Good evening! I hope you are well wherever you are, whatever you are doing!
In this article I will share with you a hiking experience in eastern Mainalo mountain, specifically a dolini (sinkhole) in Kehroti, which fascinated me and gave me a great dose of energy. Of course this is due to contact with virgin nature, silence and good company…
I wouldn’t have been able to go on this hike if it weren’t for Panagiotis Panagopoulos. Hmm what can I say about Panos, he does a lot… It’s interesting that he left Athens at the same age as me and coming here created something of his own from scratch. The main thing you need to know is that he has a company here in Mainalo that takes small or even large groups of nature lovers and provides them the opportunity to do various activities, such as “survivor” games in the forest, cooking and staying in nature, hikes and more. Born for sports, lifeguard, mountain companion, skier, diver and the list goes on…
At the beginning, few people knew about the sinkhole in Kehroti, the coldest place in the whole of Greece, which has reached -35 degrees. One of these few peoeple was Panos. Of course now with the internet everything is easy and fast to learn and now many nature lovers and photographers visit the spot. Sinkholes are natural formations that arise in highlands and in general in mountain ranges due to the subsidence of the ground. These formations usually have a small area and are surrounded by higher ridges, which isolate them from the wider atmospheric circulation. Thus, they are characterized by long periods of frost and by extreme values of minimum temperatures. Since November 2010, an automatic meteorological station has been operating in this dolini, which has joined the network of the National Observatory of Athens. The sinkhole in question has a base elevation of 1613m and a rim elevation of 1646m, while it is surrounded by ridges with an altitude of 1700-1800m.
We drove the farm car for quite some time and thanks to the special snow tires, we got a little above the “horse-fountain”. From there we walked to the Kehrotis sinkhole, made a lap in the clearing and entered the forest.
For most of the route I stayed a little further back to take pictures and of course step into the holes left by the tracks of my companion, who had taken on the difficult task of being in front. The snow was pretty deep in most places, at least 60 points and literally our feet were disappearing into it up to our quads. Luckily Panos had given me his own snow boots and most of my feet stayed dry and warm.
The scenery was beautiful as a lie and I felt there was no point in even trying to capture it with the lens. Because it is the overall picture of the landscape that captivates you and makes you happy. But in the end I couldn’t resist trying to capture something with my camera or even with my cell phone. Beyond the big picture and the horizon, as usual, it was the little details that caught my interest.
For example those dry twigs or sprouts on the ground, around which nature had created a crystalline shell. They were like works of art! Like the stalactites that hung like ornaments from the fir branches.
I didn’t hold back and cut such an ornament, but I soon let it fall into the fluffy snow, because my hands were too cold.
Soon we left the clearing behind us and entered the forest. I was starting to get tired, when we slowly reached the point with the most beautiful view. Peaks and slopes of Mainalo white with snow, the sun shining blindingly, the snow glistening and all this in an environment full of silence, even the chirping of birds was part of that silence. More specifically, from that point we had a view of Gelati, the third highest peak of Mainalos, at 1860m altitude. In Tzelati there is the snow cave, where the inhabitants of the wider area used to store cheese products. Maybe we will visit it when there is less snow and the hiking will be easier.
Then we started to descend and reached the cesspool, a water collection cistern used by shepherds several years ago. At that moment the colors the sky took left me speechless. The most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in months. On the way back the sun was standing over the villages of Mainalo crimson, but unfortunately I don’t have a good photo to show you of it, as my lens was frozen. But whatever I showed you would not be a good representation of reality.
In the video below you can see some moments from our hike in Kehroti.
It was a wonderful experience in its simplicity and now I really don’t know which season I prefer more in the forest. They are all uniquely beautiful. The only thing that is certain is that I am left with a sweet hope for more trips to dreamy Mainalos.
Until the next article, have a great time!