Here is an exciting idea for an outing by members and supporters of the Athens Strollers.
In a nutshell:
A Sunday trip, by car, to Mount Kithaironas. It involves driving to the venue in our cars, walking in the forest and on the mountain top for 3 hours, and ending where we left our cars. We will have a picnic in an open, designated area, after the walk, which means we do not have to carry our food in our bags. The walk is difficult and contains an initial arduous uphill section, and then walking on rocky, albeit level surface. The walk starts at the starting point on Mount Kithaironas at 10:30 am. The walk is being led by Xenophon (6937055502) and will go ahead even in light rain.
Sunday 20 May 2012, at 10:30 am
General Description: Kithaironas is a lovely mountain, spared of fires, covered with pine trees and fir trees. Only the summit is somewhat naked, with few trees, but with flowers (cyclamen, crocus etc). The walk entails arduous climbing for the first 50 to 60 minutes, on very steady surface. This gets us to the summit. From there on, the walk continues along the summit, on rocky surface. Walking on the rocky summit requires care. We follow exactly the same route back to return to the refuge, our meet point (so, this is not a circular walk).
How to get to Mount Kithaironas toll-free: Get to the junction between the Athens-Lamia National Road and the Athens-Corinth National Road (also referred to as Leoforos Athinon, or even Leoforos Kavallas). Zero your odometer and head towards Corinth. Drive along the National Road. At 3.2 km there is an AB Vassilopoulos on your right. At 4.4 km there is a Goody’s on your right. At 18.3 km there is a Praktiker on your right. At 18.7 km is the exit for Elefsina and Theba (Thiva), signposted with large green and yellow road signs. Take this exit to the right and zero your odometer as you leave the Athens-Corinth National Road. Soon you pass over Attiki Odos (exit 1). You are now driving along the old Athens-Theba national road. At 2.2 km you go straight at traffic lights. At 2.7 km you pass large Veropoulos installations on your right. At 25.0 km you leave the main road and turn left, following the road sign to ‘Vilia, Aigosthena’. At 28.5 km you get to a Y-junction, where you follow the left path signposted ‘Porto Germeno’ (ignore the right path with a sign to ‘Vilia’). At 29.3 km you get to one more Y-junction, where you follow the left path, with a sign to ‘Porto Germeno’. At 31.3 km you get to a T- junction, where you turn left (ignore a right turn to ‘Vilia’). The road takes you outside the village of Vilia. At 32.5 km you reach a Y-junction with a road sign indicating a right turn for Kithaironas (ignore the left road going downhill to Porto Germeno). Zero your odometer and take this road, climbing up to Kithaironas. At 7.4 km you see the refuge (named Tsakos) on your right, just before a left bend of the road. This is our meeting point. The walk starts here at 10:30 am. The altitude is 1090 m.
Caution: Total distance from the junction between the Athens-Lamia National Road and the Athens-Corinth National Road to the walk start is 58.6 km. Allow at least 2 hours driving from Athens to the walk start. Getting there a little earlier simply adds to your pleasure. Getting there late causes anxiety and discomfort. You are strongly advised to a) print out these instructions and have them with you in your car, b) use your odometer, as instructed: this is the most reliable method to use, and the only safe one when in doubt.
How to get to Mount Kithaironas via Attiki Odos: Drive towards Elefsina and take exit number 1 to the right towards ‘Mandra’. Then follow directions supplied above.
The picnic: We shall picnic upon our return from the hike. Thus, we do not have to carry any food while walking. All food and drinks for the picnic can be kept in the boot of our cars. All the same, you need to carry with you sufficient water in your bag, since the temperatures are high and we will not encounter any spring of fresh water on our trail.
Description of the picnic area: We shall picnic at the area where we first meet, around the refuge (katafygio) named Tsakos. There are 3 pavilions in the area, with a roof and a round bench each (no table in the middle). Naturally many of us will choose to lay some rag on the ground and picnic there. The area is suitable for games too; bring a ball and try volley ball. For something more sedate, try tavli (backgammon). We cannot be sure that the refuge will be open.
Don’t feel like walking: If you have friends and family who do not feel like walking, they can still join you, and stay behind at the picnic area, while the rest of us hike.
Driving to the top of Mount Kithaironas: This information is supplied for general interest. You continue to climb up, past our meeting point for another 4 km, to reach the summit, at 1400m altitude, where the telecommunication aerials are. Another 500 meters gets you to the church of Prophet Elias.
Clothing and Footwear: You are advised to have with you a wind jacket. Part of the walk is along the mountain summit, at 1400 m. elevation, offering no protection from any wind; the mountain summit is often windy. You need also a good pair of hiking shoes (not gym shoes), sun tan lotion and sunglasses.
The only out of pocket cost is the expense of your picnic meal, which you will be bringing along. Can you think of a better value-for-money activity for your Sunday out?
Don’t have a car?
You are still welcome. Just commit early enough, and we will make arrangements to pick you up in one of the cars coming along, at some pick-up point to suit both parties.
I like it, what do I need to do now?
Please consult with your family members/ friends and reply to Xenophon.
In replying, please indicate a)your acceptance, b)if you have a car or need a lift, c)number of people you need a lift for, d)number of vacant seats in your car.
Kithaironas in mythology: Several fables are related. In one, Hercules cut a branch from an olive tree on the mountain, made his club from it and used it to kill a lion that was ravaging the area. In another, Aktaion was unlucky to get a good look at goddess Artemis (Diana) while she was bathing (naked). This angered Artemis, who turned Aktaion into a deer. Aktaion’s dogs then attacked and killed the deer. It is said that the sad look deer have is a remnant of Aktaion’s sorrow. In yet another myth, King Laios was advised not to give birth to a son, because his son would kill him. Mad with lust, Laios slept with Iocasta and Oedipus was born. Laios gave the newborn to a shepherd, instructing him to kill the boy. The pitiful shepherd abandoned the infant on Mount Kithaironas instead, where he was rescued and taken to the king of Corinth. Oedipus later unknowingly took the life of Laios, but had a tragic end himself.