You don’t need me to tell you how many apps and publications exist that help us identify the flora around us. We all have our favorites. Ours is iNaturalist. It is based at the California Academy of Sciences and is an independent nonprofit platform. Skopelos Trails is a donor, contributor and supporter. Confirming contributions, iNaturalist is used as a reference by study groups from all over the world. They can now suggest an astounding 80,000 species of plants, animals and fungi. I log our flora even when I know what I’m looking at. I do this for our records, for the use of others as well identifying unknown species.
It is through this platform that we were contacted by Spain’s department of Biogeographical Eco Botanical facility at the university of Savile who invited us to contribute towards their project on the study of the cytinus rock rose paracite. Over a period of a month, we collected samples of the female and male flowers (inflorescences) and dried them in bags of salt before sending them off in the post. For our efforts, we received a surprise donation which was about the same amount as the donation we had already made to iNaturalist!
In spite of the obvious disadvantages encountered in 2000, we still managed to reinstate 4 old trails as well as maintenance work.
In February our first volunteer arrived; Kiki Kamo from Japan. Due to transit problems she was here for just ten days but we were able to carry out maintenance at least.
Next up was Avery and Julia from the USA. However, their stay, 7-10 March, was curtailed due to the first lockdown. We made a start on the huge Mikalaki clearing project plus the Loutsa tower project which I finished off alone during lockdown.
In May, I was lucky to have the help of Zoe and Leo from France. They had decided to spend the lockdown here on the island. During that time we reopened an old trail from Pera Karia up to Sendoukia. It took us 5 days and included not only the clearing of vegetation and fallen trees but also the installation of ropes to help hikers up/down steep cliff faces.
There was a long break until the arrival of Emanuel from Romania, who stayed 3-30 September. Emanuel was an amazing volunteer. He didn’t want any days off or feeding and arrived by car with 4 hand made metal gates ready for installation. Emanuel has his own forge in Romania. During his stay we had the use of a forge, kindly put at our disposal by the Patsis family. The gates replaced fences at Kimissia and Ag Marina and Emanuel worked very hard installing them. He also worked extremely hard in flighting through to expose the beautiful aqueduct bridge at Mikalaki.
From 12 October-1 December, Camille and Aris from France became part of the furniture (one month intended and then extended due to Covid restrictions.) During that time, we also hosted Vailva from Lithuania (26 October-23 November). Here is the list of work that was carried out during that time:
4 days at The Mill, clearing away more vegetation, exposing walls plus an old path beyond the aqueduct. We also attempted to find the spring water source.
6 days clearing the Palouki forest trails between the examini, Ag Triatha turning and Ag Anna turning.
3 days reopening 147m of blocked trail near Ag Iannis Kambos.
2 days of trail maintenance at Abuzali – 359m.
3 days back at The Mill Mikalakis
2 days maintenance behind the Episkopi monastery – 105m
3 days in the area of Tjelili near the deer enclosure plus on the valley floor towards Glysteri – 576m
4 days maintenance at Diakopi – 299m
2 days maintenance on the Tower Loutsa trail – 374m
6 days maintenance at Ypermaxou
I also had a few hours local help from Maria Papavasiliou, Nana Kobra, Turid Stokkeland, Lefki Sohou, Kerasia Tamouridou, Ioanna Petsa, Georgos Papadavid, Silje Kramer plus a young French girl called Sofia! Thank you all! Thanks also to Peter Broadley for allowing us to use his home for volunteer accommodation. It made a huge difference and helped enormously.
2019 was a very busy year for Skopelos Trails. We started work on 12 January and continued through until 18 December (except July/August). We cleared some 30 trails, installed 3 flights of steps and hosted 39 volunteers from 13 different countries. Our sponsors #RigasHotelSkopelos and Pension Kyr Sotos continued to provide accommodation, Wolf Garden provided equipment, Nikos Orfanos kept the loppers sharp, Anne Perry helped me with this WP account Agapi Karamanli (Anna’s) and Machi Ambelakia provided a banquet, Gusto provided a giant pizza and Eva Karras donated some food. I thank you all!
There are exciting plans ahead of us. Let’s hope we can make them happen!