There are few things that I love more in this world than a good hike. Strapping on my backpack (or fanny pack if I’m being honest), filling up some water bottles, applying a boatload of sunscreen, and setting off into nature—what could be better? My mom will take full credit for instilling the love of hiking within my brother and me and will gladly (most likely in the comments section below) remind us of how we used to moan through every hike she dragged us on as kids. But I digress… So when Kiera and I decided to camp on the Greek Island of Crete for a week, I was excited to learn that it is the land of gorges. Gorgeous gorges, even.
Yesterday our 5:50AM alarm came far too early and we set out for the hour’s walk to the bus pickup in Paleohora. From there, it was a short drive to the trailhead of the Samaria Gorge, Crete’s most famous crevice. We then began the 12.8km hike through rocky terrain, including a stretch known as “The Gates” where the 1,000’ high rock walls are separated by just 13’. That’s pretty neat. Having recently watched the “Neature Walk” videos on YouTube, we were excited for the chance to see a “mountain beast or biting goat.” And lucky we were as we stumbled upon a group of three highly elusive and nearly endangered kri-kri goats. Never thought I’d be excited to see a goat. Travel changes a person.
At one point I stopped at the river that runs alongside the footpath and placed my shoeless feet in the water. I had managed to tweak both ankles along the way and the cold water felt divine. Unfortunately my peace was short lived as a supposed “Park Ranger” dressed in head-to-toe camouflage garb stormed into the area and singled me out saying that I had to leave. “No swimming!” At first I thought she was joking as I was in 4″ of water and there were dozens of other revelers, but her downturned unibrow and loud/quick Greek said otherwise. I think she must have been upset that she had to carry a heavy camouflage backpack (why would a Park Ranger want to blend in, anyway?) and her parents never bought her a pair of tweezers. And so we kept walking…
On the whole the Samaria Gorge hike was beautiful and I’m glad that we visited during the “shoulder-season” as there were plenty of slowpokes in our way as it was. I was most amazed by those that hike from rest stop to rest stop and then pull out a cigarette. “Ahhh, nature and exercise—how I love you in 15-minute increments.” Not so neat. Kiera and I figure that we covered approximately 13 miles on the day between the walks to/from Paleohora and through the gorge. My feet were screaming when we walked back into our motorhome at 10:00PM and we practically fell into our beds. A full day of neature will do that to to a gal.
More information to follow on our misadventures while “glamping” here at Camping Grammeno. I think that Kiera’s parents, who camp often, will be both proud (we did manage to start a small fire) and mortified (the fire was in the kitchen) by the stories.