14 April – Faded red dots

Today has been epic. Kathy and I decided to have a relaxed day. We’d hike one hour along the trail to the south of here then turn around and come back. We’d go to see the Minoan palace, visit the beach, paint, read…. That sort of thing. So at 9:30 we set off on the two hour hike. We returned rather the worse for wear at three. So much for a relaxed day!

What happened? You may well be asking. Well let me explain. We have a very fine topographical map which shows the trails. Yesterday we followed one of these to the cave. Very well marked, an obvious trail. The path we decided to follow today was marked on the map as a similar type of trail. It was not.

There were markings but very faded and often difficult to see. Small painted red dots. The footing was precarious as the markings simply led from one thorny thicket to the next. Sometimes the path was clear, often it was over jagged rocks. After a particularly difficult section we looked at the map again and decided to take an other trail that led up to the road above us. This would be easier than retracing our steps.

So we contined along, making slow and sometimes quite scratchy progress. Along and along. We crossed a couple of river gorges as marked on the map. We followed the coast keeeping an eye out for the trail markers that would indicate the intersection. Finally looking at the map more closely we realized we’d over shot the diverging trail. So back we went. This time examining the map every few minutes. Counting contour lines. Lining up various features (there were very few). Eventually we came to a place that should have been the intersection. There was a very faint bit of red paint. An arrow?

Kathy spotted a cairn! Yes this was the tail. Then another cairn. Happy as two hikers could be we clambered over thorny shrubs and rocky out crops following the sparse cairns. Up and up away from the coast. Checking the map frequently. Definately in the right location.

After some time the cairns disappeared, any pretence of a trail disappeared, so we were left with the map, a cliff on one side, a deap steep gorge on the other. Exactly as indicated on said map. The whole thing was very scratchy and a bit daunting. Eventually we rounded a corner and there exactly where it should be was a building that marked the end of the trail. Getting there was no easy task as we had to scramble up a last steep bit then negotiate a fence. They build good sturdy fences in this country.

Happy happy were we when we climed up onto the road. The three and a half klicks into town were a piece of cake! The beer we downed when we got back was much appreciated! When we told our hosts about our adventure they informed us that that trail isn’t in use any longer. Well no kidding! Seems it’s just used by locals seeking special herbs for cooking lamb.

We are really none the worse for wear except for very scratched up legs. I’ll send you some pictures of today’s adventure in a bit. This was our last hike in Crete. What a way to end our exploits on this wild and beautiful island. We’ll have the scars for sometime to come, but also a great story to tell!

Tomorrow is another bus day. We are returning to Heraklion. The next day we’ll do the urban tourist thing then take the overnight ferry to Athens then on to Kea.
As you will see from the pictures when I send them, the watcher has become warm and sunny and perfect! We are now off into town, across the ford, for dinner at the local taverna.

Kalespera from two tired hikers in Crete.

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