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From Askifou (Ammoudari) to Palaiochora (via Niátos, Sfakiano, Sfakia, Anopoli, Kormokopou, Agia Roumeli, E4)

(Prague-Athens-Chania) the plain Askifou the plain Niátos the plain Trikoukia Sfakiano gorge Sfakia Ilingias the plain Anopoli Agia Ekaterini chapel the plain Anopoli the village Agios Ioannis the cave Kormokopou Eligias gorge the village Agia Roumeli the beach Domata the village Agios Antonios the village Sougia the valley Lissos the beach Ghialiskari the town Palaiochora (Chania-Athens-Prague)

When I prepared, as usual, an itinerary of an on-coming holiday this year (it should be during 04-05-2017), I formerly intended to do a trek over mountains (also as usual) with a trailhead on the Askifou plain (again), then to climb up the Tavri refuge and the Niátos plain, and follow the newly marked E4 route around the massif of Kástro as far as a doline under northern flanks of this massif where this trail meets the older way running via/over the massif. And then to continue along the E4 as far as the Katsiveli plain, to branch toward a small plain under the Modaki trying to climb the Bournelos, to return as far as Katsiveli again and from this place to hike along E4 toward Pirou. Here to turn left and down and through the valley of Potámos to meet the old connections between pastures in mountains and the plain of Anopoli below (this footpath is running also under Zaranokefála cliffs). From the place called Krousia, to keep a newly marked connection (a short-cut) to the village of Agios Ioannis, and here to decide what to do then. But very likely to come round to for me - the well-known tavern in Anopoli, to overnight beside the chapel of Agia Eketerini, to return down on the plain and after walking to the (higher) old kalderimi which crosses the Aradhéna gorge to continue westward to Agios Ioannis again to take the well-marked footpath via the cave of Kormokopou toward the gorge of Eligias and the southern shore.

However, because I also - had got information this winter was very snowy, and also according to some photos (usually taken by Jean Bienvenue) it seemed snow-drifts could be persisting for a long time from Spring, I worked out also an alternative for a case snow-drifts could block the way in mountains. I know well the E4 route and its part from a saddle between Grias Soros and Agio Pneuma summits on one side and the saddle above the mitato of Lívada on the opposite one is running through an area with several pot-holes and other more or less deep formations, and even though snow wouldn’t block the way in full, I thought, some holes could be under snow-drifts and to fall down... Nothing interesting... This is why I created also this alternative in advance which comprised (for me) a new way down through the gorge of Sfakiano and then repeating several ways which I already went along. 

And when I could see the mountains for the first time after our arrival (from Chania) they were so white I almost resolutely voted for the lower alternative just on the first day, still far from the mountains. However, I left a final decision on the plain of Niátos when I should be just under slopes of the Kástro massif being better able to judge a state of snow up.

1st day What wasn't rather usual, I set off from Prague with a friend of mine, Ales, but he had his own programme – a stay on the Gavdos Island for the whole time of our holidays. So, we met at the Prague airport, boarded, flew, left the plane in Athens, boarded there again and during less than one hour landed at the Chania Airport. The last bus to the city was waiting, so we caught it and after 30mins got out on the main bus station. Entire our journey was on time. Just small problems I had at the Athens’ airport – I lost there (really!! although I was/changed the plane here many times in the past...) because it is under huge and extensive reconstruction, everywhere temporary walls, some enters/exits were closed..... Finally, I found myself and we got out of the airport building to do a short excursion around as we had a couple of hours of waiting for the next plane. However, back to Chania: we were at the main bus station in Chania shortly before midnight. We went away to the near Square of 1866 with a park, I went round in a fast food shop for gyros, and we ate it on a bench in the park, with the first Mythos beer. The first gyros with the first Mythos beer usually eaten in this park are for me like something sacred because it stands every time my real beginning of a holiday. After this nice refreshing, we set off to the beach of Neo Chóra, about 20mins of walking westward. At the end of the street, there is a river, usually dry but now full of water. When we got across a small bridge (for pedestrians only) we could smell huge moisture in the air, although the sky was clear, without clouds. Also, there was windlessness. I found a proper place for a tent on the top a low dune but Ales refused to sleep here and decided to make his bed not on send but on more solid ground. All plants on the ground were covered by drops of strong dew, and also the sand was wet on its surface. Nevertheless, I spent this night well even though the fly-tent was very wet outside.

2nd day Morning was sunny a warm (comparing with temperatures we were accustomed from our home), the sea was like a pond (almost without waves) – and the mountains southward were completely white. I got up and crept out from the tent to see the first day of the holiday. About fifty meters away, there was a heap of litter, with something in bright orange colour glaring afar. I went to check what it could be – and suddenly this heap starts moving... and the head of Ales appeared!! He slept in a sleeping bag, covered by a sheet of Tyvek (light waterproof material), without a tent. His “bed” was dry inside, but the surface of this heap was full of drops of dew. And as he told me several dogs bothered him during the night, sniffing his face... So, our next steps were clear, to get up, wait for a short time the sun rays come to dry up all wet things, to pack it and continue to the city. Ales needed to buy a data SIM-card (for geo-caching) and because we went just beside a customer centre of Cosmote (a mobile operator) we come round inside. But without any success, because they didn't have any data SIM-cards in their offer!! Next operator was Germanos. Here, they offer us a very small amount of data (about 200 MB?) for a horrible price and for one week only, and they, in addition to it, almost weren’t able to make understood English. Our last possibility was to try buying this SIM in the third operator – WIND, and here, we succeeded well! 5.5GB for 18 €, the girl in the shop was very willing and install the card into a device (a tablet), she was well speaking English as well...For those who would like to buy such card too – a customer centre of WIND is on the Square of 1866, just across from the Synka supermarket. The lunchtime was coming, therefore we visited the gyros-shop again, had lunch and then our ways split. Ales took a bus toward Palaiochora and my bus (leaving for 15mins later) was going as far as Sfakia on the southern coast but I finished earlier, on the Askifou plain. It was about 3 o’clock p.m. when I was in a small square in the village of Ammoudari. I was going to have a beer and Greek coffee but all (two) taverns were closed, so I had to tackle the ascent without any doping. The way up is clear, well-marked and not so difficult, one has to take into account just the fact it is always ascending, winding zigzag upwards. After about less than one hour, I reached a small green plain (for about 300m higher above the village), a good place for a rest and for finding some interesting objects for taking first photos of flowers (Anemone hortensis subsp. heildreichii, Daphne sericea and Orchis quadripunctata), and after next time, less than one hour again, I reached the Tavri refuge. Here, sending last SMSs (the last place with a mobile signal), checked snow on (eastern) slopes of the Kástro massif, and continued down on the dirt road to get on the Niátos plain. After crossing the plain (out of the road), I got on the dirt road again, then not too long ascending and descending to the first water reservoir, and along a track down, I was during less than 10mins just beside the second cistern, near which an excellent place for overnight is located. I was here rather soon having a lot of time for a short inspection of a surrounding, pitching my tent and preparing the first outdoor food. The sun still illumined tops of some hills but as it went down air was cooler and cooler. It was totally windlessness which I, perhaps, have never met here, in the mountains.

3rd day Windlessness probably caused the night was horrible, VERY cool. I was taken only a summer sleeping back and although I had a liner which improves its thermal features and although I put on more and more wear step by step during the night, I did not sleep well to the morning due to cold. And when I got from the tent, the surface of the fly-tent was covered by hoarfrost, and inside surface was almost white from frozen moisture from my breath. And what was very wrong, also water in plastic bottles was frozen!! It happened (probably), the air chilled by remains of snow higher up on slopes streamed down and stayed (due to the windlessness) on the bed of a valley where my tent was staying – it was, assumedly, the right cause of very low temperatures. I had to wait for sunrays to come on the bed of the valley to thaw water in bottles (for preparing breakfast) and then to dry the fly-tent and other wet things. Formerly, I had intended to stay at this place for the whole day trying to take photos of flowers and spend here next night but after such experience, I decided to run away to lower altitudes and to continue according to the alternative itinerary for lower altitudes (thus, to omit the track across mountains). When all were dry and my body was warm enough I packed things, left my backpack hidden under a big tree and set out along the bed of the valley to observe a wild area of Kako Kastélli where I got lost years ago (2013). It is really a wild part of mountains, full of sharp crests, small ranges, deep crevices and pot-holes+swallow holes…. After visiting this area, I returned, took my backpack a set out along the track to the Niátos plain and went on by a marked footpath heading for above a former village of Kali Lakkoi and further as far as the Anopoli plain. But there is also a possibility to leave this way and shortly behind the lower plain, Trikoukia, to branch along a (marked) path through a valley. This is the way toward Sfakia on the southern coast. I chose this second opportunity. At the beginning, the footpath is very nice running through rather a not too deep and open valley with a flat bottom full of plants, e.g. low orchids, Orchis quadripuncata in its both colour varieties – pink and white. And clusters of grass give to the bottom character of a steppe. However, roughly under the former village of Kali Lakkoi feature of the valley changes in full – the valley turns into a true gorge (called Sfakiano). The path, still well-marked, crosses on the opposite side (to the left when descending), ascends a little bit and contours then like an apparent footpath. I went on along it but because waymarks disappeared I came to a conclusion I would hike wrong, therefore returned to the last sign to try to find the right continuation. I found it soon, there is a fork and one has to take the path down heading for trees (one among branches of a tree shades the mark on the trunk). The path descends as far as the bed of the gorge and from this spot, the way becomes rough, difficult and very unpleasant. Across the gorge bed, there are lying dead trunks and big branches of trees falling down, also many bigger or smaller rocks, and what is a pity, it seems waymarking in this section is made more for those who ascend than for descending people. That means when one descends waymarks (very sparse now) are behind the back. I had even to put my backpack down several times and hiked for a certain distance down to find all waymarks, returned to the load then and repeated my descent. To do it (to find the right way first) was important because there are places (usually high rocky steps) which can be overcome by a detour on slopes only. Getting through this part was neither fast nor comfortable and nice. When the bed of the gorge got wider a little bit the first sign of civilization appeared: two low trees which trunks were protected by a plastic sheet. As soon as the gorge opens a little, another tree with the protected trunk is growing on the left side. Here, there is necessary to cross the gorge on the opposite side (right) where ruins of a low stone building are standing. And there is also a visible pipe with dropping water and a well distinct path beside. I followed it and during perhaps ten, or fifteen minutes I was just next to a small old chapel (of Agios Pavlos) standing on a fantastic place, of a flat end of a spine under which about 4 or 5 larger or smaller gorges meet. A big kermes oak with benches under it, a barrel for rubbish, an old mitato, two short grown trees, and what is the most important – a pipe from which water runs into a trough just under the mitato – these are all welcomed facilities of this site. I pitched my tent near the oak but outside of the reach of its crown (because on the ground under the tree crown there were millions of acorns which overnight could be not very nice on). I was curious which temperatures are waiting for me during the on-coming night (altitude of about 770m), whereas frost would come to the morning again but all my preparations for low temperatures were unnecessary – the night was nice, calm and warm enough.

4th day Amazing morning!!! Warm, sunny…..with many singing birds…and what was maybe the most important – completely WITHOUT bells of goats/sheep…. My activities were as usual - preparing breakfast, washing (a little bit), and packing, to set off down on the bed gorge for continuing my trek. Next way was boring it is running in a very easy gradient, like on a wide and flat river bed covered by bigger or smaller stones/pebbles, with trees on sides and without any higher steps (at only one spot there are some boulders and rocks falling down slopes through which one has to find a path for the descent). It is wide enough for sun-rays, a fine wind was blowing upward the gorge and for not so long time I was in a spot where I had to decide which way to choose. There are two possibilities, either to go on alongside the valley down (as far as the main tarmac road from Sfakia, or as far as the coast) or to take an old kalderimi (a mule-track) glued on a rock on the right hand. Just before I set off my holiday I had looked at the Google Earth to find connections from this place to Sfakia if possible to go not alongside some bitumen roads. And I had found then just this way and some services roads which follow up on this kalderimi. However, the Google Earth something shows but the truth is different – a fence across a track next to an animal shed guarded, in addition, by two big dogs, changed my plans, and at the end, I fetched up the main road. Fortunately, alongside the road even in this its section, far and near anything, there is a concrete pavement which put me to a first aid station – a tavern just beside the road. Its terrace is an excellent view of the whole Sfakia “city”, its harbour and a good piece of the coast both westward and eastward, and what was the most important, there was beer and coffee available (of course). So, finally in civilization!! From now, there were nice and “easy” times waiting for me – a visit to Sfakia, overnight at a beautiful spot in the Ilingias gorge, an ascent through a side-gorge as far as the Anopoli plain, wandering around it and as a final part to get to the village of Agios Ioannis and to hike along the marked footpath to the Kormokopou cave as far as the Eligias gorge. Then the coast and a final destination of the first part of my holiday – the village of Agia Roumeli. So, to accomplish this intention, I had next beer in Sfakia, with really big gyros, and equipped with enough water supply I got in the later afternoon to the Ilingias gorge at the spot among trees, at such a small grove of cypresses where I built years ago a nice camp-site for pitching a tent.

5th day This day should be a rest one. And it really was. First, I climbed through the side gorge to the Anopoli plain. The way is well known and rather easy except about four rocky steps among which one is about 3m high, and because it is due to very often using with detrited, smooth and slippery surface, it could be a problem for somebody to get to the top, especially for those who are carrying a bigger and heavier backpack. The first important spot of the way up is the first waterwork, with a double column and water trough beside it. It is possible to take water here but the problem could be the running of water from a pipe is, maybe, controlled by something and water runs in certain intervals only, and nobody knows in which ones. If ascending, now along a very stony and unmade track, one misses the second (small) waterwork and when one reaches the third one he has to leave the track to take an old kalderimi winding the slope above the waterwork. The footpath gets at a short time on the main road connecting the shore and the Anopoli plain in its sharp turning. Continuation of the way is just on the opposite side, upwards a rocky bank of the road. The ascent finishes in a saddle under masts standing on the top of a hill. Now, to open (and close again!!) a gate and go on along a service track. Next gate again and one is on the bitumen road (access to a pension Madares from the main road). So, next way is clear – to the left as far as the main (bitumen) road and after about 1.5km to the right one is in the centre of Anopoli, with a school, a police station, domicile of the local authority, and the white bust of Daskalogiannis – a local hero – in the centre of a small circular square. Only one hundred meters and one is in front of the Anopoli tavern at a T-junction with so excellent salad I have never eaten such one anywhere in Greece. I have got a nice time here, communicated via wi-fi network (free for visitors), and in the later afternoon, I shifted to the chapel of Agia Ekaterini on the top of a hill southwards above the plain (about 30mins of walking along the asphalt road). I intended to overnight here because I knew well, in front of the entrance to the chapel there is a lower building using rather like a shelter, with two long metal tables + benches, and even with a water reservoir in rear corner subfloor (covered by a metal lid). The building has two openings like windows and one bigger one like a door used. And in addition to it, its roof can be used as an excellent lookout terrace with the view on the whole Anopoli plain northward and vague and indistinct ruins of a large former settlement, the ancient “polis” of Anopoli which was located on the top of the flat range westward. But maybe still the better view is from the terrace around the chapel and the “shelter”. Deeply down, there is a bay with a tourist destination of Loutro, to the left (eastward) one can see contours of the Frankokastello peninsula and farther eastward lines of Idi Mountains and a great heap of Kedros, and also downward but to the right the peninsula of Mourniés next to Loutro and the southern coastline almost as far as Palaiochora far eastward. However, as I didn't have any idea how it could be with evening/night insects here, I pitched the tent inside the shelter and spent really nice night here.

6th day For this day, I decided to do a walk around the plain of Anopoli. I found on a map, and also in some articles, there were together three possibilities how to get over the gorge of Aradhéna to the western part of the plain. The lowest kalderimi is near a bridge over it (built at 50’), the second one, higher up, is destroyed and the last one, the highest, is now a part of a marked trek between the place called Krousia (above the village of Agios Ioannis) and the Aradhéna gorge/the Anopoli plain. The first what I did was to come round the tavern Anopoli for morning refreshment and go on then along the bitumen road to Limnia for about 1.5km. Then to branch to the left (like if one would like to go to Páchnes, the highest peak of Levka Ori mountains), but at the next fork to keep the way straight ahead (no to the right!!) toward a big stony water reservoir (water from rains, snow only). To follow the dirt road, at the next fork to keep straight ahead direction and one gets on open area out of trees. The road winds a little bit and when it gets among trees again there is a picnic site!! Here, there is also the old kalderimi connecting both sides of the gorge. But because that day was Sunday many Greeks decided to spend their leisure time with BBQ here. So, because there was so crowded, with very loud Greek music, I left this place immediately, returned for a short distance and left the road to try to follow footpaths running among low rocks, boulders and through phrygana (growth of low bushes) I to get back to the main tarmac road. At the beginning, there were several green-white marks which appeared sporadically and only low cairn showed the way later. However, these disappeared too and I tried to keep direction roughly southward finding a right footpath (among many of them). The right one was the path running along fences on the left hand along which I got first on a service track and later as far as the main road just beside a road-sign of the village of Agios Dimitrios. Now to the chapel where is marked way along the old connection (blue marks and arrows) which crosses over a hill to reach the main road again. From this spot, I walked by the road heading for the village of Agios Ioannis. From the bridge over the Aradhéna gorge, the distance to the village is about 5km. This part is not very pleasure the road is always ascending throughout the open and almost treeless section. Not so far from the village (about 1.5km), suddenly clouds appeared rolling over the road. When I got to the village, it seemed there is something like very fine drizzling falling from clouds, therefore, I covered the backpack by a waterproof cover and put on a waterproof jacket and set off along the well-marked footpath to the Kormokopou cave. The nice way is running through a forest of cypress trees, ascending in a rather easy gradient (except about two spots where an ascent is a little bit steeper but for a short distance only). During less than one hour I was on the fork where a marked path (yellow-orange marks) branches toward Papakefála (an outlook, with something like a picnic site lower). I knew well here is good flat terrain in a sparse forest with more possibilities to find a proper site for pitching a tent. The altitude of about 1000m. Because the drizzling turned into a fine rain from time to time and clouds were among trees like a mist, I didn’t delay pitching of the tent (I was lucky, the fine rain just stopped for a moment), prepared food, eating it up and finished all my today’s activities going into my sleep back.

7th day During this day I should reach the southern shore and at the end also the village of Agia Roumeli for spending several days in an informal campsite near the village. When I woke up I found the rain was away and dropping from trees was only the moisture falling down. The mist was still among trees but the sun struggled to break through it and when I prepared my breakfast and ate it up, I could lay wet things (like the fly-tent) on patches of sunshine to dry them. I was looking forward to hiking along the way to the cave and especially as far as to Fliskounias (which is a site in the gorge of Eligias where this marked path finishes), because this entire way is nice. The part toward the cave is under trees along the well-built mule-track. I met there just beside the path an orchid – Barlia robertiana. I’ve met this plant already years ago, but this one was much shorter and darker in its colour. The way as far as the cave is really nice. Inside the cave, I took enough water (there are two small and not too deep pools with good water), took several photos of another species of orchids and set off to go on. One note: if you take water in pools, be careful when taking it because the level of water is not so deep and in addition to it, at the bottom, there is very fine sediment which can be very easy whirled up and can impurify the water then. The beginning of next way is not easy, it is necessary to climb down a rock using small ledges only and it was worse at that time due to the rock was wet and gliding. Nevertheless, I got down well and also next not very easy part (about 5m) – a steep scree slope – I managed well. The footpath from this spot is indeed marked as well but only by a very small red spots in sparse intervals and also by usually low cairns. It is necessary to be very open-eyed. The way is roughly contoured the precipitous slope, sometimes under sparse trees, sometimes in open terrain. The most difficult part is the section where the footpath gets over very steep, almost vertical rocks using often narrow ledges only. As soon as the path reaches the top of a ridge, there are two possibilities how to go on – either to follow strictly the path marked by red spots or to leave it and follow cairns standing at the beginning on the rocky ridgetop but later also under it. The good thing is, the both branches of the path meet later. I chose the upper way and got at the end of the spine where outcrops of very sharp rocks on a very sunny place create a spur with the excellent view of the mouth of the Eligias gorge, many ranges westward and next formations below. I chose the upper way and had a rest on the sunny place, with refreshment and with final drying of all wet things. The path from this spot is leading down where it joins the second branch. It goes over the steep slope overgrown by sparse cypress trees. Also here, the path is well distinct and its progress is clear. The path (also here some red spots and cairns can be found) overcomes together two gullies then, and the second one is a little bit problematic because here a big part of the rock crashed down and for those who are here for the first time it could be difficult to find a continuation of the way. The path climbs then up and down, also along the narrow ledge of the almost vertical rock but if one has eyes open the right way could be found without any big problems. As soon as one is in the gorge of Eligias, at the spot called Fliskounias, next way is clear – it is necessary to go simply down. However, the first part goes through a scree field which is very unstable and sliding under feet, and after as many, as about 150-200m the footpath levels out a little bit and gets into a forest being always descending. About maybe two hours one is on the southern shore at the mouth of the gorge. It was a nice moment but, I'm afraid, it wasn't possible to bath, to swim, due to rather high waves, and also due to a (for me) low temperature of the sea. However, I spent here about one hour or more, to wash myself a little bit on the place to which waves hardly reached, and then continue along the shore (about 30min) as far as the informal campsite near the village of Agia Roumeli which would stay my “home” for several following days. My favourite camp-site was free, so I pitched the tent, came round to a “bathroom” for basic cleaning of my body and hurry up to Tarra tavern to say hello to Andreas and his brother Sifys who are owners of this “institution”. Having my first dinner there (as usual, it was musaka) and with coming dark I left and went to dwell.

8th – 11th days - Excellent, nice and amazing days were coming up!! I stayed there for almost one week (more exact, for 6 nights)!! Which was the longest time I have ever spent here!!! That time has several important both neutral, worse and good points. The first was the usual washing day when I wash all wear from my track. Next important thing was the fact was water running in the river what meant the shower on a pine tree was working (and, of course, showers inside and outside toilets also operated). The third important thing which happened was an arrival of Loraine Wilson, the author of the guidebook to Levka Ori Mountains (the last edition extended for Idi and Dikti Ori Mountains), and in the same category important thing belongs also a presence of next Levka Ori crazy lowers – Simon and Gerd, both Germans. With Simon I have communicated already but Gerd was known for me according to his name only. However, with both – with Simon and with Gerd I had never met before. Loraine had also two her presentation here – the first one was a demonstration of pitching of her shelter under which she overnighted here (the shelter can be built from her very light waterproof poncho + one trekking pole + several stones), whereas the second demonstration was of her needs for cooking – a very small pot and almost petty stove for solid fuel. And also of her backpack which weighs less than 2kg and a rather long (knee-long) waterproof jacket. Otherwise, I visited Tarra having a beer or a dinner, bought food in a shop (mainly the excellent oranges), went behind cliffs to take a sunbath and swim a little bit... I also had in my plans visiting both forts above Agia Roumeli, eventually also the hill of Papouras. I met there a young couple from my country and even from the town where I live, and we arranged to do a trek to these forts in common because they had never been here before. So, one day we did it. One of the worst moments of my stay here was the arrival of a group of teenagers from Russia. Although the whole one part of the campsite was empty they had to cram on sites where many other tents were staying already what meant the people who stayed here lost their privacy. And in addition, just on the first night they set the fire and started singing and being rather noisy deep into the night. An inhabitant from the nearest tent had to go out to regulate and explain them they should respect other people around, what can be indeed something new for them but if they are on a visit they should respect him/her. It must be said, they conformed themselves and other days they were here were OK.

12th day – The day of my departure from Agia Roumeli. I was going to wake and get up rather early to set off on next part of my trek (the coastal branch of the E4 route as far as Palaiochora) and to do its first part – rather long ascent – in shade, if possible. It could be said I wasn’t very successful but this ascent is mostly under trees and I got on the top of this part in a good time. I think it is not necessary to describe this way in details because I did it more time (in my previous contributions) already, thus in brief only and rather about events which happened during my track than descriptions of the route itself. I decided to spread the part of this trek between Agia Roumeli and Sougia into three days, or more exact into two nights spending near the Domata beach and somewhere close to the church of Agios Antonios on the shore, some hours of walking from Sougia. The way to Domata was as usual, up and down, it is not a very difficult trek but what really could be hard is the fact, there is no water along whole the way. Loraine told me an old water reservoir above Domata should be repaired and renewed but anybody could rely on the water here is usable. The reservoir is really renewed but with several mistakes – the level of water if it is full reaches outside where impurities can get into the water and deteriorates it for drinking. And also a flat concrete part higher the reservoir which (perhaps) should gather water from rains and melting snow should be enclosed, otherwise (as currently) it would gather mainly goat’s dropping which can be washed down into the cistern and dissolved in water. I found nice place for my tent behind the mouth of the gorge of Kladou, on fragrant needles in a sparse pine forest.

13th day – Next day without a number of some special events again. I got at the beginning of the gorge of Tripiti in good time and met here a group of Italians (mainly women) who were going to get to Sougia. It seemed me a little bit stupid because it was after the noon and both they didn’t look like to hurry and also didn’t look like runners. I told them my fears (toward Sougia, it is several hours of walking and they should hurry up…) but they put me off because it was said them it is about three hours only... Oh, my God!! Women between 40 and 50 for whom to be dressed in colourful outdoor clothes according to the last fashion is the most important thing throughout the world.... I took water (to be sure, if in a small spring under Pikilassos, an old settlement, water isn’t running – what I didn’t indeed suppose but...one never knows) and followed them slowly because I had a lot of time due to the fact I didn’t have to get as far as to Sougia but to do a stop for the following night near the church of Agios Antonios rather far in front of Sougia. First persons of the Italian group I met almost on the top of the saddle under the fortress Pikilassos sitting and lying on the ground…. There were red in their faces like a heart attack should just come and they had just one wish - to get back down into the gorge of Tripiti and call for a boat to transport them toward Sougia. I didn’t have the power to tell them “You see, I said you could have problems to get to Sougia and you apparently thought that man must be a little bit stupid....”. Water from the small spring under Pikilassos was running, so I changed all my water supply (water from a spring is much better than from whatever reservoir) and continued alongside the route. First, it is winding down a steep gully but then levels out running up and down in easy gradients only. The branch toward Agios Antonios is marked by cairns: on this spot, there are two rather bigger cairns on both sides of the footpath and one cairn is a little bit lower (to the left). Next course is following smaller cairns and the footpath leads as far as the first building beside a cave (probably a storeroom or a shed) and continues along a path just beside it to a court with the white church. Beyond a low wall to the right, there is a nice flat site under trees excellent for camping, with a long table and benches all made of concrete, and in a distance, there is a new house green painted and standing on a low terrace. Behind the house, there are three big black barrels for water but I’m afraid without any access to its content, without any tap… However, this fact didn’t play any role for me I had enough water from the spring. I pitched my tent on a green growth under the tree and although this place is not far from the sea its noise didn’t reach this place.

14th day – Only two nights “on the road” are waiting for me – one in the valley of Lissos and the last one near the beach of Ghialiskari. (The very last one spending on the airport before our early morning departure I don’t take into account.) The way from my camp-site toward Sougia is nice and easy. The ascent to the E4 takes about 15mins and after perhaps one-two hours I was in Sougia. Here the classical activity – to do shopping in the Pelikan’s supermarket (beer, vegetable, fruits), then two pieces in a bakery. And to come round a tavern (the Libyan one) for a meal (gemista, which is stuffed tomato, or paprika), and overeaten of a horrible big portion to continue via the Lissos ravine to the valley of the same name for overnight. The valley was almost unbelievably green from the view from the top of the descent. I found the place for the night beyond "the beach" which isn't the beach like on the northern coast, covered by sand or fine gravel/pebbles, but here it is a coast covered by rather big pebbles and stones. This place was under a partly natural, partly up-built wall alongside a bed of a stream.

15th day – The last day of hiking. To ascend to the plain of Koukoule takes not a very long time. And to descend on the coast as far as a small beach takes also a short time. Here I spend about two hours, and after another one, or one and a half, I was on the Ghialiskari beach. A refreshment with writing mobile messages, then to return to the eastern end of the beach (the naturist part) and here taking a sunbath and preparing a dinner. Visitors of the beach disappeared step by step with the declining day, and when I stayed alone I moved at a spot on which I was going to spend the last night outdoor. This site is just behind an info panel. There is a path with a beam across it, with a note, there aren't toilets. One has to cross it and go on as far as a small platform from which another narrow footpath runs straight ahead. To follow is, to climb a low rock and just behind it down there is the nice and rather large flat sandy place for overnight (evidently used for such purposes many times).

16th day – The true last day of walking. Last swimming, the last shower, and about 1.5hrs of walking along a dirt and dusty road – and I was in a “kafeneion” (a cafe) in Palaiochora where tickets for a bus are also sold. We met here with the friend of mine, Aleš, and taking the 12:00 bus we left toward Chania. We did there some shopping and short walking, had a frapé (our luggage were waiting for us in the luggage room at the main bus station, for 2 € for the whole day). And, of course, a gyros was an object of our interest.  At the evening, we picked up our backpacks and left (by the bus) to the airport to spend there the last night of our holiday.

17th day – The morning plane took off on time, the change in Athens was OK, and also this next flight took off on time and ran over without any problems. And we landed in Prague according to the scheduled time. Here we disjoined, Ales took a bus to a car park where his car parked (he lives in a town about 25kms from Prague), and I took a different bus to get home. About the noon I opened the door of my flat, and it was the true end of this my holiday.



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