What a fantastic start to the year. Joe and Lewis from Liverpool and Amber from Australia have been helping me clear the trails. They’ve been excellent company too. After dinner, we’ve been out dancing until the early hours several times and on the full moon we drove up to Palouki, made a fire and had our dinner there. We’ve also been working hard on the Palouki trail, making it passable for mountain bikers as well as hikers.
What a fantastic year it’s been. Starting on 13 March with Sam and Monique from Canada, we had a total of 19 Workaway volunteers and 9 tourist volunteers who donated days of their holiday.
Trails cleared: Potami to Diakopi, Kokala, Tzukala (Monks trail), Tzelali, Kimissia, Retsina trail (Pirgos area), Panormos and Moutero, Vromeneri/Potami and behind Episkopi. Emmanuel also removed one huge tree at Kimissia, another at Pirgos plus two enormous ones at Ag Iannis Skleri. He’s my chainsaw hero; brave and tenacious.
Here are the names of all the volunteers for 2018:
Sam and Monique (Canada), David (Spain), Jenna (US), Liesa (Germany) Steve (UK), Eleni (US), Nikos (Canada), Che (Scotland), Hannah (Wales), Alexa (US), Jennie (Germany), Leigh (Australia), Gloria (Majorca), Rory (Ireland), Allie (Canada), Polly and Austin (Australia) and Audrey (Singapore).
Tourists: Jackie and Dee, Anita, Felix, Bankje, Pamela, Dan, Clive and Amy plus locals Dimitri Palaeologos and Emmanuel Palaeologos.
A huge thanks to them all.
We continue to keep busy. The Retsina Trail from Diakopi, up to Ag Georgos (Anania hill) and back down to Nancy, Pirgos, has been cleaned. Many thanks to volunteers Rory from Ireland, Allie from Canada plus Austin and Polly from Australia, for all the hard work.
We also spent two days reopening a blocked portion of trail from Vromoneri spring near Potami up to Raches.
There’s a route change in Kambos too on the Panormos walk. Note that the Kimissia trail up to Pirgos now starts earlier via a new dirt road. We’ve put signs up.
Maintenance is being carried out and we’ve just completed the portion that runs between Diakopi and Pirgos (near Anania).
It’s been a very busy start to the clearing season with volunteers from Majorca, Spain, Australia and Germany already come and gone and now from Ireland and Canada. A new piece of equipment has been purchased, a hedge trimmer and it’s proving very successful. So far, we’ve carried out maintenance at Kimissia, on the Panormos trail in the Potami area, cleared a thicket of brambles below Raches and are now widening the trail that leads from Diakopi up towards Pirgos (part of the Retsina Trail).
I was unable to get a hotel room at the beginning of the season and I can’t thank the Bonini/Kosma family enough for their generosity in allowing the volunteers to stay at their town house. It was a godsend and works very well as it’s located close to my house.
I’ve also had dialogue with the Forestry department and shown their agricultural policeman (agrofilikas) several problem areas to see if we can take some kind of official action.
So the spring is well and truly gone. Emmanuel and I kept going clearing July evenings until the heat got silly and we decided to call it a day for the time being. So now September is nearly upon us and trail clearing will soon resume with a fresh intake of volunteers from Germany, Spain, Australia and Ireland. Regular volunteer Anita will also be back to help out during her holiday.
The most popular guided hike continued to be Skopelos to Panormos, a swim and late bus back. A portion of this trail is endangered by a sneeky land-owner and a close eye is being kept on the situation.
An official complaint was lodged at the town hall regarding fences on the Kimissia trail. The council handed the situation over to The Forestry the week before our tragic fire at Amaranthos. What’s our little fence problem compared to that? But it has to be resolved eventually.
Geocaching continued to attract a few enthusiasts but some caches disappeared and others needed some maintenance. The Moutero spring GPS got sorted at last via a proper GPS rather than an app.
We also experienced The Most Amazing solar eclipse. I wonder what the next season has in store?
For those of you who think they know Skopelos, this is an area you may not have stumbled across. I remember it as being a small footpath beside a narrow brook that lead to the spring of Lalaria. I couldn’t believe the change due to the floods of 3 years ago. Now we have a wide canyon, forged by the water pouring down from Palouki. The Spring has gone. We are left with beautiful plane trees lining a dry (at the moment) river bed, which ends at a sheer rock face with a natural spring, the waters of which are being harnessed by someone to supply water to their nearby vegetable garden. This route can be used to get further up the Old Stafilos Road. See my sketch map page 19 of the guide book and page 21, image 4.
Skopelos Trails is now an official non-profit organisation. We are in the process of opening a bank account should you wish to make a donation. We have also made our first official complaint to the council regarding fenced areas on the trails. They are obliged to look into the matter and discuss at the next council meeting. In the meantime, no response to my request to take one of the council rooms on the port; offered several years ago when I wasn’t able to accept due to lack of support (which I now have).
We are still working a few hours a day at Kimissia, trying to create an extreme cycle route which will also help the walker as it entails widening the trail in general.
At last this route is open. It’s 9km and took us 3 hours to walk. It’s not in the Skopelos Trails book but can be downloaded via the Map App.
It’s taken over three months to complete and there is still a bit of work to do. Please note that just beyond the Prof. Ilias water tank there are some dogs, one of which is free. A bit of asphalt to walk once you get to the heliport area/Petraki cross roads but some lovely views over to Evia. It’s then down into the coolness of the forest and over our bridge. Going down Kimissia there’s an illegal fence across the trail but you can open it.
I’d like to thank all the volunteers who have worked on this route; David, Jenna, Nikos, Che, Hannah, Alexa, Dee, Jackie, Clive, Amy, Pamela and our chainsaw extraordinaire Manolis Palaiologos.
Since introducing the Map App, several people have asked ‘Why only android? Why not Apple? Well, I didn’t know, so I asked the app developer and this is his answer.
In order to develop for Apple, you have to pay royalties. For android, there are no costs. Also I don’t personally have an Apple laptop. If you have an Apple application, it can’t be free.
So there’s your answer.