Most of our Greek adventures have involved sea and beach in some way, and this one is no exception, but the primary goal was to hike/climb up Mount Olympus. It is also the home of the twelve Olympian gods (according to Greek myths, that is), most of whom, at least male ones, used to hang out naked; so, no wonder Joe and I wanted to visit them wearing that divine attire. Mount Olympus is also among the most topographically prominent mountains and is located next to the sea, so we decided to go all the way from the sea level (at 0m) to the top (at 2,917m).
We just checked out the beach right across the road from the Litochoro train station, and it was fantastic! Long beach edged with wooded cliffs and just a few people around. What could be better?
Some fresh blackberries perhaps? We didn’t have too much time stay at the beach, however. After a brief swim, we were ready to walk up to the village of Litochoro.
Almost immediately after we got on the road (not naked), we got offered a lift to the village on a pickup truck by three brothers from there. Since that would have been the least interesting part of our trek anyways – just some fields at the foothills of the mountains, we took on the offer, which saved us an hour or two of walking.
We got some more food at the village and headed to the start of E4 trail (it’s a trail that crosses most of Southern Europe, and we’ve used it in Crete too).
Shortly after the entrance into Olympus National Park (at ~400m above sea level), I felt comfortable to get naked again. As we started our hike quite late in the day, we didn’t expect to encounter many people on the way. Also, from what what we read online, it appeared that most hikers preferred to start much higher, driving up first to Prionia; to me, this part of the trail – from Litochoro to Prionia – seemed actually the most beautiful.
On this trip, I mastered the technique of traveling really light. The only unnecessary weight was the clothes, though the weather in mountains is unpredictable… I liked the idea of carrying some stuff on the belt, which released a lot of weight from my back.
My backpack was very small too, and I appreciated Deuter’s ‘aircomfort’ configuration: it leaves space between the backpack and back for airflow and distributes some weight from shoulders to lower back.
Some parts of the trail are quite steep and aren’t very stable,
but overall it’s a very pleasant hike of moderate difficulty.
Views like these make any challenges on the way rewarding.
As the trail got more comfortable, I even took of my sandals and hiked barefoot:
I wanted to experience this legendary place with all senses.
If you divert for any reason (like we did on a few occasions),
make sure to go down to E4 trail, which is marked regularly.
Even though it feels like summer in most of Greece till mid-October or so, at higher elevations autumn colors appear earlier.
On the other hand, there were also a few pretty flowers along the trail as well.
The trail winds along the Enipeas river crossing it several times.
So, you’re likely to see some frogs and maybe even salamanders too (we weren’t lucky enough for the latter).
After sunset, we decided to camp at the first place with flat surface, preferable by the river. We were lucky to find a spot like that pretty soon!
It was a perfect quiet night only interrupted by the river murmur and occasional noise of falling rocks (somewhere far!)
We woke up to see the sun shining over the mountain slopes already.
After a brief refreshment in the river, we took off.
The trail went through the woods for a while, opening to some more stunning (and now sunny) views.
The next river crossing was via pretty wooden bridge.
At this point, we realized we had lost our map. Although, it was pretty clear how to follow the trail without it, I decided to run back, as we looked at it not too long before that. I heard many voices approaching (it was the first big group of people on that hike), so I put on my shorts, but it turned out to be a bunch of Czech guys, who probably would have been only slightly amused if they’d seen me naked. Turned out they picked the map, so I didn’t even have to look for it. We let them pass ahead and enjoyed the trail to ourselves most of the time again.
As the day was warming up, it was nice to refresh in the river again.
The natural views were amazing,
but it was also nice to see a bit of old (medieval) craft – a tiny monastery Agio Spileo.
Here we saw more people, as it was already pretty close to Prionia, so some of the hikers who started/finished there might go down to see this cave.
Still, the trail up from there was not crowded at all,
and we took advantage of those small pools in the river for some more skinny-dipping.
The last and best spot was at the Enipea waterfalls.
We had just a brief return to civilization at Prionia (at 1100m), as we aimed to reach Spilios Agapitos Refuge aka simply Refuge A (at 2100m) by night.
This part of the trail is probably the most visited,
we didn’t dare to hike naked for the most part. I didn’t mark it on our map of naturist locations either, but this bit and other trails from Prionia are shown on google maps.
The sign indicating that we were on the way to gods was encouraging,
so as the views, that indicated that we were approaching the forest borderline.
One of the meadows had plenty of raspberries that were in their prime ripeness and tasted divine!
Among the few animals that we saw around were a friendly robin
and a timid lizard.
By nightfall, we reached the refuge, totally exhausted. It was really cool to be able to see our starting point – the sea and the town of Litochoro.
In the morning I felt a bit mountain-sick, so I had a slight envy to those lazy hikers who trekked with/on donkeys :-)
However, we took off shortly after breakfast, as the gods were calling us :-)
We knew they must have been somewhere close!
Most hikers traveled in huge groups,
so we decided to divert onto a side trail.
Now we could see top of Mt Olympus and its base all the way down to the sea in one view!
At this point though, the only way up to the top from this side trail was to climb up.
We saw a couple of guys do that in the distance but decided not to follow: we still had to go down all the way to Litochoro on that day, and I felt pretty weak from mountain sickness at this altitude. We’ll have to return on another occasion to go all the way up and say hi to the Olympian gods.
As we turned around,
we saw the sunlit valley in mist, a view that could be appropriately described as divine.
Now, if we only could fly!