I'd love to share with you the joy of experiencing a mountain, the sounds of nature, the tranquillity, the team spirit, the panting and the sense of achievement when you get at the top. There are a number of chances for such jaunts in Greece I could think of. I'm starting the one to Gramos mountain.
The Gramos top can be reached through several points and routes. Common among those is that when you gaze at its top, at 2520 m, from its foothills, you are wondering "wow, how will I make it up there? Will I manage to reach the top?". But you can, everyone of us does, the strength is inside you is way greater than you think. You just need to focus on a goal.
You are wondering "wow, how will I make it up there? Will I manage to reach the top?". But you can, everyone of us does, the strength is inside you is way greater than you think. You just need to focus on a goal
It was the end of August when we took the road from the village Plikati and drove on a 4x4 until the point of the monument commemorating the end of the Greek civil war. Like, quite likely, every civil war, this is one is a bitter story and the Grammos mountain is tightly connected to one of the last battles. Passing the monument, we made sure we had lots of water in our backpacks, hats, sun lotions and our cameras fully charged (of course!). Equipped with courage we set off, enjoying a sunny day with bright, clear skies.
From a point onwards, the more you stare at the "goal" – the 2520 m top – the closer it seems to be. "It can't be that long", you're thinking. And keep walking... and walking. You come by others going up or down, thinking they must be crazy as you are. You come by cattle, you see the world "from above" and you keep walking. Until you start reaching some of the first, lower, tops. There you start seeing pits from the war – some real, some fake – and other remains of that sad era; bullets and cartridges. Take a moment to think of the blood that's been shed on those grounds and how this should not happen again — ever. Then move on; "we are arriving".
When you get right below 2520m and take a look at the top, exhausted after 2.5-3 hours of ascending, it does look like you've not made much progress, nor can you go on. "I just can't make it" you're thinking. And yet you can. You do go on, and, rather easily, the circular path upwards soon takes you to the top. You didn't think you will, but you've made it – you've set foot at the top. And this helps you realize the strength inside you.
To the north, you can see Albania. To the southwest you can see Papingo and Smolikas mountains. Take a breath, enjoy the view. It's time to share with your teammates whatever is in your backpack – food, water, drinks, sweets. It's good chance to get some rest, too. Forget everything that's been bothering you back, in the "real world"; this might actually be the real world, right up here. Enjoy how beautiful everything is, plan the next excursion.
Forget everything that's been bothering you back, in the "real world"; this might actually be the real world, right up here. Enjoy how beautiful everything is, plan the next excursion.
But don't make it too long a stay. By noontime, weather usually changes and it's easy to get caught in a storm with thunders, which will be dangerous up here.
The way down needs some attention. The path's not difficult but when descending it's sometimes a little trickier than when ascending, as legs are tired and it can get quite slippery.
After a total of six to seven hours to get all the way up and then again down, you're back. Exhausted, but smiling. Your drive back can be either through Aetomilitsa village – Greece's highest – or by taking the road from Kozani to Ioannina and then to your destination.
As you start getting back to the "civilization" you'll catch yourself thinking "when are we going again?"