First view of snow covered Smolikas peak across the valley through pine forest

Smolikas: the (second) Highest Peak

Kefalochori to Konitsa

It was a spectacular view. Smolikas, the second highest mountain in Greece at 2637 metres, rose, snowcapped, beyond the pines and across the rain-washed valley. We’d been caught out in a violent thunderstorm that night, and sought refuge in a sheep shelter, clearing away the dried sheep droppings to put up the tent. Luckily, the sheep had not yet arrived that summer.

Another Dragon Lake awaited us below the Smolikas peak, its luminous alpine waters surrounded by wild crocuses among the snow melt. Legend has it that the dragons fought each other, hurling rocks that can still be seen around the lake. But it was too cold and bleak to camp, and we hurried down through the rain to Palioseli village and a comfortable bed with Dinah of the Roses.

Route: Kefalochori, Drosopighi, Aghia Paraskevi, Smolikas, Palioseli, Konitsa

Lazy meanders of Sarandoporos river between gravel beaches, below Kefalochori road
Sarandaporos river, between Kefalochori and the Drosopighi turning
Basic sheep shed in mountains to provide shelter from the storm
Sheep shelter, haven from the thunderstorm
Valley hidden by clouds below peaks and pine covered slopes
Morning after the storm
View of the Smolikas distant peak as the 03 national trail winds down through pines
Down to Aghia Paraskevi
Easy start to hike up to the Dragon Lake, along flat path trhough meadows
Easy start from Aghia Paraskevi
Well waymarked 03 national trail to Smolikas Dragon Lake through forest
02 national footpath, well waymarked to Smolikas peak
Rough stony track up through pine forest from Aghia Paraskevi to the Dragon Lake
02 footpath further up
Alpine Dragon Lake with Smolikas peak behind. Melting snow patches.
Dragon Lake and Smolikas peak beyond
Masses of wild crocuses on the shores of the Smolikas dragon lake
Wild crocuses around the lake
Wild gentians both pale blue and dark
Gentians
National 03 trail down from Aghia Paraskevi to the Smolikas saddle: relatively easy going
Down from the peak
Water source: pipe with water emerging from simple stone construction
Filling up with water
Memorial to Elevthero village destroyed in 1943
Elevthero village, burnt by the Germans in 1943

Travelling Slow

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