Sometimes there’s nothing special to say about a day’s hiking. No dramatic weather, no exciting encounters, just the pleasant routine of placing one foot after another, enlivened by the small pleasures of finding the right path, a cafe open for a cold drink or an old lady wanting to chat.
As we left Karpenisi on the first day of October, there was an autumnal crispness in the air and the bakery assistant was wishing customers “Good month!” We bought cheese pies for lunch. It was good to be on the road again.
There was the usual trial and error finding the way out of town, past timber yards and workshops, then smallholdings with free range turkeys, geese, guinea fowl and chickens. We had abandoned the E4, which lurches off south, mainly on dirt roads. Instead, we wanted to do the ridge walk to the Saradena refuge, described as “tough but superb”, but only to be attempted in good weather.
Despite a few waymarks at the start, there was no official hiking route to Kokkalia, the start of the ridge walk, so we headed off along dirt roads. Finding the way was complicated by yet more roads being built. The bulldozers were out and had to stop to let us past. In the late afternoon we reached a newly constructed picnic site, with piles of sand and gravel for construction still heaped up by the empty interpretation board. Waymarks on solid metal posts stretched away off up into the mountains. We usually appreciated waymarks, but this was over the top..
We camped at the picnic site, enjoying being able to eat supper at a table for a change, as we watched the sun set. As soon as it disappeared, the temperature dropped and we retreated into the tent. Autumn had arrived. Just another day, but how different from a day in the office. I can still remember so many details of every day on the trail, and the little things that happened.
The route: Dirt roads from Karpenisi via Miriki, then a short stretch down the main road, before turning right on a dirt road again just before the Kokkalia memorial to an ancient battle. There is a footpath shown on the map from Karpenisi to Miriki, but amid the confusion of getting out of town, we didn’t find it. Water at Miriki, at a shrine on the main road and below the picnic site. Some confusing waymarks – best ignored. Kilometres: 18. Ascent: 800m Descent: 296m. Map: Anavasi 2.5 Mountains of Evritania.
Facilities: Cafe at Miriki, usually only open evenings. Picnic site above Kokkalia.