Mount Dirfys, at last….!

26 07 2011

It was about two months ago when we eventually admitted that Dirfys’ hike could not be postponed any further…..! Dirfys peak (1,743mts) is the highest peak on Evoia and the view,…… is just splendid. “M” and myself usually spend our weekends at a seaside place, which is really close to Dirfys and it seemed to us rather unacceptable not to have climbed at the top. Especially after considering how many times we had visited the area that far. So, that weekend we had carried our hiking shoes along as well as the rest of our gear and we had promised that this time we would climb up, no matter what.

Sunday morning, we got up, had coffee and some light breakfast, dressed up and drove off towards the start of the hiking path. Despite the fact that the hiking route at its first part was actually a secondary dirt road which was driving all the way towards the EOS Refuge and could bring us a lot closer to the point from which the interesting climbing part would begin, we decided to get the whole deal and hike all the way right from the start of that dirt road. So, we left our car at the side of the road, grabbed our gear and set off.

Despite the fact that it was almost end of May, the weather was still a bit cooler than it usually is at this time of year and as a matter of fact, that specific day, it was also a bit windy and a bit cloudy too. But, of course, that wasn’t enough to put our spirit down.
The scenery was wonderful. The spring was there and it was declaring its arrival in all sort of ways. Flowers and trees were blossoming, birds were singing, insects were buzzing, sun was shining and all this kind of stuff that create a typical Spring scenery!
Sometimes, the road was passing by some small green fields and sometimes it was hanging over rocky cliffs. Whichever the case was, the whole place was purely beautiful and wild.

After having walked for a few kilometers, constantly chatting and laughing (seemed like the spring mood has gotten into us) we saw a building standing tall, further up that swirling road a few kilometers ahead of us. It was EOS Chalkidas Refuge. We knew that at that point somewhere we would have to leave the comfort of that snake-shaped road and we would soon start hiking hard upwards.

We hiked on for another kilometer or so and we reached the Refuge. Unfortunatelly, it was kept closed. We always thought that a refuge being hold locked down has rarely managed to serve its purpose and that’s why we got a bit disappointed by all that. Although, since there was nothing we could do about it, at that point, we decided to carry on.
The dirt road appeared to be turning a bit downhill and going further on, for another kilometer or so, till eventually it was indeed reaching at a point where we should start willingly leaving the relaxed walking mood of the dirt road and start following the trail uphill.

Few days ago, while planning our hiking, I had found out that the first part of the route, the one which we had just done, was the longest one, a bit less than 3km, and was actually something like an afternoon stroll. With maximum ascending rate 20%, and that rate only for a few meters while some shortcuts of a couple U-turns which you could actually chose to omit, it wasn’t promising any big adventures. The second part of our uphill hiking, which we were now ready to follow, was to be about 2km and was described a bit more steep than that which we had already done so far. Most part of the route, had more than 30% ascending rate and at some points the rate was described reaching up to 57%. “M” would probably have to use her hands, apart from her feet, in order to move forward at some points.
Anyhow, the thing was that we had two interesting kilometers ahead of us before we reach the top of Evoia. At the start of the hard-uphill-trail, there was a guy wearing a bandana on his forehead and he was just sitting there, gazing towrads the top of the mountain. I figured that he was either waiting for someone to come or something to happen or he was just pleasing his soul and mind with the magnificence of the mountain view. But myself,…… No, I just couldn’t wait. No time to waste. Took a look at the guy, made myself sure that he wasnt in need of anything and rushed uphill. “M” probably guessed my desire to move on without pit-stops and followed silently.

In the beginning the path was mainly covered by small gravel and was winding around the bushy terrain upwards. After having made it around the top of the first slope, the terrain turned strictly rocky. Our breaths and especially mine, had started now being a bit louder and more frequent. Took a look up, towards the top, and decided to take it a bit slower.

The wind at some points was quite strong. We reached to a point where the rocks on the trail were almost vertical and thus were offering a good shelter from the strong winds. We decided that this was a nice spot to have a few nuts and dry raisins so that we fuel ourselves up and sat down. It was a bit of a chill. “M’ zipped her jacket up and I took mine out of backpack and put it on. While having our quick energy snack we kept on looking at the view. We couldn’t have enough of it. Now, from the position we were actually sitting, although we had done a short distance uphill, we could merely distinguish the Refuge house.

After having rested a while, we pushed on for higher grounds. “M” leaded the way. The signs on the path were rather frequent and the visibilty was quite good so far. I followed. The peak was hidden into clouds and that made us think that soon we would also find ourselves into them or above them. Or maybe not? We couldnt say. The wind made the clouds travel really fast. For a moment it seemed to me like the whole mountain was travelling, or even floating on a giant sea, and that the sky with its clouds was actually the one that was standing still. It was a really nice spectacle.

At some points, the trail seemed to us to be quite easy. But when looking “down”, you could easily get a nice clue of how steep the ascending actually was. I guess, noone would like to lose his balance while hiking on such a steep section.

But to keep ourselves making pleasant thoughts and leave such worries for later on, when we would have to hike backwards, we kept on hiking upwards and closer to the twin peak of Dirfys. For once more I got really astonished watching the sky and the clouds. The speed that these clouds were moving, sometimes a few meters above our very heads, was such that made me sense a feeling of imminent-freedom. A bit similar I suppose to those that the birds must experience right before taking off. It was really liberating and breathtaking to watch these clouds run free over the mountain tops while transforming their shapes and appearance along the way.

I managed to get a hold on my thoughts and …..carried on hiking.
The trail was lost at times, but there was no stress, since at this point we had made it, there was only one way to go,…. and that was up!!  Eventually there it was. After we had made all the way up to the top of the first lower twin peak, we hiked a bit further and got ourselves a nice view of Dirfys’ peak! There was also a bit of ice left unmelted at each slope of the peak and that was a pleasant surprise to see at this time of year.

It appeared that a group of some other hikers had already reached the top and were getting ready to head backwards. It was rather cloudy at that time and the view was not so good but we didn’t bother that much. We waited till that group of hikers left, we had some oranges, both for getting some extra energy and for lightering our backpacks, enjoyed the view and decided to head back.

It was a hard descent!!! We tried to take it really slow. But, I figured that no matter how cautious we would be going down, we would be getting “punished” somehow for being so lazy since our last hike and have stayed off the track for such a long time.
Heading back, the track seemed more rocky than it was on the way up. Perhaps it was the stress of a probable fall that made us notice every small detail on the trail, who knows…?  The thing is that having done only the half-way down, we started having sore knees and feeling really tired. And among all these, we started running out of water too. We decided to go on a water discipline till we get back on the dirt road.
At some instance, I must have been going really slow and felt like i was slowing “M” down. Tried to move a bit faster, but slept off and fell on my back. Luckily,  I managed to put my hands down before my back touch the rocky steps and avoided getting myself hurt. I looked at “M”. The look on her face showed that she got shocked wathcing me fall. It must have been either her concern and affection towards myself or  the thought of that massive load she would probably had to carry all the way down,that got her really terrified.
“Aaaah, ….be careful, love!!!” she cried out.
I got up, dusted my trousers and looked back at “M”. “I’m OK,  don’t worry. You just beware of that flat stones! They are lying on top of other bigger ones, and can be really slippery if you step on them!”.
“OK, I will. You just keep on going and be careful too. Alright?”
“No worries, love! Told you, I’m OK”. We carried on…..

Seeing the dirt road again was a tremendous pleasure and relief.
We sipped some water got rid of our wind-proof jackets and hit the road again. Despite we had 3km more to go, we were feeling more confident and relaxed.
It had already started getting late when we passed EOS Refuge on our way back! We took a last closer look of Dirfys and carried on.

We were now really close to the place where a few hours ago we had started our adventure. And then it actually hit me…… Seeing “M” going ahead, with that determined walking of hers, after all that hardship we had, she seemed to me like she had just set off hiking heading towards the peak of the mountain standing opposite and then I figured out where our next hike at Evoia would be,…. Xerovouni (1,453mts), the second twin-peak mountain of the area.

After about 4 hours, we reached our car. Climbed in, thanked Dirfys for the good times we’ve benn offerred and headed towards the beach, …..cos’ after all, after having made it to a mountain peak and backwards, there is nothing nicer and more relaxing than a really nice swim and a cold beer afterwards!!!

“N”

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2 responses

28 09 2011
john deery

Thank you for your evocative account. I will be going up at Xmas 2011 with some friends. John

12 10 2011
beingouthere

Thanks John. In case u need any directions or anything like that, I would be glad to be of assistance. Hope you have a great time, and maybe have some snow too,…. who knows maybe you guys get lucky!!

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