“If you go that fast you will collapse…” No. That was not a “good luck”. That was a curse… Ahh… never mind. He was just another crazy hiker on the most popular path of Mount Olympus.
The trail is very well marked and I did not miss a thing. It was quite crowded that summer day: couples walking hand in hand, hard-core climbers with heavy backpacks for an overnight stay on the mountain, middle aged hikers panting, foreign tourists with their guides, mules loaded with sacks, boxes and gas cylinders, scouts, tourists with trekking sandals, a colorful crowd.
I passed perpendicular cliffs, dark forests of beech and towering pines, ravines filled with stone piles, screes and ditches filled with snow (yes it was midsummer!) I watched around the peaks that looked more beautiful as I went higher. Awe! This is the word.
The path often got steeper; I could hardly breathe because I went fast, in order to catch the light for shooting (I am getting old of course), sweat was running like a river from my hands on the map and the camera, my breath and my chest burned. I am on a hurry! What a fool…
Do not do that! Do stop many times on the way. Do not go quickly. Enjoy the view and then drink some water. Mount Olympus wants time…
When on August 2, 1917, the Swiss photographer Fred Boissonas, the Swiss writer Daniel Baud Bovy and their leader, a hunter from Litokhoro village, Christos Kakkalos were stepping on Mytikas, the highest peak of Mount Olympus at 2917 m., they certainly did not imagined that all this colorful crowd – that I saw earlier ascending – would follow in their footsteps. Last night I was browsing the very nice book of the Municipal of Litohoro with those epic photos from that historic climb and I felt great emotion. For their time it was a great achievement.
Olympus is the most popular Greek mountain and not without reason as it was once the habitat of the Twelve Gods of Greek mythology (they lived in the canyons around the mountain, they met on Mytikas peak and Zeus had his throne at the Stefani peak). That historical background is enough reason for the average traveler to come at least once to see the mountain and its landscapes. The places which were the habitat of the ancient Greek Gods: their bedrooms, their battlefields, their palaces…The drowned in mist and mystery Olympus was the most sacred mountain of ancient Greece. Olympus defined the location of Gods in ancient religion: Gods could be anywhere, but their apartments were on Olympus, there and only there.
But people don’t come here only for the myths. Not only… They come of course for the very evocative images of the mountain, the mysterious forests, the difficulty of the task and the tenacity that they should climb at least once in Olympus: if you want to experience only one Greek mountain that must be the “polykorfos” (with many peaks, in Homeric poems) Olympus. It’s a small tribute to the greatness of Greek nature and to the glory of the ancient world.
September and October: that is the best time to climb here. Without the terrible heat of summer. The colors in the forests are superb, the light is softer, everything is great but the weather sometimes makes a mess. The mist and the rain is quite a fashion here. Of course… What do you think; here is the place where Zeus was sitting throwing thunders and storms all over the ancient world. The ancient Greeks knew that…
I just arrived the first shelter. At last I arrived at the 2100 meters. The view is grand. The sea is shining far away…… The robola pine trees generously shed their shadow, mules were waiting to be unloaded, and climbers with colorful clothes were drinking hot coffee at the quiet balcony. I enjoyed my tea. Two cute girls from Germany next to me are talking about Greek mythology. They want to make a joke to me:
– Do you think we can see Zeus up there? they asked me smiling and laughing.
I looked at their extra tight shorts and their bare feet.
– If you go dressed like that you will not enjoy if you come across with Zeus… I answered.
They went to change clothes after a while.
Where am I?
Olympus is located on the border of Macedonia – Thessaly regions. The best access to the mountain is from Litochoro village, from which a paved road leads to Prionia. There you will start walking …
Paths and treks on Olympus
The most popular trek starts from Prionia (18 Km from Litochoro village. You can drive there with your car). You need about 3-4 hours to reach the first refuge, named Spilios Agapitos. From there you want another 3 to 3.5 hours to climb at Skolio peak and eventually reach Mytikas, Olympus highest peak. Keep in mind that before reaching the top there are some twists and dangerous points. If you do not want to be pushed you can spend the night on the mountain and relax at the first refuge.
The other popular trail begins at the Gortsia intersection and after about 6 hours it leads you to the plateau of the Muses where you will find the other two refuges – Yossos Apostolidis and Christos Kakkalos. From that plateau you need about an hour walking to the top.There are also numerous signposted paths round the mountain, capable for each type and level of climber.Avoid the mountain in winter. It is dangerous and it wants vast experience and expertise.
Olympus refuges: D. Boudolas (940 m, on the tarmac for Prionia, 2310-278288), Spilios Agapitos (2100 m, 23520-81800), Christos Kakkalos (2650 m, 23520-84544), Yoshos Apostolidis (2700 m , 2310-224710). Most refuges on the mountain are open until late October.
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