Who doesn’t know Greece’s highest mountain, the abode of its ancient gods, the all-notorious mount Olympus…? Everybody knows it, I assume. Very few people, though, are probably aware of the existence of the numerous other mountains, scattered throughout Greece, Turkey, North America and even Mars, which share the same name with their most prominent “father”. Euboea, Greece’s second largest island, couldn’t be lacking one for herself, and even though somewhat significantly lower, Euboea’s Olympus shouldn’t be feeling any ashamed, put in comparison with his father, when it concerns beauty. So, one fair autumn morning, we were setting off from Chalcis, Euboea’s capital, drifting towards this beautiful mountain for conquering its high summit.
We took the main road leading to the south of the island and after about 20km we reached Eretria, the once all-powerful city-state of antiquity and the constant rival of Chalcis on the strife for power in Euboea. There we leave the main road, taking the one leading north toward the village of Theologos, and start driving uphill the slopes of our mountain, which at a time was constituting the boundary between the territories of the two cities. Having driven 10km from Eretria and 2km before Theologos, we reach where the road comes to the lowest point of a hollow curve and crosses through an embankment made of heaped rock debris, over a brook which should be passing from there in the wetter months of the year. That’s exactly the point where we should leave the car and get the trail up: 38°27’59.10″N 23°48’39.80″E. Thence it should normally take 5-7 hours getting to the top and back down again.
Being there, at an altitude of nearly 370m, if you look well you should discern a faint red spot on a big rock, which signifies the start of the marked path running along the obvious glen-line at the left of the hill we see in the east side of the road. However, as from there on the signs are sparse and well-hidden amongst the dense – and moreover thorny and itchy – vegetation, I’d suggest you follow a rather straight line up the hill, where vegetation is sparser and walking easier. Anyhow, behind the dome at the top of the hill you will encounter a dirt road. Taking this road either left or right (passing in front of a quarry), it should redirect you east till it reaches Vira Valley. This is a valley of so characteristic a charm, that everybody who despises hubbub and loves tranquility should dream of maintaining a little hut at.
From there we continue steadily eastwards following the now well-marked trail. After having followed the glen for some 30min we reach the fringes of a fir-forest where the inclination becomes steeper and our way to the base of the summit starts. After losing the sight of the sun for a little while under the fir-foliages, we exit the forest, turn slightly to the left and keep heading steadily up till we reach the crest of the mountain, where we encounter an imposing, massive piece of knob-shaped rock hanging over the steep east face of the mountain. There we feel obliged to get a break so to marvel the newly-appeared view to the east: The various villages smoking from the fields below, the Gulf of Euboea and even the Aegean sea at the far end of the island.
From there starts the last part of the trip. There are a few signs leading you across the rocky terrain to the top of the pyramidal peak, but it’s not necessary to stick on them as the way obviously goes just up. It should only take 15-20min of easy walking and maybe a tiny little bit of scrambling, and there you are! At 1172m altitude, the top of the sixth highest mountain of Euboea (38° 28′ 44.4″ N, 23° 51′ 54″ E).
It would be around noon time when we reached the summit that day. Despite the chilly wind the sky was immaculate and the sun was burning near its center, warming up the place and melting down, minute after minute, the thin snow layer which was covering the peak. There is a big kernes oak tree, which destiny let grow only a few meters away from the very top-point of the mountain. We went and sat to lunch under it, as it was making a good refuge from the wind and a great place to meditate while surveying the magnificent view all around and most particularly the prominent snow-capped Dirphys and Xerobounion mountains to the north. We enjoyed enough the beauty of that halcyon day, and we started descending the same way, reaching back to the car by late afternoon.