Samaria Gorge (Crete) Greece Day 168

We got up at the crack of dawn today to take the bus to the trail head of the Samaria Gorge. You start near the town of Omalos, and it’s best to start early as the hike can take up to 6 hours to do. And the best part? It’s all downhill! Despite that I knew it wasn’t going to be easy going because it’s a 16 km hike and that meant 6 hours and 16 km of knackering on our knees. Deb has a problem with one of her knees, and I had knee surgery 17 years ago so we were both intent on not needed surgery AGAIN after doing this hike. We just decided to take it slow and enjoy ourselves.
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Here are the quick and dirty facts. You start the hike at an altitude of 1250 metres (that’s just over 4000 feet) and end up in the town of Agia Roumeli on the shores of the Libyan Sea. The gorge was created by a small river running between the White Mountains and Mt. Volakius. The cliffs rise as high as 900 metres and the narrowest point of the gorge is 3-4 metres. Two people could stand with their arms outstretched and touch the walls.
 
Beautiful early morning sunrise coming over the mountain. 
There are quite a few signs indicating that you should use extreme caution and walk very quickly…. we decided to heed that advice! It wouldn’t take a very big rock to come barreling down hundreds of feet to kill you!
Early mornings and fresh air.
We’re spoiled. This hike is amazing, no doubt about that. But when you’re from somewhere as naturally beautiful and diverse as British Columbia, the bar is raised. As we were were walking we kept comparing the hike to hikes we do on the North Shore. Some parts reminded us of Lynn Canyon, some of Mount Seymour. We’re so lucky that we have such incredible beauty in our backyards at home, but at the end of the day this is Greece, and as much as it reminds us of home, we don’t have the beautiful WARM Libyan Sea to jump into at the end of our hikes, just the frigid Pacific (not that there’s anything wrong with that…. Seinfeld reference.)  I’m threatening to Clockwork Orange* Deb to make her watch Seinfeld. You really don’t realise how much Seinfeld-isms have permeated your life until you spend a lot of time with someone who has never really watched it. I’m constantly saying something, then going, oh yeah, you don’t watch Seinfeld so you don’t know what I’m talking about! It’s pretty hilarious actually! I’ll eventually break her down… (:
*Remember that part in the movie when they put him in the straight jacket and propped open his eyelids to make him watch the horrors of the world? Don’t worry Reed’s, I won’t really do it…. but I might have to have a Seinfeld marathon under the guise of an Under the Tuscan Sun theme night!
This is a chapel with a shrine devoted to St. Nicholas (I think?) inside.  It’s in an area that has a lot of historical evidence of religious worship, animal sacrifice and offerings to the gods. It is thought that the shrine was dedicated to either Apollo or Diana, from what the offerings found in the excavation area indicate.
Not the wild Kri-Kri, but a goat just the same! We fed him some leaves from the tree and some of our goldfish crackers. He REALLY wanted Deb to give them up… This was at the (sort of) halfway point of the hike in the now defunct village of Samaria. This is where most people take their their longest break of the day to have a little rest, a snack and feed the goat.
WTF is going on here?
There is apparently a doctor in the house here in this town, but I’m not sure if I’d be knocking on their door…
The bones of the old village of Samaria.
Starting the walk down the dry riverbed through the gorge. This is the most beautiful (and most dangerous) part of the walk.
I always look for heart shaped rocks, and Deb pointed out this one to me. It was just a *tad* too heavy to take so I took a photo of it instead.
There are some incredible rock formations along the way. It’s amazing what tectonic plate shifting and erosion can do.
More cool rock formations…
This is the narrowest part of the gorge at about 3 metres wide.
Cat the day-Samaria Gorge Tiger… or SAM!
Small church at the bottom of the hike. Only another 3 km on a hot, uneven, half gravel road in the blazing sun. This was the most unpleasant part of the hike.
The Libyan Sea. I couldn’t tear my clothes off fast enough to get into that water. Deb had to change into her suit so I had to pull the “mom move” and hold up a towel for her to change behind. It was a small towel so I had to be fairly precise about where I was holding it up to cover. Suffice it to say, she would up accidentally flashing some lucky diners at the taverna across the street. We walked down to the shore and discovered that the tiny black pebbles here are also hot as hell, so flip flops were necessary up to the water line unless you wanted first degree burns on the bottom of your feet. We’ve never been so happy to be immersed in water in all of our life. The water was so warm, but still refreshing. ANYTHING is better than the hot hot heat we’d just experienced!

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