From time to time in our lives if we want to do anything of real self value we have to move out of our comfort zone.
This year we took our holidays in June and decided to go to Greece. One of our objectives and a challenge out of our normal comfort zone was to go and walk the length of the Vikos canyon (some 900 metres high – the deepest in the world for its width). We like to walk but when we arrived at Monodendri (where we were staying) a small town near the canyon, we realised we weren’t as fully prepared as we thought we were for our self imposed challenge.
We were advised to do at least two shorter preparatory walks, which we did, before actually attempting the canyon. These walks made us realise that it was probably going to take a bit more effort than we had originally thought.
We set off at about 9:00 a.m. with mountain walking sticks provided by our host. The descent into the gorge canyon was steep on a very winding and uneven path with a lot of loose stones and in places sheer drops into the undergrowth, producing unpleasant but thankfully only brief bouts of vertigo. The 900 metres high gorge needed at least a 2 kilometre descent. Our calf muscles felt very relieved when we reached the bottom of the gorge basin and the path evened out somewhat.
We walked along the overgrown tree shaded sides of the gorge and regularly over loose scree and fallen trees and shrubs (from frequent rock falls) covering the path. On occasions we detoured over the smooth loose stones in the rocky river bed, all, severely challenging our ankle joints and sense of balance.
The path meandered up and down with frequent steep rocky ascents and descents, some slipping and sliding, dislodging of small and large stones, grabbing and part stripping of branches in our endeavours to keep upright.
At one point while scrabbling over some scree a snake slithered rapidly across the path in front of us and launched itself directly into a tree whose upper branches were level with our path, causing a quick shot of additional adrenaline to surge into our systems.
However, it wasn’t all hard going, our route had its special moments; little wild strawberries growing right next to the path provided us with a surprise breakfast snack. A delightful variety of many different shapes, types and colours of wild flowers and plants lined our route, when there were breaks in the tree cover we could see the magnificent sides of the
gorge with their blended shades towering around us. We passed through several fairy like grottos with moss covered trees and thick leaf covered floors which enveloped us in peaceful quiet and cooled us down from our exertions and the high temperatures (mid 30’s) of the day.