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10 September 2006

Hiking on Parnitha

Fresh air and exercise!

Went hiking today with Panos "libero" from HelMUG, with the "Mountain and Chess" club.

We're currently at the "Flambouri" peak, which has a big mountain club house (from another club).

In the picture chairman libero explains the view.

Posted by betabug at 12:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 May 2009

Hiking in the Mountains of Taygetus

A nice long weekend
Tree on the E4 trail near Taygetus

The first of May fell on a Friday this year, providing me and many other people with a three day weekend. I went together with some friends from a mountain club to hike on the Peloponnese on the Taygetus mountain range (Ταΰγετος, also transcribed as Taugetus, Taigetos or Taigetus).

We drove by car to a village near Sparta, then hiked up 4km with our packs to a hut run by the local mountain club. We set up our tents outside the hut and enjoyed the nice camp life. The evening got quite cold, so one of us decided to crash in a bunk in the hut, while I really, really was glad that I bought a very good sleeping back many years ago. This spring has been much colder than usual here and at 1550m and with a lot of humidity, some of our group had a less than pleasant night in summer sleeping bags.

The next day (Saturday) we attempted to go for the summit of mount Taygetus. We were quite ill prepared, without crampons or other "serious" mountain gear. There were some fields of harsh snow in our way, with a consistency almost like crash ice (caipirinha anyone?) which would have required harder boots than most of us had. At about 1950m height, most of our group turned around. Three of us were continuing, stubborn enough to want to get to the top.

We didn't have much more luck though, as soon after picking up the trail again, we were double hampered by more harsh snow fields with a tougher angle and by fog that was rapidly moving in. Maybe 50 meters later the fog had completely hidden the next way mark. We could still remember the direction of that mark, but what about the next one? Going on was not a safe choice. We turned around not long after the first group.

Mount Taygetus casting its shadow into the evening clouds

The evening we spent inside the hut, as guests of a group of people who stayed there and cooked a huge meal. For me personally it was a great relief, as by the evening I felt quite cooled out and I was more than grateful to warm up inside and later even eat huge quantities of food. That night two of our group chose to sleep inside the hut, the rest of us spent another night in the tents.

On Sunday we took a smaller hike to a nearby waterfall - about 1 hour to get there, 1 hour to come back on the "E4" trail. It was a really wonderful hike, with lots of huge trees, mystic rocks and ever some wide views popping open between the boughs. The waterfall was nice too, rounding out the hike with some scrambling around on the rocks just below it. We enjoyed some sunlight and a marvelous view on the now clear peak back at the hut. Right after the sun disappeared behind the mountain range, we saw the spectacle of the mountain casting its shadow into the clouds (see picture). On the other side the clouds were swirled around in the sun beams in the turbulences on the lee side of the mountain.

In the late afternoon we headed back down the mountain. Even though my pack was lighter, my feet started to get a bit tired. I was glad to sit down and later ingest a large, large quantity of food in Sparta. We were lucky to have an easy ride back to Athens, without much traffic. Probably we were late enough to avoid the usual "long weekend" traffic jams on entering the big city.

Posted by betabug at 18:44 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
15 August 2009

Säntis and Seealpsee

Mountain hiking

Yesterday morning I went up from Schwägalp to the Säntis, a mountain that is with 2503m the tallest of the region. It's also much taller than the surrounding peaks, so there is an excellent view.
Assuming ofcoz that there is no fog or clouds. I went up with mostly sun. On the last part - which sports such niceties as vertical ascends with artificial steps and metal ropes - fog started to come in. The climb was almost too much for me there, but the sound of alphorns from the peak gave me new strength.
At noon up there I went to get lunch at the hotel and tavern, in a few hours of sunshine mixed with clouds. Later the peak got enveloped in fog.
I stayed the evening, hoping for the famous sunset. It didn't look like it and it was cold outside. But right at sunset the fog lifted for 20 minutes as a present for the few wanderers who persisted outside.
The night I crashed on a simple bunk at the peak hotel. I stuffed up with calories at breakfast and set out down on an easier route. The picture I took at the Seealpsee, where the walking got real easy and there was a genuine yodel choir from Appenzell performing at one of the restaurants. In the upper right corner you might be able to spot the huge antenna on the top of the Säntis.

Posted by betabug at 17:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 February 2010

Pictures in the Mountains

Only a few of them

Today I was on an excursion with a mountain club. They were celebrating the cutting of the βασιλόπιτα, the cake with a coin inside. Clubs and companies are often late for this.

Apart from the food and drink we also hiked up a small mountain, the Κιθαιρώνα (Kithairona). It was nice to get into fresh air.

I also got around to take two pictures with the Arca Swiss. That doesn't sound like much, but when I'm with other people, I can't just stop for 20 minutes to set up the view camera.

Posted by betabug at 16:30 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2010

Parnitha, 3 years later

Much has changed

Almost three years after the fire that destroyed a large part of the forest on the parnassos mountains (Πάρνηθα, parnitha), and a bit more than three years after I went hiking at parmitha, I went back.

Today, on a sunday with fine weather, we went for a short hike from the base station of the cable car to the Bafi hut. It took us around 2.5 hours up. Plus some extra time, because I had brought the Arca Swiss with me and I took two pictures on the way up. At the hut we had something to drink and eat.

We were a bit faster on the (same) way down, while I also took a third picture. Over all, we had no reason to hurry and instead enjoyed the fresh air and viewing all those growing things.

Not all was well and nice: we passed through many parts of the forest that had burned. Not a nice view, even though grasses, bushes and other green stuff is sprouting out. We even saw areas where reforestation was underway.

The picture shows some of the burned trees, with the hiking path marker. The hiking path marks have been restored in the parts that had burned, and apart from the reforestation, there were also signs of works to fix the soil against being swept away by erosion. Despite all this we had a great day and we're now back home, tired and refreshed.

Posted by betabug at 20:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 March 2010

A Film of 8

And a lot of burned stuff
Burned branches of a tree on the Hymittos hills

Monday morning I dropped off 2 films at the shop where they develop my color films. Tuesday morning I got them back, developed and scanned. One of the films is a roll film "120", that I exposed on the Arca-Swiss over the last weeks. The Arca's format is 6x9cm, on a roll of film like that there is space for 8 pictures. I took 2 pictures on an excursion on Kithaironas, another 3 a week later at Parnitha, the last 3 another week later on the hills of Hymittos.

Eight pictures doesn't sound like much, but the philosophy of lugging around a "large format" camera (even if the Arca is a very small large format camera), is that you take fewer pictures and attempt to take better pictures. Personally I try to be ever more relaxed, tranquil about the whole affair of taking pictures. If I get nervous about doing things right, something's wrong.

Now, even if the pictures would have been lost or bad, I had done three small excursions full of nice views and experiences. Turns out, I also got back a film with 8 "good" pictures. No more light leaks so far, no misfiring shutters or operator mistakes. Now, that was a good feeling when looking at the results. I had quite enough of "this picture wouldn't have been half bad, if it hadn't been ruined". I'm also confident with the images themselves, even if I still see a lot of potential for artistic growth.

I'm giving a small example here, the burned branches of a tree on the Hymittos hills. There are a lot of burned trees in my pictures, both from Hymittos (from a part that burned down in 2009), from Parnitha (burned 2007), and on other films from the lake of Marathon (burned 2009).

Posted by betabug at 18:36 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
21 July 2010

Προφήτη Ηλία και Παγωτό στο Ιντερνέτι

View from the profiti ilia church on the Ymittos at night

Χτες ήταν η γιορτή του προφήτη Ηλία. Όπως είναι το έθιμο, ανεβήκαμε με τα πόδια σ' ένα εκκλησάκι πάνω στον Υμηττό. Είχαν φωτίσει το μονοπάτι, το ξέρω και πολύ καλά, γιατί πάω συχνά για φωτογραφίες εκεί. Κανένα πρόβλημα δηλαδή. Πέρα από αυτό είχε και ωραία δροσούλα.

Στην δουλειά είχαμε μια ωραία έκπληξη χτες: Ένα site που φτιάξαμε επί πολύ καιρό μπήκε online. Δεν το είχα φτιάξει εγώ, αλλά στην τελική φάση ανέλαβα κάτι σαν το τεχνικό project management. Έκανα βεβαίως και κάτι bug fixes στων κώδικα. Το site είναι σε flash, κάτι που δεν είναι ακριβώς η πρώτη επιλογή μου... αλλά παίζει τώρα. Οπότε αν ψάχνουμε την Häagen-Dazs στην Ελλάδα με τα παγωτά τους, μπορούμε τώρα να την βρούμε στο Ένα πολύ μεγάλο ευχαριστώ σ' αυτήν την φάση πρέπει να πω και στον φίλο μου τον Javier, a.k.a. graffic που μου βοήθησε με κάποια απίστευτα τεχνικά προβλήματα.

Posted by betabug at 10:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
27 August 2010

10.8. - 21.8.: Switzerland

Mainly a gray thing
Evening in an alpine valley in Ticino

After being in Paris (and the Normandie), I was in Switzerland too. My father had a big party, lots of family to meet, nice. The plan was also to do some hikes in the mountains, but due to the gray, rainy weather, few of that we actually did.

We went to see some places in Appenzell. We got a good thorough soaking of rain in the Toggenburg. Some of the last days we went to the Ticino. Took the funicular (the steepest in Switzerland) up from Piotta and roamed around the alpine lakes up there. Slept in the wonderful hut capana cadagna, also ate there very well. The picture is the look from the backside of the hut in the evening. No vintage cameras for me up there, we only had the trusty Pentax W60. Sadly we had to go down the next day, but at least we had a wonderful hike.

Posted by betabug at 16:43 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
22 November 2010

Hiking the Evrota Springs 2010-10-16

Old News
Treetops in the forests near Vlahokerasia

Last month we went for a one day hike with the "Cultural Center of the EYDAP employees (mountaineering section)" (Πολιτιστικό κέντρο εργαζόμενων ΕΥΔΑΠ (ορειβατικό τμήμα)" and some people from the Krystallis mountaineering club from Pireus. We went on a round about trail, near a village called Βλαχοκερασιά (Vlahokerasia) on the Peloponnese...

Group of hikers with some guidance

The excursion was really well planned and organized. Tassos (Τάσος Μήτσιος) had everything mapped out and documented. He and his helpers had installed fixed ropes on some parts of the hike that required a bit of scrambling. The reason I can give his name so well is that each of us got handed a folded sheet with some background information and a photocopy of the map.

Usually I'm all for discovering stuff ourselves and I didn't need much hand-holding, but with quite a large group it sure made things easier. I really had my head free to enjoy the place.

Sunlight in the trees, hikers

That weekend was still pretty summerish. Lots of sunshine, wonderful blue sky, sun streaming between the trees. Plus some autumn colors (not visible in my black+white pictures obviously). The course was for the most part following a little stream or creek, around the springs of the Evrotas river.

Hiking along a little stream

We crossed the little stream many times, back and forth. Sometimes jumping over it, sometimes passing little bridges, sometimes balancing on tree trunks. At one point one of the tree trunks broke under one of our fellow hikers. Not too tough on a day hike, as dry clothes aren't too far away - and it was not cold at all.

There were a lot of sympathetic people there and we had some really nice talks at the dinner at the end of the day.

(Pictures taken with the Canon F-1N, on Tri-X, developed in Diafine.)

Posted by betabug at 18:14 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
27 November 2010

Hiking the E4 at Taygetos 2010-11-13+14

Singing in the rain
Hiking up to the Taygetos hut

It's already two weeks ago that I went on another excursion with the Krystallis hiking + mountaineering club. We went to the Ταΰγετος (Taygetos) mountain. The plan was to hike to the hut on Saturday, then either (if time permits) hike straight up to the summit or go to the summit early on Sunday morning. The weather wasn't agreeing with either of these plans at all...

It was all gray skies and rainy. Shifting between pouring down and light rain. So instead of going to the top, a few of us hiked up to the hut, while the others drove. At the (very nice) hut, we cooked dinner and enjoyed a nice evening.

The next morning we woke up fairly early, but not "mountaineering early". Since it was pouring down again, it would be the 2nd time that I was at Taygetos and not getting to see the summit. The last time fog stopped us. This time we even discussed going down by car and doing a normal "tourism" program. Well, we didn't go that far. Instead we dressed up for rain and headed out on the E4 hiking trail down to Anavryti.

Starting the hike in the rain

Somewhere along the way, the rain finally let up bit by bit. In the end we were still under clouds, but we could see the sun peek through in the distance. We had started out at an altitude of about 1400m and went slowly down to about 700m. The E4 around Taygeto is really beautiful. It's the 2nd time I've been around there and I really like the place.

The rain is lifting

All the time I had my sturdy (and heavy), old Canon F-1N with me. Most of the time I had it strung around my neck. When it was pouring down, the camera was underneath my rain poncho and I would pull the poncho up to point the camera through one of the side openings. At one point after walking along in the heavy rain, the humidity likely shorted the battery, the shutter button stopped working. I packed the camera into the backpack for half an hour. It dried out a bit and at the next stop, where the rain had let up already, it came out again and worked fine.

Old Master Tree in the rain

Most pictures I took with Tri-X, in black and white. One film was a cheap (I mean, really cheap, 1.29 Euro) Kodak ColorPlus 200 (the same film is also known as Kodacolor VR200, with edge marks "Kodak 200-8"). I had to re-scan that film twice to get the colors right, because VueScan (the scanning software) didn't have it as "Color Plus" in its settings list. In the end it came out quite nice by setting to "Kodacolor VR200 Generation 5" and the pictures needed only minimal adjustment. As I've posted b+w pictures on the last hiking report, I'll post some color ones here.

Posted by betabug at 16:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 January 2011

Hiking Misty and Sunny Parnitha

Short and sweet walks
Parnitha in the Mist

The last weekend we had wonderful sunny weather. On Sunday I went with some friends for a short hike in Parnitha, the mountains/hills near Athens. In November we had been hiking there too, at a slightly different spot, with another friend and in much different weather: As you can see from the picture, back then we had a cloudy, rainy day.

No matter if sunny or cloudy, it feels good to be walking on something that isn't concrete, smelling fresh air and trees. The sad thing with Parnitha is when you hit on some of the burned parts. There is a lot that isn't burnd though.

I had the Firstflex with me then, loaded with some black+white film (Tri-X). Not always the best choice, but good for some misty and misterious pictures sometimes. The problem is that this old camera is all soft and misty by itself, couple that with cloudy weather and pictures can get really soft. I'm not yet so sure which of the pictures I really like, so for now I'll put only one of them here.

This Sunday the weather was much warmer. So lots of Athenians had the same idea and the areas close to the roads were crowded. We also hit on some motorcycles and quad bikes, smack right in the protected national park. I can understand that Parnitha is one of the few, close "recreation" areas Athens has, so lots of people go there - I would be well prepared to run into lots and lots of hikers (didn't happen), but taking a loud and destructive hobby into a protected area... not good.

Posted by betabug at 19:16 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 January 2011

Valley of the Muses

Hiking for the New Year's Cake
View on the Valey of the Muses from above

Last Sunday I was hiking with the folks from the Krystallis hiking club in the Valley of the Muses (κοιλάδα τον μουσών), near Thebes. That's the valley as seen from above in the picture. We were there for the traditional cutting of the new years cake. We did about 4 hours of hiking, starting way down in the plain...

Hiking on a dirt road in direction to mount Helicon

... going in the direction of Mount Helicon (Ελικώνας). For a large part we were on an almost flat dirt road between fields. We were enjoying the nice weather, cool and windy, but sunny. Well, we were looking at a dark gray mass of clouds over the mountains, but for the moment things were fine.

The dirt road wound itself up the mountain side

At some point the dirt road started to wind itself up the mountain side. We'd follow that and then turn left to where the actual path to the top of the mountain would start. Due to the time limit set by the circumstances, we wouldn't be able to make it to the top though. We had to be back for the food and then to get the coach back to Athens in reasonable time. Also we were in a large group, with some children, so there was no chance for a quick run for the top.

Taking the path down, back to the valley

So when we reached the crossing of the path, we stopped for a while and headed down on the path, back to the valley. It was good to hike a bit on a real path, brushing the trees, feet on rocks.

On the way back, the dark clouds finally catched up with us. They dropped a bit of rain on us, just enough to make things interesting. We made it back to Askri (the village) in time, had our food in a tavern there, got our piece of cake and were comfortably chauffeured back to town.

Posted by betabug at 10:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 January 2011

Snow on Flambouri

Scramble, scramble

This morning at 7am, the alarm in my phone sounded. I switched it off. Then I was lying there, thinking. Trying to decide. Should I get up? Pack my things and head out, across Athens, to meet some friends early in the morning and head up to the Parnitha mountain region? Or should I just stay in bed, get another wink of snow and slack off a slacky sunday? Guess what, it took me some time, but I got out of bed. I packed my things, I headed for the bus.

So at about 10:30 we were three guys, heading up the mountainside from the base station of the cable car. I've gone up there before, on a nice hiking path to the "Bafi" hut. But instead of going that way, we crossed the bed of a little stream and started scrambling up a rocky mountainside. It wasn't steep enough to warrant ropes and stuff, but there were some parts, where I was wondering wtf I was doing there.

After a short while, there started to be some snow on parts of the rocks (where the wind hadn't blown it off). That snow started to be partially frozen and there was more of it the more we went up. Another adventure happened when one of my boots got stuck in a crack in the rocks. Really annoying situation. Well, no matter what, we made it up to the "Flambouri" peak. We were going along the top of a rock face that is a climbing field. I was quite happy when we weren't too close to the edge.

Repeatedly while scrambling up using my hands, I had the thought that "hopefully we won't go down the same way again". At the same time I looked back from time to time, memorizing the way down, because if something bad happens, that could be just where I would have to get down in a hurry.

Lucky me, a short while after the ridge and the peak, we got to the hut and followed a more conventional hiking path down. There was a little bit of snow around, maybe 5cm. First snow I've trodden on this year. Lots of trees were frozen over. I had the Firstflex with me, which didn't help while scrambling, but it allowed me to take some pictures of frozen trees and rocks.

Posted by betabug at 19:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 February 2011

Aerides, 2037m

Snow and Sunshine

I'm on an excursion with the Krystallis mountain club next door to the mountain Velouhi (aka Tymfristos) near Karpenisi. the club is holding some training sessions, but I'm with a small group who does an alternative program.
Today we went to the small peak called "Aerides", 2037m high, about an hour from the hut. It was an easy ascent in the snow, no ice, not too deep snow, nice weather, only a bit of cold wind.
Not to forget, with great sunshine! I had the Firstflex with me and took some pix. Originally I thought to bring the Arca, but in the end for practical reasons it stayed at home.
A few of us are going to sleep outside in tents. Lets see how good my old sleeping bag still works!

Posted by betabug at 18:12 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 February 2011

Velouhi (aka Tymfristos), 2315m

Lucky to have the best conditions
Tents next to the Velouhi hut

Continuing the weekends saga from where I left off in the Aerides post: Yes, I've slept in the tent outside. The temperature was reported to being something like -5ºC to -9ºC outside in the morning. It was a bit windy. The tent held and my sleeping bag had no problem with the temperature. In fact I woke up at some moment in the night and took off some clothing because I was feeling too hot. A bit after 7 in the morning I convinced myself to leave the comfy "bed" and go out to take some pictures. Here is the tent in the last bit of dawn. Then I went for breakfast and to prepare for the day's adventures...

Looking up to the peak of Velouhi

A part of the people from the club went off to hold their training session, while some of us set up to "climb" the peak of Velouhi (Βελούχι, also called Tymfristos or Timfristos, Τυμφρηστός) in two groups. I put "climb" in quotes, because it really was just a steep walk. There was about 30cm of snow, more powdery not frozen. For me the hardest part was crossing a steep gradient. The stuff where you always see the ground going down to your side and you fear to slip. Well, I feared to slip. I kept telling myself, "come on, you've done worse than this, it's not too steep, even if you fall, it's child play to hold or sled down, uh oh, how will we get down this thing later? ...". I got over it with some psychological help and practical advice from the group. After we crossed that part, things got real easy, with the last part before the peak being a nice plateau with a great view. Here you see me looking up to the peak on the last little bit.

betabug on top of the Velouhi, 2315m

... and here I have reached the top of Velouhi, 2315m. I had handed the Firstflex over to Dimitri to take my picture. While he looked through the viewfinder, he moved the camera left and right to frame the pic... and noticed that, "hey, it's mirrored!" Duh, yeah, it is :-) It's quite an experience when looking through a TLR (or 6x6 SLR) for the first time, but when using it for a long time, you forget it.

Dimitri, Ilias, Aris on the peak of Velouhi, 2315m

Here are Dimitri, Ilias and Aris on the peak of Velouhi. There was another gentleman there too, not from the club, who was going up alone but helped us with advice and directions. We enjoyed the view for a while up there. When we went back down, we met the second group on their way up. We then came to the steep gradient. Look there, I had no problem at all getting down! In fact, I felt much, much more relaxed and safe. It reminded me of skiing, sledding and generally playing on snowy hills as a child. Come on, I had feared this thing? The others then gave me a little "self arrest" training, where you use the ice axe to stop your slide on snow or ice. I let myself fall, I jumped down and stopped my slide again. It was fun!

Posted by betabug at 11:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 November 2011

Hiking Flambouritsa

7 hours over sticks and stones
Our group at lunch break

Yesterday I was out with the "Krystallis" mountain club, hiking the Flambouritsa glen (in the Zyria area, near Trikala. We were 14 people, which is a nice group size. The hike was simple, without any difficult terrain really, but with a some stretches where the path was covered with loose stones. All that was easily forgotten, because of the great weather we had. Sunshine and a clear blue sky, cool air without any wind, just enough haze in the air to make photography interesting.

We basically made a round trip, passing alongside the glen on top of the edge at first, then on the upper end, descending down and returning next to the stream (which didn't have any water) to our starting point. At the point where we came down, there was kind of a wide valley housing what were said to be wild horses. I don't know if they are really so wild, but you can see them as little specs in the picture above. We were having our lunch break in viewing distance of them.

Along with me I had my trusty old Firstflex, with some Fuji 400H (color negative) and Kodak Tri-X (black+white). Those pictures obviously aren't developed yet, the picture above was taken with a Lumix FT-3, which has replaced my broken Pentax W60. The Lumix is good for image quality and ruggedness, but the software is nothing to write home about. Basically all you get is "push that button and hope for the best".

We were out and about for roughly seven hours. After the hike everybody stormed a local taverna. Lots of food was eaten, lots of old and new stories were told and the sore feed could relax a bit. Then everybody drove home to Athens. Judging from myself, this was followed by some good and deep sleep.

Posted by betabug at 10:33 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
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