Hiking Up the Wrong Gorge

A Gorge in the Lefká ÓriAbandoned in the MountainsIn November, not long after arriving here, some friends and I decided it was time for a hike.  I spent the evening before browsing Panoramio.  I absolutely love this site for finding little local places to see.   Its a Google website, using their maps and allowing users to upload pictures that are pinned on the map where they were taken.  You can browse any size area, and see all the pictures that were taken in the area, exactly where the people marked them as being.  I find a lot of unique places like this, including Vrisi Gorge.  There is very little mention of Vrisi Gorge anywhere online, but there is one local Greek who uploaded some pictures he took in the gorge to Panoramio.  We spent some time looking over the maps, Google Earth for the terrain, trying to decide exactly which gorge in the mountains was Vrisi Gorge, and how to go about getting to it.  We settled on heading to the town of Lakkoi and attempting to find the bottom of the gorge entrance there.

Lakkoi

Lakkoi

Hiking Up the Wrong GorgeLakkoi is a gorgeous town in the mountains, it lays on the side of the mountain, with a portion of it out on a thin ridge breaking off from the rest of the mountain.  Out on this ridge, is a lovely church, with in the winter, with snow covered mountains above and behind it, it makes for quite the scenic view.  We stopped at a little restaurant to ask the locals about the gorge and how to get down to the entrance of it (on the mountainside, we were quite a bit above the gorge).  They eventually directed us to this area where the town went down the mountainside a bit, with a little chapel a third of the way down the mountainside.  So, we went and found the road down, and drove up to the chapel.  We parked next to it, but this little old Greek woman approaches up, talking away in Greek.  I just stood back and tried to figure out what she was talking about from her gestures, while, thankfully, one of my friends actually knew a fair amount of Greek and could communicate her.  She was apparently very keen on knowing who told us to go there (to which he pretended he didn’t understand that question), and telling us not to park right by the chapel.  Turns out, little children who live at the house next to it like to slingshot rocks at cars parked there.  We moved the car a little further down the road to the other side of the chapel, where the lady could actually keep an eye on the car.  All in all, she seemed like a nice, sweet, old lady, but Greeks just tend to ask, “who told you,” or “why would you want to do that?”  Sometimes they just don’t understand us, but I guess that works both ways for some things.

Hiking Up the Wrong Gorge

Coming Back Down the Creek Bed

Coming Back Down the Creek Bed

The old woman had directed us to walk back up the road a little ways, take a left turn off it, and we’d find a path by a house.  Well, we took the left, and I thought I found the path, but the guys immediately dismissed it as being too messy and overgrown and obviously not the path.  So we continued on down the gravel road, which did at least allow me to find the awesome abandoned bike along it.  Eventually this gravel road, which headed in the opposite direction of our gorge, reached the bottom, and we were able to start heading back to the base of the gorge.  We eventually hit a gorge on our right side, that had a path marked (just blue and orange dots spray painted on random rocks and trees).  We assumed this was our gorge and up we went.  It was breathtaking and gorgeous and we never thought twice about our choice.

Looking up the Right Branch

Looking up the Right Branch

We hiked up the gorge for about 3 hours before we turned around.  We reached a fork in the gorge, and we chose to follow it to the left, where the view was much more impressive than to the right.  We followed the left branch until it curved around to the right, at which point we decided to start heading back down the gorge, to beat the sunset and head off to dinner, which was quite a distance away.  Heading up the gorge, we had been along one side or the other of it, occasionally trekking through the dry creek bed, wherever the path led us (which turned out to be quite a challenge finding some of those dots that marked the trail).  On the way back, we just went straight down the creek bed for as long as we were able to, increasing our speed drastically.

Cretan "Shrubbery"Later that evening, we were looking online at the gorge and its location, already suspicious of whether this was the right gorge.  None of us had remembered seeing on a map, that fork and then bend in the gorge…  Sure enough, we think we turned up the gorge before the gorge we wanted.  Whether or not this is the case, the hike was well worth it and I wouldn’t be opposed to doing that hike again, although next time I would be curious to try and go up the right gorge!  Some great exercise in the sun, amazing views, and great pictures to play with in the evening…  Oh, how I do love this place!

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