, to say hello to my friends (owners of this tavern) and to (over)eat ourselves. The sleep with stomach thick with food is very difficult but because several days of the rest were waiting here for us, it wasn’t a huge problem.

MON-WED 08-10/10 – Excellent days were waiting for us!!! Leisure time just has come!! Bathing, not carrying anything on shoulders, taking a sunbath, eating and drinking in taverns, having amazing breakfasts (in contrast to these in the mountains – which were a porridge only) etc. We did a short trip to the beach of Agios Pavlos (the name according to the name of desacrificed small church.

THU-SAT 11-13/10 – The day of departure. We had last beer in the pub but because we were going to set off later, until about the noon (due to our decision to split the trek along the E4 between Agia Roumeli and Sougia into three days, thus we didn’t need to hurry), our departure was in calm. The next trek was the same as the mine one in 05-2017, therefore, for its description see this link

https://afariz.estranky.cz/en/articles/from-askifou--ammoudari--to-palaiochora--via-niatos--sfakiano--sfakia--anopoli--kormokopou--agia-roumeli--e4-.html (find the 12th Day and follow next ones)

All the overnight sites and “experiences” are roughly the same. Only about two-three things went in another way and they mostly concerned water. The small spring under ruins of Pikilassos was dried up which meant to take water from cistern just beside the chapel Agios Nikolaos at the top of the hill Profitis Ilias towering above the mouth of the Tripiti gorge. The second “water” experience was beside the church Agios Antonios on the shore. The friend did an inspection of the water system behind a small green-coloured house in a distance from the curch (big barrels + pipes) and found in which way to obtain water here. Which we did do because the water from the chapel was not very tasty, it tasted like after chemicals. And the third different thing was the visit of (above already mentioned) the chapel of Agios Nikolaos. Maybe a next difference could be the weather – when we left the church of Agios Antonios, a shower came which turned into rather heavy rain which lasted, to tell the truth, for 10minutes as the maximum. We arrived in Sougia in the afternoon and the village welcomed us by the fine rain. After necessary shopping (and eating/drinking) we pitched the tent in the ravine approaching the valley of Lissos (of the local name Kako) at the well-known spot and returned to the village to have got a dinner. Also, this meal was very rich and we left toward the tent with very full stomachs.

SUN 14/10 – We had got in our itinerary to leave this day by bus to either upper end of the Agia Irini gorge to walk toward the Omalos plain (and next days to do a trek over Strifomadhi and through the valley of Achladha back to Sougia or to get by that bus as far as the Omalos etc.) but because during the whole stay in Agia Roumeli we could see dark clouds hanging permanently above mountains, and as I found on the internet the forecast for mountains should be not very hopeful, we gave up this part and decided to continue along the E4 route as far as Palaiochora. So, therefore we were about leaving Sougia in the later afternoon to shift to the valley of Lissos for next overnight. Necessary to say, at that time was a peak of blooming of local Cyclamens (Cyclamen graecum candicum) and at the flat ridge above the descent into the valley we could observe many these plants in full bloom. Very nice view!! The camp-site was at my favourite spot near an ancient wall not so far from the sea but without the noise of the sea though.

MON 15/10 – This day we shifted along the E4 via the plain of Koukoule (up on hight of about 230m), a small beach halfway between Koukoule and the Ghialiskari beach (doing stop here for about one-two hours), and finish on the Ghialiskari beach. Here a visit of the kiosk with basic refreshment (beer and souvlaki), then for some time to lie on the eastern end of the beach and finally, to get across lower rocks into the shrub growth at the hidden place for overnight. The last one on the southern coast.

TUE 16/10 – The second very negative event happened in the morning. When I left the overnight spot, just in my last step on the sand of the beach I slightly lost balance and strongly hit the edge of the small iron-plate roof above an informative map of the surrounding. The skin was gashed maybe as far as the skull, the injury was about 3cm long but because I pressed it immediately it didn’t bleed (too much). The friend used then a plaster and made (cut out by scissors) small pieces in the shape of a sand-glass to “sew” the wound. It was so successful, I don’t have any after-effects, any scar until now. I was looking forward to taking the last (morning) bath but had to avoid it – with the new plaster on my head… Our next steps were across the beach and then alongside the dirt road leading to Palaiochora. It is not over 5km. In the city, we put on new clothing (this one for hiking was unusable for travelling on a bus due to …perhaps a bad odour??) and left the southern coast by bus. In Chania, the first thing which we did was finding our accommodation which was booked (via booking.com). It should be Kydonia Rooms on the street running to the Old Venetian Harbour. We found it, the room was reserved (three beds, two chairs, one table, a small refrigerator, and the toilet with a shower) and therefore we could leave here out backpacks and set out into the city. Doing the shopping, eating and resting we spent the afternoon and the evening and went to beds rather early because on the next day we should wake and get up very early at about 0400 to catch the first-morning bus to the airport. Our plane took off at 0625, in Athens, we had got enough time for changing a gate to board another plane to Prague and here we landed on time.

As usual, I have got a flight ticket for the next year, the end of March, so I’m just looking forward to meeting many interesting flowers and easily will get over the loss of bathing in the sea because for September, I’m going to spend whole my holiday (about two weeks or maybe for a couple of days more) in Gavdos. And here, the temperature of the sea should be very nice at that time.



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