Once upon a time,
i had free time from work…
so that i could meet Four souls
and with them a peak to conquer!
From Kos and Athens, from Agrinio and Lamia
and from north Kavala, one more presence…
The course was towards Tymphi and whatever came up…
From now on, go for other heights!!!
So, five souls, gave appointment on Friday May 27 in Epirus and more specifically in the picturesque village of Ioannina small Papigo. There we would stay the first night so that the following day we would ascend to the refuge of Astraka and the alpine type of Dragonlake which was in essence the final photographic destination. Our good friend Elias (Wolf Ace) informed us about this route, and all the things we would face. We talked online, exchanged informations, and agreed to try, with every physical costs, photographic and empirical compensation of course!
So began this adventure, this photographic stroll starting from me. I took the train for Athens a day before, to meet my “steel” friend Taso, and from there ascended with his car to the villages of Ioannina near Papigo. We agreed to leave as soon as possible so we could visit more places for pictures, since we had two more days to spare. After an adventurous shopping for a tripod that i wanted in Athens, finally we started from the megacity,passing through my parents house, for some last things and then on the way we would inform the other guys that everything was okay!…
after about two hours on the road, we decided to do a little photo stop just outside Meteora, in the village Mourgani, in a beautiful grove of trees beside the river Peneus, to warm slowly the cameras…
Searching somewhere in the village for sunset views and … flowers! Ah Ryan, ah …!
After our stop in Trygona of Trikala, we continued our course heading towards the Monodendri a mountain village in the complex of Zagorochoria Epirus, where we stayed overnight.We reached finally in the village, a little tired of this long route, covering over 500 km. Athens – Lamia – Monodendri. So passed the first day cheerful, smiling and chatting Photographic!
The daybreak of the second sunny day began photographing from above a part of the deepest in the world and famous Vikos canyon and walking on some of the many beautiful places of Zagorochoria such as the “stone forest”, the graphic “Kokkori’s bridge”, the “Capten’s Bear bridge” and “Kolimbithres”.We also visited some others graphic villages like village “Kipoi” and “Papigo”, where we sat for meal and eventually became the fateful meeting of the five, exactly the right time, in a golden sunset overlooking the magnificent peaks of Tymphi!
The joy and the smiles of this meeting can not be described, we wanted to say and to share so many… and to photograph that anticipate those moments! Five daredevils, started almost from all edges of Greece. I started basically from the acritic island of Kos, Tasos from Athens, Dina from Lamia picking up Spiro from Agrinio on the way and the lone “wolf” Elias, from the distant Kavala… the appointment was at small Papingo!!! Loaded with photographic and some climbing equipment with excess madness and lot of appetite to live and to photograph of course, the famous Dragonlake and every beauty we outface, in one of the magical place of Epirus!
The day of May 27 ended having dinner on the lovely small village of Papigo, at hostel Zeus which accomodeted us that night. Some wine, simple good rustic food, smiles, love… memories and moments !!!!!!
Sleeping in stone guesthouse was really wonderful,with amazing traditional beds with excellent mattresses and duvets … aaa rest !!!
But the clock crowed early… while the sun was rising up. We had to get ready and eat well, because a full and eventful day awaited us smiling, a real unforgettable day!
Well, breakfast…was amazing. The water in our canteens enough until the first of the three fountains we would meet and some warming up (hahahaha). The large but serious laughter came when I had to see which of the things they carried us to a hill of some kilometers… heavy cameras, tripods, clothing and sleeping bags, as we would sleep in the shelter. I don’t think i need to tell you details about this scenery i will only say that each one of us carry on his back, about 15kg !!! Just do not attempt it if you really are not familiar with the hike and pretty well fit!
For me that I had some time to exercise due to a motorbike accident that i had last summer and having two large plates and screws across almost my left leg,and despite the many years of exercise and proper healthy diet and life that I did, this argument was really crazy and did not know how it will end! For Spyros, the older of us (Even not showning it), and he also with a good life, crack-brained… Elias was in a somewhat better state, but he too, not better. But he bared easily and arrived first at the top along with “steelman” Tasso, who really had by all of us the best physical condition. And when I say “steel man” because the lad, once had a very serious accident with his motorcycle and had to endure forever irons in his spine and not only there! 🙁 But he was the leader of this course and gave us courage to continue, whenever we felt exhausted! Also the lady from this crazy-companionship, Dina which, if i make no mistake, was in an intermediate physical shape than us, but as a woman with a little less strength. Although the several pounds she was carrying, unprecedented difficult and long uphill hiking of her life, withstood to the end and trully we adrime her additute.
So we started something beautiful and crazy for all that I have described above, for Tymphi and all tham may occur. The pictures you will see below, testify to a minimum and give you a small taste of what we had to face and how evolved this photo-journey! I took several photos in the path until we get to the shelter, (I managed to get) because on the way back the next day I had almost no endurance and really i took off few photos until we reach the hostel again. Hiking was about normal in these times:
I, Spyros and Dina who followed us, managed to accompish the route in about six hours! Elias and Tasos at some point further up proceeding faster than us so that we didn’t delay them. They finished the route up/down in five hours. But in some part of the course we all went together, with frequent stops after the first hour, to catch some breaths and some shots, making three certainly stopping at kiosks that had fountains for water and there were intermediate in the route to the refuge of Astraka.
Although in all these hours, we were saying often that either we will not succeed or that we would arrive quite late, we smiled and optimism did not leave us never… how many times we looked at each other with open mouths speechless? I don’t remember! The sun from sometime had caused us sunburns. But the view and the place were really beautiful and unique… We stared at some moments at the top and looked like unreacheable! People descended, some overtaking us and others few we overtook.Sometime when I, Spyros and Dina had stayed behind, some other were saluting us with our name, while we had never see them before. They had learned for us from Eliah and Tasos (who were ahead of us) and our antics (the weight some daredevils were carrying) … we standed out! Hahaha
We we sharing, as we can speak, moments, stories, thoughts and a promise (Which will be not kept of course) we would not do it again this, ever! At least we will not climb again to Tymphi so unfit and so overweight! Some time, after several hours we saw above a small building, small as it seemed from far. We felt a joy that nodded our hope that soon we would arrived but after about an hour we finally did it!
We started around 09:00 and the last of us arrived at 15: 00+.our journey lasted much more than the signs informed. Of course, as I said, we had many stops for the reasons i already explained.Finally we arrived at the shelter, left the things he was carrying aside, took the shoes off and after a few minutes, when we checked we had lunch which was an offer from our good friend George, the owner of the shelter.
The photos from the ascent!
We rested between half to two hours only, awaiting was our final farthest point, the famous Drakolimni Tymphi!
We regrouped, got the right stuff, cameras, tripods, warm clothes and jacket because we had to be back to the refuge later that night, we looked at each other smiling and with a good deep breath started at 17:30 the rest of the route certainly a little more relaxed, with full batteries generally! We were expected a difficult downhill on the slope, but in the first flat area two lakes, a fairly small left and a larger on the right the (Xirolimni / Lacquer Tsoukanas) with background one of the tops of Astraka!
We stood for a while between the lakes we took some pictures and we kept going. A little later we were in a lower plateau, where we took some pictures even up to start again for the last territorial smooth uphill, which ended in Drakolimni! Frankly I could not imagine that we continued!… We felt our forces leaving us, the water in the canteens we drank drop by drop because we had to return until midnight! The sun had burned me on the neck and hands, on my legs had appeared blisters from my new boots I had recently and I began slowly also feeling hungry among the rest. Fortunately I had with me some dry food! We looked at each other sometimes not knowing what to say anymore… gladly we managed to get up there and return to the hotel. Everything seemed to be endless! We continued with all our forces left and we arrived about two hours (19:30) seeing finally the famous alpine lake!!! Only JOY … enthusiasm and admiration! The hearings for the Drakolimni of Tymphi was a vivid picture in front of our eyes!!!
– Guys… get set, explore these points, take action and enjoy!
There were some “other photographers,” a company that sincerely not worth to mention them for more, not a word! We continue… 🙂
The sweet light from the golden sunset hour was there for a little longer so we quickly tried to look finding good points, to take and live as much as we could. I started from a low photo beside the lake. The weather was good, almost not blowing at all, still had good temperature, with the only disadvantage(for landscape photography) a few clouds. Although this would have been good for the night shots which was what we intended to do! I kept looking for quickly finding a good point that eventually gave me a nice result, ahead of some purple flowers and rocks, the lake in the interim, with final background the peak of Astraka! I continued shooting beside the lake and then left for a further uphill, high above the lake to take some panoramic shots of the area. At the top I found more views, looking from northeast to northwest… magical spot, very peaceful moments!!!
I kept shooting from above, since I love the feeling that I feel at the tops of the mountains, the actual physical freedom, started my descend back to the lake. A commemorative photo with the crazy gang over Drakolimni, imposed! The blue hour or elsecalled twilight had began to appear and we sat next to each other near the lake starting a few test frames to begin the celebration of astrophotography! Where were you, Constantine to see us? !! 😀
… And we decided to stay the night,
our teeth crackle in darkness!
Walk fatigue and hunger to go,
as we see the stars timidly timidly to appear…
We sat for a while to rest a few minutes in the twilight and really all the emotion I felt was inside me…
relaxation and tension, fatigue, joy, weakness, thirst and hunger, admiration, dreams and some images from the past had been one, along with four other wonderful forms… W O N D E R F U L !
A few minutes later the little lights of the sky started to appear, cameras started again with jokes and laughter nonstop. It would keep us a little warmer from the cold that started to feel on our body! We discussed some photographic knowledge, Spyros tried his new excellent K1 and our basic knowledge… we changed location and expected the magical galaxy from the northeast to make its appearance! Unfortunately we did not have much time available to find a pretty good frame, but because it was approaching a little bit under the galaxy and the moon that if it appeared bathed in light and thus lost an important part of the Milky Way (The name of our galaxy, for anyone who don’t know it). We did the best we could with the current weather situation, but the cold intensified with little breeze so I could not bear another, we gathered our things and with the head lenses, we started the dark path of return… another one and a half hours into the night behind each other. Somewhat scary and agonizing, but the same time… action!
Come on, little more patience eh… can we make it?
Yes we can!
An adventure that keeps us away from our beds.
At two thousand meters the “crazies” at Dragonlake,
Galactic moments to chart in our memory!
Sometime down on one of the terraces, Elijah and Tasos went quickly to the shelter to have time to take some shots from there. Me with Spyros and Dina really started to extinguish, especially me and Spiros! I had suffered a slight sunstroke, because all day I did not wear hats, the fool. The water that was left, we drank it drop by drop, I felt dehydrated and an endless with a wild slope uphill awaiting for us with our feet literally shaking from the long walk all day. With the extra weight always stuck on the back! I remember sometime lying on the ground, staring at the stars and saying to Spyros and Dina: – Guys?! … I think this picture is the last I see! 🙂
Anyway, after a while, I arrived with Dina at the shelter waiting for us there, Elijah and Tasos. Spiros was dissolved, he was left behind last and he climbed step by step. Uphill to the refuge we had to make several stops, because otherwise we would never manage to arrive! I could not bear more, had enough cold water, I changed and finally layed down on the bed. After a while the others come with Spiros being last and exhausted. My body hurt too, especially my legs and head… It was “a miracle” that we came back! We slept a few hours, I cannot say that we rested completely, but certainly we got some forces to return the next day and descend on the small Papingo! U N B E L I E V A B L E ! ! !
Although the hours we slept were few for all that we experienced, we had to get up at 08:00 and get ready for the descent! We got a simple austere breakfast, we got enough water supply and took some pictures, starting a bit later the difficult path… with having calluses and my feet, after some hour of descent, we began to tremble again. Anyway, with all costs, we had to get there from where we started! To take a bath, change and to eat normally. I had no courage to take more pictures and let the camera follow my hands. Luckily, he had given Elijah a baton to the anode and the cathode and helped somewhat! Finally, after about five hours more difficult, we entered the village with the hotel is just a few meters. We only care to eat well and to relax.
We finished, we refreshed, we moored in the hostel courtyard, we filled our stomachs with delicious flavors and we chatted about what happened, for what arose, for a fresh photographic history had given to the hearts and our memories beautiful, indelible images, better even than those recorded with cameras! After some time the great informant, friend Elijah, ought to wave us goodbye, first because they were waiting for him about eight hours of driving from his house in Kavala! After a while the rest of us prepared gave the last hugs and farewell. Spiros with Dina for Agrinion and Lamia, whereas I with Tasos would continue to Arta.
Emotion to a happy full of love ending, sad goodbye smile, on our lips painted!
Starting from Mikro Papigo, until we reached Tasso’s village near Arta, where we stayed the night, we were thinking about the place we would photograph the sunset, eventually leading away from the town of Arta, to the artificial lake of Pournari where we took some photos there between fireflies… hmm so beautiful!
Leaving on the last day from Tassos village in Arta, we made a stop in my village in Aetos, few kilometers next in Trikala and last we stopped for photos at the arched bridge of Palaiokarya. We continued from there to our homes closing this five day trip for me and Tasos and the three day journey for the others, … A memorable photographic trip to Tymphi !!!
My days off work, were finished so, after several days of detoxification by the immense and multifaceted world of Internet and after a large dose of nature, I was back again to my sweet prison, in my small melourgeio (my room). Arrayed many memories, moments and stories for my heart and to tell my children some day.
As for these photographs, their significance, little, in front of the beauty that I lived out there. Up there in Western Greece, Ioannina, Mount Tymfi, Astraka, unique Drakolimni! I hope God gives you strength, health to meet as much as possible of these real miracles from this planet.
I thank these souls,smiling formats very much from the depths of my heart, that kept me company for my madness and my love for LIFE !!!