This past week, I went on a little hike up the side of a hill to look at a cave situated to the west of a high saddle in the mountains that bound the south of our survey area in the Western Argolid. The cave, of course, was natural and was probably used at some point as a shelter for local shepherds, their flocks, and their dogs (judging by the remains).
The high saddle and pass associated with it probably did not serve as a high traffic route even for shepherds taking their flocks to the mandres in the surrounding uplands. The route is too steep.
The walk itself, though, was worth it. It took me up through dense maquis beyond the highest and now neglected terraces to areas frequented by goats. The slopes of the valley were quiet except for the wind and an annoyed hawk floating in the updrafts.
The survey teams disappeared into olive groves, terraces, and fields of wild oats.
The trip down, of course, is always a bit more challenging then the trip up the hill. On the way up, there are certain economies of effort that lead to calculated decisions in how to ascend a hill. You tend to scrutinize the possible routes because the cost in ascending the wrong way is substantial and immediate.
Descending is another matter. I find that I tend to chose my paths more impulsively and get stuck moving carefully over steep rocks, entangled in impenetrable barriers, and negotiating sprawls of scree.
It was a pretty exhausting hike, but we now have a set of notes on the hill, the cave, and the route up to the high saddle.
We’re off to the region around Lake Stymphalia and the lovely Cistercian Abbey of Zaraka today since it’s Pentecost and everything is closed. Look for updates on this trip and some other #WestARP adventures tomorrow.