Happy New Year from Lefka Ori!

My dear friend Stelios Georgedakis, that walked with me some days of CamminaCreta, and that in winter lives on the White Mountains of Crete (Lefka Ori) in the village of Agios Ioannis, gives to the lovers of Crete his Happy New Year sending this nice video shot by his friend Cristos,

It’s the story of two famous french ski alpinists, Stéphane Brosse and Charles Dubouloz (Millet team) that crossed in 6 hours all the Lefka Ori from Omalos to Askifou, climbing Mount Pachnes.

It’s 40 kilometers, usually you need two hard days to walk it!
But more than the exploit we are interested in the beautiful landscape of that mountains with snow, the same mountain where the E4 runs, and where usually I lead trekking groups every year!


Luca

A presentation of CamminaCreta in Milan (Italy)

Saturday March the 26th in Milano, at the fair “Fa’ la cosa giusta”, Luca Gianotti will talk about his walk in Crete from East to West along the E4. There will be a slideshow prepared by  Matteo Nobili.  For all the Crete’s lovers, a big appointment!

At the end, concert of an italian singer:  Ori.  And we’ll eat and drink something together.

At 4 pm, here’s the fair’s web  Fa’ la cosa giusta

We wait for you!

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 40 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 105 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 15mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 12th with 102 views. The most popular post that day was The trip.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were camminacreta.wordpress.com, facebook.com, livingincrete.net, radio-kreta.de, and twitter.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for walking the heart of crete, stelios georgedakis, pachnes walks, camminacreta, and walking the hart of crete.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The trip March 2010

2

The Project March 2010
1 comment

3

Travelogue October 2010
6 comments

4

Walkers September 2010
2 comments

5

Helping March 2010
1 comment

Thanks, thanks

Thanks to my feet which have carried me thus far, tired, but without a bladder; thanks to the aromatic oil which massaged them; thanks to the wool socks, so comfortable; thanks to the leather boots, natural and perspiring of Scarpa which have accompanied my walkings for so many years.
Thanks to the equipment that helped me, the window breaker that protected me, the sunglasses, the backpack, the sleeping bag, vital fellow travellers.
Thanks to the technology, to the notebook, to the photocamera, to the gps, to the audiorecorder, to the cellphone: without them all the communication would not have been so rich, and without them it would not be possible my project to write a book about this path.
Thanks to Matteo who shared with me the first 12 days of walk, and thanks to Stelios who went back and forth, working out small problems. It was really pleasant when he walked with me.
Thanks to all the people I met along this route. Those meetings were always beautiful and peaceful. I am sure that I will meet them again. Thanks to all those among them who opened their home offering me hospitality.
Thanks to those who sent me greetings, small messages from afar: their presence made me feel less alone.
Thanks to those who have collaborated to make this journey a project of special communication, made of a blog in three languages (thanks to Marina for the translation into English and to Jorg and Susanne for the translation into German on Radio Kreta), of a gps trace shared live on the portal Movimentolento (thanks to Tommaso, Federico and Alberto). Talking of technologies, thanks to Alberto who taught me to use the gps, thanks to Simone who provided me with extremely useful maps.
Thanks to those who gave money for the projects that I supported, the donkeys of Anatoli and Crete for life. Thanks to those who decide to help these projects even now that the journey is over, sending a contribution (see the Helping page) or organizing a presentation evening of the journey with takings to donate.
Thanks to those who were shocked by the “barrel dogs”, to those who have written letters of protest, to those who will do it, to those who will organize other actions for this problem. If necessary, I am ready to continue this fight!
Thanks to Scarpa and Patagonia because they proved that sometimes a firm can think of something different from profit: their contribution has been generous, they didn’t ask anything in return even in terms of image.
Thanks to mother earth of Crete that has welcomed me, has made me feel its ancient wisdom, has protected me along the route, has made me feel a son among the other sons, insomuch that now, after this journey, I feel “a son of the earth of Crete”.
Thanks to the sun and to the rain, thanks to the mountains and to the sea, thanks to the rocks, to the trees under which I slept (two plane trees, a maple, a thorny oak, two olive trees and at last a cypress), because they have procteted me from the cold, the dampness and the rain.
Thanks to the small country churches which gave me shelter and to the men and women who leave them open or hide the keys where it is possible to find them.
Thanks to the posts of the E4: it was a joy whe they came into sight. Thanks to the men who put them and to those who didn’t remove them.
Thanks to the scent of the Cretan herbs.
Thanks to Fabiana, who supported me; she is so strong in taking upon herself the duties of the house and the little Giacomo, so strong in never making me feel irresponsible, or absent or selfish.

And I am for ever grateful to the master Thich Nath Hanh.
I share with all of you the merit and the pleasure of the CamminaCreta.

Commitments

We are walking eastward and I want to tell you of the commitments I took on on your behalf.
First of all, to tell you what I will see walking along the 500 kilometers of Crete. Which way do I intend to
do it?
Every day I will send a diary of my travel which you will find on the blog CaminaCreta.
The proper diary will be preceded by:
– the sentence of the day – Fabiana, my companion, has chosen for me about thirty quotations of the Zen master Thich Nath Hahn, short sentences that I wll pick out at random from a small cotton bag. The sentence of the day will be read in the morning before starting the walk together with whoever will walk with me that day. It will give us the impetus to put ourselves in the right disposition of mind for the day and will also help us to find out where we will discover again its learning during the day.
– the photo of the day – among the photos we will make I will choose the one that can symbolize the day, a photo which will picture this walk.
– the meeting of the day – the anticipation of the most interesting meeting of one or more people whose story I will tell. It is an important part of my journey: I am also here to know people who have a story to tell.
In another page you will find the technical section: the Gps track of the route which I will put freely at the disposal of everyone who loves walking. Nobody will get lost any more along the E4 in Crete! Unless he wants to live the adventure without Gps; but this is also the beauty of the walk. On this page I will also publish some technical indications for every stage of the walk, eg. length, difference in heights, difficulties, strong points. The complete description with the photographic reportage will be published at a later stage.
Every day I will send all to Marina Merella who has kindly offered to translate it into English. In fact there are many people here in Crete who are interested in my journey. I receive encouraging mail from people who in the future would like to walk on the same route, but also from people who are simply interested in news of the walk, such as RadioKrete who would like to translate my diary into German.

Motives

What has driven me to organize the “CamminaCreta” ?
The first motive is public: to contribute to the revival of E4 in Crete, describing it in all its aspects, from life in Crete to the Gps track of the route. And then I want to tell you something of my personal motives. I am 49 years old and I have a son of 14 months and know that in the future I will not be able to often make such kind of journey far from home.

But this was the right moment, and I took advantage of it. I have no job.The Association for which I worked has closed down. I had founded it 17 years ago, all alone, and from then it has been my job and my passion, to such a degree that I had identified myself too much with it. But later the ups and downs of life contributed to destroy what had appeared to be a good plan, due to internal quarrels. Now I must start all over again; we are founding a new association, but everything will be different. I will not be the only leader, “the unique sun”, of this new system.
We are a group and therefore I myself will be less identified with the new I will learn to keep the two aspects of the project separate and build a combined effort dedicated to walking and my personal activity in that field.

This journey is therefore for me a changeover. Every change passes through a crisis and I myself am coming out of a difficult moment, I don’t hide it from you. And to return to a new life, this yourney is a great opportunity to look into oneself, to overcome a crisis and to come back renewed and full of energy. Crete was the right place for all of this, as I have already explained. Now that I am on leave, I am convinced of it even more. I am in Pyrgos, a small village near Agios Nicholaos; tonight with Fabiana, Giacomo and Matteo I slept in the house of an English couple who have come to live here. We are a few kilometers away from the tourism I don’t like, the tourism of apartment hotels and swimming-pools close to the sea and coffee-bars open all the night, but we are in a village and woken up by hens and dogs.

Today we move further east and, if everything goes well, tomorrow we will start walking from Kato Zakros.
Let “CamminaCreta” start !

Prodrome

Tomorrow we shall leave ! For the Prodrome.

What is a prodrome ? Let’s have a look at the etymology:

prodome = lat.prodromus  from greek prodromos, forerunner, composed by pro,

forward and dromos, run .

So a fact which anticipates another one.

Is it possible then to make a Prodrome not running, but just walking ? I think it is! I am going to do exactly this, a Prodrome to CamminaCreta (Walking in Crete). And I am going to do it seriously. I will accompany a group of six people on the White Mountains, the hardest part of Crete. There will be with me: Gherardo, the man who walks barefoot, Lauretta, Vincenza, Alberto, Laura and Luca.We will walk for eight days, reaching up to more than 2000 metres, maybe up until the top of Pachnes (2453 metres). Then down to the sea and again up further than 2000 metres, to  the top of Gigilos. A real Prodrome, but without running. After this journey in the places of Crete I know better, I will be ready, trained, purified of every toxin, both physical and psycological, initiated for the long journey.

I have heard of only three people (all English) who tried to cross the length of Crete.  The first was Christopher Thorne, who exactly twenty years ago crossed Crete from East to West.  In fourteen days, as a speedy walker, almost runner, he followed though a route very different from the E4 – let’s say easier. He hardly climbed any mountain. I am going to do the opposite: to climb all the mountains of Crete.  He published the book “Between the Seas”, which is interesting for  he references to the history of Crete but lacking in descriptions of his walking. He was too concentrated on curing his blisters and running to cover the approximately 450 kilometres of his route in fourteen days; and often getting lost too.

Ten years ago, another Christopher, surname Somerville, tried. He was an english journalist who took a month to cross Crete and afterwards published the book “The Golden Step”.  As an untrained walker, in his book he tells the vicissitudes he encounters on his journey, all the times he got lost and  the parts of the route he missed out by using transport. At the end he succeeds, he arrives at the west coast of the island and his story proves interesting above all for descriptions of the people he meets along the way (this is the part which interests me more).

In 2003 it is the turn of an English boy of Greek origin, Stelios Jackson. He has published a blog in which he tells a part of this adventure and it is not clear whether he interrupted his walking or just his writing. The  first part of it  is long-winded, but sometimes interesting. Instead, too often he speaks  in detail  about the dozens of times he got lost, arrived at night and had to have someone to rescue him. He took more than double the time he expected, taking an advantage of his friend Rex who followed him with his car.

There are also other cases of unsuccessful walks.  One has struck me especially: a blog of two boys, English also, I guess, who left from the west of the island. Their blog was really well done regarding the graphics, but after two days of walking they disappeared. The blog does not say what happened to them,  whether they interrupted their walking or just their writing, or they are still wandering in the mountains, searching for a way out ! This is what happens on the net !

This is not my case. I would not talk of blisters or of crossroads where one does not know whether to go right or left. I promise you .For now I  won’t say any more.  At least, I’ll tell you what I won’t  do.

Today is a packing day!

Today is a packing day! Not easy at all! I have to prepare a backpack for the Prodrome and another one for the the CamminaCreta. Many things will be the same, i.e. sleeping-bag, air-bed, walking-sticks. Other things will be different. Clothes for the CamminaCreta will be heavier, because the season is becoming colder. Therefore: winter parka and winter trousers. In the second backpack I put all the extras i.e.sponge-bag and first aid kit, everything in duplicate. I will wash some of my clothes between one walk and another and some of them I will change. In the backpack of the CamminaCreta I ‘ll carry all the technological equipment, which I won’t do for the Prodrome, as that will be a journey without technology. For the CaminaCreta I’ll put in the backpack the following: a Lumix TZ10 camera, suitable for travelling, as  it has a very powerful zoom and an incorporated GPS to pinpoint the places of the pictures; a netbook Asus; a gps Garmin Oregon 300; a small pocket Sony recorder to take notes (but also a Moleskine!); a cellphone.

I will take the medium one (the Blue Kazoo) of my three sleeping bags (all of them North Face!). I would like to take the warmest one, but it is too heavy. I must save that half kilo to carry batteries, cables and wires;in short I will risk being cold by carrying technological little games for fifty-year-old children!

As the backpack I will have a North Face Prophet, the lightest, the one I prefer.

The boots are Scarpa, of course, the brand I trust. I will take the Trek as I have an almost new pair, which have been  run-in when I was  trekking in Sardinia last month. They are made of leather both inside and out, smooth and healthy, the foot perspires well and feels more free, I think they will be able to last for all the forty days of my journey.

I treat my feet with a special oil I made up myself: with nine essential oils of mountain herbs, diluted in arnica oil. Feet must be pampered every evening, with a small massage. And must be wrapped into healthy materials, socks of merino wool and boots of leather which let them perspire.

A few days ago I got in touch with Flora, the firm that produces essential oils suggesting that they make a line of products for walking people; they said they’d yhink about it!

As much as possible my clothes will be of my favourite brand, Patagonia. The windbreaker for the Prodrome is a Rain Shadow, ultralight.  But for the CamminaCreta I will take a heavier parka. It is some years  old, I don’t remember the model, but it is always Patagonia !

Right on my skin I’ll wear undershirts of merino wool, Patagonia, Icebreaaker, Smartwool.

All natural technology, because techological advances can be to the advantage of wellbeing and not  only profit.

So much for now, I have written enough for today, I am going off to finish packing!

 

 

CamminaCreta – Presentation

On October 15th I will leave for Crete. The time has come to define the point of the journey. I love the idea of walking for about forty days, first accompanying a group Boscaglia. Then, sometimes I will be alone and sometimes my dear friend Stelios will join me to walk together for a while.
Sometimes I will meet and walk some distance with other people who live in the island, such as the Scottish couple who breed donkeys. Or the italian ladies who went to live in Crete and manage an Association that helps disadvantaged children to take free holidays, in collaboration with SOS children. Then, for a week, Matteo from Turin will join me from Italy. He is a friend who works as a photographer and will walk and take pictures of the walk and the meetings and even film them. I like the alternating moments of solitude and sharing.

I am organizing my backpack. I will bring a sleeping-bag as I mean to sleep either in the open air when the weather permits or in emergency refuges. There are shepherd shelters into which I can slide. From time to time I hope I can rely on some free hospitality. I am registered onto Couchsurfing although on my road there’s hardly nobody offering couches. In the villages though I trust on the old traditional hospitality. Every few days I will allow myself a good shower, a bed and a supper in a tavern. At other times I will eat in a simple way. In the kafenion everybody is presented with a village salad and I can easily survive on Greek salads. I will not bring with me supplies or a camp stove, just some emergency snack food. It is possible to find bread, olives and cheese in every village.

I will not bring the tent because it is too heavy. I am going to take the risk. If there will be a storm in the mountains, I will go on walking until I find a shelter: I am ready to walk for twelve hours without interruption. I will have a parka, gloves and a wool beret. But I will have swimming trunks as well, as the air near the sea will still be warm as will the water. In my backpack I will carry some technological instruments: Gps to map the itinerary, rechargeable batteries, battery-charger, camera and videocamera, netbook to send messages and photos and a recorder to take notes. As you can imagine this part of my luggage is really heavy!

I will leave three bags along the route, at Kastelli, Askifou and Agia Roumeli. So I will be able to change my clothes, leave things I don’t need any more and ship them little by little to Chania.

In those bags I will also put the equipment that Patagonia and Scarpa have given me as a contribution for the journey: parkas, Regulator batteries, Osprey backpacks and hiking boots. These two firms have offered this equipment not to me personally, but to people doing good deeds for Crete environment, young people fighting for nature conservation – a small contribution which I will bring them.

I will leave with a rough schedule but keep an “uncertainty margin” to feel free. I will be connected with all those people who want to reach me thanks to an Internet key and will read all their messages.

In fact, everyday or two, if I don’t have the line, I will send the travel dairy, the pictures, the Gps tracks and, if we manage, also the videos – to make a live report of this special journey. Let us hope that technology will assist us!

What matters though is the journey. Its philosophy is: “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free”. It is the epitaph of Nikos Kazantakis, the author whose works I am going to read along the walk and it is equal to the Buddhist philosophy of living for the moment, without fear of the future or anxiety about the past. Therefore it is the perfect philosophy for my journey !