Friday, July 31, 2009

In Search of the Ponies – Mt. Ainos (6/9/09)

From Mt. Ainos

According to the badly written description at the Katelios Environmental Center, the Mt. Ainos ponies are a breed of wee ponies who are wild on the Mountain that dominates the island of Kefalonia. They stand only 12 hands tall and there are only 10 or 14 of them still alive (depending on which part of the badly written description you believe).

After three fruitless night shifts (no turtles, although we had one “false crawl”) Ariel, Damien and I were determined to set out into the mountain in search of the summit and these supposed ponies.

Unfortunately we failed on both counts. My tourist map I bought in Poros, gave us questionable – if not false information to the summit.

Yet, it was still a great day. About an hour and a half into the hike, Damien and I convinced Ariel that it would be better if we climbed one of the gorges to the top.

At first it was rather simple. We hiked up the wide gorge until we got to a small cliff. The small cliff was easy to scale. Atop that we saw another 50 meters to the next cliff and so on.

Unfortunately, it got harder and harder and harder as we went. Several cliffs were in rapid succession. As the legs and arms wearied, the cliffs were even harder. Ariel worried we wouldn’t find the road again. I reassured her that I was positive we would. (Unfortunately, I could not reassure myself.) At one point I did almost slide off the hardest of the cliffs. I went a good 10 feet before catching myself).

Ainos is 1627 meters. At about 1200 meters we found the road again. This was the hardest part of the trip I found. It wasn’t simply a cliff to rock climb (without ropes, anchors or helmets) but a slight incline (slight as in 60 degrees) covered in gravel from the gorge to the road. I got to a place where I could not go any further and the way down was only a 30 meter slide to certain broken bones!

With the help of cooler heads (Damien and Ariel) I was able to scramble the remaining part of the way.

In retrospect I thought Ariel was probably right that we shouldn’t have done that. But, I also agreed with Damien, “It was better to do that 600 meters in altitude than walk the long twisty road that MAY have gotten us to the summit.”

Still no ponies!

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