“Parnitha Small Round” Revisited in white…!

3 01 2012

It was the last Friday of the year and we had just returned from our Christmas holidays at a skiing resort, in northwestern Greece. “M” had used up all her leave and she had to get back to work. I had a few more days left and so decided to stay off work for one more day…
We woke up early, like all regular working days. Had coffee and got ourselves ready. I had decided to drive “M” to work and then take a small hike at Parnitha. I remembered that one week ago, the meteorologists had said something about “light snowfalls” at Parnitha and the low temperatures that followed that day made me hoping for some more snow ….. I packed my racksack light and we went off. To be totally honest, I wasn’t expecting much as fas as snow is concerned, but it was a far better idea than staying in or footling around….

I left “M” and drove off. There was no traffic and soon found myself driving up the swirling road of the mountain. I had decided to follow once more the same trail we had recently hiked with “M” around the summit. I wanted to find some alternate ending, in order avoid passing throught the burnt zone. A few kilometeres before reaching the point from which I would start my hike, I realised that the snow would be far more than what I had initially expected.

I was still driving in my car, estimating the accumulation of snow at the side of the road, when it just hit me: I had missed to pack my gaiters with me!
However, having heard that some rain was expected later that day, I had remembered to bring my waterproof trousers along and that kept my spirit high. Although I genuinely resent these trousers because of that constant, irritating noise they make while I walk, I decided that they were a safe alternative in case things would get “soaking wet” and so I could go on with my intended hike.

Soonest I got into the trail it was obvious that this time, I was about to have one of the loneliest hikes ever! It wasn’t about the fact that “M” couldn’t make it along that day. It was because noone else had managed to make it around there neither. It seemed that, this particular moment, I was the only one out there….
Who knows? Perhaps it was too early, or it was just too cold, or it was even the snowy trails, or the imminent rain that had kept the other visitors away,…. I couldn’t say for sure! But the feeling of having the whole place for myself made me feel a bit flattered. So, since there was no time to waste, I rushed off and into the woods!

Nature had always astonished me by the ways she may transform or disguise in such a short period of time and in so many different ways…!!!

Everything seemed so familiar and so different, at the same time! It appeared that a couple of hikers had walked the trail before me but that had taken place at least one day before, since their footprints were hard and merely frozen.

Had already finished climbing the first hard uphill section and I was now hiking along the contour lines, at the northern side of the mountain. The cold wind and the snow had turned everything into huge sculptures of ice!!

Looking at these frosty trees, you were given the impression that they were so delicate that even the slightest touch or push could brake them into thousand pieces! I tried to move amongst them without touching them. The snow was getting thicker by each step I was taking further.

The temperature had risen above 2 deg Celsius and the frosty snow laying on top of tree branches had started to melt. My trousers had begun to get really wet. Each time I had to pass underneath a big fir, it was like raining and on top of that a pond of slippery, half-melted frosty snow was laying between me and the trail.
However, having found a good walking rhythym, I wasn’t feeling any cold and decided to spare myself from putting my waterproof trousers on. I grabbed a banana from the back of my racksack that “M” had persistently insisted that I should carry along, since I had missed proper breakfast,….. and pushed on.

It was about time to take a decision about whch way to follow. I had the option to go on through the woods, searching for another trail, away from the burnt area, that would get me near to my starting point or to take a shortcut through the last asphalt road I would come accross and get myself back to the main road really near the place where I had parked my car.

Crossing over the ridge, I took a glance at the burnt zone. Snow had done its best to hide the ugliness of the destruction but still that wasn’t enough.
I decided to take a left turn down the asphalt road and follow it all the way to the main road and my car.
The clouds had started gathering on this side of the mountain and soon it would be dense fog. Their dark colours seemed threatening enough and “M” had started worrying about me. I had decided to call it a day!

After all, I had already covered a descent distance so far and I reckoned that this was practically qualifying as a goodbye hike for the past year.

“N”

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