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Meanwhile in Olympus…
We had already survived a full week of 40+ degrees in Athens when synoptic meteorology came to our rescue: “1 Celsius degree every 100 vertical meters”. This is how the temperature drops in a dry atmosphere as you move upwards. Adding 2700 m to the equation gets you a whopping 27 degree cooling compared to the boiling sea level.

All good things, though, come at a price. In this case, it was a demanding but astonishing 6-8 hour trek (one way) that started at 1100m and ended at 2700 m of the Muses plateau, right underneath the throne of Zeus. If there is one solid piece of advice, it is that you have to want it as much as a baby wants a candy-bar before you start walking. Otherwise you will surrender hands down. We had been dreaming about it for two months and still lost our faith at a point above the tree line when exhaustion took over and sun rays felt like they could melt titanium. Thankfully, it was nothing that some friendly taps in the back, a couple of jokes and a dozen of cranberries and peanuts (sweet and salty combination) could not heal.

We started walking on 6:40 Saturday morning from “Prionia” and reached refuge “A” (Spilios Agapitos) by 10:00. The first part within the deep forest was astonishing. We got tired, we sat down, we continued. The point where we left the trees behind was where everything changed. The sun was ruthless and we weren’t high enough yet to have cool air, let alone a place to stop in a shade. By the time we reached the refuge, there wasn’t even the slightest thought of moving further up. An older climber that sat nearby proved to be wiser: “Your body temperature is currently skyrocketing. Let half an hour pass, and your mind will think differently”. We found a shady spot to eat, rehydrate and sleep for an hour and when we woke up we changed our minds, exactly as the guy had predicted. We would go up.

We made some new friends and joined them for the trail to the Muses plateau, which was our objective from the beginning. No plans for summits, nothing. The goal was clear: Set up camp under the throne of Zeus and wake up with Greece and the Aegean at our feet, on the plateau where the nine muses danced each morning. We reached the highest refuge in Greece (Giosos Apostolidis) just in time for the delicious dinner. We set up out tent under Profitis Ilias summit, grabbed two cups of hot tea with honey and left the world behind.

On Sunday, we decided to descent via the Petrostrouga trail. Another million fantastic jpegs for the hard disks in our head, but after the sixth hour of descent all we wanted to see was the car. A quick change into swimsuits and straight to a magical waterfall in the Enipeas river next to the old Agios Dionysios monastery. Head first into the crystal water. The water was WAY colder than I believed liquid water could exist without turning into ice, but what the hell... In less than three seconds it washed the exhaustion away, in the same way that this mythical mountain and the people on it who always smiled and said a word when passing by, made us escape from the awful ethos of the urban jungle we live in...

P.S.: A huge “thank you” to Yiannis, Panos and Christina. I’m not sure if we would have attempted the final part of the ascent without them. Even if we had, it definitely wouldn’t be as interesting and fun. Tons of respect to the gentlemen who trekked like teenagers regardless of their years being double than ours. The biggest gratitude goes to the one that came along for the ride, lead the trails like a yeti and completed a route in only two days, that most women would not even dream about. Everyone, thanks for the memories.-
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