Inertia led me to have breakfast in the same place again on Tuesday. Main advantage is that it’s so close and opens at 07.30 whereas other breakfast places I have enquired at don’t open until 09.00.
The walk I planned for the day was to repeat the first part of ‘The Old Way’, and, with a diversion on a path to another old church, continue to the point where it crosses the main ridge in a col and from there double back around the other side of the ridge, climb Oros Profitis Ilias and then follow the path back to Chora. It’s looks much simpler on a map. As it turned out, it was simpler on a map.
So once again I passed the Hozobiotisa monastery and once again failed to find any of the clothes on the fence in my colour.
Even though it was the third time of walking it, it was a very enjoyable path with towering cliffs above and crossing screes which drop down to the sea. It didn’t take long to reach the reach the junction with the path I was going to follow, clearly marked by a fingerpost. However the path itself was not so clear, disappearing at times and then confirmed by the odd cairn. But eventually the church came into view, gleaming white under a large rock.
The path seemed to become more obscure as I got closer and, as is always the case, proved very difficult to find again once lost. Getting closer to the church, despite the odd cairn, it became clear that I had a choice between pushing through waist-high thorns or climbing around the crags which surrounded the church itself. I’m a coward, I climbed the crags. Thorns don’t appeal at the best of times but in shorts and sandals, no thanks! The church was very interesting, built under a massive overhanging rock which forms its ceiling, and not more than 5 feet at the highest point.
Relieved to be out of the thorns I followed the rough track round to the col, and then easily found the very good path I needed to get to the which climbable side of the mountain.
I don’t know what it is about mountains but there seem to be at least two major attitudes to them. Either people recognise that they are there but have not the slightest interest in climbing them. Or they have an obsessive urge to get to the top. I’m very definitely in the latter category. I remember once when I was in the Lake district , having walked the previous day from Langdale to Keswick via 5 significant peaks, being asked by a couple at breakfast in the B&B “Can you walk to the top of the mountains?” . The possibility never mind the urge to do so had never crossed their minds.
Personally I’m never more alive than when on the top of a mountain. I can spend ages just enjoying being there. Revelling in the thought that “round here, I couldn’t be any higher”. I know a lot of people find this a bit mad so I’m always encouraged when I come across a passage in the bible where some prophet or other goes up into the mountains to sort his head out. One such was the prophet Elijah and it is after him that it seems half the mountains in Greece are named. Every island seems to have one. And often there is a church on the top dedicated to him, Profitis Ilias in Greek.
And so it came to pass. I climbed Oros Profitis Ilias on Amorrgos. 700 metres high It was stunning. The church on the top is within a couple of feet of the edge of the cliffs which drop down vertically to the footpath I had followed this morning and on the previous 2 days, clearly visible far below. I stayed up there for the best part of 2 hours before reluctantly setting out back down.
It’s always a bit sad leaving the top of a mountain. There is the remaining thrill of having got there, and having been there, but now it’s over. The pinnacle has been reached and what lies ahead is downhill. Difficult t describe really. Anyway, the sadness at leaving the top today was partly tempered by the nature of the way down, hopping across massive slabs of sloping flat rocks. I love rocks. I love rock-hopping. Until the rocks ran out and I was in thorny scrub, realising that in concentrating on the rock hopping I had missed the path.
It took me a little while to find it again but when I did it took me back to Chora quite enjoyably. Very enjoyable walk, despite a few local difficulties with the paths. Bit of an allegory of life really. Try and stay on the right path but if you lose it, find it again!!