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From Therisso to Plakoseli-Katsiveli-Bournelos-Svourichti-Trocharis-Anopolo-Kormokopou-Agia Roumeli-Loutro-Sfakia


As well my second holiday of this year (09-10-2017) took place in Crete like usually, and as well as many times the friend of mine, Honza, accompanied me again. The holiday consisted both of treks which I have ever done at least once in the past, and of a stay in Agia Roumeli for several days. Just one exception was climbing the summit of Bournelos, almost the last summit over 2300m which I had never reached yet before. However, as well the start of this holiday wasn’t rather a normal one because after our arrival (Saturday’s evening 16/09) we stayed for one day on the beach Neo Chóra in Chania (thus, to overnight here twice) before setting off toward a village in the Levka Ori foothills. The reason was the fact the bus toward Therisso (our trailhead) didn’t operate during the weekend and the first bus leaves Chania on Monday’s morning.

Still shortly to the data about distances between places where we overnight which I mention in the following contribution: These data are from my GPS but I don’t know if it is calculated like motion on a level or if also ascends and descends are included. I doubt ascends and descends are included, therefore I think, the sum of km, especially for parts with high differences in altitudes, should be (much?) higher. (To explain what I mean: the straight distance between two points of the same altitude is shorter than between the same points but in the case when the way is winding horizontally.)

The first stage of the track (Mon 18/09) was walking (except wallowing on the beach during the first day after our arrival) mainly along the Therisso-road heading into mountains, to the site called Kakoperato located at the end of the road. I did this part (between Therisso and Kakoperato) several times in the past, however, I hiked always along a path starting in Therisso just behind the road sign designating the end of the village, but my last two attempts to get through were either difficult or straight unsuccessful due to new fences blocking the way. So, the time to try another way was just coming. I found in Google Earth (and in the book-guide by Loraine Wilson was the same way described) there can be possible to reach the road between Therisso and next village of Drakona hiking from the end of a lane under taverns (the lane has its own name written on a table – “ODOS K….”, in Greek “ΟΔΟΣ Κ....” but I’m afraid I didn’t catch its name full). When we came in Therisso I asked a woman in an only one open tavern if it is possible (to go this way) and because she said yes we tried it. The lane has a bitumen surface first but after about 100m it turns into a narrow concrete pavement between walls of houses to finish just in front of a small gate in fences. We passed through and met immediately first red patch on stones and small rocks marking the way – what reflected this footpath is in use, at least from time to time. Even though the waymarks disappeared when got closer to ruins of houses we reached the road – one has always to ascend keeping roughly the same direction. The road’s part was known for me already and therefore there was any problem to go on along the right ways. The road forks after about 1.5km – the left branch is for Drakona whereas the right one is for Alyakes spring and, generally, for mountains. The bitumen surface changes after a certain time and the road is unsurfaced further. The first stop was at Alyakes to take enough water and the next one was as well near the spring (called Monoskarfídhi). The water here seemed to be not clear in full which was a good occasion to prove my new water-filter (SAWYER Mini). The weather was excellent, perhaps even damn excellent because the sky was without any small clouds and also any wind was blowing – this combination was almost mortal for both our pale skins and organisms from Central Europe where hot summer finished already several weeks ago. The way along the road is always ascending in rather an easy gradient but to carry a big and heavy backpack (full of water and food for about 5-6 days + mountain equipment when we had to count with several possibly colder nights spending above 1800m) in such hot conditions was very tiring. At the end of the road (the site is called Kakoperato), there is a water cistern built-in partly into the slope (collecting water from rains and snow only) and a small stone house above a deep gorge under flanks of Kaloros (1926m). Here, steeper ascending started just above the cistern with rather rough stony terrain under feet as far as we met a footpath from the house heading upward to a small flat-floored valley in which should be a camp-site where we would have spent our first mountain’s night. I knew this place from one my previous trek (2012). The distance of this stage was 12.9km, from the first view nothing extraordinary but on the other hand, the altitude of Therisso is 587m and of the “night valley” is about 1500m, our backpacks were maybe slightly over 20kg, hot and burning sun without any wind "on the road"…we got into the valley really tired.

The weather didn’t change even on the next (2nd) day (TUE 19/09) but maybe because we got at higher altitudes a light wind sometimes blew and cooled us. We returned from the small valley lower a little bit and found the footpath (marked by sporadic cairns here and there) contouring slopes above the gorge as far as some rocks. Here, the footpath turns right up, passes three shallow hollows, turns right and ascends the slope with moistly flat rocks among low hedgehog shrublets to a saddle on the skyline. This part is without waymarks except for the one (a big stone-man) which was well distinct in the saddle above. The nice view is from this spot especially into the depth of the gorge where a mitato (a stone house built in an old style) and an underground water tank covered by a white plastic sheet can be seen. Next path was winding up waymarked by small and sporadic cairns again. It levelled out then and passed a wide gully to start ascending again. In that time,  the range top in front of as was into view. From the top, there is an excellent view of both northern and southern sides and also eastward of the range with the summit of Ornio like its top. To the north, one can see a part of the Souda bay with a part of the Akrotiri peninsula (with the Chania’s airport – not visible) and also northern peninsulas of Crete westward Chania whereas southward the huge massif with the highest peak of Levka Ori, Páchnes (2453m) was looming against the sky. The footpath went on from this spot down leading to ruins of another mitato above the Plakoseli plain spreading down. It was our first aim because there is the E4 route which should lead us as far as the Katsiveli plain where we were going to overnight in our second mountain’s night. To pass this plain and also the next, smaller one took us not a very long time, the same like a descent above the plain Pirou, with the mitato of the same name on its upper side, to the left. The E4 doesn’t get on the bottom on contrary it ascends a little bit and gets to its lowest point then. It is a saddle between Pirou and lower plain Petradhé. E4 ascends from this point continuously (passing the restored mitato of Klissidhia) along the very good and well-tramped footpath (looking almost like a pavement) as far as the plain of Katsiveli which was our final spot of this stage. The distance from our last camp-sitet was 7.9km.

3rd day (Wed 20/09) was different due to a wind which had started blowing at the night. We considered this day to be a rest one and in our itinerary was reaching only the summit of Bournelos (2362m) one of (two) latest summits over 2300m where I hadn’t been until that time yet. The way from Katsiveli is not so long and we were going to this adventure light leaving backpacks hidden at Katsiveli. The way is running around foothills of bicolour Modaki peak (2225m) to a small plain at about 2050m to go on eastward up through a gully to reach the lowest spot of a range in front of us. A considerable part of this section is marked by cairns because this is also an alternative way for reaching Páchnes, the highest peak of Levka Ori. Only a shorter part of the ascent to the range must be done along with an own way. Now, we were at the point of nice view – on the left side flat rocks on slopes of Bournelos’ massif, in front of us several deep depressions, top the right slopes leading as far as Páchnes and beyond us the steep slope to the small plain under Modaki. The sun was shining fully, and the wind was blowing almost also fully. Therefore, we went into wind-prove jackets and started the ascent. Nothing extremely difficult, the gradient was not indeed “easy” but also not extremely steep, and during a shorter time, we reached the first summit. To get to the second one take maybe 5 minutes along flat ground. In the first time we supposed we reached the (main) summit of Bournelos but after a short time of my investigation, I found the main summit is still farther. We had to descend at first, for about altitudinal 50m to climb up again and reach the main summit. The wind was rather strong therefore we descended a little bit leeward slope to hide against it having lunch. For a return, we decided to miss the two previous summits and descend straight down to try to reach an animal path well distinct down. This was almost a sheep highway contoured slope under cliffs falling down from Bournelos. It took not so long time and we were on the small plain under Modaki again and also the way toward Katsiveli took us perhaps less than one hour. Because we returned in good time we decided to do two things. Firstly, to move to another place for next overnight (two reasons – our previous site was occupied by a donkey taking here its dusty bath, and to pitch the tent closely behind a stone wall at the new camp-site served like a lee seemed us to be useful). And secondly – to do a trip to the stone hut standing on the saddle above the plain (locked, managed by EOS – a mountain club from Chania). When we fulfilled all, the time for preparing dinner came. Before the food was ready I used my new water-filter to take enough water for the next day, and after the dinner, sleeping bags were fully disposal for us. The distance of this day – 6.4kms.

4th day (Thu 21/09) The day of a challenge. We should climb Svourichti, (2356m) then Mesa Soros (2349m) and overnight under slopes of the later one. Climbing Svourichti is nothing difficult, the ascent is not very steep except the final part where one has to get over some rocks (however, definitely any hand-climbing). Also Svourichti has a very flat top part and it has another one, a secondary range with its own summit (with a cairn). The wind was unpleasant (fortunately at least the sun was shining still fully) therefore we didn’t stay on the summit for a longer time and hurry up to descend into the saddle between Svourichti and Mesa Soros. The descent is easy but in the saddle, gust of the wind were also strong. Contouring lower parts of flanks we got to some lower rocks where leaving backpacks to reach the summit light. I remembered the ascent with loose stones underfoot wasn’t very friendly, therefore we found outcrops of low rocks along which the hiking/ascending was much better. About 20mins and we are here. Short stay to take photos and videos and hurry up down to go on. We got at the place under slopes intended for an overnight here much sooner than we had planned, so we decided to hike as far as the saddle of Rousiés. Thus, to climb on the saddle of the ridge separating the footpath leading to Rousiés took us about a half of hour, then descent, or better almost contouring slope until meet the path and just at the longer time before coming dark we were in the saddle of Rousiés. Also here, the wind gusts were strong, therefore we decided to overnight in a small stony house (again). To take water supply, prepare the room inside the house for sleeping and prepare the dinner then we did before the dark came. In spite of the wind, it was really cold (alt. of 2135m), but we slept well even in our summer sleeping bags (only to the morning we draped a fly tent over us). The distance of today’s trek was as well not very long, 6.5kms “only”, but it was ascending for about 400m, descending for about 200m and ascending for the same high…and the ascent and the descent again to finish at an altitude of 2135m on the saddle of Rousiés.

As well during the 5th day (Fri 22/09), we were going to reach two high summits – Trocharis (2410m, the second highest one in Levka Ori) and neighbouring Thodorí Korfí (2354m), the peak over 2300m as well. The sun was always burning, and the wind was always strong and cold. After about one hour we were on a flat ridge under the final ascent Páchnes (the ridge itself is over 2300m), however, we were on this summit many times, therefore, we omitted it and tried a new way how to reach Trocharis. When I did this trek years ago, I descended directly into deep saddle under opposite slope but now we descended slightly westward, on a flat gravel/sandy site well distinct from above, to follow not so steep a roundabout way on the (nameless) summit in front of Trocharis then. To compare these two ways, it can be said both take almost the same time, descends of both is roughly of the same difficulty but for the former one, the subsequent ascent is much steeper and therefore slower even though shorter whereas the gradient of the later one is easier but longer. Hard to say which one is the better. The way from the nameless summit is easy as far as rock formations in the lowest part between this summit and Trocharis. To cross over these rocks is rather easy jumping on their tops. Then ascent crossways to the saddle between Trocharis and Thodorí Korfí, leaving backpacks again here, and reaching the summit of Trocharis light took from the saddle not more than 20mins. And also the same like on previous summits – to take photos and videos and hurry up down, both for stronger and cold wind and also for the fact a very long way is waiting for us that day. To get down to the saddle and climb next summit took not so long time. The view from the second summit of Thodorí Korfí is excellent because it looks down upon the large plain of Anopoli, the gorge of Aradhéna and many other objects both westward and eastward. Even here we didn’t stay for a longer time and started the descent. At first, it is an unpleasant way gliding on loose stones and scree but as soon as one found lower rocks thing are getting better. At the bottom of the wild and wide valley, there are numbers of deep and shallow hollows with ridges and crests among them (on the map, this area is called Choráfas Korfí), therefore it is better to keep on the lower parts of the foothill of Xerolimni (2270m), thus, on the left side of the valley. Indeed, it is necessary to climb sometimes up and down rocks but it is generally the continual descent. At the end of the way along the flank’s bottom a deep black rocky formation opens. It is the southern side of the Ammoutsera valley through which the Anopoli road (our aim) is running. But I found another way reaching the road – on the right side of a rounded hill to the right from the black formation. After getting around several potholes and along narrow crests the road got suddenly into view. So, we were on the road and chose an old mule-track, kalderimi, running through the centre of the valley for next continuation, whereas the dirt road runs around the valley following its easter side. Nevertheless, the kalderimi joins this road again. Now along it for about 300(?) meters and we were at Aganthopoi, the site where the kalderimi leaves the road again to run through the gorge of Lagou descending as far as the plain of Anopoli. Not so far behind this fork, there is a wonderful spot for camping among ancient cypress trees and protected against the wind (a little bit at least). The distance of the trek was 11.4kms. Here we overnight for the last time into the mountains.

In the morning of the next day (6th)(Sat 23/09) we agreed upon the fact the last night was surprisingly the coldest one we spent until that time (the altitude of about 1650m). However, as soon as the sun reached the tent coolness disappeared and the day started to be nice again. Returning to civilization was waiting for us and just the long descent through the gorge of Lagou and about 2 or 3km separated us from a tavern on the Anopoli plain. The old mule-track is very stony at its beginning. At the site called Kriaras, with ruins of an old stone house, several animal pens and an old (and very deep) seepage well in an old style vaulted, we tried to take water supply but whereas water in the spring season was well usable now there was only a thin layer of muddy water on the bottom, totally unusable. The descent is not difficult but very long and a little bit tiring. Its end is the site of  Gonia just beside a goats' shed. The (Anopoli) dirt road makes here several zigzag bends and it is worth to cut across a pine forest. This short-cut brought us on the dirt road again which changes its cover later, and its last part for about 2kms toward Anopoli is covered by asphalt. Our regale in the tavern was huge – after one week with porridges for breakfasts, pieces of bread with cheese and a pair of wheels of salami as lunches and dried meals from a bag at evenings, we ate (and drank) until our stomachs were completely full. So overeaten, we set off along the road to reach Sellouda, the next spot for overnight. To get there meant to walk about 1.5km toward the village of Agios Dimitrios, here to leave the road and walk along bright blue marks through the village and behind (and above) it to walk over a low hill to meet the road again not so far from a bridge over the gorge of Aradhéna. In the kiosk with refreshment just beside the bridge, we did next stop (to supply liquids in a shape of beer, of course…) and then the tarmac road again for about 2kms to turn left keeping a local bitumen road running slightly down. Not so far before its T-junction the asphalt cover disappears and now it is the typical Cretan dirt service road again. On the junction, to turn to the right and after about 200ms to the left. To pass through the pine forest, then about 200ms through open area, to branch to the left keeping a footpath (white-red marks) and after next about 250ms we were at Sellouda, where a wonderful camp-site is (necessary to branch to the right just before the point where the path starts its descent, and pass several cypress tresses as far as behind the last one). The distance for this day was 15.9kms. The altitude of this place is about 600ms, view of the Libyan Sea, and warmth – what more one should wish!!

This (7th) day (Sun 24/09) was the last one before we reached the sea. In the itinerary was shifting from Sellouda along the old (marked) kalderimi to the village of Agios Ioannis to continue toward a cave of Kormokopou, then the site Fliskounias in the Eligias gorge, descend on the shore and reaching Agia Roumeli where we were going to stay for a couple days. All we did, with a stop in the village of Agios Ioannis, in the wonderful tavern Alonia, just one in the village providing accommodation as well. The way to the cave is very nice and rather easy trip even though the highest point of the way is at about 1000-1100m. The cave is large and with two small wells/hollows dug in the rock with very clear water but collecting water must be very careful operation due to a layer of very fine sediment on their beds which can be very easy whirled up. The way from the cave, it is much more difficult to find miniature red spots on rocks/stones showing the right footpath (or small cairns) which is running through very steep slope with sporadic woods and even on ledges on almost vertical flat rocks in its short part. Yet the descent isn’t easy, it could be said there are even a risky parts requiring hands to hold rocks. The site Fliskounias in the gorge Eligias is a flatter range across the gorge where rather easy descent starts. It is easy but also long – tiring and straining knees. The mouth of the gorge to the sea is with sandy dunes and a proper place for bathing (Finally!! After one week of a limited amount of water for washing...) but we hurried up to Agia Roumeli, in its informal camp-site. The camp was almost filled up but at the end, we pitched up our tent (for two persons) at my favourite camp-place (for one person) and to fit into it a part of stone barrier around this place might be removed (of course, we count with its building when leaving the camp). 14kms

In Agia Roumeli, we spent several nice relaxing days (Mon 25/09 – Thu 28/09) with sunbathing, swimming in the warm sea, inspections of taverns, visiting the supermarket, and only one necessary work – to do a washing day to do all the clothes from our mountain’s trek (mainly socks and t-shirts) applicable again. The weather was imposing even though some clouds appeared around Wednesday when we did a trip to the summit of Papouras (970m) northward the village. The trip started just beside the old church along a path supporting by better or worse stony walls, which was running toward “the lower west fortress”. As well continuation upward, to “the upper west fortress” is the good footpath winding on the treeless slope at first but later it hides under cypresses. The most of next way up is under trees and only about last fourth of the ascent (before reaching the summit) is running in open terrain, on the mild slope with a growth of hedgehog shrublets as far as the summit. Due to clouds, visibility was not excellent. The return is by the same way. “At home”, in Agia Roumeli, we were rather tired (up and down it takes 8.8kms), but no wonder to ascent for almost one thousand meters up and the same down….

On Fri 29/09 we were going to leave the camp-site to shift eastward to the beach of Agios Pavlos. However, during the morning two short showers came but because the weather was still warm when we packed the tent (and other things) all things stayed always dry. Shortly after the noon, we set out and after one hour and fifteen minutes we were sitting in the tavern on the beach supplying liquids (i.e. beers) for our bodies. Formerly, we were going to hike up at Sellouda then, go on to Anopoli and continue along the Anopoli road upward as far somewhere behind the spot with three wells for an overnight here. Next overnight should be beside the chapel on the lower margin of the former village of Kavros and next day to reach Sfakia. But we changed our plans (due to the worsening weather) and decided to sleep at Sellouda again then to walk toward Anopoli and the Agia Ekaterini chapel, and to descend to Loutro on the shore, spend here one day and overnight here and on the following day to shift to Sfakia. Totally 7.4kms.

At the Sat 30/09 morning, it showed how “wise” our decision (to adjust our plans and overnight at Sellouda) was. After 7 o’clock a.m. the rain came and lasted for about 3hrs. When it almost finished we set off still in drizzling but after a short time, the sun appeared again. But it got colder and cold wind was blowing. In Anopoli tavern we ate a little bit and left to visit the chapel on the hill above the plain (Agia Ekaterini). Excellent views are from its terrace!!! Nevertheless, we did not stay here for a long time because, in front of us, there was the long descent to Loutro which we would have like to do still in daylight. We didn’t succeed wholly, the dark was getting when we came among houses of this tourist destination. Doing a small shopping we walked off toward the good sleeping spot beside a garden on the top of Mournes peninsula, on a former threshing floor behind a stone wall. I know this place for a long time and used it many times. Totally 13.7kms.

Sun 01/10 was the day of nothing doing. We woke up rather late and dawdled around and along the way to Loutro, to continue along E4 to a bay before the Glika Nero beach (= Sweet Water Beach) for taking several hours of sunbath and swimming in the calm and warm sea. To come round in a tavern on the seaside for frapé (disgusting, full of water and ice) and go on to our home for preparing a dinner – this was all things which we had to do then. After the meal, we got an appetite for a beer and decided to walk to the first tavern and join it with shower from a pipe which was in front of a small chapel beside/under the way. It was our (almost) last evening on the southern coast. We were sitting and drinking beer, watching the dark sea, lights of Loutro and many, many stars in the sky…. Didn’t hurry up back we came to the tent later and slept then very well. That day I stopped using of GPS, thus no data about distances for the following days.

Mon 02/10 – The really last day on the south. We packed things, prepared a breakfast and walked to Loutro and farther along the E4 to the bay where sunbathed the day before. Doing the same for two hours we set off again then, did a stop in a small church in a certain distance from the path and when came on the beach Glika Nero, our first steps led us to the tavern standing in the sea, on piles. The short sunbath then and go on up, to reach the road running to Sfakia. It is the steep ascent and although I had hiked along this way many times before, now I managed it for the first time without any stop!! And in a very good time, into the bargain…. However, now along the road for about 1km and to branch to the left behind a small bridge to ascend through the gorge of Ilingias to get on a good camp-site which I built here years ago in a small wood of cypresses growing in the middle of the gorge. We left here our backpack and left down to the road to get to Sfakia to check when our bus to Chania is leaving next day, to buy (and eat+drink up) gyros and beer, to take water supply and what was the most important – to buy Retsina  (a wine), and peanuts. At the evening, we will have the last party on the southern side of Crete.

Tue 03/10 – This day was really the last one here, in the south. We didn’t have to hurry up because the bus leaves at 11 o’clock a.m. To prepare and eat our last breakfast (last porridge), pack things and shift to Sfakia took us about two hours. We buy delicious pieces in a bakery (and ate it up) and at 1100 got on the bus. The way to Chania takes about 90mins. Here, we put our backpacks in a luggage room and go away to the beach. However, the sea was too wavy and as well the cold and stronger wind was blowing, therefore, we did not stay there for longer, came round to the tavern for frapé, in the city bought the really last gyros, collected our backpacks and left by bus to the airport to overnight here for the last Cretan night of this year.

Wed 04/10 – Because we were checked-in from the day before, we handed over our baggage and flew home (with the change in Athens). The flight was OK and we landed in Prague almost on time (maybe only about 10mins of delay).



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