If you’ve been reading the blog, you saw that the last entry, View From the Top, was posted by my husband. We received numerous comments about his post, giving him kudos for being so adventurous and hiking so high up into the mountains. It is something that you don’t find many locals doing, unless of course, they have or had to do so. I just wanted to write to you all know, that we (the kids and I) made it to the top with him this past Saturday.
So many of you know Chris, and know him well. For those of you who don’t, Chris is someone who sets lofty goals for himself, and for his family! Last weekend he took us on a hike called The Round of Raches on Foot. Raches is an area on the island that is in the mountains and is absolutely beautiful. I mentioned the remoteness of the village of Raches in the post Olive Oil, and I shared how the villagers of Raches were fairly protected from the German/Italian occupation of the island during WWII because of its geographic location. This “short” 18km hike (6 mile) is part of a larger trail system that covers the western part of the island. Elias and Chris were unable to go on an overnight backpacking trip this visit, so Chris thought it would be great if, as a family, we hiked “Round Raches” the first weekend he was here. The hike took us down into river beds, up high in the hills, past small churches and century old stone buildings, through villages, to an abandoned watermill and back to the small reservoir we had visited before school began. We spent six hours on the trail that day, with a stop in the town of Christos Raches for a lunch of toasts and Fanta sodas. The hike wasn’t too strenuous, but it was a bit ambitious. I can pretty much assure you that if it weren’t for Chris to motivate us, it is something that I wouldn’t have done with the kids alone.
I suppose since the kids were such good sports hiking “Round Raches,” Chris thought it would be a great idea to hike them to the ridge of the mountain to see the view from above. He cut us a break and allowed us to drive part way up the mountain to the town of Arethousa, which is situated above Karavostamo. From there, we set off, again, following the “red dot” trail markers along the ground. It took us the better part of two hours of hiking to reach the top. We stopped twice–for a small snack and a chance to rest our legs. I found a nice flat rock and laid down, soaking up the warmth of the sun and drifted away into my own little piece of paradise. The kids had fun throwing rocks and having stick sword fights, and I believe Chris paced around, anxious to continue walking. Chris did a fantastic job of describing the view, but he said our view was different. When he reached the top, it was earlier in the morning and he was higher than the clouds, which were still low in the vallies below. Our view consisted of nothing but clear blue skies, glorious landscapes, and the sea. We could clearly see the neighboring islands of Samos, Fourni, and the country of Turkey. We stayed at the top for over an hour, eating lunch and just enjoying. Eventually we made or descent by the way of a road, instead of the trail. Because of a wrong turn and the way that the road followed the ridges of the mountains, we didn’t get down any quicker than we went up. It was another six-hour hiking day.
Chris leaves again on Thursday, and we’ll have to get use to the idea of being apart again. When he is here he does so much more than take us on crazy hikes. He plays with the kids and makes their lunches. He helps me cook and clean, and does odd jobs around the house for my father and my cousin. He talks with us and makes us laugh. And he makes us do things we would never have done otherwise. His goals are lofty, and often times I think they are too ambitious, but he helps us reach them. We saw more of the island in the past three weeks than most people who live here ever see. That being said, I know what the kids and I will do this coming weekend, once he’s returned to America. Nothing.