After a not so very nice sleep in Refuge A we slowly prepared ourselves for the day ahead. We got dressed, had a small breakfast and began our hike around 9am. The second leg of the hike is significantly more difficult then the first.
The hike from Prionia to Refuge A is approx 6.5 kilometers. The hike from Refuge A to the summits is only 2.2 Kilometers. It doesn’t sound far eh? but when it’s all up hill. It is much, much further than you think.
There isn’t a sign marking the trail next to Refuge A until you go a little further in to the path and see an E4 post. However, the path is fairly obvious. It doesn’t waste any time in winding you up to the next outcrop. Lots of loose rock makes it harder to walk on than the previous trail.
Both out of breath we came across a sign that finally showed the rest of the path to the summits. I thought after that, we have to be close. The sign disagreed. According to this sign we’ve only gone a few inches. Maybe 15% of the distance to the summits.
The rest of the hike to the summits was difficult to say the least. I am not usually one to give up when doing some of these but there was a point where if we both said “Yeah, lets go back” I wouldn’t have argued. A lot of breaks for water, cereal bars and photo ops was the only way to keep moving forward.
It so got the steepest near the peeks. So even after all that hiking and you’re getting close your pace slows down even further. Step. Break. Step. Break. The top just didn’t seem to be getting any closer. However we kept on going and was rewarded for our efforts with very consuming views from the Skala summit:
Now, the hard part is over right? WRONG! Coming down was much MUCH more difficult for us. We didn’t use proper technique the whole time to come down, I’m sure that had something to do with it. Instead of going down sideways we used the tips of our toes sometimes. We also were moving slower than ever. The impact on our legs was becoming apparent. We stopped back at Refuge A for a little rest, a plate of spaghetti, more water and called our taxi friend Sakis to pick us up in 2-1/2 hours. (it took 3hrs to get to Refuge A. Logically, we should cut half an hour off our decent to Prionia) Sakis said he could be there in three hours and we agreed to just wait for him.
This was the worst part. Going up was tough, but coming down this path was even worse. The muscles in our legs felt liquified. Our recent accomplishment practically an after thought next to stumbling down this mountain. There was nothing left in us. Both testing each others patience. Both just wanting to get to the bottom.
Three hours has past and the bottom of this trail didn’t seem to be getting any closer. I kept listening for the mule bells but could hear nothing. Until finally I heard a ding. Just one ding, and that enough for me to muster some stumbling-drunk like sprint to at last see Prionia…… three hours and 40 minutes after leaving Refuge A.
Our taxi driver Sakis told us in very clear terms “you must respect the mountain” his words are wisdom as the 54 year old showed us recent pictures of a 100km race up and down the mountain he just completed. We respected it and it still kicked our bottoms. We spent the next few days walking around like the scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where they huffed ether and walk in the Casino. The dialog between us was not far off either.
However, after all that. I still had enough energy to go back and get one of those pizza’s again. Damn it was good. Stay tuned for hear about how we hit the Greek Island of Milos to recover but had an unexpected layover in Katerini.